Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Is it Racism or Zionism

Although people often don't realize it, Religious Zionism is not simply secular Zionism with kosher food and no working on Shabbos.  There are tremendous philosophical differences between the two movements that many don't appreciate.
Secular Zionism, as conceived by Theodore Herzl and his successors, had a simple objective - to create a European socialist-style state with a Jewish majority population.  For Herzl himself, this objective meant that the state created would have nothing actually Jewish about it.  He had no trouble with creating it in Uganda.  He wanted German to be the national language since that country was the cultural and economic leader of Europe in his time.  His Israel would have been Jewish like public high schools in predominantly Jewish neighbourhoods in North America are Jewish - demographically but not more.
Religious Zionism, on the other hand, believes that we on the verge of the aschalta d'geula, the beginning of the final redemption that will end this last exile and bring us all back to Israel where we will worship God in His Holy Temple (may it be built speedily in our days).  Zionism isn't a political imperative and the refusal of the non-Jewish world to accept us as equal members of their societies was not a driving force for the founders of Religious Zionism.  Rather the leadership's understanding of the Torah and the descriptions of what would precede the end of days led to the decision to create a movement dedicated to building a Jewish state in Israel - because it was time to do so according to our prophets.
The result of that philosophy has been a tension when it comes to the non-Jewish population of Israel.  While it is quite clear that non-Jews living in Israel according to the seven mitzvos of Bnei Noach are to be treated with respect, dignity and full recourse to the law, there is also a religious understanding that Israel is Jewish land first and foremost.  However, it is also quite clear that at this state which is only the first flowering of the final redemption, we cannot use a "textbook" approach to the non-Jews in the state.  It is simply not tenable to treat a significant portion of the population as an unwanted underclass with less rights than the majority.
Into this has come the recent halachic ruling forbidding Jews to rent or sell to Arabs.  This has predictably brought with it calls of racism from the secular and part of the religious population.  On the face of it, this would appear to be true.  If American leaders were to suddenly forbid the selling of land or homes to a specific sector of the population, one with full citizenship and rights, we would be the first to cry "racism".  It is difficult to see how the situation here is different, despite apparently support from a majority of Israelis.
One of the rabbonim to sign the recent psak din is Rav Shlomo Aviner, shlit"a, who has also written on his blog about his reasons:
Why did I add my humble signature to the Rabbinic petition against selling houses and apartments, lands and fields, to the Arabs?
The answer is so simple. The vision of the Jewish state. We have returned here after 2000 years of exile, in order to establish a Jewish state.
True, it is permissible for non-Jews to live there, and one has to treat the non-Jew who lives in the land with integrity and respect. Yet strengthening the foothold of the Arabs in the Land demonstrates a lack of national responsibility, for they are presently 25% of the entire population, and a large scale Jewish majority has to be preserved.
It is no secret that the Arabs want to annex our country for themselves and banish us from our Land, and they are doing this in every possible way: 1. By way of bloody wars which result in our country being full of widows and orphans and bereaved parents. 2. Unrelenting terror which likewise exacts from us a price in blood. 3. Recently, since the Carmel tragedy, a call has gone forth from the Arabs to commit a lot of arson in Israel, and indeed, there have been 15 attempts at arson since then. 4. Unrelenting land purchases by the Arabs throughout our country on a gigantic scale, in Yafo, Haifa, Acco, the Galil, and recently, an attempt to buy the Nof Tzion neighborhood in Jerusalem. In our world there are enormously wealthy Arabs who are ready to budget millions towards this end, and indeed, the Jews, lacking national responsibility, who are tempted by the money.
When I was a boy, a member of Bnei Akiva, I, together with my friends in the movement, was asked to go, night and day, house to house, to distribute the blue boxes of the Jewish National Fund, whose goal was the redemption of the Land of Israel from the Arabs.
And now, shall we do the opposite?!
While his words have a certain appeal, there is a flaw in his reasoning as presented here.  Reasons 1 and 2 are not acceptable in this argument because they do not involve Arabs living in Israel.  The majority of Israeli Arabs are loyal citizens (despite the ongoing despicable actions of a sizeable minority of them as well as their MK's).  If Arabs living in Iraq want to wipe out Israel, that does not make Israeli Arabs guilty by association.  In addition, the unrelenting terror is mostly (albeit not completely) caused by Arabs living in Yehudah, Shomron and 'Aza who do not see themselves as citizens of Israel.
It is reason 4, however, that provides an opportunity to reframe this psak din in a different, more acceptable light.
I have no doubt that the Rav's statement that non-Israeli Arab money is being used to buy up as much of Israel as possible.  The Arabs are simply following the strategy used by the early Zionist movement to create a viable presence in Israel in the 1920's and 30's.  What can be done about this?
Well where's Jewish money when you need it?  Where are Jewish investors and land developers?  Why are Jews not responding to these offers of sale and buying up the land of Israel for our people?  If a person needs or wants to sell his land and doesn't care who he sells to as long as the cheque clears, can we fault him if he doesn't feel a patriotic need to maintain Jewish control after the sale?
The psak din should not be about forbidding but about promotion.  We should say that Arabs are not allowed to build the land of Israel.  Instead we should be saying that it is a Jewish priority to build Israel.  We should not be saying that it is forbidden to sell to Arabs, or anyone else, but instead emphasizing the need for Jews to buy up land and control it.
This issue not be about being anti-Arab.  Such an attitude is reprehensible.  Rather it should emphasize the mportant value of being pro-Jewish and encouraging Jewish settlement in Israel.

