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If we view ourselves as being 'sold'; if we blame our life's turbulent twists and turns on other people's dealing with us, we will forever remain powerless victims, imprisoned by the callousness of others. But if we view ourselves as being "sent," we will have become G-d's active agent in this world, charged with a purpose to fulfill G-d’s mission, and spread goodness and kindness, even in the worst of places.

Rabbi Allouche

Did you know that Biblical Hebrew does not have a word for “excuses”?

The reason is telling: According to the Torah, there are no rooms for “excuses.” Sure, we may have good reasons for our failures, but excuses are not welcome in Judaism. Why? Because excuses, more often than not, stall our progress forward and turn us into victims of life’s challenges.

In this week’s portion, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, 22 years after they had sold him into slavery. The brothers are overcome with fear that Joseph, who had become the vice-king of Egypt, will now execute his revenge. But Joseph reassures them, with admirable compassion and dignity: “Now, be not distressed, nor reproach yourself for having sold me here, for it was to preserve life that G-d sent me ahead of you… G-d has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival in the land and to sustain you for a momentous deliverance.” “It is not you who sent me here, but G-d (- see Genesis 45:1-11).”

Joseph was telling his brothers that they may have sold him to Egypt as a slave. But that was not the way he chose to view his saga. Instead, Joseph saw himself as a person who was sent to Egypt by G-d, charged with a mission to do good, at every moment, in every place. And although Joseph suffered terribly for many years, he never became a victim of his circumstances, and he never provided excuses to compromise his values.

By doing so, Joseph taught us one of life’s greatest lessons: if we view ourselves as being ‘sold’; if we blame our life’s turbulent twists and turns on other people’s dealing with us, we will forever remain powerless victims, imprisoned by the callousness of others.

But if we view ourselves as being “sent,” we will have become G-d’s active agent in this world, charged with a purpose to fulfill G-d’s mission, and spread goodness and kindness, even in the worst of places.

Just like Joseph, we sometimes may feel imprisoned and shackled like slaves by psychological and emotional prisons. But it is up to us to decide whether we have been sold into these situations, or whether we were sent to bring healing to ourselves and to the world around us, to kindle a light in a place of darkness, and to ignite a spark of hope in a moment of despair.

So, my friends, at this very moment: are you sold, or are you sent?