Parshas Vayeishev 2018: “Man of The Year”
Obtain balance in life. This is the healthiest style of living a person can forge for him/herself. In Judaism we emphasize the importance of growing closer to Hashem.
The Torah writes, “And he was (like) a boy.” (Genesis 37:2). This passuk is talking about Yosef (Josef) the oldest son to Rochel and Yaakov. Rashi comments, “He used to do juvenile/childish things, like arranging his hair and fixing his eyes to look beautiful.” Yosef spent his spare time beautifying himself.
What is the Torah telling us and what is Rashi’s comment all about?
Yosef was the son of the very beautiful Rachel Imeinu (Rachel our mother) and himself was very handsome. This led to probably the biggest struggle Yosef had to face. We will soon learn in the upcoming parsha that Yosef was actually faced with a nisayon (Heavenly ordained test) so grandiose that he was forever titled “Yosef HaTzadik” (“Yosef the Righteous”) for overcoming the temptation. Nowhere else do we EVER find another individual with such a prominent title.
“Yesod” or “foundation” was Yosef’s main attribute. Meaning, Yosef had a inane keen awareness of right from wrong. His morals had been well established from a very young age. He had reached a very high level of ruchnias (spirituality) and he was only seventeen years old.
Yosef rationalized that since he had already reached a lofty level of ruchnias that it wouldn’t be a hindrance if he would spend more time on the gashmius (worldly matters) in his life. Generally speaking, a person should not focus on materialistic matters, as they will easily distract and divert one away from his spiritual goals. Yosef figured since he was far more advanced than the typical young adult, that he would have no issues with this. Additionally, Yosef did this to prove to himself that no matter how attractive he made himself appear, his spiritual strength and connection to Hashem would not let him fall into temptation. Hashem however, was not pleased with Yosef’s presumption and put him through the very challenging test of refusing the advances of the seductive wife of Pharaoh. Hashem was showing Yosef we are not to make justifications for putting physicality above spirituality.
This does not mean to say that one should live a life of extreme spirituality and completely devoid of any physical pleasures. In fact, quite the contrary! What we see from Yosef spending extra time on his looks, is we cannot solely focus on just the materialism. It's important to properly balance ourselves both spiritually and materially.
A ben aliyah (person of growth) understands how to make use of his day to grow closer to his goals and to become the best version of him/herself. Everyone of us should strive to be such an individual. Yosef felt he had very little left to strive for, and as such lost his balance for a moment. However, he overcame one of the greatest temptations of all time and look who he turned out to be….”Yosef HaTzadik”!
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!
Maverick V. Peters