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Torah Portion Vayeishev - Role Model

This week's portion includes four stories:

  1. The selling of Yosef (Joseph) as a slave by his brothers - which eventually positioned Yosef to be second in command in Egypt and enabled him to save the known world from famine.

  2. The indiscretion of Yehuda (Judah) with Tamar (Tamar)....

  3. The attempted seduction of Yosef by Potifar's wife, which ends with her framing Yosef and having him imprisoned.

  4. Yosef interprets the dreams of his fellow prisoners, the wine steward (who was reinstated and forgot to put in a good word for Yosef) and the baker (who was hanged).

For Noahides

In this blog, we focus on the third story.

We read in Genesis Chapter 39:11

וַיְהִי֙ כְּהַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה וַיָּבֹ֥א הַבַּ֖יְתָה לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת מְלַאכְתּ֑וֹ וְאֵ֨ין אִ֜ישׁ מֵאַנְשֵׁ֥י הַבַּ֛יִת שָׁ֖ם בַּבָּֽיִת׃

“One such day, he came into the house to do his work. None of the household being there inside,..”

Josef was working in the house of Potiphar. “His master’s wife casts her lustful gaze on the handsome young man and repeatedly attempts to seduce him. Joseph is consistent in his refusal to even consider her advances. Then, one day, the entire household goes to the temple for a special occasion. She feigns illness in order to be home alone with Joseph. He comes to the house “to do his work”. Rashi offers two interpretations: the simple, that he came to work; and another, that he actually came to do his “work” with her!

Determined as he was, on this occasion Joseph was beginning to falter. Morale and morality were weakening, and it seemed as if he was about to succumb to the temptress’ entreaties.

Then suddenly, something happened to help Joseph regain his senses and self-control. What was it—did they come home early? Did the postman ring the bell?

Rashi: there appeared before Joseph a vision, one so potent that it restored his composure there and then. What was that image?

Quoting the Talmud, Rashi says it was “the image of the visage of his father.” Joseph suddenly saw the face of his father, Jacob, and with that his moral resolve was restored."

Jacob, Joseph's father, was of course a great role model. He had seen Joseph's potential and had given him additional education and great wisdom.

It teaches us the importance of being good role models for our children, grandchildren and our environment in general.

It also shows the great importance of having a good role model. Now, you can choose a role model from Tenach for this, but it may be a little far from your own thinking.

What I can recommend to everyone is to choose a role model in the here and now - or recent past. Someone who you believe has reached a high spiritual level. Look at how that person lives and makes choices. Make sure you can easily see that person...for example, on your phone screen, so every time you open your phone you see that person - it visually reminds you that you want to grow spiritually and when making choices you can ask yourself how that other person would have done it.

Just as athletes sometimes have an "idol" athlete, whom they look up to and in which footsteps they want to follow, we should have an "idol", whom we look up to and in which footsteps we want to follow.

Brought By Angelique Sijbolts


Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners en intermediate. She likes to walk, to read and play the piano.




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