Parshas Miketz - Finding The Good In Everyone

By BJLife/Rabbi Binyamin Zedner

Posted on 12/14/17

This past week, I read a beautiful insight from Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevtiz, zt”l, the late Rosh Hayeshiva of Mir. How could pharaoh have trusted Yosef to such a degree that he appointed him to be the main administrator of plans to save Egypt from the shortages of the forthcoming famine? True Yosef was understanding and wise, but how can pharaoh trust someone who was just released from prison and was a slave?

Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevtiz, replied that pharaoh saw Yosef’s extreme honesty in something Yosef said before he related the interpretation of the dream. Yosef began by saying to pharaoh that he had no power at all. It was a gift from the almighty. Yosef Didn’t want to take the credit even for a moment. This total honesty in one minor point showed that Yosef could be trusted.

Note what happed here. Pharaoh saw one minor positive point in Yosef’s Character and extrapolated from this to see the good on a large scale. This should be our model in viewing people. Keep finding minor strengths and good qualities in other and then give positive feedback. This can help someone build a positive self-image. The more a person sees himself as having positive attributes the more motivated he will be utilizing those strengths for farther growth.

Unfortunately, there are people who have a tendency to see minor faults and weakness in other and keep telling them that they have major character problems. This is often an approach in chinuch that can completely destroy a child. While it is imperative to help people overcome their faults and weakness, the main emphasis for most people should be there strengths. But anyone who has low self-esteem this positive approach is crucial.   

A story is told about HaRav Ovadia Yosef, zt”l. One Shabbos morning, a group of teenage boys were playing soccer outside of Rav Ovadia’s shul. With a forceful kick, the soccer ball flew through the air and slammed into Rav Ovadia’s head just as he was leaving the shul. The boy at fault was seemingly unfazed by this collision and immediately said, “Rabbi, throw the ball back”. Ignoring this show of chutzpa, Rav Ovadia approached the boy with an invitation to his home for the Shabbos seuda. At the time, Rav Ovadiah and his family lived in poverty, barely having enough food to put on the table, yet there was one goal in the gadol’s mind: shower this boy with love. At first the boy refused. Play soccer with friends or have a meal with the man who just got hit in the head by his soccer ball? What’s the question? After some persuasion, though, the boy gave in and accompanied the gadol hador on his way home. In addition to the intense spiritual atmosphere of the Yosef home, Rav Ovadia infused the conversation with positive words to the boy as opposed to rebuke. There may not have been much food on the table that Shabbos, but one thing is for sure, the love that boy felt would embrace him throughout his whole life. The emotional hug given unconditionally by Rav Ovadia led to a complete turnaround in this boy’s life. He is now a dayan in Eretz Yisroel.