Enlighten our Eyes - Day 14
Rabbi Y.S. Goldschmidt
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Enlighten our Eyes" (translated from the Hebrew sefer called "Ve'ha'er Eineinu").
In the Dungeon
In prison, Yosef’s problems were far from over. This cruel woman still would not leave him alone. She visited the prison regularly to weaken his resolve and to tempt him to succumb.
She warned him in explicit terms of the consequences of his obstinacy. "So you think this is the last of your woes?" she menaced. "If you don’t accede, I will have you bound in iron chains, bent over and unable to stand upright. I will have you blinded," she went on and on. Yosef was as firm, unmoved, and unimpressed as ever, still joyously serving his Maker with love and awe.
Going all out to cajole him to look at her even just that once, even for a split second, she found herself powerless against the iron resolve in the wellsprings of his noble soul. Never did he mar the perfection of his purity. Now, is it a wonder that we speak of him as Yosef Hatzaddik?
Suddenly, there was an astounding turnabout in Yosef’s fortune. After twelve long years, his eyes and soul still absolutely clean and untarnished, Yosef was hurried from his incarceration. By order of the king he was hastily groomed, suitably attired, and rushed to the palace to stand before Pharaoh, mighty King of Egypt.
At dizzying speed, he was raised from wretched prisoner to the rank of second-in-command of the whole Egyptian Kingdom. The king’s signet ring was placed on his finger; he was arrayed in linen robes and driven through the capital’s streets.
Can you picture the scene in ancient Egypt awaiting the gala procession and entourage? Crowds of jubilant citizens fill the streets. The rejoicing is palpable as the throngs begin their chanting. The Midrash Rabbah (98:18) describes how the daughters of the noblemen peeped out of their windows and threw their fine jewellery, piece by piece, into his royal chariot in the hope that this mesmerizingly handsome new viceroy might chance to look at them.
Throughout all this exotic pomp and pageantry, Yosef’s eyes remained lowered. His self-discipline is timeless. Targum Yerushalmi tells us how the daughters of the aristocrats exclaimed to one another in sheer amazement, “Oh, see this pious Yosef who does not follow his eyes or the temptations of his heart".