Dear family and friends, Genesis 44 is about our soul-searching. Being close to Rosh Hashanna should encourage each of us to soul search. Presently we are in the month of Elul, which leads us to Rosh HaShannah. We blow the Shofar throughout Elul. We should be stirred! Why? Our enemies are disrupted. They are angry. They cannot relax or find a place of rest. They are uncomfortable!
Just as blowing the shofar disrupts our enemies, Joseph attempted to turn the heat up on his half-brothers. He knew that his brothers were guilty of mistreating him. He wanted them to feel the wrath of God. He wanted them to experience guilt because of their wrongdoing. The Lord was not pleased with Joseph’s half-brother’s actions. Perhaps they felt sorrowful. Yet, their sorrow did not lead them to repent of their actions.
When one is innocent, it is infuriating to be accused. Joseph’s half brothers were innocent of the steward’s accusations. Yet, they were not entirely honest. There was this matter of deceiving their father and continuing there deception for 20 years. They saw their father mourning, weeping, and praying over the loss of Joseph day in and day out for 20 years as Jacob mourned his son Joseph’s death.
If they had mirrors, they were covered. If they had chairs, Jacob sat on the ground. Jacob was extremely distressed over the loss of his son. What would it take for Joseph’s half-brothers to come to grips with what they had done to their father and their half-brother Joseph? How could they be so cold and hardhearted? They needed a come to God moment!! They murdered a precious little lamb as part of their deception of Jacob. They stole Joseph’s coat of many colors and dipped it in that little lamb’s blood. They were distant to Joseph. They placed him in a pit with poison serpents. They sold him as a slave. They turned a deaf ear to Joseph’s pleas for mercy. How could his flesh and blood turn against him? How could they not feel some guilt, some sorrow for what they were doing to Jacob and Joseph? They needed to do some earnest soul searching! Can we imagine what it was like to be so cold-hearted so insensitive to another human being?
Isaac, Jacob’s father, knew of the deceitful lies that were being played out. He remained in the background and held his peace until his death. Why? The Rabbis teach that because Jacob was separated from his father for 22 years, Joseph would be separated from him for 22 years. That was a measure for a measure. Seeing as this was a measure for a measure, can we say Joseph’s half-brothers were cold, cruel, and insensitive? Can we say they didn’t love their brother?
God was at work in the lives of Jacob’s children. Can we imagine how painful this was for our Creator? Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph realized the awful pain.
There are several points here. God allows others to accuse us even though we are innocent. In a sense, we are guilty because somewhere we have some hidden skeletons that we need to deal with. We are approaching Rosh Ha Shannah and Yom Kippur. So it is not so unusual for things to come along to remind us of our skeletons. Perhaps like Joseph’s half-brothers, we are waiting for the right time to face our skeletons. It’s time for us to begin soul-searching. It’s time for us to examine how we live and how we have lived. We need to take ownership of our mistakes / for our sins. We need to pay restitution. We need a fresh new beginning. Our new day is about to dawn in a few short weeks if we take action now.
Our sages share a story of a wealthy man who was meticulous about observing The Mitzvot of The Torah. For many years it was as if anything that pious man touched turned to gold. Then in a short time, his wealth began to evaporate. He was extremely concerned that he may have done something in violation of The Torah. So he started to a re-evaluate himself. He found nothing! He was perplexed, so he went to another town to discuss the matter with a highly respected sage he had known for a long time. They sat down together. The Sage began reviewing all the issues regarding the pious man’s life. After days of review, the Sage said to the pious man that he could not find anything. He said, ‘The Lord, Blessed be His Name Tested you with great wealth, and you passed the test, and now The Lord is testing you with great poverty.’
Dear Ones, the pious man was not tested because he sinned or had skeletons in his closet. He was pure before God. On the other hand, some of us are given trials because we deserve it. Our past is messy. We need to clean up areas of our life. We need to do a soul search as the pious man did. We need to put our spiritual house and in order.
May each of us succeed in evaluating our souls and identifying and removing any obstructions to our spiritual life. May each of us be blessed with clear thinking and a positive attitude. May we be blessed and cleansed as needed.
May The Lord Bless us in our daily walks, and may we stay within The Torah’s Guidelines. May we help others, May we bring peace and healing to our world. May this coming Sabbath and every Sabbath be a blessed Day. May we each prepare for Rosh HaShannah, The Ten Days of Repentance, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. May we be suitable. May our Names continue living in The Book of Life!!
Dr. Akiva George Belk