The midrash in this week’s parsha tells us that as Yoseph was about to succumb to the king of Egypts wife, he saw a vision of his father, and overcame his desires. This Midrash is somewhat disturbing at face value. How can we turn to Yoseph for inspiration when he himself needed the vision of his father to rescue him from sin? What about us; can we expect to overcome our desires without such a shocking revelation? How can our example of resilience have nearly faltered, only to be saved by a miracle? (the vision of his father)
Somehow, we have to understand that Yoseph, indeed, saved himself. We must understand the story somewhat differently. In a land permeated with impurity (Egypt), Yoseph was able to bring the vision of his father with him. It’s not so much that Yoseph actually saw the figure floating in front of him; he had so engrained the ideals of his father within himself that, even when faced with the depths of impurity, he was able to evoke the teachings of his father to ward off sin. Throughout his whole life, Yoseph had worked to internalize the holiness of Hashem’s word, and when he was tested he was able to resist, because of how entrenched his father’s lessons were in his heart. This is precisely the lesson we must learn from Joseph.
Every day we are tested, not only by immediate concerns, but in making decisions and preparing for the future. The lesson of Yoseph is not the ability to resist temptation one time, but to constantly guard against it, appreciating every word of Torah, every idea of Hashem, and internalizing those ideas of holiness. So when we are faced with temptation, we do not need an external miracle to save us, but we merely need to look inward to find a vision of hope.

Good Shabbos!

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