Joseph: A Talented and Humble Person
Rabbi Daniela Szuster
Last week, in parashat Vayeshev, and this week in parashat Miketz, we see Joseph as a young dreamer and as a person capable of interpreting other people’s dreams. Would he make a great psychoanalyst in our time!
Every time someone would ask him to solve their confusing dreams, Joseph would agree on the condition they understood the interpretation did not come from him but from God. It is interesting to note that he expressed this more than once. For instance, the Torah says that Joseph told the cupbearer and the baker, when they consulted him about their dreams: “We had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” So, Joseph said to them, “Surely God can interpret! Tell me your dreams.” (Bereshit 40:8)
When Pharaoh approached Joseph to ask him about his dreams, Joseph answered him, saying: “Not I! God will see to Pharaoh’s welfare.” (Bereshit 41:16)
Reviewing Joseph’s life, it must be noted that while he always claimed his words came from God, there really is no mention that God ever spoke to him like He did with the patriarchs. However, without ever communicating directly with Him, Joseph had an incredible faith and conviction in God. Maybe because of all he lived through, all those ups and downs, desolation, solitude and suffering, it was easier for him to develop a deep spiritual life and such a strong faith in the Creator.
Aside from being a man of faith, we see Joseph as an extremely humble person. From his story in the Torah, we are able to perceive him as a talented, intelligent, and sharp man, but he never admits it; he always emphasized that all his words came from God.
In our time, we constantly see people in distinguished positions, along different fields in society, displaying proud, vain, and conceited attitudes. It is indeed a great challenge to occupy a position of power and, at the same time, manage to maintain a humble attitude. Joseph did this throughout his life. As I mentioned before, maybe the fact of having lived for so long inside a pit or in a prison, led him to appreciate the world and taught him to distinguish between the vain and the important things in life.
His humility was probably a key part of his success while ascending from one position to another.
There is a very wise phrase in the Talmud that says: “He who pursues honor will see honor flee from him. Yet, he who flees from honor – honor may yet catch up to him.” (Talmud Bavli Erubin 13b). Joseph ran from honors, he did not consider them a result of his own merits, and this is perhaps why he received so many honors in his lifetime.
Undoubtedly, Joseph was a righteous, faithful, and humble person. These values helped him to overcome the most terrible sufferings.
May God inspire us to follow the path Joseph chose for his life.