On consultants and operational staff

Parsha and its fulfillment - Parashat Miketz - Chanukah - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - 5769

What is the role of the consultants?

And should decision makers have to accept their advice?

A study of the Parasha on Yosef's advice to Pharaoh will help shed light on the issue.

Pharaoh's strange dream puts him helpless. His heart told him that there was a dramatic and far-reaching significance to this recurring dream, but he could not figure out what message he was carrying. Pharaoh is the king of the world at the time, and accordingly the responsibility rests on his shoulders: "Pharaoh is dreaming" - and all men do not dream?- but the dream of a king is over the whole world" (Bereshit Rabba).

In his distress, Pharaoh turns for help: "Next morning, his spirit was agitated, and he sent for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men; and Pharaoh told them his dreams, but none could interpret them for Pharaoh." (Bereshit 41:8). There were, indeed, some who interpreted it, but not in reference to Pharaoh (i.e., their interpretations had no reference to him as a Pharaoh, as a king), so their words found no acceptance by him and he was not satisfied with their interpretation. (Rashi). The answer to the dream offered by his advisers and ministers did not satisfy his opinion. "Yosef said to him: Who informed you that they did not solve it properly? He said to him: "Just as I saw the dream, so I saw its solution, they cannot play me." (Midrash HaGadol Bereishit 41:15) The unresolved dream gives him no rest.

Only when Yosef presented his solution to the dream did the solution settle his mind. "Immediately ahead are seven years of great abundance in all the land of Egypt. After them will come seven years of famine, and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. As the land is ravaged by famine, no trace of the abundance will be left in the land because of the famine thereafter, for it will be very severe." (Bereshit 41:29-31).

The greatness of Yosef's dream solution was that he also offered the practical way of coping with the challenge faced by Pharaoh, establishing a logistical system for storage of grain from the seven years of abundance, and distributing food throughout the country during the years of famine in an egalitarian manner.

Pharaoh's heart told him that this was the true solution of the dream. And this is the fateful meaning of the dream. As the king of the greatest empire at that time, he was given a heavy responsibility and a complex logistical and governmental challenge to prepare for the famine in the years ahead. Nothing he had done so far, prepared him for this challenge.

The answer to the challenge was to appoint a senior government official who would manage the project and establish a management and a mechanism to manage it: "Accordingly, let Pharaoh find a man of discernment and wisdom, and set him over the land of Egypt." (Bereshit 41:33). " discernment and wisdom - this intelligent man who understands something out of nothing, this wise man has wisdom; discernment without intelligence is like a hero without a weapon in his hand, intelligent but unwise is like a weak and a weapon in his hand, discernment and wisdom means an armed hero. (Midrash).

The advisors are supposed to serve the decision-making process of those in charge, who advise and do not dictate, even after they have formulated their advice, the decision-makers have the right and the duty to accept or reject the advice. There are false and misleading advice that does not serve any interests, and there are talented and wise counselors whose advice is wise and helpful but who cannot implement them.

At this crucial point in time, Pharaoh needed a wise and discern advisor who had the ability to advise and to carry out, to formulate the solution and to manage it. "If he is able with G’d’s help to interpret intangibles such as dreams, he must certainly be smart enough to arrange administrative earthly affairs in a competent manner". (Rashba'm on Bereshit 41:38)

Those who will lead the system require management skills, and they need a subordinate manager who will help them: "A man of understanding. He would have to reckon how much the Egyptians themselves required so that the rest could be sold to other countries for Pharaoh’s enrichment. And wisdom. He would have to know how to store the grain in such a way that it would not spoil." (Ramban Bereshit 41:33)

In addition to managing the system, it was also necessary to develop storage methods and long-term conservation in order to preserve the grain from the years of abundance to the years of famine.

The wonderful combination of counseling and performance brought success.

May we merit such leaders also today.

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