Did someone do wrong to you or your family, and now you go out of your way to avoid
them? Does hearing their name or seeing them trigger negative responses and anger?
I understand because I am the same. Can we be like Joseph in the bible? Do we want to
be? This week’s Bible portion shows how Joseph reacted to his brother’s evil. Joseph
and his brothers return from burying their father, Jacob. Joseph stops at the pit that his
brothers had thrown him into. His brothers become frightened, saying: “What if Joseph
will hate us, and will pay us back the evil which we did to him?” Genesis 50:15
Joseph did not seek vengeance. He weeps and reassures them: “Don’t be afraid. Am I
instead of G-d? You intended evil but G-d meant it for good…” Genesis 50:19-20.
How could Joseph get past his pain without holding a grudge against his brothers? I
have experienced evil acts by others, and I am sure you did too. But no matter how bad
it was, you likely weren’t sold into slavery by your brothers and then spent ten years in
jail for a crime you didn’t commit. In an online article, Chana Weisberg explains, “On the
day his brothers sold him as a slave, Joseph had been a vulnerable teenager. His
comfortable life as his father’s beloved son was changed forever. His brothers had
acted callously and cruelly. But as far as Joseph was concerned, that was something
between them and G-d. What happened to him –being sold as a slave, descending to
Egypt, becoming Pharoahs’ viceroy and, ultimately, saving his family from famine– was
all G-ds’ grand plan.”
It’s a variation of the question, “why do bad things happen to good people.” Joseph
teaches us to surrender to the knowledge that all that happens is part of G-‘s plan. We
are taught that ultimate justice is in G-d’s hands and that He will right the wrongs and
punish the wicked. In this world or the next, in this lifetime or another, in ways we may
never know, justice will be served.
That sounds so easy. And it could be for some, but it hasn’t been for me, but I am still
working on it.
Andres “Work in Progress” Mejer
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