Just God and I
By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim
“But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that God sent me before you…. And now, you did not send me here, but God, and He made me a father to Pharaoh, a lord over all his household, and a ruler over the entire land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:5-8)
Finally revealing himself, Joseph makes the above conciliatory remarks to his brothers. Notice his emphasis on the word “now” (atah in Hebrew, with ayin as the first letter). Rabbi Chaim Ben Atar explains that Joseph was attempting to allay his brothers’ fears of retaliation for having sold him. Joseph was explaining to his brothers that, while up until this point he was resentful towards them for mistreating him, he has now overcome his ill-will towards them. Now that he sees that a clear Divine plan was orchestrated leading up to his saving his family from famine, he declares that he has dropped his animosity towards them. He realizes that God simply used them as an instrument to accomplish His Divine plan. If a person hits you with a stick, you hold the person responsible and not the stick. Joseph has come to deeply understand that his brothers could not have harmed him in any way if God had not willed it. He has reached the spiritual realization that it is all between us and God, people are simply intermediaries.
After Jacob passes away, Joseph’s brothers are fearful that Joseph will again take revenge against them. Joseph says to them: “Don’t be afraid, for am I instead of God? Indeed, you intended evil against me, but God designed it for good, in order to bring about what is at present to keep a great populace alive.” (Genesis 50 19-20) Joseph is trying to get the message across to his brothers. He is effectively saying: “Do you not see that only God is in control, I cannot harm you even if I wanted to. I honestly don’t blame you for selling me, it was truly God’s will!” We all face challenges in our relationships with other people, and often harbor resentment towards them for what we believe they have done to us. Let us truly realize, like Joseph, that nobody has ever done anything to us, it is all God sending us life messages. With this attitude, we do not need to be fearful of anyone. We simply need to search for the messages that God is sending us with the faith that all that occurs is for our ultimate good.