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    God leads like Joseph – Vayyiggash

    Joseph, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1874

    Joseph, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1874

    This week’s reading is another of the Joseph stories.

    It recalls a verse in Psalm 80 which says that God “leads Joseph like a flock” (Psalm 80:2). The name “Joseph” is a symbol of the northern kingdom of Israel, of which the leading tribe was one of Joseph’s sons.

    In rabbinic imagery, however (Midrash Yalkut Shim’oni), God actually leads like Joseph.

    What a strange comparison. That human leaders seek to follow God’s example is not difficult to understand. But that God follows the example of one of His human creatures, that is harder to comprehend.

    The sages say that just as Joseph stored up food for the future, so God stores up blessings for us in the next world. Just as Joseph supplied each person according to his needs, so God gives each individual what they require.

    Just as Joseph’s brothers acted badly towards him but he repaid ill with good, so human beings constantly mistreat God, but He repays evil with blessing.

    Joseph had three leadership characteristics – he had his eyes on the future, he cherished each of his people, and he always remained positive. Nonetheless, it is not God who learned from Joseph, but Joseph who learned from God.

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