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Weekly Chizuk

Parshas Vayigash

The Fifth Shulchan Aruch

And now be not distressed, and do not condemn yourselves for having sold me here, because it was to be a provider that G-d sent me ahead of you. (Bereishis 45:5)

From my sefer: Trust Me! From Da'as Torah, by R. Yerucham Levovitz.

Yosef had just revealed himself to his brothers.. They now find themselves confronted with their brother whom they had sold into slavery and was now King of Egypt. We would have expected that they should have fallen at his feet and begged him to forgive them for their heartless deed of selling him into slavery. Instead, we see the exact opposite. Yosef tries to reassure his brothers! We find a similar scene three verses earlier: "And he lifted his voice in a cry." The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 93:13) explains that this cry was meant to pacify his brothers.

Yosef's behavior teaches us how deeply he understood the concept of justice. We all know that there are rules governing how a beis din must deal with a wrongdoer. Likewise, there are rules that govern how a victim should treat the one who wronged him, and these are known as the "fifth Shulchan Aruch."

Often, when someone commits an injustice against us - even unintentionally - our anger automatically flares and we en gage in an all-out attack. We take no account of extenuating circumstances, even if the person mistakenly and innocently believed that he was acting correctly. We somehow feel that, since he did such a terrible thing to us, we have full permission to avenge our offended sensibilities.

This, however, is not the proper reaction. There is an appropriate measure of justice and judgment for everyone. Yosef made a personal reckoning and concluded that perhaps it was really he who had been the offender. Perhaps it was his negligence that caused his brothers to err, and he was the cause of his brother's suffering. Therefore, he humbly tried to appease them, with no consideration for his own honor. This is a tremendous lesson.

Gut Shabbos!

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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