Thursday, November 25, 2010
Pitfalls for the Influential, Favoured & Handsome & the Walk & Talk of Joseph
Success and influence are often associated with evil or greatness, both can be correct. Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing was called “the real devil” by a priest speaking out against “rapacious property developers”, an apology followed1. Humility, good judgement and not being self absorbed are some of the qualities we respect in successful people, Joseph's life is filled with insights about this.
The hatred the brothers felt for Joseph was so intense that when they decide to throw into a deep pit, in spite of their desire to just remove his special coat, they did it with so much anger and great hatred and with such cruelty that they tore all his clothes and he was left naked15. Then they sat down to eat bread, there was no sense that what happened was wrong16.
For his integrity, he is falsely accused by this wicked woman who twists the story and is imprisoned. He rises in prison to a leadership role. Still, after all he has been through he could have been angry with the whole world, but instead we find him caring about his fellow prisoners22. He is alert to the needs of others and so notices sadness on two prisoners faces , he asks “why are your faces bad today?” and focused on their problems. Vigilance, modesty, with-holding judgement and caring about others are all called for from all who are favoured to whatever extent.
1Sydney Morning Herald, 23 11 2010.
2Matnot Kehuna, commentary on Beresheet Rabba 84
3Beresheet Rabba Perek 84
4Seforno on 37:2
6Yelamdenu, cited in Torah Shelaima, Genesis p. 1392
9Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsh commentary on Genesis
10Etz Yoseph, commentary on Beresheet Rabba 84
11Pirkey Rabbeinu Hakadosh Pirkah DrArbaah 24b, cited in Torah Shelaima, Genesis p. 1396
12Ohr Hachayim Genesis 37:5
22The Lubavitcher Rebbe, as I heard it retold by Rabbi YY Jacobson.