Shabbat Shalom Weekly: Vayigash 5761
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Vayigash(Genesis 44:18-47:27)

Vayigash 5761

GOOD MORNING!  It's good to have literate and intelligent readers! Brian Frumhoff wrote to inform that the powerful piece "Children Learn What They Live" was authored by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D. who wrote a book titled "Children Learn What They Live, Parenting to Inspire Values" ($8.95). In her book, she takes each line of the poem and expounds on it as a chapter in itself, through anecdotes and specific examples. In her introduction, the author acknowledges that most often, the credit for the poem is listed as "Author Unknown." I just ordered the book!

I had a professor of Political Science in college who had a "Johnny Carson" complex. He liked to start off each lecture with a ten minute monologue of jokes. Unlike Johnny Carson, his jokes weren't funny ... which probably explains why he never made the transition to Late Night Television. Each day his monologue of unfunny jokes was met by a stony silence from the 300 students in the class, but he persisted perhaps hoping for the epiphany when we would suddenly appreciate his sense of humor.

One day I brought a laughing machine into class and placed it on the empty seat next to me in the amphitheater. When I would hit the lever on the little box it would play a tape of a man hilariously laughing for about 30 seconds. The professor entered, started his monologue and I hit the lever. Within a radius of 5 feet people could hear the laughing of the machine ... and they broke up laughing. Within ten seconds the whole class broke into hilarious laughter ... 10 people who heard the machine and 290 people laughing at 10 people who they assumed were feeble enough to actually laugh at the professor's jokes.

The professor was dumbstruck. For the first time in 30 years he had a classroom laughing at his jokes! When the laughter died down, he told another one. I hit the lever, the machine gave forth laughter, surrounding people laughed at the machine and the rest of the lecture hall laughed at the 10 people laughing at the machine.

The professor was in seventh heaven! He went on for close to half an hour telling jokes, me hitting the lever and the subsequent laughter. I am sure he died a happy man!

There are many ways I can go with this story -- analyzing the mindset, the psychology and the needs of the professor who persisted for 30 years telling unfunny jokes to unappreciative students -- perhaps he thrived on rejection or overcoming rejection? Then we could attempt to analyze the motivations for bringing the laughing machine into the class: Altruistic? Kind? Let's keep it simple. Learn the lesson of positive reinforcement -- (even unintentional positive reinforcement) the power to help people feel good and accomplish by giving them encouragement! Certainly, that is what the laughter was to the professor.

To bring the point home, I'll end with one of my favorite stories. There were two frogs who fell into a deep hole. They tried to jump out, but it was too deep. Soon, other frogs gathered around and they all very vocally agreed that it was too deep to jump out of the hole. One frog heeded their words, stopped jumping, gave up hope and died. The other frog kept jumping while they kept yelling at him that it was useless. Finally, the frog managed to jump out of the hole. They asked the frog, "Why did you keep trying when we kept yelling that it was impossible? The frog explained, "I am hard of hearing and I thought that you were yelling to encourage me!"

We see that the power of life and death can be in one's words and in one's mouth. Let us use our power of speech and our power of laughter to encourage others and to help them!


Torah Portion of the Week
Vayigash

We left off last week with Joseph's pronouncement that he was keeping Benjamin as a slave for stealing his wine cup. Judah steps forward to challenge the decision and offers himself as a slave instead of Benjamin. Joseph is overcome with emotion, clears the room and reveals his identity to his unsuspecting brothers.

The brothers are shocked! They suspect Joseph's intentions, but accept his offer to bring the extended family to Egypt. Jacob is initially numb and disbelieving of the news, but becomes very excited to see his son.

The Torah recounts the 70 souls of the Jewish people which went down to Egypt. Jacob reunites with Joseph, meets Pharaoh and settles with the family in the Goshen district. As the famine continues, Joseph buys up all of the property and people in Egypt for Pharaoh with the grain stored during the seven good years.

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

When Joseph finally reveals his identity to his brothers, the Torah tells us, "And Joseph said to his brothers, 'I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?' And his brothers could not answer him because they trembled before him" (Genesis 45:3).

These words of Joseph were rebuke to his brothers. They had thought evil of Joseph and now they realized that his prophetic dreams of rulership and power were true. They instantaneously realized that they were previously wrong in their judgment of him. A mistake they had lived with for many years was cleared up with just one sentence from Joseph. The two Hebrew words "Ani Yosef" -- I am Joseph -- were sufficient to change their minds in just one moment.

When you try to influence someone to see the truth, how long must it take? This, of course, is impossible to answer. It depends on so many factors that are impossible to predict in advance. However, we see that there is no minimum. When what you say is powerful enough, at times you can give people great awareness very quickly. Timing and circumstances are crucial. The right two words can sometimes make long-lasting changes.



CANDLE LIGHTING - January 5:

Jerusalem  4:13
Guatemala 5:40  Hong Kong 5:36  Honolulu 5:46
J'Burg 6:46  London 3:48  Los Angeles 4:40
Melbourne 8:28  Miami 5:26  Moscow 3:55
New York 4:25  Singapore 6:50



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

There is no future
living in the past.



Dedicated by...

In Loving Memory of
(L'ilui Nishmat)
Edward Menashe Erani
Menashe ben Emumah
by Chuck Erani

Published: December 30, 2000

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