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  • Yehuda Pevzner

Why the danger?

Almost a century ago, an old day read a book called “Tz'enah Ur'enah,” a Yiddish book, containing primarily the stories and practical ideas from the Torah.

She read how Jacob sent his son, Joseph, to call his brothers. The brothers were jealous of Joseph and threw him into a pit.

With a big sigh and a heavy heart, she closed the book.


A year later, she again read the story. This time, she let out a cry: “Jospeh! You don’t remember what happened last year??”


When we read the Torah portion of Parshat Vayeshev, we have a similar question. Joseph knew full well that his brothers hated him. He knew about their jealousy. Didn’t he know that he would be putting his life in danger, by going out to meet them?


The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that this is exactly the reason why Joseph went. He knew that he was endangering himself but he wanted to teach his brothers a lesson. He wanted to show them that regardless of the outcome and consequences, when your father asks you to do something, you do it. Even if it could be harmful.


We see a similar idea in the Hannuka story. Hannuka, which commences this Sunday evening, commemorates the miraculous victory of the Jews over the Greeks. The Maccabees were a group of Jews who rose up in rebellion. They were a very small group. There was no chance of them winning. Although one should not rely on miracles, these brave men knew that the present situation could not continue. There were Jews who were yielding to the gentiles, taking on their culture and forgoing Judaism. So the Maccabees rose to the task of saving the Jewish nation.


At times, we feel constrained to the social norms. We can learn from Joseph that when you know something is right, you go for it, regardless of the outcome. May we all find the strength inside to prevail over the darkness of the Galus night, just like the Maccabees in the Hannuka story.


Shabbat Shalom!

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