By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
Sefer Sh’mos begins by listing the eleven sons of Yaakov who were among his 70 descendants who went down to Egypt. The Torah then states, “V’Yosef hayah b’Mitzrayim,” “and Yosef was in Egypt” (1:5). Rashi explains that Yosef is singled out here to praise his righteousness. Yosef the viceroy in Egypt was the same Yosef who had tended his father’s sheep as a young boy. Despite all he had endured and despite his surroundings, he remained Yosef the son of Yaakov.
It is human nature that people act differently in different situations. The way a person acts in a professional setting or when he is out in public is often vastly different from the way he acts in his home environment.
We should strive to emulate this aspect of Yosef’s behavior. Yosef was Yosef no matter where he was—in his father’s home, tending sheep, in a pit, on a caravan, in a jail, in the palace court—he conducted himself in the same righteous manner. This consistency is praiseworthy and admirable.
Often when we come home from work or other public pursuits, we exchange our professional demeanor for that of a loving spouse or parent. However, we sometimes also exchange the careful restraint in interpersonal relationships of our professional persona for a lack of restraint that is characteristic of our “home” persona. We need to remember that our spouses and family members would benefit most from this “professional” restraint. They are the ones who interact with us when we are tired, stressed, under pressure, after a long day, and on erev Shabbos. They are the ones who often get spoken to in ways that we would never address a colleague or boss.
Let us try to learn the lesson of the words “and Yosef was in Egypt.” Let us try to bring home some of the restraint that we exercise in the workplace or in other interactions outside our home.
May we be zocheh to see much berachah in our relationships as a result of our efforts, and may we be zocheh to become people of consistency in our interpersonal interactions and in all areas of our life.
Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00–11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail firstname.lastname@example.org.