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Joseph's Assumptions by Prof. Gerald August by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg





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Joseph's Assumptions by Prof. Gerald August by
Article Posted: 12/13/2010
Article Views: 294
Articles Written: 121
Word Count: 408
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Joseph's Assumptions by Prof. Gerald August


 
Judaism,Spiritual
When Joseph, Viceroy of Egypt, first saw his brothers, he viewed them as all complicit in attempted murder, except for Benjamin. So when Joseph finally revealed who he was, it was Benjamin whom he first embraced.

But what was the reality? The brothers conspired to slay him and then throw him into a pit. In other words, get rid of his body. But Reuben said, “Don’t commit an overt act of murder, throw him into the pit and he will die of starvation.” Reuben wanted to come back and save Joseph from the pit. Then, not knowing Reuben’s plan, Judah also decided to save Joseph’s life. He convinced his brothers by appealing to their greed. We can get rid of Joseph and turn a profit. And the brothers bought the argument. So two of the brothers did not want to kill him, and both thought of plans to prevent Joseph from being murdered. Judah succeeded! Of course, how could Joseph have known all this? The brothers grabbed him as soon as he showed up and threw him into the pit. He had no more contact with them.

So when they showed up in Egypt, he was out to get revenge and teach them a lesson. Instead of immediately telling them who he was and sending word to his father, he was intent on making them suffer.

Would it have been different if he had known all the facts in the case? Perhaps he would have played it another way. Seeing Judah and Reuben, he could have favored them at the beginning of their first meeting, given the other brothers grief, and revealed his identity at the end of this encounter. He would have spared his father months of sadness.

Not having the facts, Joseph made assumptions.

How many of us think we know all the facts and do not bother to check to see if we are correct. Why do we do this? One reason might be that it will take more work than we want to put into an endeavor. Most of the time, I suspect we don’t even think about the fact that our assumptions might not be correct. Do we take the time to consider if we need more information?

The lesson we learn from Joseph’s understandable lack of the facts is to try to check the “facts”a second time. Only then can we make a reasonable and fair decision of how to proceed.

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