Forefathers / Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook / Shabbat Times / The Jews in Egypt / Torah Parasha

On Parashat VAYESHEV & the Benefit of a Doubt

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Picture & Explanation: NASA
B”H
This week’s Parasha is called VAYESHEV. Shabbat Vayeshev starts tomorrow (Friday) afternoon at 4.01 pm and ends on Saturday afternoon at 5.16 pm. The times given are for Jerusalem !
Almost everybody knows what Parashat Vayeshev teaches. There is Yaakov living with his family in Canaan. He loves his youngest son Yosef but the others brothers are jealous. Yosef is 17 years old and behaves like a little child. He wears fancy clothes, trims his hair and tells his father what his brothers do. In other words, he is turning them in. No wonder that he causes his brothers to hate him.
Yosef has dreams, is being thrown into a pit, sold to Ishmaelites traveling down to Egypt. There he serves as a slave in the house of Potiphar whose wife cannot deal with the fact that Yosef rejected her. Thus, Yosef ends up in jail where he interprets two dreams of his inmates.
This is what Vayeshev is about and I am sure there is plenty to discuss. However, every year when it comes to Yosef, hardly anything comes into my mind. Of course, there is Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook who commentates that the pit Yosef was thrown into, could metaphorically stand for the hardship of Diaspora.
Yosef’s character is so different from mine making it very hard to relate to. However, there are situations in life where one should rather speak to a person instead of drawing one’s own conclusion. Yosef’s brothers did so and sent him packing down to Egypt.
The famous KAV S’CHUT – Benefit of a Doubt: We are told that when we see a person acting this way and not another way, there must be a reason. The person who may act against the law doesn’t really intend to but has his reason at this very moment.
Can there always be a Benefit of a Doubt ?
Yes and no, as it depends on the person and on the situation. A criminal, for instance, cannot justify his actions by asking for a benefit of a doubt. A bank robber is a bank robber even if he desperately needed the money now.
I can totally understand Yosef’s brothers. They saw him as arrogant and daddy’s darling. Turning them in and running around like a fashion model.
On the other hand, the whole family should have spoken to each other. Sat down together and putting all cards on the table. At least various situations could have been clarified this way. Nevertheless, it seems as no one spoke to each other except for the brothers. And this is the reason for maybe giving Yosef a benefit of a doubt, as all of them weren’t just some guys but the sons of our forefather Yaakov.
The truth is that we never know how life turns out. Sometimes we are only confronted with negative situations but they may turn into something positive very fast and unexpectedly. 🙂
Links:
Rabbi Kook on Parashat Vayeshev
Yosef’s Pit
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