y Rabbi Simcha Weinberg
Which temptation was more challenging? Was it Potiphar’s wife or, perha
By: Rabbi Simcha Weinberg
Which temptation was more challenging? Was it Potiphar’s wife or, perhaps it was the temptation to ask Pharaoh’s wine steward to help him get out of jail? All I know is that I would not want to be challenged by either, although I suspect that we constantly face them in different forms.
Potiphar’s wife was desperate for Joseph. Rashi explains that it was more than a physical passion; she was convinced that she was destined to have a child with Joseph. The Kotzker describes her as one of the most dangerous people on the planet: A “Sheim Shamayimiker,” – someone who is convinced that what she is doing is for God. He points out that although she was committed to acting ‘for the sake of heaven,’ Jacob describes her as an evil and dangerous beast. The Kotzker concludes that there is no beast more dangerous than someone convinced that they are acting for the sake of heaven.
Whether Joseph was more tempted by the “woman” or by her religious passion is open to question, but we know that he almost succumbed. It was only the deep seeded teachings of his father, Jacob, which saved him in the final seconds. “Phew!”
The heroic dreamer accepted the rollercoaster of life with admirable calm. He held onto his dreams. He knew that they were visions of his own destiny. How else could he respond when two men, under his care, seem troubled by their dreams? So, the dreamer interprets their dreams. It could not have been a coincidence that the dreamer is presented with dreams. It cannot be a coincidence that he is presented with an opportunity to help him realize his own dreams. God is helping him.
Should he take advantage of the opportunity, or should he accept that God is guiding him toward his destiny, and does not need Joseph’s help?
That is a serious temptation.
We all struggle with similar temptations. How would we do?
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