We have so many distractions in our lives I’m amazed we get anything done. We wander off and explore irrelevance rather than the important. On social media, we fall victim to the desire to pursue a minor point to distraction – ultimately a self-destructive approach, because by pursuing minor preoccupations we forget our core activities.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk told of a man with a special tobacco box, made from the horn of a holy goat. One day, it could not be found. He eventually met the animal, whose horns reached the heavens. The goat let him cut a piece of horn to make another box. Others felt the horn made the tobacco taste better and since the goat was pretty free with its horn, they too each received a piece; now the goat wanders about with no horns.
We start this week’s parasha with Joseph having been used by others for their own benefit. He tries constantly to do right, by his brothers, by Potiphar in his home, and by the butler and the baker with their dreams. Only in this week’s parsha does he come into his own, showing wisdom and helping Pharaoh and Egyptians to avoid the coming famine.
The essence of the situation is that none of us should allow ourselves to be the vehicle for satisfying others’ desires. By letting ourselves be sucked into a Facebook discussion, a Twitter storm or political controversies, we will, like the goat, end up losing the one valuable thing we have.
Zvi Solomons is rabbi of the Jewish Community of Berkshire (www.JCoB.org)