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Yosef's Power

In this week's parsha, Vayigash, Yosef, is standing before his brothers who deliberately caused him his untold suffering. They tossed him - totally stripped of his clothing - into a pit full of snakes and scorpions, and sold him into slavery. As a result he had to bear the ongoing test and temptation of his master's wife. That in turn led to him being thrown into jail under humiliating circumstances, etc., etc.

Yosef could have shown anger and exacted revenge. After all, they caused him so much pain. Instead Yosef tells them: "My brothers, if you had not sold me, I would not have been an authority here and been able to give you the food when you needed it. I would not have been able to help you settle here." It is all for the best. The clarity and sense of responsibility that he had at that moment is astounding.

At the time when they meet Yosef, the brothers are devastated and embarrassed, and Yosef not only holds back his anger, but also restores their self-worth by explaining that it had all been G-d's plan and it was all for the best. Yosef perceived his long chain of difficult and tempestuous life experiences as an ongoing act of hashgacha pratis, Divine providence. Yosef understood that irrespective of the power of another human being to affect others, Hashem is always in control; always watching and guiding the course of history. The result of this worldview is that Yosef did not retain any trace of anger or ill will toward his brothers and acted quickly to show them this at the moment when they met.

By trying to emulate - on whatever level we can - Yosef's conviction and trust that everything is ultimately for the best, we can empower ourselves with the ability to overlook and completely forgive any pain that we may have suffered at the hands of others. It is empowerment in its truest form: "Who is strong? He who conquers his evil inclinations," says Ben Azzai in Mishna Avos.

Letting go of anger and thinking of the other party when you are the injured party is truly a powerful position.

Excerpted from and Rabbi Zvi Teitelbaum of MesorahDC


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