The rest of Genesis is about Joseph. We all know the story: he is hated by his brothers because he is the favorite of his father. Not to mention he is also a bit of a snitch, having once given a bad report to his father regarding his brothers. We can add that sharing his dreams with his brothers also didn’t help the situation since the dreams indicated they would all bow down to him.
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When given the chance, the brothers were going to kill him, but instead decided to sell him to a caravan of Yishmaelim However, before they could do that, some other Arabs found him in the cistern the brothers dumped him into, and they sold him. He ended up as the slave to Potiphar, one of the military generals of the Pharaoh. Meanwhile, the brothers dipped his coat of many colors into some blood and presented it to Jacob to make him believe Joseph was killed by a wild animal.
The Bible tells us that God was with Joseph, which is why everything he did was successful. I think it would be more accurate to say that Joseph was with God. In any event, Joseph is promoted to the position of trustee for Potiphar’s entire household and finances. But, trouble brews when Potipher’s wife gets the hots for Joseph and constantly demands he sleep with her. Because Joseph was too righteous to sleep with her, she got revenge by accusing him of attempted rape. It is likely that because Potiphar liked Joseph that instead of having him killed, which would have been the standard punishment, he simply placed him in jail.
Even in jail, falsely accused and wrongfully punished, Joseph maintained his faith and was appointed a trustee. When two of the officers of Pharaoh in jail with him had dreams, he interpreted their dreams. The interpretations came true, with the Baker being hanged and the Cupbearer restored to his prior position. However, although the Cupbearer had promised Joseph to tell Pharoah about him, once restored to his position he forgot all about Joseph.
This is where this Parashah ends, and we learn later that two years pass before the Cupbearer remembers Joseph.
Here we have a righteous and trustworthy man, Joseph, who did nothing wrong yet was attacked by his own brothers, sold into slavery, wrongly accused of a crime that he didn’t commit, and all because he did what he knew to be right. He never lost his faith in God, which was evident when Joseph told the Baker and the Cupbearer that God is the one who can interpret dreams.
I see a lesson here for all of us: when tsouris (Yiddish for troubles) comes into our life, and we know we have done nothing wrong, we have to maintain our faith in God that these trials are temporary and will lead to something better. So long as we do what is right in God’s eyes, even when the world is against us, we can survive and come out on top.
Because 1 John 4:4 says
...he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
and Romans 8:28 tells us
Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose;
we can be assured that when we are having troubles and going through a bad time, God is still there, he is aware of what is happening, and he has a plan for us.
There are so many verses in the Bible, as well as stories like this one, that confirm God is always aware of what is happening in our life. We need to trust that God is in charge and even when he allows bad things to happen, we probably won’t understand why they happened until God’s plan comes to fruition.
In Joseph’s case, the sale into slavery placed him in Egypt, and the false accusation put him where he could, eventually, find his way to the Pharaoh, which resulted in the entire family of Jacob being saved from starvation. Not to mention most of the population of Egypt and the surrounding countries. Joseph came to understand this later and in Genesis 45 he tells his brothers that it wasn’t really them who put him where he was, but God, in order to save them all.
Job is another good example of bad things happening to a good person, and he also learned that God does what God does for God’s own reasons. Kohelet, the author of Ecclesiastes, learned this lesson the hard way, spending years seeking to understand why things are as they are, realizing that the effort was as useless as chasing the wind. His conclusion was to simply enjoy that which God gives you.
Too often I hear people who are going through some sort of tribulation blame it on a Satanic attack, which it could be, or they blame God, saying he is punishing them for something they did wrong. God does punish those who do wrong, especially the ones who are unrepentant, but for the most part, I believe that when we are trying to walk in the path of righteousness we will have troubles, but God will always be there to help us back on our feet.
It isn’t for nothing Yeshua told his Talmudim that anyone who wants to follow him (in other words, live a godly life) will have to carry their own execution stake.
Here’s what we need to take home from today’s message: when something bad happens to you, don’t blame God. And don’t blame Satan. In fact, don’t look to blame anyone, but instead look to the future because if you maintain your faith in God, the Bible proves that God will bring you out of this desert of tsouris you are in and place you in a garden of everlasting joy. It may not be right away, it may not even happen in your lifetime, but when we maintain our faith in God and do what is right in his eyes, we will spend eternity joyfully in his presence.
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Until next time, Shabbat shalom and Baruch HaShem!