Reconciliation not resentment
by Rabbi Yaacov Chaiton
Today the world mourns the passing of a great man - a visionary of hope and reconciliation. Nelson Mandela was respected the world over for his ability to raise an infant nation to reconcile and communicate. A nation that could have fought a civil war, a nation that should have harbored deep set feelings of hate and resentment, "Madiba" as he was lovingly known taught them that to heal the scars of the past they would need to engage in their commonality rather than to fight over their differences. Resentment would need to be exchanged for reconciliation. Factionalism would have to give way for forgiveness. There would be a future for everyone in his country.
In this week's Torah portion we read of another leader who set the precedent for forgiveness and reconciliation. We read of the dramatic moment when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers:
At the tender age of 17, Joseph had been sold into slavery by his own brothers. He spent years in a foreign land suffering many trials and tribulations but eventually succeeded in exchanging his prison cell for the royal palace when he became the viceroy of Egypt. Suffering from famine in their homeland, Joseph's brothers came to Egypt. Suddenly the tables are turned. Joseph is now in the seat of power and the brothers become dependent on his mercy.
After describing the dramatic moment when Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, the Torah tells us how Joseph made it his very first priority to allay his brothers' fears. Joseph tells his brothers that that he harbors no anger or ill-feelings towards them and has no intentions of taking revenge. By smothering his brothers with kindness, providing a feast for them and insuring them that he would protect their future in his country; Joseph invoked feelings of great remorse within his brothers making them deeply regret their previous crimes towards him. He explained to his brothers that the Divine plan had sent him to Egypt and as a result the entire region had been fed in a famine.
In our personal lives we too can learn from these great people to reconcile with those who we have wronged and to forgive those who have wronged us.