Joseph’s REAL Big Moment

This week we conclude the book of Genesis, and a set of verses conclude the story of the patriarchs and matriarchs in a particularly meaningful fashion. Though there are many ways to read the stories of our founding family, it is hard to argue that they models we should aspire to emulate all the time. The themes of deception, conflict, strife, and favoritism (to name just a few) are all woven throughout the narrative. The story concludes, however, with a powerful moment of Teshuvah (returning).

In verses 50:18-21, just a few sentences before the end of the book, we read the following:

(18) His brothers went to him themselves, flung themselves before him, and said, “Here, we are yours as slaves.” (19) But Joseph said to them, “Have no fear! Am I a substitute for God? (20) Besides, although you intended me harm, God intended it for good, so as to bring about the present result—the survival of many people. (21) And so, fear not. I will sustain you and your infants.” And he consoled them, and he spoke to their hearts.

(יח) וַיֵּלְכוּ֙ גַּם־אֶחָ֔יו וַֽיִּפְּל֖וּ לְפָנָ֑יו וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ הִנֶּ֥נּֽוּ לְךָ֖ לַעֲבָדִֽים׃ (יט) וַיֹּ֧אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֛ם יוֹסֵ֖ף אַל־תִּירָ֑אוּ כִּ֛י הֲתַ֥חַת אֱלֹהִ֖ים אָֽנִי׃ (כ) וְאַתֶּ֕ם חֲשַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָלַ֖י רָעָ֑ה אֱלֹהִים֙ חֲשָׁבָ֣הּ לְטֹבָ֔ה לְמַ֗עַן עֲשֹׂ֛ה כַּיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֥ת עַם־רָֽב׃ (כא) וְעַתָּה֙ אַל־תִּירָ֔אוּ אָנֹכִ֛י אֲכַלְכֵּ֥ל אֶתְכֶ֖ם וְאֶֽת־טַפְּכֶ֑ם וַיְנַחֵ֣ם אוֹתָ֔ם וַיְדַבֵּ֖ר עַל־לִבָּֽם׃

However you read this conclusion, it is clear that reconciliation and restoration of relationships is Joseph’s ultimate gift to his brothers. It is only through the act of forgiveness that this story gets a positive resolution, and that is a model that we can certainly learn from.

Harboring a grudge, righteous as it may be, rarely if ever leads to a positive outcome. Getting over the feeling of being seriously wronged isn’t easy, and it can take a long time. Ultimately, however, forgiveness is the only whole-hearted way forward. It is no coincidence that as we move from the story of the first Jewish families to the story of the birth of the Jewish nation, the corner we have to turn to get there is one of Teshuva.

This week, talk to your children about times when we you wish you hadn’t held on to anger and resentment for quite so long. Ask them how they repair their relationships with their friends.

Shabbat Shalom,