May this blessing rest upon Yoseph’s head, and upon the crown of him who was separated from his brothers. (33:16)

Moshe blessed each tribe according to its individual greatness and national responsibilities. When blessing Yoseph, he mentioned, “…he who was separated from his brothers.” What special praise is there in the fact that Yoseph was separated from his brothers?

Usually, a person’s values are based upon those of the society that he grew up in. One naturally becomes like those in his environment. There was no better place to be brought up than in the house of Yaakov. Anyone brought up in such an environment was likely to become a great person – just look at Yoseph’s eleven brothers! However, Yoseph was sent to Egypt, a place filled with immorality and idol worship, at a very young age, and did not have the luxury of growing up in a kosher environment. Nevertheless, against all odds, he remained strong and became the tzaddik that he was!1

A bunch of guys were sitting down together, talking and eating. Everyone looked pretty much the same and they were all basically doing the same thing. One by one they got up to leave, except for one of them who just stayed in his seat, not moving. While they were trying to figure out why he was just sitting there, they noticed that he had no feet – that’s why he couldn’t move!!

When they were sitting down they had all looked the same. It was only when it became time for each one to get up and go off in his own direction that each of their individual strengths and weaknesses became apparent. Only when one is outside of his comfort zone can we truly see a person’s strengths.

NOTES

1. Chofetz Chaim