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The Crown of Halacha

Vayeishev 5778 – Fight or Flight

This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Bereishis 5778

Vayeishev 5778 – Fight or Flight

“And Yoseph was beautiful of form and beautiful of appearance.” (Bereshis 39:6)

Rashi brings the Midrash, “Because he saw himself as a ruler, he began to eat, drink and curl his hair. The Kadosh Baruch Hu said, ‘Your father is mourning and you are curling your hair! I will incite a bear against you.’”

The Satan Carefully Plans His Attack With Patience

Potiphar’s wife laid a trap for Yoseph.
And it came about on a certain day (39:11): Rashi: That is to say that a special day arrived, a day of rejoicing, a religious festival when they (the household) all went to the temple of their idols. Potiphar’s wife said, “I have no more fitting day to consort with Joseph than today.” So she said to them, “I am ill, and I cannot go.” [Sotah 36b]

When she and Yosef were all alone the trap was sprung:
She grabbed him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” But he tore himself out of her grasp, leaving his garment in her hands. (39:12)

Frustrated by his escape, she accused Yosef falsely, declaring that he had attempted to violate her. As proof, she exhibits the garment he left behind. Yosef was convicted and thrown into jail.

Fight or Flight – But Why Leave Incriminating Evidence?

Yosef surely knew that that leaving his garment behind was incredibly incriminating. Why didn’t he pull it away?

Do Heroes Run Away?

The answer is that Yosef did not want to engage in a struggle with the Yetzer Hara. Had he pulled on the garment, Potiphar’s wife would have struggled to hold on. That tiny amount of interaction, which may last only a millisecond, could have been an opening for greater temptation. Yosef understood that it is preferable to run away from a difficult test rather than face it straight on, even momentarily. He knew he was strong but he also knew that the Yeitzer Hara is stronger. The only way to beat it was to run away from it, no matter what.

Sometimes a Hero Needs to Turn and Run

There is an old saying, “The best way to win an argument is to avoid it.” This is because once a person answers back there is no telling what the next response will be and how badly the argument might play out. Despite the fact that Yoseph had resisted temptation so many times before was still no guarantee against his ultimate failure to do so. It is always better to distance ourselves from anything that will lower our spiritual and moral standards. Sometimes a Hero needs to turn and run.


Series Navigation<< Vayishlach 5778 – Pachim KatanimMikeitz 5778 – The Difference Between Looking and Seeing >>
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