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Parshat Miketz

By: Mrs Leora Bednarsh

The character of Yosef, the focus of these few parshiyot, is fascinating in that in his life he faces so many new and challenging situations that few of us can even imagine.Coddled by his father, so harshly treated by his brothers, he finds himself taken hostage and sold as a slave, in a completely foreign culture.Once there, he is subject to attempts at seduction by his master's wife, again taken hostage and put in jail.Next he finds himself advisor to the king and viceroy of Egypt.Yosef has many things happen to him that are not in his control. And yet, Yosef remains Yosef, stays true to the teachings of his father, and does not lose his way.It is for this reason that he is called Yosef HaTzadik.How does he do this?

Perhaps we can look to an essential aspect of Yosef's personality the interpreter.One of the first things we learn about Yosef is his dreams, and in fact, dreams and their interpretations accompany Yosef throughout his life.Yosef has the skill of being able to interpret dreams.But not only to understand and interpret them Yosef's interpretations effect actions.In last week's Parsha, Yosef does not only interpret Pharaoh's dream.He devises a plan of action based on that interpretation, a plan which will save the lives' of all of Egypt and of Yosef's entire family.And this is the power of Yosef.One might think that the ability to understand the future would lead to passivity, to a sense that history is simply going to play itself out and the best we can do is sit and watch.But Yosef does not have that reaction.He understands that while we may not be in control of what happens to us, we are in control of how we react to the events of our lives.Rather than bemoaning the events in his life, whether currentorfuture, (and there was much that Yosef could complain about), he takes control, and makes the best of each situation he finds himself, rising up the ranks and yet maintaining his values.

The most breathtaking example of this character trait of Yosef's comes up in this week's Parsha, when Yosef reveals himself to his brothers, and consoles them with his interpretation of the events that they felt terribly guilty about: "But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that God sent me before you."

I think that we all have an important lesson to learn from Yosef, that whatever situations we face in life, we can decide how to interpret them and our interpretations will guide our actions.If we believe that God sent us them for a reason, then what's left for us to figure out is how to make the most of them.




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