Sunday, December 17, 2006

Thoughts on Parashat Vayeshev

וַיְהִי אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וַתִּשָּׂא אֵשֶׁת־אֲדֹנָיו אֶת־עֵינֶיהָ אֶל־יוֹסֵף וַתֹּאמֶר שִׁכְבָה עִמִּי: וַיְמָאֵן וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־אֵשֶׁת אֲדֹנָיו הֵן אֲדֹנִי לֹא־יָדַע אִתִּי מַה־בַּבָּיִת וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר־יֶשׁ־לוֹ נָתַן בְּיָדִי: אֵינֶנּוּ גָדוֹל בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה מִמֶּנִּי וְלֹא־חָשַׂךְ מִמֶּנִּי מְאוּמָה כִּי אִם־אוֹתָךְ בַּאֲשֶׁר אַתְּ־אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֵיךְ אֶעֱשֶׂה הָרָעָה הַגְּדֹלָה הַזֹּאת וְחָטָאתִי לֵאלֹהִים

And it was after these thing that the wife of his lord lifted her eyes toward Jacob and said "lie with me." He refused and said to the wife of his lord "look, with me, my lord is not concerned with what is in the house, for everything that is his he has placed in my hand. No one is greater in this house than me and he has witheld nothing from me except you, insofar as you are his wife, so how could I do this great evil and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:7-9)

This episode is striking, I think for a number of things. to my mind the most noteworthy thing is that Joseph perceives Potiphar's wife's proposal as a sin not against Potiphar, but against God. He has been entrusted with absolute control over Potiphar's household, he could do anything he wants, but this one thing, lying with Potiphar's wife, he knows he cannot do. I think that the reason for this is that it was with God's help and the successes that God granted him that he gained this degree of trust from Potiphar. To betray the trust that was built with the Lord's help would be to betray God by spurning the gift that God has given him in Potiphar's faith.

No comments: