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GENESIS 37:20-21: ARROGANCE VERSUS UNSHAKEABLE FAITH

A Journey trought Divine Trials

בס”ד

Genesis 37:20-21

וְעַתָּ֣ה ׀ לְכ֣וּ וְנַֽהַרְגֵ֗הוּ וְנַשְׁלִכֵ֙הוּ֙ בְּאַחַ֣ד הַבֹּר֔וֹת וְאָמַ֕רְנוּ חַיָּ֥ה רָעָ֖ה אֲכָלָ֑תְהוּ וְנִרְאֶ֕ה מַה־יִּהְי֖וּ חֲלֹמֹתָֽיו׃

Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we can say, ‘A savage beast devoured him.’ We shall see what comes of his dreams!”

וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע רְאוּבֵ֔ן וַיַּצִּלֵ֖הוּ מִיָּדָ֑ם וַיֹּ֕אמֶר לֹ֥א נַכֶּ֖נּוּ נָֽפֶשׁ׃

But when Reuben heard it, he tried to save him from them. He said, “Let us not take his life.”

Joseph’s brothers aspired to lead a righteous life and studied the Torah. However, when interpreting Joseph’s dreams portraying him as the family’s leader, they viewed it as a threat to their mission instead of a divine indication. Their lack of humility led to a flawed conclusion: instead of recognizing Joseph as the foundation for their father’s spiritual path, they perceived him as a threat and sought to kill him. Reuben, the eldest brother, managed to persuade them to throw Joseph into a pit without water, intending to later rescue him and return him to their father.

The pit without water symbolizes the absence of humility in the brothers, as water metaphorically represents humility in Torah study. As the Talmud states: “Just as water seeks its lowest level, so does the Torah only endure within one who is humble.” This essential humility was lacking in the brothers. Instead of water, there were snakes and scorpions in the pit, symbolizing the suffering that comes from Heaven. Despite these trials, Joseph maintained his trust (emunah) in God, seeing beyond the suffering and recognizing God’s message. This enabled him to endure the suffering and make the right decisions.

Later, in Egypt, Joseph declared to his brothers that they were not the ones who had thrown him into the pit but that everything was in God’s hands. This served a higher purpose: to save the people from an impending famine.

Exploring Insights: What Can We Learn?

1. **Guidance through Humility:** The story highlights the significance of humility in interpreting divine wisdom, symbolized by the empty pit. The lack of humility in Joseph’s brothers led to a misinterpretation of God’s intentions.

2. **Confidence Amid Adversity:** Joseph’s unwavering trust in God, even when faced with trials like the pit and later in Egypt, underscores the essential importance of confidence amid setbacks.

3. **Divine Providence and Trials:** The narrative sheds light on divine providence encompassing both trials and opportunities. Joseph’s journey, from the pit to Egypt, reflects God’s guidance amid difficulties and the potential to glean wisdom even from challenging situations.



By Angelique Sijbolts

Kehot Chumash text based learning from Vayeshev
Rebbe Nachmans Torah

Texts from Sefaria.org

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