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Parashat Vayechi 5777: Through Heaven’s Eyes

There is a famous story about an elephant a group of blind people. Each one of them has to touch the elephant without knowing what it is and guess what is he touching. One touches the trunk and thinks that it is a big hose. Another one touches the body and says that it is a huge barrel. The third touches the ears and says it is a big curtain. Each one describes only the part he himself touches and therefore they are incapable of understand that they are actually touching an elephant. The same happens to us. We all see the World through our eyes, we listen to it through our ears, we smell it by our nose, taste it by our mouth and touch it by our hands. Then we understand it by our own very personal mix of personality, culture and education. We can say that we create our own World. Joseph’s brothers have this experience in our Parashah. The whole family moved to Egypt at request of Joseph so he can take care of them, he was after all the Vice Pharaoh in Chief. However, after father Jacob died, the brothers were afraid of Joseph, were afraid that now, when daddy is not around anymore, Joseph will unleash his terrible and we could argue, just, revenge for what they did to him. From the point of view of the brothers, what they did to Joseph was unforgivable. After all, they wanted to kill him and only later they were appeased and satisfied “only” with selling him as a slave. All the suffering of Joseph as a slave and as a prisoner was their fault. Joseph had all the right to be angry and demand revenge. Joseph was, however, a truly great man and instead of staying in his narrow place and looking at things only from there, as most of us usually do, he made the effort to raise himself above himself and appreciate the story as a big picture. He said to his brothers not to be afraid, that he was not in place of God to do judgment, and that even if they planned to do wrong to him, it was God’s plan all along. From God’s point of view, through Heaven’s Eyes, as the Prince of Egypt says, the selling of Joseph was part of a process that would enable the salvation of thousands during the years of famine, in Egypt and elsewhere who came to Egypt to obtain food, including Jacob and his family. We do not know the repercussions of our actions, we can only be responsible for them from our point of view, trying to think about the consequences. We can sometimes, however, like Joseph, try and raise ourselves higher and try to see the big picture, to not only think about ourselves or the people close to us, but of the larger consequences and needs of others. Maybe, like Joseph, God has a plan for us that you can only see Through Heaven’s Eyes.

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