Simcha's Torah Stories - Vayigash
IT'S EMBARRASSING TO EMBARRASS
Avi how are you? It's so good to see you. What's the matter, you look a little upset?
I'll be okay Chaim. It's really nothing, I suppose.
Do you want to talk about it?
Well, Chaim, a very embarrassing thing just happened to me.
Yesterday I told a personal secret to a very good friend. I told him not to tell anyone, because it was very personal. Today three or four people came to me and asked me about the secret. I was so embarrassed that they knew about it. I feel terrible.
Avi, now I understand what our sages wrote in Tractate Bava Metzia that embarrassing someone is like spilling their blood. I see how awful you feel from the embarrassment. You know, Avi, we can learn a lesson from everything that happens to us in life. I know that I have learned never to embarrass anyone.
Chaim, do you know that Yosef HaTzaddik, our righteous ancestor Yosef, put his own life in danger to avoid embarrassing his brothers?
Really? What happened?
Here is the scenario. Yosef's brothers stood in front of the leader of Egypt, his servants, and guards. Little did they know that this powerful ruler was none other than their own brother Yosef, whom they had sold as a slave to a band of travelers many years earlier. He had made his way to Egypt and had risen to the position of second-in-command to the king. In his capacity as ruler, he had treated them harshly, giving them good reason to resent him. Now, he realized that the time had come to reveal his identity to his brothers. What should he do? To divulge his secret in the presence of the Egyptians would cause them great shame and embarrassment. It would become public knowledge that they once sold their own brother as a slave, a shameful act. To send all of the Egyptian guards out of the room would be very dangerous. Yosef would be alone with the people whom he had treated so harshly. If they chose to kill him, no one could stop them.
Tell me Avi, how did Yosef deal with this dilemma?
Chaim, our sages tell us in Tractate Kesuvos, "It is better for a person to throw himself into a fiery furnace than to shame someone in public." Yosef HaTzaddik risked danger to his own life rather than humiliate his brothers.
Avi, the righteous deeds of our forefathers, are a role model for our behavior. I will try never to embarrass, shame, or humiliate anyone.
Chaim, you are great. G-d should reward you that you should never suffer embarrassment yourself.
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