Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Vayeishev

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

"They [the brothers] sat down to eat bread, and they lifted up their eyes, and they saw; and behold, a caravan of Yishmaelites was coming from Gilad, bearing various spices, going to descend to Egypt." [32:35]

Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, asks a straightforward question: why does the verse bother to describe the cargo? Does it make a difference?

The answer, Rashi explains, is to tell you the benefits given to righteous people. Normally, the Arab caravans would carry kerosene and resin, which have a bad smell. For Yoseph's sake, this one happened to be carrying pleasant spices, so that he wouldn't need to suffer the bad odor.

In common language: huh?

Yoseph goes out to meet his brothers. They turn on him, strip him of his coat, and throw him in a pit. A snake could bite him at any moment - but he can pray to G-d to be rescued from the pit. But when his brothers take him out, it is only in order to sell him! He is about to be carried off into slavery, hundreds of miles away. And Rashi says, because he's a righteous person, the people carrying him into slavery are carrying sweet-smelling spices. What sort of wonderful benefit is this? Would Yoseph even notice the smell?

The answer, as offered by Rabbi Asher Rubenstein, shlit"a, is that whether or not it was of any importance - G-d gives a person exactly, precisely what's needed. For whatever reason, Yoseph needed to go down to Egypt not as a prince, but as a slave - and to enjoy elevation, downfall, and then a rise to prince-hood while he was there. This was all part of the Divine plan.

But there was no need for Yoseph to experience a bad odor. He had no transgression which he might be moved to correct with this mild punishment. The odor would not better enable him to fulfill his destiny or elevate himself spirituality. So he was given only what he needed - and the same is true for every person.

There's another angle here as well. It looked pretty bad for Yoseph, going from the pit into slavery. When the situation was so terrible - perhaps that was exactly the time to recognize a small signal that G-d was still with him. He was a righteous person, and G-d wasn't rejecting him.

When everything looks bad, we often only need to look around us more carefully to see the good parts. Perhaps the best way to find the light at the end of the tunnel, is to look for its reflection on the walls.


Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Director of Project Genesis.


 
Sell Chometz Online







ARTICLES ON KEDOSHIM AND PESACH:

View Complete List

Ordering Priorities
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

The Meaning of Freedom
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Pesach: The Obligation of Profound Appreciation
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

A Lesson Learned
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

Pesach Questions
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Basic Recognition
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Why is this Night Different?
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

The Kedusha Infomercial
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

Seven Days of Pesach
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

ArtScroll

Love of Money, or Money of Love?
Rabbi Gavriel Prero - 5761

Who Knows One?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

A Critical Difference
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

> From the Inside Out
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5761

Setting High Goals
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5760

Elevated by Divine Command
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5770

Seeking Counsel - When and Where
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information