Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Yosef's Sensitivity to Others

Parshat Va'Yigash

At the end of the Parsha, Yosef has taken all the Egyptians money for Par'oh's coffers, all the animals and possessions, all the land and finally the people themselves as servants to Par'oh, all in exchange for bread. Yosef then puts the Egyptian nation through a massive upheaval by forcing people to leave their cities for new cities.
Rashi tells us that the purpose of this was to show them that they are no longer the landowners, rather they are all subservient to Par'oh and where he tells them to live is where they must go. Rashi adds that this is testament to Yosef's greatness, as his whole intent in moving the Egyptians around was solely for the benefit of his Jewish family. Now that everyone else was moved around, people could no longer deride the family of Yaakov for being strangers and and exiles - now everybody was.
Kli Yakar further explains Rashi that the idea was strangers are always ill-treated. Yosef moved everyone around so they would all be strangers and would know what it felt like to be oppressed as a stranger. Having felt that, they would then leave the Jews alone and not oppress them.

Yosef's sensitivity is a lesson to us. He put all those people through hardship just so a few Jews would not be picked on. We must be sensitive to the needs and feelings of out brother Jews.

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