This week’s Middat HaShavuah is taken from our Torah portion, Parshat Miketz. The Middah is: 

Key Verse: אֲשֵׁמִים אֲנַחְנוּ עַל-אָחִינוּ 

בראשית מב:כא

Middah: Admit when you’ve done something to hurt someone

This week’s Parsha begins with Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams. As a result of his favorable interpretation, Joseph is assigned to be second in command of Egypt – only Pharaoh is of higher rank. Over time, Joseph’s brothers find themselves in Egypt and come to Joseph for food. The brothers do not recognize Joseph, prompting him to test whether they have changed. At this point, Joseph’s brothers finally admit to themselves that they hurt Joseph. As the verse states: “But they said, each one to his brother: Truly, we are guilty concerning our brother!” (Gen 42:21)

I find it interesting that a significant word is omitted in our Middah. This week’s Middah is “אֲשֵׁמִים אֲנַחְנוּ עַל-אָחִינוּ,” translating to “we are guilty concerning our brother!” However, the key word in this verse, to me, is the word that precedes it: “אֲבָל֮,” which, in this context, doesn’t mean “but” but rather “truly” (as explained by Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and the Targum). To genuinely acknowledge our wrongs and the pain we may have caused others, we must first be honest with ourselves. The brothers had to look deep into their souls and confront the truth before admitting their wrongdoing. This is illustrated in our Toronto Heschel School Derekh Eretz Code of Conduct, which states, “Acknowledge that we make mistakes and grow and learn from them.” The journey of T’Shuvah – Repentance – initiates with sincere self-reflection. Let us wholeheartedly commit to being honest and truthful with ourselves, acknowledging and rectifying our mistakes that may have harmed others.

Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach!

Moreh Alan