Is It All About The Colour of One's Skin

Israel has an immigration problem.  As the only state in the region with a sense of decency, Israel is a magnet for the dispossesed and persecuted from all around.  Right now the influx is from the Sudan where the Muslim majority is busy oppressing the Chrisian and animist minority into oblivion.  Even as they wax indignantly about human dignity and the rights of the so-called Palestinians, every Arab state in any kind of proximity to the Sudan has barred its refugees from entering their borders.  The only country not to force them away when they arrive is Israel.
Unfortunately immigration of this kind is problematic for Israel.  A large wave of migrants with no employable skills, no familiarity with the local culture or knowledge of the language is a tremendous burden on any country, all the more so a small country's.  Israel's government has every right to be concerned as more and more refugees arrive, especially since most of those refugees had to cross other countries to get there, countries which deliberately refused them entry and instead pointed them towards Tel Aviv.
However, if you say anything negative about the situation, you risk being tarred as a racist.  This is foolish.  Every single country in the world has a right to maintain its borders and control who crosses them.  It is also the responsibility of the national government of a country to do what is best for its citizens, socially and economically.  Demanding that Israel accept unlimited numbers of refugees is something that any other country would find unacceptable. 
And, as Yair Lapid wisely points out, this has nothing to do with racism:
Ignore for a moment the infiltrators’ skin color and inferior Knesset members like Michael Ben-Ari who got on the bandwagon. Close your eyes and try to imagine that the migrants were blond. Tens of thousands of blonds from Norway who entered Israel illegaly.
Sturdy blond men who arrived here without their families, blond laborers who are willing to do any job and never heard about the concept of minimum wage, and blonds who mostly drink alcohol at night. Blonds without healthcare insurance, without income supplements, and without any civil rights.
Miserable blonds whom the police doesn’t want to deal with and nobody wants to admit that he’s responsible for them.
Because had the infiltrators into Israel been blond, nobody would have accused southern Tel Aviv residents of racism, and we could have engaged in a genuine discussion about the fact that these migrants cause a real problem.
The participants in the rally held in Tel Aviv Tuesday tried to explain to the media, almost desperately, that their motives have nothing to do with whether the migrants are white or black. These demonstrators are nothing like the bunch of racism rabbis who signed a petition against leasing apartments to Arabs. Their problem with the infiltrators is not their origin, but rather, what they do to their neighborhoods. They did not come out to protest against the refugees, but rather, against the State of Israel.
Perhaps the timing is bad.  We are, after all, dealing with the recent psak din regarding selling or renting domiciles to Arabs and seen in juxtaposition, one can easily be confused into thinking this is the same issue.  It's not. 
I am not advocating that the refugees be expelled but Israel's government does have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of its borders and control who gets across and declares himself a refugee.  It is not racism to insist that a responsible policy be established instead of allowing the country to be swamped by people who will bring its social services system to collapse from the weight of their needs.

