Joseph The Builder
I was happy that Joseph’s visit was scheduled for a Shabbat meal this year; what could be a better way to greet the Viceroy of Egypt! He was a man who managed huge construction projects, building enough storehouses to feed Egypt for seven years, and I didn’t want him to turn a professional eye on my physically insignificant building.
Our Succah may not be fit for royalty, although I believe it is, (after all, it is Shabbat), but it would surely remind him of the booths in which he sat as he traveled back and forth to Canaan to bury his father.
It’s only been a year since his last visit but I wanted this visit to my Succah to be as exciting for him as when he ran to greet Jacob after twenty-two years apart.
I had to think of an invitation song as elaborate as what l sing to the angels who accompany me home from synagogue. I decided to welcome them before inviting Joseph because they would be as excited as I to see him; I hoped they wouldn’t monopolize the conversation.
I decided to invite him as he was when he was lifted from his prison pit, shaved and dressed for his first meeting with Pharaoh; “I invite you to join me in my Succah, a place where you can make more of a difference than you do in Heaven.”
A man dressed in royal robes appeared and asked, “How can I make a difference in your Succah?”
I didn’t know whether I was supposed to bow, but with my family, guests, the angels and Joseph, there was no room for me to do anything other than bow my head. “I want you to teach me how to store the blessings of this festival to use throughout the year.”
“Are you expecting a famine?”
“No, I’m not. I’m expecting the most expansive year of my life. You have experience planting seeds for the future and I want to take my experiences since Elul and plant them so they will grow.”
I couldn’t stop asking, “I know far too many people who are hurting, as desperate as were you when you were in prison. Teach us how to look forward with the same trust you had even in your worst moments.”
This was a conversation with Joseph and I wanted even more; “You were able to prepare the nation for all their years in Egypt. You saw the future and promised them they would be redeemed. We need such a vision as we watch the world crumble around us.”
“I want to know how you stood so confidently even as your brothers were fighting you every step of the way.”
I was a little nervous when Joseph began, “Your long speech reminds me of Judah’s just before I revealed my identity.”
My visitor must have sensed my tension, “I responded to his speech by revealing my identity, so I guess you could describe it as successful. It was only at that moment that any of the brothers spoke to me with confidence. They were hesitant until that moment; intimidated, not acting as the great people they were. A person who lives and speaks without a full connection to his essence lacks a solid Yesod, Foundation. I constantly knew what I wanted and where I was heading, more importantly, I knew that God was guiding me each step of the way, and that I had to adjust to what He was teaching me. I had a solid Foundation.”
Joseph was silent for a few moments and all of us were to intimidated to speak.
The Tzaddik spoke to all of us, “If you really want to join our Society of Builders, you must have a solid Foundation, a Foundation Stone, so to speak (sorry, but I couldn’t resist). You must know where you stand and what you want. Define your goals. Choose the experiences that resonate most deeply in your soul. Speak, write and teach with confidence in who you are. You will be able to overcome anything and will develop a clear vision of the future.”
The next second, he was gone.
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