Torah Portion: Vayeishev (And He Settled) B’Resheet (Gen.) 37-40
HafTorah: Amos 2:6-3:8
This Torah portion is taken almost completely with the life of Joseph and his struggles until he become the second in power in the land of Egypt. There are several points that can be made from these verses about how Joseph dealt with his misfortunes. One amazing observation is how he was able to hold onto G-d’s purpose in his life, to not give up, or become discouraged. This trait speaks to me and I hope to each of you.
Reflect on his life for a moment. He was ridiculed by his brothers, thrown into a pit and sold into slavery, put in prison for a crime he did not commit and then after all that, forgotten for two years by a man who had said he would bring Joseph’s situation to Pharaoh after his release.
Yet, in it all, as far as we can tell from scripture, Joseph never became bitter or nurtured hurt from all that befell him. This is a quality that we should pray for everyday. We should strive to not hold grudges, to not hold on to hurt but to hold fast to the Father and what He has done for each of us in our lives. I pray for myself and for each of you that we can be in the spiritual place that Joseph models in these verses.
Another point that I want us to consider is how Joseph reacted to temptation. In Eph. 6:12-13 we read where Paul gives us insight into what we read here in the Torah. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of G-d, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
In Genesis 39:7-9 we read of the account of Potiphar’s wife tempting Joseph to lie with her. Remember, this is a young man far from home who had been seemingly abandoned by family and G-d. In these verses we read his response to her advances. Pay particular attention to his immediate reaction summed up in the words, “And he refused.” What is important to notice is there is no hesitation, no thinking about possibilities, no arguing or discussing. Joseph did not get into a debate with the “Yetzer harah” or the evil inclination. To start down that path puts us all on a slippery slope. We often begin to rationalize our response to sin. Examples such as, “I know I shouldn’t be involved in this but I need the money to pay my rent.” “I know gossip is wrong but she needs to know what her friend said about her.” This is opening a door that may be difficult to shut. When we encounter a choice, or decision on whether to or not to engage in some act, some sin, our best response is always, NO, no argument, no rationalization. Only an immediate No will give us the ability to withstand the temptation. I pray each of you can make this story of Joseph a part of your spiritual life. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. We can overcome with G-d’s help. Bless you all.