Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

We All Want to be Seen

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

In this week's message I read between the lines.  Between verses 3 and 4, I imagine an internal monologue.

Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph..." (Genesis 45:3)

I demand to be seen for who I am.  I spent my life struggling to find myself. Now I have  and I want to be seen and heard.  I might have spent a life looking to get noticed. Maybe there is some psychological explanation.  Maybe it was my subconscious searching for my own identity among so many brothers. 

I am no longer the loud, obnoxious, attention grabbing youth I was when I put on my coat of many colors in order to draw your eyes to me.  I am an adult who has arrived. I am accomplished. I am successful. I am powerful and you still do not see me. You still do not recognize me and so I weep.  I cannot go anywhere incognito.  Everyone knows who I am.  I am famous.  I am in control. They call me by another name, but my face is basically the same. Yet, you still have no idea who I am and so I cry.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come forward to me... I am Joseph your brother..." (Genesis 45:4)

We all want to be seen, we all want to be heard and when we are not, we all shed a tear.    


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"I'm sorry I hurt your feelings" has been replaced by "I'm sorry your feelings are hurt."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.