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Many of us know the story of Joseph from the Bible, either because we have read it or because we have seen one of the numerous plays or movies made about it. It is a story of a man who overcame all sorts of challenges—from being abandoned by his family to being imprisoned, tempted into negativity, and losing everything he had (although he did gain it all back and more).
Though he started at the bottom during his time in Egypt, everywhere he went, he rose to the top like oil. In fact, he went from being a servant in the house of Potiphar and then wrongfully imprisoned to eventually become the most powerful man in Egypt, second only to the king. We can call it coincidence, but if we read Joseph’s story carefully, we realize that the reason he was successful was because he never lost sight of the spirituality that was inside him. He had the strength and certainty to say, “I know that wherever I am, there is a reason for my being there.” This consciousness allowed him to find the Light in every situation and to overcome any challenge on his path.
On my last visit to Panama, I met a Kabbalah student named Angel who had been in a Panamanian prison. While incarcerated, he had been introduced to Kabbalah by one of our teachers in the Correctional Outreach Initiative. After studying for a while, Angel decided to do something positive to break free from the feelings of victimhood that overwhelmed him. He realized that there was a small recording studio in the rehabilitation facility where he was living, so he decided to put his energy into improving it. He had been involved with the music industry in Spain and was well aware of the power of music.
In a letter to me, Angel wrote: “I realized that I was here for an important reason. I left aside my victim feelings and little by little, I was able to get out of my depression and sadness. I started to realize that I am not an island. I began to identify my own limitations, to fight my ego which is the root of every problem, to share selflessly, to take advantage of my time and stop complaining to myself.”
Eventually, Angel realized that the studio provided the inmates with a great opportunity both to express themselves and to add something positive to the world. They began to record together, eventually doing 60 songs in all. In time, his work gained the attention of the music industry, and recently one of his songs was chosen as the anthem of the Annual Concert for Peace in Panama. Thus, through his efforts on behalf of those around him, this man was able to create something good in a seemingly negative situation.
This week, let’s bear in mind that while the world may little remember what we say or do, people will never ever forget how they feel when they are with us. So no matter how depressed we might feel, no matter how terrible our personal circumstances may seem, we should always concentrate on the love, kindness, and positive energy that we can give to the people around us. We need to remember that there is a bigger plan and reason for whatever position we are in.
With absolute certainty, we can rise to the top of any situation, even if things don’t appear to be going our way.