Parashas Vayeishev

In the opening section of this week’s parashah, Yosef tells his brothers of a dream he had, in which he and they were binding sheaves in the field, and their sheaves bowed down to his. The Maggid explains that although Yosef actually was not trying to be haughty toward his brothers (but had a different reason for telling them the dream), his brothers thought that he was. And so they responded caustically, saying: “Will you indeed be a sovereign unto us? Or will you rule in domination over us?” The Maggid discusses this interchange from several angles. Here we present one of these thoughts, which, like many of the Maggid’s commentaries, offers a striking perspective.
The Maggid explains that Yosef’s brothers misjudged Yosef to be a person who seeks to grab rulership. They therefore told him that even if he gained rulership over them, it would be no honor to him. He would not be regarded as a respected sovereign, but rather as a contemptible despot.
The Maggid elaborates on the theme, drawing on Midrashim about Moshe Rabbeinu and Shaul HaMelech (Vayikra Rabbah 1:5 on Mishlei 25:7; Tanchuma Vayikra 3 on Mishlei 29:23). He notes that honor comes not to those who seek it, but rather to those who act humbly and shy away from it. True honor results when others place a person in a position of prominence, not when a person grabs such a position himself. When others bestow eminence on someone of initially modest station, it shows how highly they regard him. But when a person grabs a high position, it leads to his disgrace – people start chattering about how unbecoming it is for a person as lowly as he to push himself to the fore. An unworthy person who grabs a high position is like a little boy who puts on a grown-up suit – simply put, he looks ridiculous.
PS: I am happy to note that I have now had this blog going for a full year. I hope that, with Hashem’s help, I will be able to keep it going.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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