Is It A Waiting Game?

One of the problems with modern culture is that most problems we see, those on TV or in the movies, tend to get solves within a short amount of time.  The biggest political or romantic dramas get solved in the movie theatre within 2 hours while on television even the most convoluted plot gets dealt with after 1 season.  The idea of waiting years, maybe even decades for a strategy to work, makes sense on paper but for a society with the attention span of a caffeine-addled chipmunk, it seems to take far too long.
This seems to be the situation with Iran.  Here's what conventional wisdom generally understands about that country:
1) Most Iranians hate their government for being corrupt, religiously over-zealous and incompetent in running national affairs.
2) Most Iranians are proud of their culture and history and would see any outside attempt at regime change as an assault on their independence.  Given the choice of supporting their own corrupt leaders or foreign liberators, they would choose to side with their own.
As a result, most outsiders have traditionally been very cautious when it comes to discussing attempts at ousting the current government in Tehran.  Certainly there are those who have long advocated the "guns blazing" stategy that worked so well in Iraq (well, at least initially).  However, one of the most strident criticisms of the Obama administation has been its insistence on rapproachment and discussions with the Mad Mullahs and Ahmewhatshisname.  Indeed, people have shouted over and over that sanctions are useless since the Chinese, North Koreans and Russians ignore them and that demanding new talks with Iran simply shows American weakness.
And yet one wonders if there is not some wisdom to this strategy.  Years ago I was visiting a cousin of mine in Israel and mentioned that I was a big fan of Bibi Netanyahu (during his first stint as PM).  "You can have him if you like him so much," my cousin snorted.  Then he explained that while foreigners loved Netanyahu because of his style of defending Israel, they usually didn't realize he was a terrible leader who couldn't delegate, surrounded himself with weak yes-men and was doing a terrible job handling the country's economy and social needs.  Peace with the Arabs might be the only issue Israel has to deal with in the eyes of the world but the country also has to function on a daily basis, just like every other country in the world.  An Israeli leader who gets that elusive peace treaty with the Arabs but creates an economy with 15% unemployment is a lousy leader who won't get re-elected.
This is something we often forget about Iran.  All we see on television is a very minute part of life there.  We see the riots, the whackjobs and the soldiers but there is an entire population that, like us, wants to work for a living, have a peaceful family life and good food on the table.  The Mad Mullahs can make all the rousing anti-Jewish and anti-American speeches they want but when the proletariat go home to an empty fridge and bank account the impact seems to wear off.  There's only so long you can go on blaming someone else for your country's problems and at some point you figure out that it's actually the leaders that are the problem.
As this article notes, that day of realization is coming in Iran:
Iran's opposition leaders said Wednesday that a "dark future" awaits the economy because the government didn't listen to economists when it slashed energy and food subsidies in a country already struggling under biting UN sanctions.
Former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi support the government's effort to rein in subsidies but said in a rare statement posted on their websites that it is being implemented badly.
The opposition leaders, who believe President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the June 2009 election through massive vote fraud, said the way the government is slashing subsidies only brings more hardship to the country.
Fuel prices have at least quadrupled and bread prices have more than doubled in the past week since the government started dramatically reducing subsidies.
Yes, I am aware that there is a race to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons from the uranium that it is currently enriching but even that issue has a complicating factor.  Iran has allies with nuclear weapons, like North Korea, Russia or China.  Iran has access to terrorist groups which might be able to acquire nuclear weapons.  A regime struggling economically would find it far cheaper to buy or steal such a weapon than spend the money needed to build its own.  And don't believe for a second that the Russians or Chinese, if it was in their interest, wouldn't quietly sell one to them.  If Iran has to independently develop the bomb, then the pace of that development will be tied to the country's economic well-being.  It was one thing for Hitler, y"sh, to throw the last of his country's resources into a last-ditch fight against the Allies.  It's quite another for a country officially not at war with anyone to justify starving its population to build the bomb.  The Iranians are a strong-minded people.  They will not sit quietly for such things; no population ultimately does.
There might be some wisdom in the American stategy to slowly pressure Iran and let its own government's idiocy bring it down.  One hopes that before that government falls it won't do something that will make the hawks retroactively right about their insistence on immediate war.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Another Step Towards Formal Separation

