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Torah Insights for the Younger Tzadikim
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Vayeshev 5761
December 17-23, 2000 by Reb Yosef

What Can We Learn From Yosef?

Our Torah tells us that Yaakov (Jacob) had 12 sons:  Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehudah, Issachar, Zevulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Yosef, and Binyamin, and that these were the fathers of the 12 Tribes of Yisrael.  Of these, Yosef was the person who would end up protecting and caring for the family.

When Yosef was younger, he did something that we can learn from.  Because of his bad behavior, his brothers sold him to some merchants as a slave.  As the story turns out, Yosef became a great man in Egypt and saved many people.

He still had a weakness though and we can learn from this.  In the Torah, in Parashat Vayeishev, it says the following at Bereshit Pasuk Lamed-Zayin (Genesis Chapter 27):

3. These are the descendents of Yaakov (Jacob), Yosef (Joseph) at the age of seventeen years, was as a shepherd, with his brothers, at the sheep, but as a youth, with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, the wives of his father, and Yosef brought their tittle-tattle nastily to their father.

In other words, Yosef was a tattle-tale about his brothers.  What does this mean to us?  Does this mean we should not bring problems to the attention of parents and teachers?  Absolutely not.  When there are problems, when other children or adults do not behave properly, we should tell our parents and teachers.  So what does this mean?  To find the answer, we have to look at three words together "tittle-tattle nastily."  We should always tell the truth.  We do not bring these things to our parents and teachers to get others in trouble.  We don't exaggerate and make what happens worse than it is.  In other words, we don't behave "nastily" or in a mean way.  In this way, we avoid speaking loshon hara, the evil tongue - a very important commandment from Hashem.

God calls upon us to be a light to the nations of the world.  When we behave like menschen, like we are supposed to, we are doing just that.


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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