Torah Portion: Vayeishev ( He settled) Genesis 37:1-40:23
HafTorah: Amos 2:6-3:8
Tonight we cover a large part of Joseph’s life from his seventh year until he is in an Egypt prison sentenced for something he did not do. We follow him from a somewhat difficult teenager to when he has had more than his share of difficulties in his life.
I want us to look at his story from the aspect of Kidush Hashem (sanctify the Name) and see what we can see that might help us in our daily walk with the L-rd. How do we translate Kidush HaShem? Sanctifying G-d’s name is kidush HaShem. What does that mean? Kidush is from the same root as Kadosh or holy. Holy means to set apart, as for us to be set apart. How can we set apart G-d’s name? Let’s see how Joseph did or did not do this in his life.
His father sends him off to Shechem to check on his brothers who are tending the flocks. Like a good son off he goes. He gets to Shechem and does not find his brothers. He could have gone home and told his father he could not find them. But instead he asked a man if he knew where they might be. He told him they went to Dothan. The meaning of Dothan is pretending to be religious. He finds them there. They see him coming, takes him and strips him of his coat his father had given him. Then they threw him in a pit and sat down to eat. They later traded him off to some passing people. They sold him as a slave in Egypt. He rises to be the head of the estate of his master. The wife of the owner tried to seduce him but he refused and fled rather than compromise his faith. She does not like being rejected so she grabbed his cloak and used it to prove her side of the story. (Interesting his cloak or covering was taken from him by his brothers and also here) Joseph was sent to prison where he was imprisoned through no fault of his own. He is there some years and during that time became head of the prison. During that time he met two men, the baker and wine taster of Pharaoh. Remember Pharaoh’s officer had Joseph sent away. So here are another two of Pharaoh’s men. What would have been our reaction to them? What is his? He says, I see you are sad today. What is wrong? Rather than being hard or avoiding these two men he took the time to find out what was wrong. Again, his faith and trust in G-d led him to not be bitter, resentful or angry. But rather he reached out of himself and showed compassion to others even though the persons were not like him. In fact they could have been looked at as part of the system that put him there. The point is that through all that had happened to him what did he do? He never forgot who he was or who G-d was. He saw these trials not as an unfair terrible thing but as an opportunity to be faithful to G-d and do whatever he could to bring honor to His name. How many times must the yetzer harah or the evil inclination have told him to go ahead and hate his brothers, his predicament. That he had every right to strike back but he never did. He stayed faithful to G-d. In Phil 1:12-13 Paul was able to see G-d’s hand even in his chains in 2:17 he says even if he dies he will rejoice because it was worth it all.
Later we see Joseph at his reunion with his brothers telling them not to be angry with themselves because G-d had allowed all this, even willed this for him so that in G-d’s plan their life would be preserved. So we sanctify G-d’s name by being His light in every situation. It might someday require us to lay down our lives but for sure it requires us to live our life everyday to bring Him into this world. Be aware of every opportunity to sanctify His name.
Lastly, why did Jacob refuse to be comforted? Why does he say he will continue to mourn? He held out hope that somewhere out there Joseph was not dead. Jacob never lost hope. He held on. Sometimes when G-d has given us a promise and it goes on for sometime and nothing happens to bring it into reality in the physical world how are we to react? If we are sure G-d has told us, given us a promise, we continue to mourn its fulfillment even when it seems lost. By mourn, I mean we keep it before G-d. We pray and beseech Him for it. There are other place where we see this in scripture like Jer. 31:15-17 and Psalms 127:1-6. In each what was being mourned for came into being even though it might have tarried it did come. Hold on to what the Father has given you.