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Each Small Act

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do as follows: load up your beasts and go at once to the land of Canaan.

Take your father and your households and come to me; I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you shall live off the fat of the land.’

And you are bidden [to add], ‘Do as follows: take from the land of Egypt wagons for your children and your wives, and bring your father here (45:17-20).”

Rabbi Yaakov Sprung in a gorgeous thought quotes a comment of the Ba’alei Tosafot on the phrase, “Bring your father here,” as Pharaoh commanding the brothers to carry Jacob on their shoulders from Canaan to Egypt.

Rabbi Sprung speaks of the problems of taking that literally as it would be challenging and dangerous to carry an old man for hundreds of miles through the desert, mountains, valleys and streams. He understands the Ba’alei Tosafot as reminding us how careful we must be to lighten the loud of those facing tremendous challenges such as moving at an old age to a new country…

His talk reminded me of the following thought, especially pertinent to our times:

“Each smallest act of kindness reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away. 

Likewise, each small meanness, each expression of hatred, each act of evil.—This Momentous Day, H.R. White”

And, boy, does this ever apply to Joseph and his brothers, both in kindness and acts of meanness.

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