Contemplating Hebrew Letters || Yod




    Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me, if you please,” and they came close. And he said, “I am Joseph your brother—it is me, whom you sold into Egypt. And now, be not distressed, nor reproach yourselves for having sold me here, for it was to be a provider that God sent me ahead of you. For this has been two of the hunger years in the midst of the land, and there are yet five years in which there shall be neither plowing nor harvest. Thus God has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival in the land and to sustain you for a momentous deliverance.”


Genesis 45: 4–8


    The story of Joseph is one of the most dramatic in all of history. Born to Jacob as the first child of his beloved wife, Rachel, Joseph is one of the 12 sons who will comprise the 12 tribes of Israel. But Joseph is unlike his brothers who are the sons of Leah and two maidservants— he’s clearly the favorite and the spiritual inheritor of the family. He and his younger brother, Benjamin, who was born to Rachel just before her death, have always been treated differently than the other ten boys.


    When, as a teenager, Joseph begins to have dreams of superiority—dreams in which he foresees that his brothers will one day bow down to him—his siblings decide that they’ve had enough of this “dreamer.” They throw him into a dark pit and sell him into slavery. Afterward, they take his special multicolored tunic and soak it in blood as “proof” that he’s been killed. They then return to Jacob and report their brother’s “death.”


    However, rather than fading into obscurity and a life of slavery, once in Egypt Joseph is able to use his talents to rise to the top, interpreting dreams and gaining a reputation that will lead him to the Pharoah’s palace to interpret the ruler’s inexplicable visions. When Joseph is able to see the hidden message in the Pharaoh’s dreams of seven skinny cows eating seven fat ones as the sign of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, he’s promoted to be the Pharaoh’s second in command and makes his way into the Egyptian leadership at a crucial time in history.


    When the famine begins, Jacob sends his remaining sons to Egypt to gather provisions—and they come into contact with the brother they’d betrayed so many years ago. Not recognizing Joseph as an adult, his brothers bow down to the man they see as an Egyptian leader.


    After many months of testing the men and sending them back and forth from Egypt to Canaan, Joseph finally reveals himself as their long-lost brother and sends for his father. After all this time, his original dream has finally come true: He’s established himself in such a position of power that his brothers bow down to him, and they fear his revenge. But rather than express his anger and pain, Joseph tells them that he’s come to realize that everything leading up to this point— their jealousy and their plot against him, his time served as a slave, and so forth—was all meant to be, because as a result, he was able to provide food for the family in a time of overwhelming famine.


    Most of us cannot imagine being as “big” as Joseph was under the circumstances. Our anger over past wrongs becomes the dominant force in our actions. But Joseph, perhaps because of the amount of time that had passed, or because of his innate sense of the predestined nature of the world, looks at his reunion differently: He does want to make sure his brothers are sorry for their actions, but once he senses their remorse he seems to let go of his own anger and need for revenge. In this way, Joseph is able to focus on the present instead of the past, willing to move forward with his now reunited family.


    Joseph’s whole life has been one of dreams and their fulfillment. Having been born a dreamer, he’s known all along that the images he saw in his mind weren’t just figments of his imagination but signs of things that would actually come about in real life. As a young man, this awareness was looked at as snobbery, but as a mature adult, sobered by his difficult experiences, his gift was appreciated and led to the ultimate reunion of his family.


    The Yud, as the smallest letter in the alphabet, is often thought about as a “point.” This tiny point lies at the center of our hearts—it’s the driving force that takes us from one stage of life to another, the motivation that follows us through every action we perform. Joseph suffered for his essential point (his talent), but with time it became clear to everyone that he was not just a dreamer but a prophet, and that all of his dreams would one day become reality.


    The Yud appears in moments of spiritual or physical darkness. Like Joseph, you’ve been cast into a metaphorical pit and must redefine your life. You may feel misunderstood, underappreciated, or simply confused—the only way out of this darkness is by recognizing the small point in your soul that leads you forward in life.


    Joseph teaches the power of believing in yourself. You must always know that your life is full of purpose, and that everything that happens to you occurs for a reason. The key to personal fulfillment lies in recognizing your uniqueness and then learning how to apply your special talents in order to change your world and come to an enlightened understanding of your past, present, and future.


    Meditate on the power of forgiveness. Strive to be more like Joseph, who, as a result of forgiving his brothers for their actions, pulls his family together again.

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