Most people and many commentators understand the end of last week’s Parsha, Vayeshev, where Yosef asks the chief butler to put in a good word for him. And they also understand the beginning of this week’s Parsha, Miketz - where we read that Yosef in fact languished two more years in prison, as punishment for placing his trust in man and not in HaShem.


Partly based on the Netziv, and partly on my own understanding of the text, there might be an additional explanation.


The fact is that had the butler successfully petitioned Pharaoh to free Yosef immediately, Yosef would never have been able to save his entire family from the vicious famine that struck a few years later. It is precisely because Yosef was only remembered when Pharaoh had his own dreams, that he became so powerful in Egypt - and the rest is history.


HaShem's game plan is never fully understood, even when we think we understand it. The test of our faith is simply to believe that HaShem's game plan is ultimately the only one that can work.


At the same time, we must not rely on miracles. We must grasp opportunities when they arise. This is exactly what the Hasmoneans did and initially they were successful, with a lot of miraculous help of course. Hence the celebration of Chanukah.


But the challenge is also not to lose faith when we don't succeed. Rather, we need to try and understand how the way things do work out is ultimately for the better.


Yosef was not necessarily punished for trying to be freed. It's just that HaShem had other plans for Am Yisrael. He needed Yosef to play a major role in those plans - a role he could not play had he remained just another anonymous freed slave.


In our prayers, we naturally have in mind our own personal needs, requirements and requests. A higher - and usually more effective - form of prayer is to address the needs, requirements and requests of our friends, our neighbours, our families, our People and our Land.


This might be another message that HaShem is teaching us through the incredibly richly dramatic story of Yosef.


Shabbat Shalom, Chodesh Tov and Chanukah Sameach