Trust can be a difficult thing, especially if one has had their trust betrayed. So who can blame us if, like Joseph, we're just a little hesitant to restore our full trust in those who have betrayed us without a little "testing." That's only human,right? Yet it doesn't quite seem right to excuse ourselves so easily.
Where I find myself failing is in getting past the hesitancy once the "test" has been passed, or my compassion overrides my pain. Must it be so that, once lost, trust can never be fully regained? Must I allow doubt's shadow to continue to influence my thoughts and my actions?
I don't understand why sometimes I can restore trust in someone who has betrayed or disappointed me in a major and serious manner, yet will continue to remember and not restore my faith in someone for the smallest of betrayals (--are there really any small betrayals?) Where is my power to forgive? Is it a slave to the petty whims of my personality?
Is it, like it may have been for Joseph, the ultimate outcome of the betrayal that mitigates our stubbornness? (Oh no, here we are back to teleological ethics again.) If things turn out kind of OK, I can forgive and forget, but if my life, for whatever reason (whether relevant to the betrayal or not) is miserable, then I might not be be so compassionate.
They say time heals all wounds. I'm not sure that's true, and particularly not in the case of those wounds we have given ourselves. Is it easier to learn to forgive myself if my circumstances are good, my life comfortable, like the life Joseph enjoyed as Pharaoh's right-hand.
Then there is the other side. Those whom I have betrayed or disappointed.
Assuming, for the moment, that I am at heart a good person, I would surely want to redress my wrong. The other party may very well demonstrate outward compassion and have forgotten and/or forgiven my actions. Is that an excuse to just chalk it up to human imperfection and move on? How often have I cheated my own growth by failing to own up to my actions? What price will I pay for my failure?
Was Joseph ever troubled by the way he lorded over his brothers and parents with his dreams and visions? Were his brothers still troubled by their actions after discovering Joseph was alive? Did they hold a hidden resentment for the way he teased them before revealing himself?
G"d tied it all up in a nice, neat little package for us. Pure and simple teleology. All the bad that happened was meant for good. Let Joseph and his brothers have their little fantasy. It's the next generations that will suffer as a result of G"d's little game.
Things for me to ponder this Shabbat. Thanks for allowing me this wandering, random, electronic catharsis!
To you and yours a Happy Hanukah.
Adrian ©2007 (portions ©1997) by Adrian A. Durlester
Some other musings on this parasha:
Miketz 5767-Clothes Make the Man?
Miketz 5766-Eizeh Hu Khakham?
Miketz 5757& 5761-Would You Buy A Used Car From This Guy?
Miketz 5763/5764/5765-Assimilating Assimilation
Email Me A Comment!