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Out of the Pit

In this week's Torah portion, Vayeshev, Joseph finds himself the target of a murderous plot. But then, Reuben convinces his brothers not to kill Joseph but to instead throw Joseph into a deep pit. That way they won't have actually murdered him. After having done so, the brothers are sitting around having a meal when Judah spots a band of Ishmaelites. He suggests pulling Joseph up out from the pit, selling him to the traders. This saves Joseph's life and provides him with the ability to not only live, but thrive in Egyptian society.

Joseph looked like a goner. He was supposed to be murdered. But then, out of nowhere, Reuben provided a small opening. Maybe, just maybe, they didn't have to actually actively kill him. That opening allowed for Joseph to live a few more hours until Judah was able to convince the brothers to sell him off to the Ishmaelites instead of forsaking him in a pit.

What we learn from this is that even when we are in our darkest hour, even when we think we are done for, all it takes is one small act to give us a chance. One small pinhole shining light through the seal of the darkness of despair can change everything. And that, in turn, can lead to another saving grace. And another.

Eventually, we may rise up from the deepest, darkest pit. In the Midrash, the rabbis liken Joseph to the Jewish people. And thus, Joseph becomes a symbol for each of us. If we can just hold on for another hour, we may be able to see our way out of the darkness and into the glory of our destiny. Ken yehi ratzon.

The above is a reflection by Rabbi Heather Miller on this week's Torah portion, Parashat Vayeshev, Genesis 37:1-40:23. Please visit to subscribe and follow on social media.

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