As I've bemoaned on prior occasions, the fact that there's no patent on the term "Orthodox Judaism" is an endless source of annoyance.  Once upon a time people were more open and honest - the Reformers never claimed to be "halachic" and only die-hard old fashioned Conservatives still live under the illusion that they practice any real fealty towards traditional Jewish legal tradition. 
Of concern nowadays are those at the extreme left of the political/religious spectrum of Orthodoxy, those who are called "left wing Modern Orthodox" or LWMO for short.  Over the last few years the leadership of this groups has been taking the membership further away from anything considered traditionally Orthodox and into the murky area between proper Torah observance and right-wing Conservatism.  With recent initiatives like allowing women to lead parts of the synagogue service and annointing female rabbis, albeit under a different title, one has to wonder when the breaking point will come. 
At this point the group still insists on calling itself Orthodox.  It still claims obedience to halacha even though its method of using Jewish legal books is more "pick a posek" than a systematic use of the sources.  But perhaps a new development will create the final push that LWMO needs to formally leave proper Orthodoxy and set up a movement of their own.
As JTA reports, a second LWMO yeshivah to train rabbis in the tradition of Rabbi Avi Weiss' YCT is coming to Toronto:
For now, the plan is for the Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School, which calls itself “traditional yet modern,” to open fully by 2012.
The idea of opening the rabbinical seminary is to train liberal halachic rabbis who will be well suited to meet the needs of Canadian Jewry. Organizers say they are aiming at a middle ground between Conservative Judaism and what they describe as an increasingly rigid Orthodox movement.
“I’m somewhat disenchanted with what’s happening in the rabbinic establishment in the United States, especially the direction Yeshiva University has taken, which has moved to the right,” said Rabbi Daniel Sperber, Talmud professor at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and 1992 winner of the Israel Prize.
Note the repeated use of the word "liberal" throughout the article.  Indeed, the founders are concerned that in the absence of qualified "liberal" Orthodox students and teachers, they'll attract a slightly different crowd:
Sperber, who is on the advisory board of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a liberal Orthodox rabbinical school in New York founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss, says the major hurdle will be attracting more Orthodox faculty. If the new school becomes identified as a Conservative institution -- a possibility, given that most of its leadership is Conservative -- Sperber said he will withdraw.
Noting that the Rabbinical Council of America, the main body representing Modern Orthodox rabbis in North America, does not accept graduates of Chovevei Torah, Sperber said, “It is precisely for that sort of reason that one has to support [halachic] institutions of a more liberal nature.”
One should recall that once upon a time Rabbi David Hartmann also called himself Orthodox.  He has long since stopped pretending, especially after he opened a rabbinical school to both men and women, religious and non-observant.  Is this new school going to be going down the same track?  When the inevitable happens and women show up applying for the rabbinical program, will Rabbi Sperber pasken that it's okay?  When someone uses the "pick a posek" method to justify mixed seating during services, will he provide the hechsher for it?  Will he attend during "interfaith" sessions?
And for those who are bothered by my predictable opposition to such a school calling itself Orthodox, let me raise a final, far more practical point.  The recent economic downturn and lack of suitable recovery has left Jewish dayschools, both Torah observant and not, in radical financial trouble across North America.  Where are the funding priorities?  Is there that much spare money floating around the Jewish community to fund a new rabbinical school that can't even tell us where its graduates will find jobs?  Shouldn't the remaining money go to supporting primary Jewish education instead?

