vayaitshev

This Shabbos we read Parshas Vayaitshev. The Parsha focuses on the life of Joseph and his amazing story in Egypt. Arriving as a 17 year old lad who was sold into slavery, Joseph began a roller coaster of life that could easily have broken a person twice his age. First he was sold into slavery by his own brothers. When he arrived in Egypt he was sold to the butcher of Pharaoh, and rose to become the overseer of his entire house. Then his Masterís wife tried to seduce him. When he refused to listen to her she confronted him, and he ran away from her, leaving his coat in her hands. When she saw what he did, she made a false accusation against him, turning the tables on him. Joseph ended up spending two years in the jail because of that accusation, until Pharaoh eventually had a dream that Joseph interpreted and was let out of jail, rising to fame.

Many years later, when the Jews wanted to cross the Sea of Reeds, the Sages tell us that the Sea ended up parting in merit of the running away that Joseph did from his Masterís wife. In a beautiful piece, Rav Chaim Smulevitz explains that aside from the individual reward that was promised to each part of his body for not doing the sin with her, there was a special reward given to Joseph for running away from whole situation of the sin. In truth, Joseph could have stayed in the house with her and wrestled away his coat from her. However, that would have meant being in a situation of temptation for a little longer. That is something that Joseph refused to do. Rather, he ran away, not to be in a situation where he would be tempted to sin.

This idea, he explains is of utmost importance to all of us in life. Rather than allow ourselves to be in situations where we are challenged to do the right thing, we must seek to avoid these situations altogether. Rather than be somewhere that we are prone to get angry, just donít go there. Rather than spend a Shabbos in a situation that keeping the Sabbath is hard, just go elsewhere for the Sabbath. So too, with every commandment, if we just avoid being in situations and with people who make keeping the commandments harder, than we get special reward for that part of caring for the commandment alone Ė that we tried to put ourselves in an environment in which we can make it happen.