Vayigash: The Conversation
Parshat Vayigash: The commentators tell us that Yosef did not continue studying Torah with his father after that meeting. What prevented him?
Estie and Shoshana were two sweet young women who would take the Egged bus back from their University every day. One day Estie began what seemed to be an innocent conversation. “Did you hear that Shalva Aronovitch got engaged to Shlomie Bitton?”
“Really?” retorted Shoshana. “That’s not a match I would have thought of!”
“I know what you mean.” Said Estie. “I mean Shalva is so quiet and you never know what the quiet girls keep inside. What will they have to speak about?”
“I heard that she couldn’t get into a good program so she decided to study education.” Said Shoshana, adding her two cents.
Suddenly, Estie felt a tap on her shoulder. She looked back and saw a middle aged woman. “I want to thank you girls” said the woman. “I am actually Shlomie’s mother and I appreciate the information about my son’s bride to be. We did a lot of research, but I guess it wasn’t good enough. Thank you for saving my son from a bad marriage.” The two girls were completely taken aback. They did not expect that their conversation would have that effect. They stood there dumbfounded trying hard to think of a response that would save poor Shalva. They certainly never meant to break up her engagement.
The woman then stood up as the bus came to its next stop. She looked back and said “I am not Shlomie’s mother, but I certainly could have been. You girls should try and be more careful when speaking about others.” And with that she exited the bus.
The Torah in this week's portion of Vayigash tells us how Yosef is finally reunited, after 17 long years, with his father Yaakov. How he longed to resume their sweet Torah studies! The commentators tell us that Yosef did not continue studying Torah with his father after that meeting. What prevented him? The Midrash tells us that Yosef was afraid that in the midst of learning Torah, his father would ask him what happened to him all these years and that in his response to his father he may speak lashon hara (negative speech) about how his brothers sold him into slavery. Yosef understood just how dangerous it is to speak about others and was even willing to give up the precious learning with his father.
We should never speak about others. Who knows where a conversation that starts off innocent can lead. We should always remain mindful that even if the subject of the conversation or his or her parents are not around, our Father in Heaven is ever-present and hears all of our conversations.