Monday, December 11, 2006

Parsha Reflections

The story of Joseph's dreams, his brothers' envy, and his prosperity in Egypt brings to mind the idea of how the world treats dreamers and strivers.

Joseph's dreams could be taken literally, as simply images that come to him in the night. I read the portion differently; there seems to be something relevant in here about being driven.

Joseph was out of the ordinary and did not seem satisfied to simply live life like his brothers. He had dreams and seemed to strive for greatness. His brothers were threatened by this because they did not have these same dreams and were threatened by Joseph's greatness. While Joseph displayed some arrogance, he beared no ill will. And, instead of helping Joseph achieve greatness, his brothers tried to keep him down.

This is what we do to people in our world today. Anyone who strives to live a different (and often better) life than the mainstream is often attacked, misunderstood, sabotaged, and scapegoated. I believe this comes from how threatened people feel by the amount of control they have in life. People often say they feel powerless; I believe it much more daunting to hold a belief system revolving around choices in life. Every choice we make can elevate us.

Jospeh's brothers felt threatened by Joseph not just because of his potential "power," but because he took responsibility for himself and had lofty goals. Instead of improving themselves in response to envy, they tried to tear him down.

The final portion, about Joseph helping the butler and baker, seems to be about how there are many "takers" in the world. Joseph, through his own choices, became elevated in G-d's eyes. The Pharoah's butler, in a moment of need, asked Joseph for help. He gave it to them, only asking that they help get him out of jail. The butler eventually forgot.

People often receive help and assistance, but rarely say thank you, let alone returning the favor. It is often true that those who create good lives for themselves (financially, socially, familially, spiritually or otherwise) are often taken advantage of by people. Once again, rather than improving one's own life, many choose to simply feed off of the work that other people have done.

From what I can gather, there is nothing particularly special about Joseph, other than he strives to improve his life. Maximizing the gift of life that G-d has given us is truly a great path towards happiness.

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