This week’s parsha, Parshat Vayeshev contains the famous story of the brothers throwing Joseph into a pit to be sold to slaves. So begins the story of the enslavement of the Jews in Egypt. There are very many aspects to this story that are intriguing, but one particularly meaningful aspect is that of Reuven’s role in saving Josephs’ life.
The brothers had intended to kill Joseph. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a wild animal devoured him,” they plotted. Only Reuven disagreed. Realizing that he was only one against many, Reuven devised a stratagem, saying: “Let us not kill him. Let us throw him alive into one of the cisterns and let him die. That way, we will not be directly guilty of murder.” Reuven’s intentionwas to come back to the cistern later to rescue Joseph. Reuven is recognized in the Torah for his strength and courage in standing up for his brother in the face of adverse opinion and possible danger. His brothers had evil intent, and were at a dangerous level of aggression.
Our history is full of sad examples of individuals not acting in times of evil, or simply doing nothing when action could change the trajectory of a life. A single life, says the Mishnah, is like a universe. Change a life, and change the universe. That is how we make a difference: one life at a time, one day at a time, one act at a time. We never know in advance what effect a single act may have. Sometimes we never know at all.
A Sulam, we have many people who recognize that their acts of kindness and generosity are not inconsequential. They make a difference to the lives of our children by selflessly giving their time as volunteers on the Sulam Executive Board, by working as ambassadors of our program that supports every precious individual to become included in our community, and by giving financially if they can.
This past Tuesday Sulam announced a $250,000 match grant from a group of highly dedicated and committed community members who believe in our mission, and who believe they can make a difference. Please spread the message to family, friends, colleagues and others. We need support and commitment from everyone to continue to make a difference in the world. Please direct them to our website to make a contribution. www.sulam.org/match