Gen 39:7-9. “And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph, and she said: ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused, and said to his master’s wife: ‘Behold, my master, having me, knows not what is in the house, and he has put all that he has into my hand, he is not greater in this house than I, neither has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God.”
One of Joseph’s greatest strengths was his ability to sit and dwell with his thoughts and feelings before acting, the patience learned from his time in the pit he was thrown into by his brothers and later the prison he was cast into by Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. The shalshelet is the trop mark with the longest melody (about 30 notes) and is found only four times in the torah. Joseph’s ability to struggle with and reflect on his desires within before acting is symbolized by the use of the shalshelet over the word “Vayiman” (but he refused) in Gen. 39:8.
May we be blessed, like Joseph, to be able to hesitate and become aware of our desires before acting so that we can make decisions based on insight rather than as slaves to passion.*
*This drash was inspired by a drash given this week by Rabbi Gil Steinlauf (Adas Israel). Rabbi Steinlauf and others recently started the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington, which hosts weekly meditation sessions free and open to the public at Adas Israel on Tuesdays from 7:30 to 8:45 pm.