When Did He Figure It Out

The way the story is popularily understood, Yosef's brothers remain clueless as to his real identity until he shouts out "I'm Yosef, does my father yet live?" at the beginning of last week's parashah.  While that makes for a great climax to a suspenseful story, is it necessarily true?
Rav Yehonasan Eibeshutz zt"l, in his commentary on the section, doesn't think so.  In fact, he has a fascinating alternate approach that explains many of the difficulties in the Torah's narrative just before the big reveal.
First there's the matter of two consecutive, yet contradictory verses:
"With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondmen. And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless." (Ber 44:9-10)
How can the Egyptian emmisary start off by saying that the brothers' assessment of the penalty was correct but then repeat back to them an entirely different punishment?  What's more, why does Yosef echo that same assessment when the brothers change their mind and announce that they'll all stay as slaves (without mentioning an execution)?
Then there's the matter of Yehudah approaching Yosef directly to speak to him.  Recall that until this point there has been an interpreter standing between Yosef and the brothers at all times.  For all they know, Yosef doesn't understand a word of Hebrew and we have no evidence that the brothers knew Egyptian so how does Yehudah expect to directly communicate with the viceroy?
Consider Rashi's comment (from the Midrash) on Yehudah's line that Yosef is like Pharoah.  Rashi says that just as Pharoah decrees and doesn't fulfill, so you too decree and don't fulfill.  Where do we find that Pharoah didn't keep his own law?
Finally there's the content of Yehudah's speech.  He constantly refers to his father as "thy servant".  Once might be nice for protocol but he keeps doing it even though Yaakov is not a servant of any Egyptian, living as a free landowner in Canaan. 
Rav Eibeshutz therefore brings a new understanding to this part of the story.  He begins by noting all these discrepancies and then adds a further one - according to Chazal, Shimon was imprisoned by Yosef when the brothers were earlier released to go and bring food back to their families but was released from jail and treated honourably after they had departed.  Now that Shimon had been reunited with them, is there any doubt that he would have told the brothers about this curious turn of events?
Rav Eibershutz writes that when the brothers were stopped on their way out of Egypt and accused of stealing Yosef's goblet, the penny finally dropped for Yehudah.  What did is was the problematic response to the brothers offering themselves as slaves while suggesting the thief would be executed.  That penalty would have been the norm under the laws of Bnei Noach.  The :Egyptian -according to some opinions it was Menashe - responded by saying "No, we'll do it your way.  You're B'nai Yisrael so your law is the theif is sold into slavery for his theft and there is no penalty for the accomplices.  I'll take Binyamin back and the rest of your go home."
Now think back to the midrash on the reason for the conflict between Yosef and his brothers in their youth.  Chazal tell us that one of the differences between them was the understanding of their current legal status.  The brothers felt that since they were now living as a complete family in Israel, they had achieved the status of B'nai Yisrael and therefore had to observe halacha.  Yosef, on the other hand, held that until the Torah was actually given their status remained that of B'nai Noach.
And here was the interpreter telling them, in essence: Yes the penalty should be as your said but according to your law, only Binyamin is guilty.  How would some Egyptian interpreter know Torah law?  What's more, why was he being selective with halacha?  After all, the complete law is that that thief has to make proper compensation and only if he can't is he sold into slavery.  The brothers surely had enough money to pay appropriate damages to the Egyptian viceroy.  Why jump straight to slavery?
As a result, Rav Eibeshutz says that Yehudah finally figured out what was happening and who the menacing viceroy really way.  That's why he demanded to speak to Yosef face to face, in order to call his bluff.  He approached him and spoke directly in Hebrew.  Yosef might have initially tried to pretend he didn't understand, and at another point might have claimed that Yehudah's belief that he was Yosef was ridiculous.  After all, Yosef was sold as a slave to Egypt and Egyptian law, according to Chazal, forbid slaves from ever holding a ruling position.
Now Rashi's midrash excerpt makes sense.  Yehudah, sure of Yosef's real identity, points out that Yosef has indeed risen from slave to rule in violation of Egyptian law because Pharoah overrode the law.  Just as Pharoah decreed and didn't keep his own rule, so Yosef was under no obligation to demand Binyamin as his slave.
Therefore it was for this reason that Yosef now revealed himself.  According to Rav Eibeshutz, it wasn't because of overwhelming emotions.  He knew the game was up and that Yehudah had figured things out!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Whether Or Not To Bless

