There is so much that we can learn from Joseph…
When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt, he said: Ani Yosef [I am Joseph].
Retaining our identity is primary in life. It is true for each of us as individuals. It is equally true for us as a congregation. We need to remember who we are and why we exist.
As we look at the Joseph story, we learn that along with remembering and retaining our essential identity, we also must learn to be there and to take responsibility for one another.
We read in our parsha that Joseph wanted to be sure that his brothers would not repeat the mistake of “discarding” one of their siblings when it was “inconvenient” or “unpleasant” to stay connected. He wanted to be sure his brothers would no longer do to one another what they had done to him decades earlier. And Joseph was assured that his brothers had learned that lesson when Judah offered to stay in Egypt, as a slave, in place of Benjamin!
As a people, we learn from Joseph that the combination of remembering and retaining our identity, and of our taking responsibility for the physical and spiritual safety of one another, has given us the strength and the capacity to survive throughout the ages.
As a congregation, we also learn from Joseph that, going forward, it is a keen awareness of our identity, along with our mutual commitment and concern for our physical and spiritual safety, that will ensure our survival and our ability to thrive as a congregation.
We learn that we exist because we take responsibility not only for ourselves, but for one another as well. So, for example, following the lessons learned from Joseph, we take the time and make the effort to show up to minyan, not only for ourselves, but for others as well.
May our identity be enriched, our safety enhanced, and our survival ensured by our being here for one another as a caring and as a mutually supportive spiritual community!
Rabbi Gilah Dror