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B'resheet/Genesis 37:23 And they stripped off Yosef his undergarment, his garment of long sleeves
Since the next verse tells us that the brothers "took him",Hirsch deduces that Yosef offered no resistance to being stripped of his coat, but only begged not to be treated in this way. In fact, we don't learn until much later that the brothers would say, "we are all guilty concerning our brother in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he entreated us and we would not hear" (B'resheet 42:21, Hirsch). To a significant extent, then, Yosef submitted to his brothers in the humiliation of having his clothing removed from him and being thrown into the pit and, apparently, in the subsequent sale to the merchants bound for Egypt. Perhaps even at this point, Yosef had some inkling of G-d's hand on him; he was later to say after Ya'akov's death, "You meant to do me harm, but G-d meant it for good - so that it would come about as it is today, with many people's lives being saved" (B'resheet 50:20, CJB).
The prophets speak of another who would submit to unjust treatment, this time in silence without even complaining: "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth" (Isaiah 53:7, NASB). Knowing this, Yeshua taught His own disciples, "We are now going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be handed over to the head cohanim and the Torah-teachers. They will sentence Him to death and turn Him over to the Goyim who will jeer at Him, spit on Him, beat Him and kill Him; but after three days, He will rise" (Mark 10:33-34, CJB). Later in the text we find the fulfillment: "He remained silent and made no reply" (Mark 14:61, CJB) to the Cohen HaGadol; "But Yeshua made no further response, to Pilate's amazement" (Mark 15:5, CJB); Herod "questioned Him at great length, but Yeshua made no reply" (Luke 23:9, CJB). His only expression of anguish was in the Garden: "My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from Me! Yet - not what I want, but what You want!" (Matthew 26:39, CJB).
Three times each day, immediately following the individual reading of the Shemoneh Esrei, in the concluding prayer of Rabbi Mar, son of Rabina (b. Berachot 17a), Israel prays, "To those who curse me, let my soul be silent; and let my soul be like dust to everyone" (Artscroll); or "Help me ignore those who would slander me. Let me be humble before all" (Sim Shalom). We pray for the grace to ignore insults and attacks, not to respond in an unsuitable way to those who may be mocking or ridiculing us, and to keep a low and humble profile. Little wonder that Rav Sha'ul writes, "As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18, GWT), urging us to pursue things that lead to peace and to build each other up at all times (Romans 14:19), as He echoes the Master: "Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another" (Mark 9:50, NASB).
Further Study: Matthew 5:38-41; Matthew 10:16-22
Application: Have you witnessed or been the subject of unfair attention or treatment recently? Did you try to defend or justify yourself, or were you able to "endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" and overcome them by your peace? Pray for G-d's grace today.
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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