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    Wanting to forget – Vayyeshev

    The very last word in the sidra is vayishkachehu, “and he forgot him”.

    Joseph was in prison. One of the king’s servants owed him a favour and promised to speak up for him to the king.

    But he forgot.

    What pathos lies in those three English words.

    How many times do we trust in others, relying on their word, certain they will carry out what they promised, and then – after waiting and waiting – bitterly conclude that they have (perhaps conveniently) forgotten all about it.

    The Biblical rule is quite clear: “It is better not to vow than to vow and not fulfil.”

    There is always a danger that we may not carry out what we, perhaps quite sincerely, mean to do, say or arrange; that is why we need an annual Kol Nidre.

    Pious people therefore say b’li neder, “My good intention is not a vow”. But even that is not good enough.

    One should be extremely wary about promising things at all, because the let-down you cause when you fail to fulfil your word can be devastating.

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