Friday, December 19, 2008

Parshas Vayeshev

I’ve always heard how Yosef would look into the mirror and that he was into his appearances, and I always wondered why this was. Then I finally saw a reason.

Beloved Children:

The Torah calls him a boy, even though he was already seventeen years old, because he behaved in ways characteristic of youth.

Why did Yoseph behave in ways which were characteristic of youth? Yoseph was the child of Yaakov's beloved wife, Rachel. Everyone knew that she was the one Yaakov considered to be his true wife. This gave Yoseph the status of being the favored son among all the others. He was the son who was supposed to take his father's place.

Everyone knew that only one son of Avraham would take his place, and that was Yitzchak. Similarly, only one son of Yitzchak took his place, and that was Yaakov. Thus, everyone assumed that only one of the many sons of Yaakov would take their father's place. Since Yoseph was the son of Yaakov's beloved wife, he was the natural choice. This situation was a trial for Yoseph. He was not an only righteous son as his father and grandfather had been. They had no competition, since Yishmael and Esav were not really candidates for taking their fathers' place. But Yoseph did have real competition. All his brothers were spiritual giants. To ward off their jealousy,(10) Yoseph played the simpleton. He pretended that he was not as interested in spirituality as was his father. He preferred combing his hair, accentuating his eyes, and paying great attention to his appearance. When the brothers saw him act in this way they left him alone, thinking that such a simpleton would never pose a challenge to them in taking their father's place.

We learn from here to not show off, and sometimes to even pretend you’re lower than you are, and it will make it easier for you to become a greater person without worrying about the competition interfering and trying to bring you down. So that is why Yosef was all into his appearances, it was a show for his brothers so that they wouldn’t view him as competition and then he would be able to take over his father’s place.

Speaking about appearances, Leora writes about Tamar, how she got dressed up and seduced Yehuda and then got pregnant. And on the flip side how she was modest in Yehuda’s house so that he didn’t even recognize her.


Leora said...

In the end, Judah and Levi really became the leaders of the Jewish people. Most of us are descended from Judah or Levi. So maybe Joseph lost out partly from being into appearance?

I'm thinking about why do we read the Joseph story around Chanukah time. Might be good material for a post...

Josh S said...

But in the end it didn't work out so well for him, did it? He ended up almost killed and bought by some cinnamon smelling Ishmaelites. Perhaps if they knew that he was as great as he was trying to hide himself from appearing, the brothers would have looked on the dreams differently than they actually did?

Shorty said...

Isn't it funny how we always worry about the competition - who's better, looks better, runs always keeping the competition "in mind" we lose out on our own experience, because we make our experience some one else's by trying to compete. My racing coach used to tell us to think about compLeting rather than compEting.

DavenedByDeKoisel said...

Interesting pshat, but the many-colored coat sort of undid the intent of Yosef to keep a "low profile". As far as who we are decendant from that's a much more complicated subject as indicated by the idea of "Moshiach ben Yosef" and "Moshiach ben David". Spiritually we are certainly decendant from all the Shvatim to a certain extent. The whole episode of Yosef requires greater understanding, but i really liked the piece you referenced. Shabat Shalom!

The Babysitter said...

Everyone: I actually heard another reason of why Yosef was always into his appearances, this one would have less questions. It was because Originally Yosef was supposed to be a girl, so that's why. He was supposed to be Dina.

Leora: Interesting I haven't thought of that.

I see you put up a post about that, I will check it out.

Josh S: Again, that is an interesting way of looking at it. Perhaps so.

Shorty: Very true, I remember you wrote a post about that. That is a good line to remember!

DavenedByDeKoisel: You're right about that, but he sort of didn't have a choice in that, his father had given it to him.

I remember learning about the Moshiach Ben Yosef and Moshiach Ben David, that one will be the spirritual Moshiach...

Glad you liked it, Thanx!

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