In this week’s Torah portion, Vayigash (“and he approached”), the dramatic story of Joseph comes to its conclusion when he reveals himself to his brothers after accusing Benjamin of stealing from him and demanding he stay as Joseph’s slave.
In this parsha, Joseph says to his ashamed brothers that while they intended to do evil to him, what happened ended up being for good since now he can help them persevere an impending fast that will ravage the land: “G-d has sent me ahead of you to ensure that you survive…” (Genesis 45:7)
Despite all of the harm his brothers did to him, despite being taken to a foreign land and sold as a slave, despite being falsely accused and jailed, in the end, Joseph recognized that these tribulations brought him to a beneficial outcome. Therefore, he did not hold on to the pain of these experiences and was able to see the larger picture of life’s unfolding.
As we learn later in the Torah, this “success” of Joseph coming to power and bringing his family to Egypt eventually leads to the enslavement of the Jewish nation for hundreds of years. Following that enslavement, comes the Exile from Egypt and the receiving of the Torah, two major events that have defined our religious identities and history for thousands of years. Bad things can lead to good things that can lead to terrible things that can lead to great things… and on and on… . While we set goals and timelines for ourselves, life carries on throughout all of our plans.
So often, we can get stuck in those points in our life when things appear to be going wrong or when we experience great pain or disappointment. Occasionally, we can step back and take a wider perspective to see that even the challenges in our life may offer us growth or a much needed opportunity for change. When we can come to a place where we can both honor the hardships of our journey along with recognizing the possibilities hidden within its mysterious unfolding, we open our hearts and minds to all aspects of life and our selves.
For this week, my kavanah (intention) is to consider how your meditation practice can support holding open the space for all things to unfold, and to let each breath carry us forward through the ebb and flow of life’s journey.