Emerging from the Pit

Quick Comment, Parashat Va-yeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23)

Joseph’s brothers hated him, and when they had the chance, “They threw him into a pit … with no water.” (Genesis 37:24) Commenting on this passage, Rashi (1040-1105) noted, “It had no water, but there were snakes and scorpions in it.”

The biblical commentators argue whether Joseph’s brothers pulled him from the pit and sold him to a passing caravan or if a passing caravan extracted him and sold him to another. Either way, Joseph’s future was very uncertain.

I think I understand how Joseph felt

On November 29, 2012, I did not know whether I would live another day or if I did, what the future would hold.

Dr. Lars Svensson and his skilled team at the Cleveland Clinic opened my chest to replace my artificial aortic heart valve, which was no longer working very well. At the same time they repaired a life-threatening ascending aortic aneurysm.

The image of Joseph emerging from the pit and forging a meaningful and productive path forward resonates strongly with me.

Although sold as a slave, Joseph worked hard, availed himself of the opportunities that came his way and triumphed over the difficulties with which life confronted him.

Like Joseph, I have emerged from my pit to a place of physical strength and professional productivity.

Like Joseph as well, I needed people to pull me out.

I cherish and extend thanks to those—from all periods and places in my life—who offered words of encouragement and gestures of friendship.

Unlike Joseph, I do not sit at the right hand of Pharaoh, but I feel very blessed indeed. I have left the pit behind and eagerly look forward to whatever the future may bring.


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