DECEMBER 12-13, 2014 14 KISLEV 5775
"Reuben heard, and he rescued him from their hand." (Beresheet 37:21)
The brothers of Yosef made a decision. They sat in judgment and ruled that Yosef must be put to death. In their view Yosef was a usurper of power bent on excluding the brothers from their G-d-given right as leaders of the twelve tribes. Who should lead the fight if not Reuben, who by birthright deserved the monarchy? In fact, they stood by Reuben wanting to secure his rights for him once Yosef was gone.
However, the Midrash says: Reuben said, "I am the firstborn, and only I am to blame for this crime." It was Reuben himself who rescued his rival from the punishment that his brothers thought he deserved. Such sublime behavior is unprecedented.
It is instructive to observe the reason Reuben gave for what he did: "I am the firstborn, and only I am to blame for this crime." Reuben saw it as his duty to carry out the rescue and thereby transfer all of his own firstborn rights to Yosef. Why? Because he, Reuben, was the real firstborn! He regarded it as his duty to do what was right, even if it meant that his double portion and kingship would go to someone else.
The Oznayim Latorah says we have much to learn from Reuben. Anyone who occupies a position entailing both duty and privilege must never shirk his duty, even if he is deprived of those privileges. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"He entered the house to do his work" (Beresheet 39:11)
Rashi says that when Yosef went to do his work in the house of Potifar, he was actually contemplating being with Potifar's wife, because she tried every means to seduce Yosef. However, at the last minute, Yosef conjured up a vision of his father Ya'akob and this prevented him from doing anything wrong.
The Midrash says that Potifar's wife not only tried to physically seduce him, she brought him proof from astrology that they are destined to be united together. With such pressure being imposed on Yosef, how was he able to overcome this test, especially if she brought him conclusive evidence to her argument? The Rabbis say that when he conjured up the picture of Ya'akob, his father, Yosef was really trying to measure this deed according to the truth of his father Ya'akob. All of the proofs that she would gather cannot stand up to the pure truth with which he was trained in the house of Ya'akob.
This is a lesson for us all, even though we are not brought up by Ya'akob Abinu. There is a source of real truth inside every one of us, and whenever the evil inclination tempts us to do anything, we must measure it by the yardstick of the truth that is in us. The yeser hara brings evidence and arguments that he is right, but one who wants the truth can conjure up a vision of what is right and what is wrong. By digging inside of us, we will be doing the right thing, like Yosef Hasadik. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
The Hafess Hayim zt"l taught that a primary reason why many people live way above their means is because they are attempting to gain approval. They are driven to spend large amounts of money on status items, even if they cannot afford them. This, he explained, is opposite to a Torah way of life. If you buy in order to satisfy the values of others, then you will not get fulfillment from your purchases.
At the moment of selection, ask yourself, "Why am I buying this particular item? Am I filling one of my needs or is it to bolster another's impression of my worth?
If you need others to honor you, then you are worse off than someone who requires charity. When an individual asks another for financial assistance, the donor may feel sorry for the disadvantaged person and provide him with his needs. But when people see that someone is seeking honor, they usually do something to deprive the honor seeker of his wish.
The Hobot Halebabot says that an idol worshipper worships one thing, but there is no limit to the amount of people the approval seeker must serve. Our Sages teach that a person who is dependent on others lives in darkness.
One of the greats of Yerushalayim in the last century, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, said, "Only simpletons would put themselves in a position where they will be constantly in need of others and will humiliate themselves for a dubious and questionable benefit."
Many times a day we say, buy, or do something in order to impress other people. Today, catch yourself if you are acting to satisfy others rather than yourself, and do what is best for you, not them. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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