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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3


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GENESIS — 44:18 [me]

[Accusations should Fit the Person] Rabbi Bunam learned that he had been accused of a misdeed.  He turned to his Hasidim and said, “Usually accusations fit the person accused.   A lowly person is accused of a low crime, a distinguished man of a higher offense.   When Joseph’s brothers were accused of stealing the goblet, Judah exclaimed; “A person like me you accuse of stealing? [this verse begins Judah’s speech in Hebrew with the words bi, “me.”] I may say the same: of all possible accusations, they accuse me of a crime entirely unsuited to my character!”   Sayings of the Hasidic Rebbes   GOODSOC 74

GENESIS — 44:18 impatient

When dealing with an enraged person, particularly someone angry with us, we should act as calmly as we can.  [Proverbs 15:1] teaches that calmness can be contagious: “A gentle response pacifies wrath.”   It is hard for someone to continue to shout if we respond gently and in an unruffled way.   If we respond to shouting and accusations with more shouting and accusations, the conflict is far more likely to escalate.   If someone has reason to be upset with us, we should acknowledge that fact, and ask for mercy.   Thus [this verse].  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin comments, “When you think that what you say will be irritating to the person you are talking to, you can defuse his potential anger by mentioning right at the start that you hope that what you say will not get [him] angry.”   Most people think of themselves as fair and generous.  If we acknowledge their right to be upset, but appeal to them to restrain their anger, they are more likely to be disarmed.   But, if we challenge or even deny the other party’s right to be upset, we will probably trigger another angry reaction.   TELVOL1:257

GENESIS — 44:18 please

Many [medical] patients ask for medication seeking perfect lives, free of physical or mental pain or blemishes.  Is this appropriate? Is there a value in suffering?   In general, Judaism does not extol the virtues of suffering.   However, in the stories of the patriarchs we certainly see examples of emotional growth that comes through hardship and pain, grief or disappointment.  Perhaps the clearest example is Judah.  His emotional growth following the death of two sons prepared him to speak eloquently and soulfully to Joseph as he pleaded for the release of his brother Benjamin.   Pain leads to growth.   DORBOD 88

GENESIS — 44:30 bound

If one has a child, close friend or relative in another city and wishes to keep abreast of his affairs out of genuine love and concern for his well-being, then it is permitted to inquire of acquaintances living in that city, as long as it is made clear that one’s motives are positive.   Zera Chaim 4:11 In such a case, the person being questioned is allowed to answer truthfully, as long as his motives are beneficial as well. This also applies to a teacher who maintains a close connection with former students and wishes to keep informed of their progress, especially if he can help them in any way to develop in a positive direction or prevent them from straying. One of the sterling qualities of a righteous person is “to carry a burden with one’s friend.” A righteous person is genuinely happy in others’ rejoicing, and sad with their pitfalls and misfortunes. When such people hear negative news about another person they will not think less of them, but will be saddened by their pitfalls. Unfortunately, our hearts are not pure, and hearing about someone’s negative traits inadvertently involves some maligning of the person’s character and therefore is lashon hara. Nevertheless, some relationships can come very close to the ideal. The Torah describes Yaakov’s inner connection with his son Binyamin: His soul is attached to his soul [this verse]. Similarly (I Shmuel 18:1), The soul of Yonasan was bound with the soul of David, for he loved him as himself.  In such cases the source of questioning about the welfare of that close person is purely to “rejoice in his well-being and to be saddened by his pitfall or misfortune,” with no trace of maligning character. A conversation in this spirit is not lashon hara. EHRMAN  207-8

GENESIS — 44:32 guilty

It is appropriate that the repentant right the wrong before he confesses his sins, so that his confession will find favor [before Hashem].   David [HaMelech], a”h, at the time of his repentance did just this before confessing, as the pasuk says Psalms 51:6, “To You alone I have sinned, and that which is evil in Your eyes have I done, so that You will be charitable when You speak, virtuous in Your judgment.”   The meaning of this is a follows: [In relation] to You alone I am regarded as a sinner, and I need no forgiveness other than Yours.   If I have sinned to another, I have already asked forgiveness and have appeased him.   In a similar vein [this verse], “I shall have sinned to my father for all time” – regarding this sin I will be considered by my father a sinner for all time, because he will not forgive me for it.   GATES 77

GENESIS — 44:33 instead

“How is one proven to be a true penitent?” Rabbi Judah asked, and answered: “If the opportunity to commit the same sin presents itself, on two occasions and the sinner does not yield to it” Yoma 86b.   Maimonides expands on this Talmudic teaching: “What constitutes complete repentance? When one is confronted by the identical situation in which he previously sinned and it is within his power to commit the sin again, and he nevertheless does not succumb because he wishes to repent, and not because he is afraid or physically too weak [to repeat the sin].   For example, if he had relations with a woman forbidden to him and after some time, he is alone with her, still in the throes of his passion [literally, ‘in love’] for her, and his virility is unabated, and they are in the same place where they previously sinned; if he [or she] abstains and does not sin, this is a true penitent” Laws of Repentance 2:1. … The fact that Judah, who years earlier had sold his brother into slavery, now offers himself as a substitute for his younger brother is proof to Joseph that Judah’s – and by implication his other brothers’ – repentance is complete.   TELVOL 1:168

GENESIS — 45:1 control

Even if you are overcome with emotion, you must be careful not to cause anyone embarrassment.   … Yosef’s self-control was amazing.   He was overcome with emotion and unable to withhold his identity from his brothers any longer.   Nevertheless, he did not become confused or allow emotions to overcome his reason.  Yosef did not reveal his identity until he had dismissed all the Egyptians from the room in order that his brothers should not be shamed by a recounting of their sin in the presence of others (Rabbi Yehuda Leib Chasman in Ohr Yohail, vol. 2, Vayigash). Very often when people are emotionally excited, they become so confused that they entirely forget about the feelings of others and are apt to embarrass them.  We must be on our guard not to shame anyone, no matter what the circumstances.   PLYN 120

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