The Torah portion, or parasha, this week is Vayigash and is found in Genesis 44:18-47:27. The story continues with Joseph’s brothers still in Egypt and Benjamin being accused stealing Joseph’s divining cup. Judah, the brother who had originally come up with the idea of selling Joseph, steps up and offers himself as a substitute slave, so that Benjamin can return home and their father’s heart will not be broken. Joseph realizes that his brothers have changed and reveals his identity. He tells his brothers that he realizes that what they had done to him was, in fact, part of God’s plan to save lives. Joseph sends his brothers home to bring Jacob and the entire family to Egypt so that they will not suffer during the remaining years of famine. Joseph goes to meet his father and tells him of his plan for the family to settle in the region of Goshen. Joseph brings his father and some of his brothers to meet Pharaoh, who gives his approval to Joseph’s plan. As the famine continues, Joseph acquires the Egyptians’ livestock and land for Pharaoh in exchange for food and transforms the population into serfs. During the same period, the Israelites in Goshen prosper.
In this parasha, Joseph has tested his brothers, sees they have changed and reveals his identity. He also tells them that it was part of God’s plan to have Joseph sold into slavery so he could be in Egypt to help save lives, including theirs, during the famine. Joseph did not have to forgive his brothers. He could have easily punished them for their past actions. He could have dwelt on family skirmishes and injustices. However, he chose to see the good from events in his past and look for meaning in seemingly meaningless events. He re-framed these events in a healthy way, and used them as an incentive to help him achieve great things in the future. Like Joseph, we do not have control over certain events in our lives. However, we do have control over how we choose to handle those events. We can let the events weigh us down, or we can use them to climb to different heights. The choice is ours.