Honor and Humility by Raphael Langer


After revealing himself to his brothers, Yosef gives his brothers specific instructions regarding how to deal with Ya’akov, who is still in the land of Kena’an. As Yosef finishes explaining the mission to his brothers, he says, “VeHigadtem LeAvi Et Kol Kevodi BeMitzrayim,” “Therefore, tell my father of all my glory in Egypt” (BeReishit 45:13). A phrase whose purpose and significance seem so simple, Yosef’s words to his brothers have a profound meaning, one which was revealed by the Oheiv Yisrael, Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, to his son Rav Yitzchak Meir.

When he would travel with his son through the neighboring towns, the Oheiv Yisrael would always be greeted by huge crowds of Jews who wished to show him honor. Perplexed by this great honor of which he believed he was undeserving, the Oheiv Yisrael asked his son why the people honor him to such a great extent. In response, Rav Yitzchak Meir told his father, “Do not let it worry you, father, for these people have come to honor me.” The Oheiv Yisrael was comforted by his son’s response, but he was left confused as to why his son was deserving of great respect. He asked his son what the source of his honor is, to which Rav Yitzchak Meir responded that he merits such respect, since he is the son of the great Oheiv Yisrael.

The conversation between the Oheiv Yisrael and his son sheds light on Yosef’s message to Ya’akov. Yosef told his brothers to “tell my father of all my glory in Egypt,” since all that honor and glory came as a result of his being Ya’akov Avinu’s son. Although he was in such a great position of power, Yosef still acknowledged that his honor and stature did not stem from his accomplishments, but rather they came from a source that is greater and more worthy than him. It is this humility that Yosef demonstrates that we must attempt to emulate. If we instill humility in ourselves, we will be able to serve our Creator, for humility is the foundation of faith in Hashem. We must acknowledge all that we have, but at the same time we must understand that our possessions and honor come from Hashem.

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