The primary division in Klal Yisrael is the split between Yosef (who leads the aseres ha’shevatim) and Yehudah. When these two powers were squaring off, as described in the beginning of the parsha, it was like a world war. The whole briah was probably shaking.
The first 130 years of Yaakov Avinu’s life were replete with tzaros. Maaseh avos siman la’banim. Those years represent the time period of Olam Ha’Zeh. The last seventeen years of Yaakov Avinu’s life represent Acharis Ha’Yamim. That is clear from Chazal and Rishonim. That is why it was specifically Yehudah that Yaakov Avinu sent ahead to Goshen on his way down to Mitzrayim. Because this was the point of full reconciliation between Yehudah and Yosef, which symbolizes the complete achdus that will reign in Klal Yisrael at End of Days.
This fits perfectly with the Medrash that Rashi quotes that it was to establish a Beis Medrash that Yaakov sent Yehudah ahead of him. Because in Acharis Ha’Yamim it will be u’malah kol ha’aretz deaih es Hashem, the whole world will be saturated with knowledge of Hashem.
The Medrash says that when the brothers saw Yehudah and Yosef locked in conflict, they said that “these are two kings and it is no business of ours to get involved (Medrash Rabbah 93:2).”
From this we see that any time there is a machlokes between Gedolei Torah, our approach must be, “These are two kings and we have no business meddling in.” We should not say bad things or even think negatively about one Gadol or the other. We should just completely have no involvement in the machlokes whatsoever.
(From Reb Noam Rosen)
ועתה לא אתם שלחתם אתי הנה כי האלקים (מה:ח)
On the one hand, it is clear from the pesukim and Chazal that Yosef being sold down to Mitzrayim by his brothers was part of the Hashgacha’s master plan to bring Klal Yisrael there. As Rashi brings on the pasuk “vayishlacheihu mei’eimek chevron”, that it was what Hashem told Avraham Avinu in the Bris Bein Ha’Besarim that brought about Yosef being sent into the hands of his brothers.
Nevertheless, as baalei bechira, they were certainly responsible for their actions. Indeed, they said “ha’Elokim matzah es avon avadecha” and “asheimim anachnu”, and Chazal tell us that the asarah harugei malchus were a kaparah for mechiras Yosef.
The Rambam writes in regards to yedias Hashem versus bechira chafshis that the resolution of these two seemingly contradictory realities is ultimately beyond us. The same is true regarding Hashgacha versus bechira. They are both cardinal priniciples, and they blend together like the skin and flesh of those creatures in which it is impossible to discern the difference between them (see Shabbos 107). The actions of baalei bechira are incorporated into the master plan of the Hashgacha, but that does not in any way mitigate the fact that their actions were in fact a function of their own free will choice, as the Sefas Emes says, “all the causes come from the One who brings about all things, and the sinner will pay for his sin”.
An example of the interplay and intersection between Hashgacha and bechira was explained by the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva: In certain circumstances, one is not allowed to open up a competing business. Reuvein ignores this halacha and open’s up a competing business in an area where Shimon has had such an established business for some time already. For some time, Shimon left things as they are, but as his income was increasingly declining, he decided he must do something about it.
Now, in such a situation, the halacha is that Shimon has no rights to claim payment for monetary losses that were already incurred as a result of Reuvein infringing on his territory. Regarding those losses, therefore, the perspective of proper emunah is to understand that it was bashert, min ha’Shamayim. To be upset at Reuvein over that, although perhaps understandable, would simply be missing the point; as the Chinuch explains regarding the mitzvah of not bearing a grudge or taking revenge – if it happened to you it means you deserved it and it was min ha’Shamayim, despite the fact that the one who did it to you was a baal bechira. Reuvein transgressed a clear-cut issur and will receive his due punishment for it, yet as far as the past is concerned for Shimon, it is min ha’Shamayim.
However, that does not mean that Shimon should let the situation continue. Were Shimon to say, “Listen, parnassa is min ha’Shamayim, so I am not going to be a baal machlokes and schlep Reuvein to Beis Din,” that does not make him any bigger of a maamin.
Shimon is empowered by halacha to get Beis Din involved, and put a stop to Reuvein’s encroachment as far as the future is concerned. That means that it is ratzon Hashem for him to do that hishtadlus, and refraining from doing so is not at all a maalah in emunah.
As far as in-retrospect is concerned, since the halacha does not enable him to extract any type of payment from Reuvein, it is min ha’Shamayim. But as far as the future is concerned, ratzon Hashem is that he should do his hishtadlus by getting Beis Din involved. Of course, if he feels like being super-giving and allow Reuvein to share his turf, he certainly can. But if his reason to refrain from getting Beis Din involved is that “parnassa is anyway min ha’Shamayim”, that is simply an error and is not a maalah in emunah at all.
(Audio recording available here)