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It All Starts Here

By: Mrs Michal Porat-Zibman

Parshat Vayeshev continues the unfolding drama of Sefer Bereishit. We see the cast of characters that had just been born a few Parshiyot ago grow up into decision making adults. We become aware of the actions of the 'major players', of Yakovs sons: Reuven, Yehuda, Yosef and we meet some new characters down in Egypt towards the end of the Parsha. 

I want to focus on one of the most seemingly insignificant person who makes an appearance in the Parsha; One whose role seems so unimportant that he's not even given a name.

When Yaakov sends Yosef to find his brothers, Yosef gets lost. The Pasuk tells us (37:15-16) that a 'man' found him and asked him what he was looking for. Yosef responds that he is looking for his brothers, and the man sends him in the direction of his brothers. Ultimately, these will be Yosef's last steps as a free man for a long time.

Commentators have tried to figure out why the Torah mentions this conversation. There seems to be so many things that are about to happen, that have happened. Why stop to tell us that Yosef got lost and someone helped him out? Isn't the main part of the story what happens when Yosef actually arrives?

The Midrash tells us that it was a malach, an angel sent to help out Yosef. The Ramban however brings this Midrash and states that it was not an angel in the sense that the person was heavenly and not human, but rather what the Midrash is trying to tell us is that this was a real person, sent by Hashem to help Yosef, and the person didn't even realize that he was on shlichut, that he was on a mission. So he was an angel in the fact that he was sent by G-d. He simply saw a young man wandering around, points him to where he needs to go, and by doing so he sends Yosef straight into the evil intentions of his brothers and ultimately brings about the long exile in Egypt.

It all starts here. 

But this man was clearly unaware of what significance his role had played. Nechama Leibowitz brings this Ramban and talks about the significance of 'supporting characters' throughout Jewish history. It isn't just those who are the 'main players' on the stage of history, but it's also the people who do the small acts in the day-to-day, who have no idea how of the impact they are having on the world.

I think that the message here is an important one. It's easy to look at the events in Sefer Bereishit and highlight only those characters that have had the main roles as those who changed history. They did make history, and change it, but one never knows where and when G-d is designating him or her for a specific mission, for a specific shlichut. And therefore, one should always act and conduct themselves as if they themselves are on 'a mission from G-d'. That means one must be aware of ones actions, who he/she interacts with and how one speaks to another human being.

Every moment in the outside world has the potential for Kiddush Hashem. Every time we interact with someone else we have the ability to make their day, and maybe even bring them closer to an awareness of G-d. The journey through life is not just about getting to the various goals that we set for ourselves along the way, but sometimes, based on how we conduct ourselves along this journey, the journey itself becomes the goal.

May Hashem bless us with a constant awareness that we are on eternal Shlichut, and that we have the power to do great things by doing seemingly small acts.

Shabbat Shalom




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