Parshat Mikeitz: Recognizing goodness in life

The primordial pursue of human beings is goodness in every possible way. The problem is when they make it something relative to conceive it the way they want, or when they use goodness to achieve evil purposes. Prosperity is something clearly good, either for the righteous or the wicked, yet the wicked use it to do more evil as it happened with the peoples of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The absence of goodness is a reason for fear, distress, affliction or suffering. This applies for both the righteous and the wicked. In the case of the Pharaoh of Egypt, it became his worst nightmare that compelled him to find any means to retain the goodness necessary to survive with ease in this world. In this stressful scenario, Joseph the son of Jacob came as the most qualified means to make goodness remain in Egypt, because the Source of all kind of goodness was with him.

“And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom the spirit of God is’?”
(Genesis 41:38)

In order to do goodness, we must be the proper vessel for it. Our mystic Sages even go further when they say that the vessel and its content must be one and the same. They highlighted Moses as the most remarkable of the vessels, for the fact that he was the humblest man who ever lived. From Moses we learn that humility is the required vessel for goodness to be properly manifest or done.

Joseph also had this quality in order to have God’s spirit as His goodness with him. Hence Pharaoh recognized that goodness comes from God.

“But it is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them [him] understanding.”
(Job 32:8)

Humility enables us to better understand others, and also situations that we are not familiar with. Once we replace all our prejudices, judgments and personal conceptions or considerations by the ethical frame of goodness, it manifests in righteousness, justice and fairness for all the parts involved.

There are no losers in goodness, for its nature is to benefit all as long as everyone recognizes it as the cause, reason and purpose of life. In this collective understanding, goodness is the foundation for peace.

Goodness makes us, as with Joseph, understanding in order to do what is right for the sake of goodness.

“And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘For as much as God has shown you all this, there is none as understanding and wise as you’.” (Genesis 42:39)

In Pharaoh’s realization that goodness comes from God, he also recognized that Joseph was the chosen vessel for Him to bestow the goodness needed in those times.

We must also assimilate that in times when goodness is absent, we must strive to make it remain by “storing” it in every aspect and expression of life, as Joseph stored the wheat during the seven years of abundance.

Our Sages say that while goodness accumulates by generating new and more expressions of goodness, evil is doomed to disappear because its destructive nature is not able to sustain or build anything. We do goodness by strengthening principles and values that promote and enhance goodness, and we can see it in the inventions and discoveries aimed to make life better in this world.

The more we put the advancements in science, medicine, energy, agriculture and technology at the service of goodness, the more we will be prepared to fight the evils aimed to denigrate and destroy the dignity of human life.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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