Is there any feeling as inspiring and clarifying as sensing God's presence in the midst of our struggles and successes?
How much wiser are we when we know that God is with us, inside us, all around us, every moment of our lives? This week we have the increased support to approach life from this expansive and guided state of being.
The Zohar portion of Vayigash means to “come close,” to draw near to the Light of the Creator. In the biblical story, Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers. Following a miraculous series of events, Joseph is elevated from a slave to the Governor of Egypt. Seven years after Joseph’s rise to power, a famine plagues Egypt and several neighboring countries, causing Joseph’s brothers to travel to Egypt to buy food. At this time, Joseph reveals himself and his new position to his brothers, and to say the least, they are astounded and embarrassed for their past actions towards him.
Yet Joseph, being a spiritually elevated soul, feels no animosity or anger towards his brothers. In fact, he acknowledges that it was for the best that he was sold as a slave, and was thus able to reveal his greatness. While his brothers were remorseful for committing a grave misdeed against him, Joseph knew there was no reason for them to be sorry.
The deeper meaning of this story, as explained by the Zohar, is that most of us look to blame others for what is happening in our lives. But before we can realize that God is present in every single moment, we must first stop our blaming others, so that we can see the Big Picture.
The small picture is thinking: Why is this happening to me? The Big Picture is thinking: God is doing this for me. That’s right, for me, not to me.
An important landmark on the road to coming close to God is the realization that nothing happens to us because of external forces. Whatever happens to us, positive or negative, happens because it is needed for our spiritual development. When we recognize that each event in our life is meant to happen, we are no longer a victim to resentment or circumstance.
Like all struggles on the yellow brick road to fulfillment, this is difficult to do. Universal victimhood dies hard, but we must try.
The final lesson of Vayigash pertains to imposing our spiritual beliefs on others. In the words of a great kabbalist: When it comes to me, I’m a believer. When it comes to others, I’m an atheist. What this means is that before preaching to a person in crisis that there are "no external forces" and "it’s all for the good," we should first live that truth for ourselves. We must hold ourselves to the most rigorous spiritual standards, but approach others with human dignity and gentleness. Just like God.
When you strive to remind yourself that everything comes from Creator - the good and the bad - you become privy to your Big Picture, thus drawing near to the Light of the Creator for divine inspiration and guidance.