Torah Portion: Mikketz(At the End) B’resheet (Genesis) 41-44
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 3:15-4:1
In this Torah portion we read of Joseph’s release from prison, his rise to power in Egypt and the reunion between him and his brothers. I would like to begin with my question this week that covered the reunion of Joseph and his brothers.
At this point in the story, the brothers were not aware that this man, second only to Pharaoh, was their brother. Yet Joseph was fully aware of who they were. In our portion we read in B’resheet/Genesis 42:21 that the brothers blamed their plight on the fact that they did not take Joseph out of the pit when he begged them for mercy. They saw that as the main reason for the predicament they found themselves in as they stood before Joseph. In Genesis 42:22 we read Reuben’s rebuke of them. He said, “didn’t I tell you not to sin against the lad, and you did not listen and now his blood is being demanded. (by G-d)
At first glance it might seem Reuven’s statement was saying, “I told you so! See” I expect we have used similar words somewhere in our own lives. But what was Reuven really saying? Just saying, I told you so does not help the situation. Maybe he was responding to what he saw as a serious flaw in his brother’s feelings of remorse over what they had done to Joseph.
It might help to go back and read Genesis 37:24-25. Here we read, “And they took him and they threw him into the pit and they sat down to eat bread.” So, while their brother was begging for mercy they sat down and had a meal. They seemed to be completely insensitive to his pain and suffering.
Reuven saw through their remorse. They were only remorseful for what they had done. They were not remorseful for the hatred and jealousy they felt toward their younger brother. They possibly still held on to the feeling he had it coming. Reuven was saying that their repentance was rather self-serving. True repentance, on their part, would have covered their hatred and jealousy they felt toward their brother.
This should speak to us all. We all make mistakes and do things that are wrong. Is it enough to just repent for the results or must we go deeper to actually fully repent? Our nature is such that admitting fault is very hard for us to do. Our normal path is to minimize our guilt as much as we can. We lay the ultimate blame on any number of things other than at our own door.
This is a problem for it limits our repentance. Reuven was calling his brothers, and us as well, to be as honest as we can, to come to the place of confessing to ourselves, our fellow man and surely to G-d the full extent of our wrong doing. Only that will enable us to bring about a complete reconciliation between us and our fellow man and G-d.
May we all be able to come to that place and be totally free from the effects of our actions, rising to that place where we can stand clean before G-d.
I would like to end with one final point. In this portion we read of the sons returning to their father and telling him they had to leave Simeon in Egypt and also had been told they must return with Benjamin if they wanted to buy more grain and liberate Simeon. In Genesis 42:36 it says Jacob could not bear to let go of his youngest son. Benjamin was the son of his old age, the last son of his favorite wife, Rachel. This exchange should cause us all to consider, are there people, things, or jobs that we consider non-negotiable? Things we can’t trust G-d with? Things or people we just can’t give up? When Yeshua called his disciples He asked them to leave everything. Sometimes G-d asks us to let go of our own personal non-negotiables. He calls each of us to rely only on Him. From that call and our response comes real freedom, fully trusting in Him as Jacob was finally able to do. In Genesis 43:14 we read where he prayed to G-d for the Father to grant his sons compassion in the sight of the man so he would release to them his two sons. True freedom is converting our worries into prayers and releasing them to the Father’s very capable Hands. May G-d grant each of us that wisdom.