Monday, April 22, 2013

355 - Vayeishev

In this week's parsha we read how Potiphar's wife attempted to seduce Yosef. Yosef countered, "There is no one greater than me in this house, and [Potiphar] did not withhold anything from me except you being that you are his wife, and how could I commit such a terrible action and I will have sinned before Hashem" (Bereishis 39, 9).

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) makes an interesting observation. Yosef asserted that if he would comply with her advances, then he will have sinned before Hashem. Wouldn't it have been more accurate to state that if they would sin together, then we will have sinned before Hashem? Rav Wolbe quotes the Kotzker Rebbi who offered an enlightening explanation. Had Yosef said "we" then he would have already been guilty of uniting himself - on some level - with his master's wife. Yosef wanted nothing to do with her; not even a connection of a linguistic nature! This once again highlights the idea discussed last week and the lesson of Chanuka. The Jewish People are a nation that "dwell's in solitude" and we in no way, shape or form wish to blend with the nations around us. 

Additionally, the above story demonstrates Yosef's extreme cautiousness when it came to the possibility of sinning. A few pasukim later we find another example of his fear of sin. When Potiphar's wife grabbed him, he left his garment in her hands and ran out. The Seforno explains that he ran out of the room lest his yetzer hara overwhelm him. Rav Wolbe comments that had we been in a similar situation we probably would have been sure of our capabilities to overcome our yetzer hara and not succumb to the temptation. Yosef's fear of sin was so great that he wouldn't take the chance. If Yosef Hatzaddik took such precautions shouldn't we be so careful when the possibility of a sin presents itself?

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