This week's parsha
Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
How Did Joseph Become the Most Politically Powerful Jew in History?
We’ve all heard the inspiring story of Joseph: He was sold by his brothers into slavery, was accused of abuse by the wife of Potiphar, and spent 12 years in prison. Then, within one day, he went from being a pitiful slave to an all-powerful viceroy of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh, and single-handedly saved the known world from hunger. It’s the ultimate rags-to-riches story.
How did Joseph have the proper leadership skills to be the most politically powerful Jew of all time? Becoming a true leader takes years of self-mastery and character refinement. Yet Joseph was merely 30 years old and had spent nearly half his life in a dungeon!
Refusing Comfort, Keeping Hope
The deception has taken place. Joseph has been sold into slavery. His brothers dipped his coat in blood. They bring it back to their father, saying: “Look what we have found. Do you recognise it? Is this your son’s robe or not?” Jacob recognizes it and replies, “It is my son’s robe. A wild beast has devoured him. Joseph has been torn to pieces.” We then read:
Jacob rent his clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned his son for a long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. He said, “I will go down to the grave mourning for my son.”
Resisters and Affirmers
A psychologist who was researching religious attitudes in the Jewish community, some years ago, came to the conclusion that some people could be termed “resisters” while others are “affirmers.” The resisters resist being told what to do. When considering the details of some aspect of traditional Jewish life, and all its dos and don’ts, the typical resister often feels it is too much and too difficult, and has to struggle to comply.
By contrast, the affirmers feel inspired and encouraged. They love hearing what Jewish teachings tell them. If they hear that they have to go to a lot of trouble in order to ensure that some aspect of daily life is more closely in accordance with Jewish law, they cheerfully accept this. “No problem, yes, of course . . .”