By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
In this week’s parashah, Yosef’s brothers sell him to merchants, and he eventually makes his way to Egypt. To explain to their father Yaakov what happened, they take the coat of Yosef and dip it in blood, and then they show it to Yaakov. When he sees it, he exclaims, “K’sones b’ni, chayah ra’ah achalas’hu, tarof toraf Yosef—This is the coat of my son; a wild animal ate him; Yosef was surely torn apart!” (Bereishis 37:33). Yaakov said this in front of his sons and his father, Yitzchak, and yet nobody objected. The brothers had made a pact to keep it a secret from Yaakov, and Yitzchak knew that Hashem did not want Yaakov to know.
The Sifsei Chachamim elaborates on the need for Yaakov to remain in the dark. He explains that there was a period of 22 years when Yaakov was away from home and was unable to honor his father and mother, so his punishment was being under the impression for 22 years that his son was dead. Additionally, Yaakov needed to bring his family down to Egypt to fulfill the prophecy that the Jews would be enslaved. Had Yaakov known that Yosef had gone down to Egypt, he would have prayed or would have ransomed Yosef with money, but he certainly would not have left Israel. Lastly, there was a concern that if Yaakov knew what the brothers had done to Yosef, he would have cursed them, which would have impacted the nation that was to come from them.
The fact is that so many people were in the room and knew that the conclusion Yaakov reached was false. Some knew because they saw, one knew in a Divine way, and yet nobody said a word. Hashem had all these reasons why Yaakov should not know the truth, and He orchestrated matters in a way that nobody spilled the beans, for 22 years!
There are times when we might fool ourselves with the notion that we control what occurs. The reality is not that way. Hashem is the Master Designer, and when He chooses silence, then a room full of people keep their mouths shut. When He decides 22 years, 22 years it is. It might be helpful for us to keep this idea in mind when dealing with our spouses. We can’t control situations, so we most certainly can’t control other people. Additionally, when we keep this overall concept in mind—that situations we face are not in our control—it brings a measure of calmness into our lives, and this relaxed attitude can greatly enhance the harmony in our home. May we merit to be cognizant of Hashem’s presence and guiding hand in our lives, and may that awareness serve to strengthen our shalom bayis. v
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.