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The Systems of the Jewish Year


By Rabbi Sender Haber

Reuvein was the least likely candidate to save Yosef. Reuvein was the rightful heir to the throne. He was the oldest and he had championed the cause of Leah too often to stand idly by while one of Rachel’s children took the reins in the next generation.

Of all of the brothers, why did Reuvein choose to save Yosef’s life?

Rav Aharon Kotler explains by quoting a Medrash that is astonishing in its simplicity. Reuvein, the Medrash says, knew that he had sinned in moving his father’s bed. Later Yaacov would tell him that he had acted rashly. Knowing that historically not everyone had made it into the forefather club, Reuvein feared that he had lost his edge. He feared that he would go the way of Yishmael, Eisav and the Bnei Keturah. He spent his days repenting.

Reuvein’s glimmer of sunshine came when Yosef had his first dream. Yosef saw eleven stars bowing down to him. Everyone else was upset about the elevation of Yosef, but Reuvein was busy counting stars. He was still in!

Reb Aharon Kotler explains that this attitude saved Reuvein from becoming jealous of Yosef. He was too happy to be jealous. He didn’t take his own position for granted and he certainly had no aspirations for Yosef’s position.

This was Reuvein’s secret and it needs to be our approach as well. If we don’t have shoes we need to be happy that we have feet. The Shtefenishte Rebbe used to say that if we had a chance to walk into a room and choose a burden in life we would all choose our own. We should spend time being grateful for the life we have, rather than being jealous of the life the other person is leading.

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