12/17/2015

Shabbat Vayigash

Candles Friday 18th 4:10pm
Havdalah 19th 5:05pm
Fast of the Tenth of Tevet on Tuesday starts 6:04am, ends 5:06pm

Yosef is appointed by Pharaoh to administer the whole of his empire. He gathers in, buys up, the surplus crops during the good years so that when famine strikes the country is well taken care of. He sells food to the needy. When their money runs out he buys up their land and finally turns them all into serfs to Pharaoh. Only the priests are allowed to retain their estates. He does his job magnificently being loyal exclusively to Pharaoh and recognizing the importance of preserving the status of the State religion even if it is not his.

One might understand the resentment towards him coming from the masses. Even if he was able to keep then alive, every day they worked on Pharaoh’s estates they must have cursed him. This happened in Medieval Europe when “Court” Jews were often advisors to the monarchs, sometimes managed their affairs and farmed their taxes. They too were loyal to their masters but hated by the peasants.

But its interesting that the hatred of Yosef and his people comes not from the masses so much as from ta new Pharaoh who you might have expected to be grateful to Yosef for enriching him and saving his realm. Instead he enslaved the Israelites. Clearly he resented Yosef and his people. And do it was with Jews in Europe and the Middle East. Often the rulers who benefitted most from Jewish advice and expertise turned in those same people who had helped him. Just look up the stories of the Oppenheimers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the way the Rothschilds were treated in Britain in the early nineteenth century and Jews under Islam.

Too often those who owe most, show the least gratitude. Sadly, it’s human nature to resent those we owe a lot to. But a good person does good regardless of whether he or she is appreciated or not.