Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Joseph, Jacob and Life's Five Great Regrets

Parshat Vayiggash is impressive for its family drama - Joseph acts with compassion and forgiveness after seeing his brothers have truly changed and repented their misdeeds.  Jacob and Joseph are reunited when it seemed they would likely die without ever seeing each other again and share in the joy of grandfather living to see his grandchildren.

Studies tell us that there are five chief-most regrets people confronted with their own mortality report having.  And our parshah shows us a version of nearly all of them.  Considering our Torah portion in the context these lessons may help us avoid having these regrets and live our lives in more meaningful, fulfilling ways:

1.  I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself and not what others expected of me - we see Joseph learning this lesson over the course of his life, ultimately for the better of his whole family, and the world.

2.  I wish I didn't work so hard - while I'm not sure if this one appears directly, any story focusing on how a dreamer rises from slavery to royalty at least hints at the idea.

3.  I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings - Joseph and his reaction to his brothers is the example of this.  He not only isn't afraid to express his feelings, but his feelings demonstrate a great capacity for learning who he is and of which emotions he is worthy.

4.  I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends - again, not sure this exactly appears but we do see many close bonds - Joseph and Jacob and Benjamin for example in our story.

5.  I wish that I had let myself be happier - And Jacob may be the example of this.  His blessing his grandchildren - his simply getting to see his grandchildren when he didn't even imagine seeing their father - is just such an example of literally embracing the happiness God grants you.

We have no guarantees in life but we can learn from stories like those in our portion this week how to avoid falling victim to these five regrets and instead living better lives without them.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Benson

No comments:

Post a Comment