Yaakov and his family are dramatically reunited with Eisav. The mothers step forward, followed closely by their children behind. But when it comes to Rachel, Yosef her son steps in front of her.

Why?

Rashi explains that Yosef wanted to protect Rachel from Eisav. Yosef realized that because Rachel was beautiful she could be in danger if Eisav laid his eyes on her. (33:7)

But why did Yosef bother? Firstly, (according to the Seder Hadorot) he was only 6 years old, so there is no way he could completely block Rachel. And secondly, surely Eisav would ask him to move aside and he would see Rachel anyway!

The Tolner Rebbe shlit”a has an enlightening approach to this question. Yosef understood that even though he may only block her partially, and for a couple of minutes, it was still worth it. A half loaf is better than no loaf! (The Medrash tells us that in the end miraculously he did indeed block her).

This is a beautiful attitude to life, and to kindness.

There are times that we may be powerless to completely change a situation, but in most cases there is something that can still be done.

We might not be a doctor, but a meal, a lift, or an enquiry after a sick persons welfare can go a long way.

We can’t bring back someone who has passed, but we can, in some way show that we care.

Perhaps we can’t change someone’s financial situation, but something small can make a temporary difference.

Like Yosef, a ‘giver’ does not go through life with an ‘all or nothing’ attitude, but appreciates the value in each gesture. When it comes to kindness ‘something is definitely better than nothing’!

(Torah ideas adapted from Dvar Torah by Rabbi Frand)