The Shulchan Aruch (O.Ch. 671:8) notes that since one must put one's lit channukiah at the entrance of the house, one living in a house with two or more entrances on different sides has to put a lit channukiah at each one.  The reason for this is so that someone walking by the house won't see an empty doorway and suspect the owner hasn't lit his channukiah.  However, the Shulchan Aruch paskens that one need only make a breachah over one channukiah and then light the rest without a blessing.
However there's a problem with this.  In Yoreh Deah 13:2 it is taught that a person who ritually slaughters a pregnant animal and finds that the foetus is developed enough to walk on its legs after being removed from the mother must ritually slaugher the baby if he wants to eat it.  Normally one does not have to slaughter a foetus since it's considered pre-slaughtered because of its mother, but in this case one does.  Like with the channukiah, there is a concern of maaris ayin.  People might see the foetus walking around, not realize where it came from and then wonder why the owner didn't shecht the animal.  But now comes the crucial difference.  According to Rav Akiva Eiger, zt"l, in the name of the Rashba the slaughterer must make the blessing on schechting before killing the animal.  This is in contradistinction to the extra channukiahs where no separate blessing is made for each.
Rav Yehudah Gutman notes thast Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l reveals that the difference is that the channukiah is a necessary mitzvah while slaughtering is an optional one.  One must light the channukiah, one does not need to eat meat and therefore slaughter.  Since one has no choice but to light multiple channukiahs because of a takana of Chazal, one need not make the extra blessings.  What's more, one has fulfilled the element of pirsumei nisa simply by lighting, even without a blessing.  However, when one comes to slaughter the mobile foetus, the situation is different.  Because of maaris ayin the kosher slaughtering becomes obligatory.  Therefore this animal is now like all others and needs to be shechted to be eaten.
I would like to wish all my readers a healthy and happy Chanukah, one and all.

Time For Achdus

As news of the terrible fire spreading across northern Israel gets more and more tragic, let us tonight take some time from our Channukah celebrations to say some tehillim (83,130 and 142 come to mind), personal prayers and entreaties to the Ribono shel Olami for our suffering brethren and the brave firefighters who are struggling to contain this disaster.
May God grant mercy on Israel and may this be the last of our suffering as a nation before the Final Redemption.

Responsibility in Management

"The spoke the chief butler unto Pharaoh saying 'I make mention of my faults this day: Pharaoh was wroth with his servants and put me in the ward of the house of the captain of the guard, me and the chief baker." (Bereshis 41:18)
A close examination of the episode of Yosef HaTzadik and the two Egyptian ministers turns up an interesting observation.  Who exactly were the culprits in the incident that wound the two ministers up in jail?  Look at the following:
"And it came to pass after these things that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord, the king of Egypt.  And Pharaoh was wroth against his two officers, against the chief of the butlers and against the chief of the bakers.  And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Yosef was bound." (Ber 40:1-3)
When the Torah talks about who actually did the misdeed, the word "chief" is conspicuously missing.  Yet it appears when describing who actually went to prison.  One could conclude from this that while anonymous members of the butlering and baking staff were at fault for whatever offended Pharaoh, the king decided to punish the ministers in charge of each department for failing to maintain properly quality control.
The dreams each minister then had while in prison contain an additional dimension which allows us to understand why Yosef gave a favourable interpretation to the chief butler but not the chief baker.
In the chief butler's dream, he is directly preparing the wine he will be delivering to Pharaoh while in the chief  baker's dream he is carrying bread on baskets to Pharaoh.  If we understand the reason they wound up in jail is because of a mistake their underlings committed, then this makes perfect sense.  The chief butler has recognized that the failure of quality control in his department is his fault and in the future he'll take an active role in supervising the preparation of the wine so nothing will go wrong.  The chief baker, meanwhile, hasn't learned anything.  In his mind, he is still separated from the preparation of the bread, just like the baskets separate his head from the bread in them.  No one can interfere with the chief butler if he personally involves himself with the preparation of the wine but the birds are still free to come and peck away from the bread from the chief baker.
The lesson Yosef learns from this is clear.  Instead of being an aloof ruler, barking orders from a throne on high, the Torah tells us that Yosef tours Egypt and personally supervises the building and stocking of the store cities.  Not only does he have a plan to save the country from famine, he will personally be involved with it to ensure its success.
Those of us who have positions of management can learn a great deal from this.  A good manager knows how to delegate responsibility but maintains an interest in his delegates.  A bad manager sloughs off tasks onto underlings and then claims not to know how things went wrong when one of them screws up. 
Chazal tell us that God helps those who help themselves.  We can all learn from Yosef how to manage our lives through taking an interest in all their facets.