Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Just Say, "I'm Sorry"

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at 12:00:00 am

The chief cupbearer then spoke up and said to Pharaoh, "I must make mention today of my offenses." (Genesis 41:9)

"I'm sorry I hurt your feelings" has been replaced by "I'm sorry your feelings are hurt."  "I apologize for getting you upset" is not the same thing as "I'm sorry you are upset."  While I understand that we are responsible for our own feelings and what we do with them, I still can't get over the fact that sometimes people do things to me. People lie, people say hurtful things, people make mistakes yet it seems nearly impossible to simply say, "I'm sorry, I did something wrong."

There are circumstances when a person is caught in a lie and there is no getting out of it.  In those situations, we usually get a partial apology or a litany of excuses.  It comes in the form of, "I'm sorry but..." And to tell you the truth, I would prefer the person not bother with an apology at all.

From a minor character in this week's portion we have the most profound lesson.  Just say, "I'm sorry."  Don't make excuses, just own the mistake and try and learn from it. The person, who thinks he is better than everyone else, feels he doesn't need to express regret, however, it is the person who thinks most of himself that is able to.   



Fair Weather Friends

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Sunday, December 25, 2016 at 12:00:00 am

 "God was with Joseph in Egypt, and he was a successful man." (Genesis 39:2)

"The chief jailor did not supervise anything that was in Joseph's charge, because the Lord was with him." (Genesis 39:23)

"Human friends can always be found when a man is successful, but in time of trouble they tend to forsake him. Not true of God: He was with Joseph when he was a slave, when he was in prison and also when he was a viceroy." (Torah Sheleimah 39:18) 

When life gets difficult, we learn who are true friends are.  Everyone can remember a moment when they suffered and only a few reached out to offer an sympathetic ear.  Many may even find themselves suffering now with few people to whom they can turn for assistance.  

We all experience ups and downs in our lives.  We all know the cliché, "be careful who you step on on the way up you are bound to see them on the way down." Life is a journey of peaks and valleys and it is really hard to go it alone. 

As much as this is lesson about having realistic expectations of our friends, it is also instructive about how to be a friend. We all feel discouraged at points in our lives, and therefore, shy away from others' pain.  We must not.  We must get in there with them. It will challenge us physically and emotionally but we have to make the effort - the rewards are bountiful. This Hannukah give the gift of real friendship.



Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 at 12:00:00 am

Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom (Genesis 32:4)

Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. (Genesis 32:23-25)

True story:  My brother was in from Israel last week.  Amidst dinner I received a call that a member of the congregation had been admitted to the hospital.  After we finished dessert, I went to see the person in the hospital.  My brother felt I left abruptly and wondered about why. Had he said something that offended me?  Later on, he called me to see if everything was ok.  I was unable to take his call and he became even more agitated so he called our mother to see if she had heard anything.  My mother then called me.  (I thought it was somewhat amusing that in our 50's he was still "telling on me.") Needless to say, I called him back and we connected before he went back to Israel.

For my brother, there was some anxiety until we made contact.  We have so many ways to communicate, yet our communication has gotten so much worse.  How often has a text or email been misunderstood?  How much anguish can we avoid by simply picking up the phone?  

In this week's reading Jacob sends word to his brother Esau through a messenger.  The messenger delivers Jacob's wishes and returns with a report.  That night Jacob suffers tremendous concern that could have been avoided ha he simply gone and met Esau face to face. Lesson learned.  Go to the source, avoid involving others, meet face to face - it will give you a good night's sleep.