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December 27, 2016 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Miketz

In this week’s portion, Joseph becomes a major official in Egypt, and his brothers go there to buy grain, eventually meeting him and getting into trouble.  After Joseph (who hasn’t told them of his identity yet) accuses them of being spies, they agree that this is somehow because of their mistreatment of Joseph (Gen. 42:21-22).

The brothers as a group say “we are guilty for our brother… That’s why this distress has come upon us.”  Reuben then says, in so many words, “I told you so.”

Why does the Torah mention Reuben’s reaction separately?  Miller writes that the brothers only “repent because they find themselves in dire straits.” By contrast, Reuben’s repentance is deeper; rather than focusing on their misfortune, he is focused “on the sin itself… it was incorrect to repent as a result of the misfortune which had befallen them.  They should have striven to feel genuine remorse for what they had done because the act itself was evil.”(emphasis in original).

In other words, feel sorry for your bad actions, not just because you got caught.  This seems perfectly reasonable when you think you really did do something bad.

But life is not that simple.  What if you offended someone but feel like its sort of the other person’s fault, or at least that it isn’t entirely your fault?  An example from my life: I told someone that we’d meet at “five-ish”, not specifying where (my apartment, hers or neutral site).  Given the amorphousness of the plans, I didn’t think I needed to be anywhere in particular at 5:00 sharp.  But what I meant as “somewhere in late afternoon”, my friend read as “5:00 sharp at her apartment.”  So when I arrived at 5:40 at her apartment, she was offended.   I said I was sorry and listened to her, and didn’t try to defend myself (because I could tell she was not in the mood for excuses).  But I didn’t feel like Reuben, especially since we hadn’t always been very specific about meeting times in the past.





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