Torah Tidbits

Overcoming Fear and Speaking from the Heart      

Shabbat Parashat VaYigash

December 19, 2015 – 7 Tevet 5776   

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Have you ever felt tongue-tied, overcome by fear or insecurity, and not spoken up, only to regret it later?  I certainly have had such moments.  Understandably, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of consequences may all hold us back at times in our lives.

Thankfully, through study and discussion of some of our Torah’s stories, we may become better able to confront our fears, to understand them, and to realize our unique and God-given potential for the good.

One such Torah story is found in our weekly Torah portion of VaYigash- a continuation of the Joseph story.

At the beginning our parsha (weekly Torah portion), Judah approaches Joseph (the second most powerful man in all of Egypt).  Judah pleads with Joseph to release their younger brother, Benjamin, and to allow Benjamin to return with the other brothers to their father, Jacob.

I imagine that Judah had a moment of hesitation, of fear, of trepidation, of insecurity, before he approached Joseph.  Yet, he did.

Despite the difficulty of the situation and of the moment, Judah determined that this moment was not one that he could afford to let slip by without speaking up.  We learn from the story that when Judah approached Joseph, he spoke respectfully.  He spoke from the heart.  Most importantly, we learn that when he realized that someone needed to step up to the plate, he communicated.  He was not silent.  He let Joseph know what he needed and what his father, Jacob, needed.

We cannot know what will happen when we overcome our fears to take a step forward.  We cannot predict the outcome when we take a chance.  Sometimes, it is indeed best to let a moment pass and to do nothing.  But, sometimes, we simply cannot let that happen.

We are blessed to have been granted the gift of Torah because studying and discussing Torah stories can help us hone our ability to evaluate situations; to explore our fears; and to think of ways in which we may make the most of our potential to bring greater blessing into the world.

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Gilah Dror