THE SECRET OF SELF-DISCIPLINE

0 Posted by - December 4, 2015 - Breishit, Parsha

THE SECRET OF SELF-DISCIPLINE

Parashat Vayeshev

 

Yosef, one of the most handsome men ever, was tested by Potifar’s wife in a way that we cannot begin to fathom. The seduction was obsessive. This wicked woman threatened to kill Yosef, to defame him and otherwise cause him harm. It would have been so much easier for him just to sin and get it over with. Whoever learns the Midrashim cannot believe the trials that the Midrash says this woman put him through. What gave Yosef the strength to avoid being with this seductive, married woman?

R’ Zacharia Wallerstien draws a beautiful concept from here, a concept that he teaches all teachers, the secret to being the successful mentor. “Never give up belief in your students that they can turn around and become successful! Once you stop believing in the student, you have lost him!” As a coach, I know that the only way a coach can be successful is if he internalizes the following mantra: “There is an invisible sign hanging on everyone’s neck, that reads, ‘Please! I beg of you! Believe in me!’”

When Yosef was at the threshold of sin, he “saw” the reflection of his father’s face in the bedroom, and that gave him the power to run out. What did he “see” that gave him this superhuman strength? The passuk says וימאן, And Yosef refused the seduction. The Taamim, the Trup, the tune for that word, is Shalshelet. The Shalshelet looks like a chain, and it is linked to the previous word וימאן that is written in the Parasha earlier. When Yaakov was told by his sons that Yosef was dead, וימאן להתנחם, he refused to accept consolation. We know that it is inappropriate to mourn for a longer period than is allowed by Torah law. So, why did Yaakov refuse to be consoled as long as he lived? The answer is because he just could not believe the news; he could not accept that his son, in whom he had invested so much, in whom he had placed so much hope, who was the source of his power to stand up against Esav, was really, really dead. He believed in Yosef, and he refused to give up on him. “Until I am shown his corpse, I will continue to believe that Yosef lives.”

Yosef felt that! He felt that his father believed in him, long distance! He felt that his father did not give up on him, no matter where he would find himself! Egypt, the point of lowest morality on Earth, was not a place where Yosef would be weakened. Even in the face of almost irresistible temptation, Yosef knew that his father believed in him, and that he would remain the one and only, Yosef Hatzaddik! He is the only one with the title Tzaddik, for he is the only one who was able to remain righteous in a test like that, where no one else believed in him! No one else, except his own father! If my father did not give up on me, how can I give up on myself?

The greatest present you can give your son, the biggest favor you can do for your disciple is to honestly, sincerely, believe in him. Express it in whatever way you can. Believe that he can make it, believe that he can turn around! That is what your son needs from you, more than anything else you can give him! I know; I’ve coached orphans, and the only thing that gives them the strength to face life challenges on their own is knowing that their deceased father believes in them, long distance!

Until our last moment, G-d does not give up on us, either. עד יום מותו תחכה לו, G-d waits for a person to do Teshuva, until the last day, until the last breath, until there is a lifeless body! This is the greatest motivator for all of us to do Teshuva. For as long as G-d keeps us alive, that means He still believes that we can become who we need to become.

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