Thursday, January 05, 2006

FRIDAY NIGHT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE: Just Like Joseph (Vayigash)


Tevet 5, 5766 * January 5, 2006


Parshat Vayigash

Just Like Joseph
- - - - - - - -

Miriam was feeling very nervous. She knew that in two days she was going to have a big test, covering everything they were supposed to have reviewed during the winter vacation. For some reason, she could not stop worrying about it.

She was so nervous that she didn't even realize that she was sitting in a lesson where the teacher was talking about what was going to be on the test. If she would actually listen to what he was saying she might hear about at least some of the material. But she was too worried to notice.

"…And this teaches us a very important lesson…" her teacher, Mr Cohen, was saying. "…The fact that Joseph sent old wine…" Little snippets of the lesson were floating through her head but her mind wasn't working.

On the way home from school she decided to tell her best friend about her nervousness and see if maybe she could calm her down.

"Well the funny thing is" her friend Roberta said, "in the lesson today Mr Cohen was just talking about something very like this. It was part of his revision lesson for the test".

"It was a revision lesson?" asked Miriam. "I didn't even realize! Oh no! I heard little bits but I couldn't follow what he was saying. I was so nervous and worried I couldn't think".

"I'll tell you one of the things, anyway" said Roberta. "You know that over the holidays we had to learn this week's Torah portion with different commentaries. So he told us that it talks about how Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers and sent with them a present of a flask of old wine to his father Jacob."

"I remember Mr Cohen saying something about that," said Miriam. "He said this teaches us something, but I can't remember what. I'll do terribly in that horrible test!"

"Wait a minute," said Roberta, patiently. "It teaches us to have a positive attitude, and always to expect the best, and never to give up hope!"

"How so?" asked Miriam.

"Because all the time Joseph was in Egypt, as a slave and as a prisoner and then as Viceroy, he never drank wine. He felt he would only drink wine when he rejoined his family. In last week's Parsha, he does in fact drink wine with his brothers, and it is the first time he did so for many years. So we can ask, how is it that he had old wine stored away?"

"You know what," exclaimed Miriam, "I can suddenly remember. We first learnt it weeks ago in class. Joseph never gave up hope that he would be reunited with his family, so he had some old, fine wine stored away. He felt confident that he would eventually drink it with his brothers and even with his father. In the same way, we should always have a positive and optimistic attitude!"

"Very good!" said Roberta. "I can see you're going to do very well in the test after all. Keep up your positive attitude, and you'll remember everything we learnt!"

"Well," said Miriam, "a bit of revision tonight will also help. But I'll certainly try to be positive about it…"

"…Just like Joseph!" the two girls said, laughing together.


Featured Audio Class on

Vayigash - Joseph's Leadership Role
By Moshe New

The lesson from Joseph: the strength and ability to be a leader and sustain society not just physically but spiritually as well.

More Audio/Video


By Dr. Tali Loewenthal, Director of Chabad Research Unit, London

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