Parshat Vayeishev

This week’s parsha post was written by Yahel Intern, Laurie Hunt.  Laurie was a participant on Yahel’s University of Maryland Hillel Insight program last year. She spent 10 days volunteering with the Ethiopian-Israeli community in Rishon LeZion. 

In this week’s parsha, Vayeishev, Jacob gives a lavish, technicolored coat to his son, Joseph, who is glorified by his father. Not only is he superior to his brothers in the eyes of their father, but Joseph is also a dream interpreter and has many dreams where his eleven brothers bow down to him. Joseph’s  brothers are envious and they go to great
lengths in order to get rid of Joseph; they throw him into a pit and sell him.

Joseph eventually ends up in Egypt after being sold to Potiphar. He quickly builds a name for himself in the palace after interpreting Potiphar’s dreams and becomes a well-esteemed authoritative figure in Egypt. At the end of the parsha, Joseph is thrown in prison after being falsely accused of a particular crime. Despite his unjust sentence, he continues to interpret dreams and help others in prison.

Joseph had such incredible qualities, and rather than contributing them to his family and to his environment, he was sold by his brothers. Imagine if he had remained with his family. All that he accomplished in Egypt he could have accomplished in Hebron–where his family lived–and his brothers would have been able to benefit from him.

In life, it is easy for us to look at others and envy all that they have. There always going to be people with more money, more friends, better grades, and so much more. However, attempting to “get rid” of the person we envy–like Joseph’s brothers tried to do–does not contribute to the world in any way. Everyone has something different to bring to the world. We must recognize others’ strengths and use them to improve the world around us.

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