A Family Reunion: What Joseph Teaches Us About Forgiveness

In this week’s Torah Portion, Vayigash, we continue the fascinating story of Joseph (Yosef) – a 17 year old boy is sold into slavery by his brothers, 13 years later rises from slavery and prison to become viceroy of Egypt and manages to turn Egypt into a superpower. 22 years from the time he was sold, he controls the destiny of his brothers and father, and for that matter, of the entire populated world! In short: from the brink of disaster Joseph emerges a king.

It would have been very easy for Joseph to play victim his entire life. I mean, he was sold into slavery by his very own brothers! And yet, he was a man of great humility and was able to see the hand of G-d in every action, reaction and subsequent event that followed. He was able to rise above the pain, the hurt, the tragedy, to use his unique situation for good – to transform the negative into positive!

How many opportunities have we missed in our lives because we are still basking in and licking the wounds of our past loss or disappointment? How often are we holding onto grudges, stuck in a past event and unable to move forward, to forgive and turn the situation around?

Essentially, Joseph’s initial tragedy was the catalyst that brought the birth of the Jewish people, the giving of the Torah – and all that followed. Imagine if Joseph would’ve chosen to wallow in his grief instead, choosing a path of hopelessness and despair? Where would we all be today? In life, we are always offered two choices, two paths.. Let us learn from Joseph to take the path toward light instead of darkness, toward growth instead of stagnation.

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