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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
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Kinder Torah
POB 5338

Parashas Vayigash

Good or Bad?
Happy or Sad?
You Decide

"I have a couple of questions for you, Chaim."

"Go ahead, Avi."

"If a teenage boy's own brothers try to kill him by leaving him in a pit to die, is that good or bad?"


"What if some merchants draw him out of the pit and sell him to Arabs? Is that good or bad?"

"At least he didn't die in the pit. However, it's still pretty horrible."

"What if he is sold as a slave to a master who has an evil wife?"

"Oy vey, this poor boy."

"He then is thrown into prison for twelve years."

"How much worse can it get?"

"It actually turns around at this point. He miraculously rises to become second in command to the king."

"Avi that is a miracle."

"Then his brothers, who left him to die in the pit, come face to face with him. However, they do not recognize him because he has grown a beard."

"Oh boy, are they in trouble."

"He reveals himself to them, telling them the story of how he got there."

"They must have been terrified."

"They were. They felt that he was surely going to punish them for all of the tsorus (suffering) that they caused him."

"What did he do?"

"He told them, 'Do not be distressed or blame yourselves for having sold me . . . for Hashem sent me ahead of you to be a provider . . . to insure your survival in the land and to sustain you . . . It was not you who sent me here, but Hashem. He has made me a father to Paroh, master of his entire household, and ruler over the whole land of Mitzraim'" (from Bereshis 45:5-8).

"That is truly a miracle. Look at his emunah in Hashem! Look at how he saw the good in everything! What a tsaddik!"

"That's who he was. Yosef HaTsaddik. He taught us a lesson that is worth more then gold and diamonds."

"What do you mean, Avi?"

"We look at events a certain way. Your initial reaction to Yosef's experiences was bad. However, everything turned out very good. We have the power to control how we think about the events that happen to us. We can choose to evaluate something as good or bad. Can you think of an example?"

"Getting a cavity filled."

"Excellent Chaim! It is unpleasant and therefore it may be initially judged as bad. However it is a lot better than doing nothing and eventually running into bigger problems."

"For sure. To be a tsaddik like Yosef, you must learn to challenge your initial negative reaction. Think for a moment. Hashem has something very good in store for you. This event is a part of it. Therefore you should see it as good, and be happy about it."

"I'll try my best."

Kinderlach . . .

What is stopping you from being happy? Nothing. A person is happy when he looks at things positively. You decide how you will view the events of your life. Do you have to deal with a difficult person? Great! Hashem has sent you a wonderful opportunity to work on your middos. Are you sick in bed today? Be happy! This is a chance to spend more time with Imma. Did you lose some money? Don't worry. Let it be a kapara. Better lost than spent on doctor bills. You can see the positive in everything. Learn a lesson from Yosef HaTsaddik, who saw the positive in being a slave and prisoner in a foreign land. See the good and be happy.

It's Embarrassing to Embarrass

"Eli how are you? It's so good to see you. What's the matter, you look a little upset."

"I'll be okay Doni. It's really nothing, I suppose."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"Well, Doni, a very embarrassing thing just happened to me."

"Oy vey."

"Yesterday I told a personal secret to a very good friend. I told him not to tell anyone, because it was very personal.

Today three or four people came to me and asked me about the secret. I was so embarrassed that they knew about it. I feel terrible."

"Eli, now I understand what our sages wrote in the Gemora Bava Metzia, that embarrassing someone is like spilling their blood. I see how awful you feel from the embarrassment. You know, Eli, we can learn a lesson from everything that happens to us in life. I know that I have learned never to embarrass anyone."

"Doni, do you know that Yosef HaTzaddik, put his own life in danger to avoid embarrassing his brothers?"

"Really? What happened?"

"Here is the scenario. Yosef's brothers stood in front of the leader of Mitzraim, his servants, and guards. Little did they know that this powerful ruler was none other than their own brother Yosef, whom they had sold as a slave to a band of travelers many years earlier. He had made his way to Mitzraim and had risen to the position of second-in-command to the king. In his capacity as ruler, he had treated them harshly, giving them good reason to resent him. Now, he realized that the time had come to reveal his identity to his brothers. What should he do? To divulge his secret in the presence of the Mitzrim would cause them great shame and embarrassment. It would become public knowledge that they once sold their own brother as a slave, a shameful act. To send all of the Mitzrim guards out of the room would be very dangerous. Yosef would be alone with the people whom he had treated so harshly. If they chose to kill him, no one could stop them."

"Tell me Eli, how did Yosef deal with this dilemma?"

"Doni, our sages tell us in Gemora Kesuvos, 'It is better for a person to throw himself into a fiery furnace than to shame someone in public.' Yosef HaTzaddik risked danger to his own life rather than humiliate his brothers."

Kinderlach . . .

Before you say something about someone, think twice. Then think again. Could this thing be embarrassing? He got a low grade on the test. Her clothes are not so nice. He is always late. He is doing much better than last year. The teacher reprimanded her today. All of these things, besides being loshon hora, can also be embarrassing. We learn from Yosef HaTzaddik how terrible it is to embarrass someone. Don't get caught. Stop before you say it.

Parasha Questions:

Which land in Mitzrayim did Yosef give to his brothers? (47:11 and Rashi)

What did Yosef collect as payment for the grain during the years of famine? (47:14-20)

To whom did he give this payment? (47:14-20)

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