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Torah Tuesdays with Hennie Black- Parshat Vayigash

torah tuesdays parshat vayigash

By Hennie Black


This week’s Torah portion Vayigash is well known for the big reveal. Yosef is second in command in Egypt and his brothers have come down to Egypt to buy food as there is a famine in the land of Canaan. 

Yosef reveals himself to his brothers who become overwhelmed and frightened with the possibility of rebuke, revenge and payback that Yosef is now capable of.

Yosef responds with a completely unexpected and incredible speech:

“I am Yosef, the brother that you sold, but don’t be distressed and don’t be angry with yourselves that you sold me.  It was in fact Hashem who sent me here. Hashem sent me before you in order to sustain you, in order to ensure survival of our family.”

Yosef’s unbelievable perspective continues in next week’s parsha. The brothers cannot fathom that Yosef has no ill feelings towards them, and assume Yosef was possibly waiting until after their father Yaakov’s death to take revenge. Yosef maintains the attitude, “Although you intended me harm, G-d intended it for good.”

Despite the challenges of Yosef’s life – orphaned at a young age, despised by family, sold into slavery, and imprisonment, Yosef is able to maintain a healthy perspective and remain capable of having healthy emotions throughout. Many times when people go through so much challenge and difficulty in their lives, they turn off their emotions in order to ward off their pain. This was not the case with Yosef. What was Yosef’s secret?

Every person’s life is a story. How we choose to frame the story is up to us. The circumstances and events in our lives are frequently beyond our control, but what we choose to focus on and how we interpret our circumstances, is completely up to us.  It is all based on our attitude and perspective. 

Yosef chose how to frame his story. From the subtle nuances in the text, we can learn about Yosef’s attitude to his life circumstances. Yosef told his brothers, “Yes, it was you who sold me, but in fact, it was truly Hashem who sent me.”  He doesn’t change the facts, he reframes the focus.

There is a difference between being sold and being sent. Being sold implies insecurity, being a victim to your circumstances, letting life happen to you. Being sent implies being driven, focused on a mission, being an active participant in your life. 

Yosef recognized he was on a mission and an active player in a bigger master plan. He never allowed himself to become a victim. Everything that happened to him was happening for him. The events of his life were all masterfully orchestrated in order to allow him to rise to power and provide for and protect his family.

It is up to us to decide how we are going to react to the situations that come our way.  We can’t always change the story; we can’t always change the facts – but we can ask ourselves – were we sold or were we sent?  

If we recognize that we were sent here to this earth, we will always have a positive outlook on life and maintain a perspective that everything that happens is part of a master plan. We are on a mission and we are given all the tools and resources at our disposal in order to fulfill that mission.

Everything that happens in our life is not happening to us – it is happening for us.

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