Sedra of the week: Vayechi
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Sedra of the week: Vayechi

Rabbetzen Shuli Liss looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies” Nelson Mandela

Having suffered for a large part of his life due to the actions of others, Nelson Mandela is highly qualified to make that statement.

In our own lives, we are frequently affected by the actions of others – both intentional and unintentional.

We may have been hurt many years ago and are still holding on to the pain. It feels like allowing ourselves to let go, permits the offender to escape without consequences for their actions.

Yet, we forget that the resentment harms us more than it hurts them.

In this week’s parsha, the brothers come to talk to Joseph, after their father’s death.

Joseph suffered for many years due to their harmful acts. As a young boy, he was thrown into a pit, sold as a slave, dragged down to Egypt and thrown into prison for 12 long years.

Finally, he was rushed out of prison to explain Pharaoh’s dream, and unexpectedly elected as viceroy to the King.

Now was his chance for revenge. His father was no longer alive, and he had free reign to do as he pleased. His brothers were afraid that he would now repay them for their cruel behaviour.

Yet, the story continues as follows: “And Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I instead of God? You intended evil but God meant it for good…'” (Genesis 50:19-20).

Despite the brothers’ intentions, he truly believed that his life’s experience was planned by Hashem and was necessary for the fulfilment of his unique role in this world.

Of course, the brothers had to face the outcome of their plans – but that was not his responsibility.

He knew that resentment only causes self-inflicted pain, and instead he strengthened his faith in Hashem.

It was this faith that carried him and enabled him to find equanimity throughout the most difficult times of his life.

Rebbetzen Shuli Liss, Highgate United Synagogue

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