• August 28th, 2022
  • Elul 1st, 5782


Coming Close

Presented By
Torah Contributor

Rising Up to Create Unity

At the end of last week’s portion, Miketz, Joseph concealed his identity and acted cold towards with his brothers who had come to Egypt for food during the famine. He stashed a silver goblet in the youngest brother Benjamin’s pack and suggested that he needed to keep Benjamin as a slave for stealing. Miketz begins with "Vayigash elav Yehuda" - Yehuda came close (went up) to Joseph. The brothers had been accepting of Joseph’s onerous requests in order to obtain food for their family and their father Jacob. Finally, when Yehuda "went up" to Joseph and challenged his plan to enslave their brother Benjamin, unity was created and Joseph broke down and revealed himself to his brothers. The lesson here is that in order to remove chaos from our lives, we must be proactive and "rise up" and challenge whatever is oppressing us - whether it is Pharaoh’s Viceroy (Joseph) or something else keeping us down, causing chaos and preventing us from being our highest selves. The key is to "rise up" or "come close" in order to gain strength and clarity. At a deeper level, Yehuda represents Malchut (the level of physicality) and Joseph represents Yesod (a level of spirituality). By uniting the physical realm of Malchut with the spiritual realm of Yesod, we can put spiritual tools into action and remove chaos from our lives.

Don’t Blame - It’s Always for the Best

Immediately after revealing himself to his brothers, Joseph made it clear that he was not holding a grudge. It was Hashem - the "Light", and not his brothers, who were responsible for his trials and tribulations from the time he was sold into slavery. He knew that his position of wealth and his unique ability to provide for his father and brothers during the time of famine was a direct result of all the things that happened to him. The challenges in his life were a blessing - for which he was thankful. The lesson here is to restrict from blaming others, to confront negativity in life with positive consciousness and to have certainty that everything that happens is ultimately for the best.

Be Proactive and Eliminate Repeat Challenges

After Joseph and his brothers reconcile, he sends them back to share the news with his father Jacob - and to have them move the family to Egypt where he can provide for them. He gives them food and clothes - but gives Benjamin extra money and 5-times the clothing he gives to the others. He tells them "not to quarrel on the way." Giving more to one brother was a test to see if the brothers had grown spiritually and completed their tikkun process relating to jealousy - the reason Joseph was sold into slavery. It appears that they have, as there is no indication of them being jealous of Benjamin’s extra gifts. In life, we each have tikkun - issues, character defects or unique challenges that we have an opportunity to correct in this lifetime. If we correct a tikkun by our use of free will, it will no longer impact us, or tempt our reactive behavior. If we fail the test when the opportunity is presented to us, the same situation will present itself over and over again until we ultimately pass the test. The brothers appear to have completed their tikkun in connection with jealousy. The message here is that the opportunity to rise above situations (which have previously trapped us in our lives) will continue to be presented to us again and again. If we are sensitive to them and rise up to the challenges presented to us in a positive way - we too can correct our tikkun in this lifetime.

Importance of a Positive Environment

When the brothers return to Egypt with their father Jacob, their family and belongings, Joseph instructs them to tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds so that he will direct them to settle in Goshen - away from the Egyptians who detest shepherds. Joseph clearly understands the challenges of maintaining a higher level of consciousness when assimilating into a negative environment and encourages his father and brothers to be sent to a location away from the negativity of Egypt. Joseph is the only patriarch named - HaTzaddik (the Righteous), in part, for this very reason. He was able to maintain his culture, practices and connection to the Light even while being subject to the negative energy of Egypt. He wanted his family to get the benefit of what he had learned and be separated from the negative surroundings from the onset. The lesson here is that we should always look to make sure we are in a positive environment - to eliminate chaos from the challenges associated with negativity and to achieve a higher state of consciousness.