Vayeishev (And He Settled) B’resheet/Genesis 37:1-40:23
Haftorah Reading: Amos 2:6-3:8
As I read this Torah portion and studied it this week I must say I was convicted in my own life by Joseph’s example. I sometimes have a tendency to be pessimistic. (You probably never noticed this) I read these verses and see a man who never gave into hopelessness, feeling like he was cursed or the feeling he was constantly swimming upstream.
In this portion we read of his brothers hating him. Even his father rebuked him after he told him one of his dreams. He was sold into slavery, then wrongly accused by the wife of his owner of assaulting her. He was sent to prison for this trumped up charge. He was forgotten by one of the men he helped get out of prison. Yet, even with all this we never read one word where he seems down or depressed. He was able to rise above each wrong done to him and hold on to his faith. He never wallowed in self-pity or anger.
I believe Joseph was able to overcome because of his faith in G-d, the G-d of his fathers. He did not sink into saying “Why me? Poor me.” He trusted G-d completely to bring good from each of the wrongs done to him. His story gives me a good example for my own life. Joseph shows us how to live each day. It teaches us that G-d gives us strength to overcome anything we face if we will look to him and not to unfair circumstances we might face.
G-d never promised us a trouble free life. But He has promised us to always be with us. We, in turn, need to grow the faith to trust Him, to hold on to Him no matter what comes into our life. That was Joseph’s greatest lesson to us all.
Jean and I received an email this week that really helped me see this story of Joseph more clearly. As you know, we use the tithes each of you gives to help meet the needs of poor and vulnerable Israelis. We have been specifically helping Ethiopian Jews because a majority of these people struggle to make ends meet each day.
You may remember we have been sending emails out about an Ethiopian man, A, that Helen, the lady that works with the Ethiopians, wrote us about. He fled Ethiopia with just what he could carry. Since arriving in Israel he has learned to make beautiful tapestries of scenes from his homeland and some of Israel. This is how he earns a living. We do not know why but a person threw away 25 pieces of his handwork, each one worth about $200. Because of this he is now homeless and winter has arrived in Jerusalem. Nights are very cold there and the rainy season has started.
In an effort to help this man, Helen used our last check we sent to her to buy him food and a winter coat. As he was in the shop trying on coats she realized he only had the clothes that he was wearing at the time. He had no other possessions in this world While she was helping A look for a coat and warmer clothes to wear the shop owner realized she was trying to help this man. He too was moved by the man’s situation and gave her a great discount on everything she bought for A! A’s attitude concerning his situation is truly amazing. A day or two later after the purchases were made Helen met with A again to make sure he had food. He smiled and told her having the wonderful coat felt like having central heating. He never complained – only thanked her over and over for her help.
At present, he has a distant relative allowing him to sleep on her sofa at night. He doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring but he is continually trying to better his situation. This struck me as what a great lesson to us all! Like Joseph, A met his hardship with gratitude for help received and is trying to move on without drowning in self-pity.
G-d has done so much for each of us. Sometimes we may feel because of our faith we deserve a trouble free life. I expect Joseph, growing up the favorite of his father, may have felt the same. But he never let hardship bog him down. He was always able to rise above his situation. He never forgot Who was really in charge. It was not his brothers, or the slave owner or the prison guards. From scripture it seems he lived each day knowing who he was and knowing he served a great God. He did his best and always looked up.
I pray each of us can see our life from a clearer perspective in the days we are in. I have read several verses this week that should encourage us all no matter what we face. For your own encouragement read Isaiah 41:13, I Peter 5:7, Psalms 56:3 and Romans 8:28. Be encouraged this week! He loves you and cares for you.
Blessings to each of you this week. David/Jean