This week we are reminded of a person in a power position trying to sexually harass and abuse a young innocent immigrant just trying to work an honest living. When the young hapless victim tries to defend their rights and honour by standing up to the perpetrator, they are suppressed by the authorities, and their life turns into a living hell.
Every day it seems another celebrity or figure of power is being outed for their sexual misdeeds. Although, nothing has changed, I am not referring to any event from today’s headlines. There is a lot of work left to be done but thank God, light is being shed on the sexual predators who had positions of power in Hollywood, TV, Business and Politics. We hope the guilty parties get the repercussions they so deserve.
I am referring to a young refugee boy of 17 years old who had escaped death and kidnapping and was finally was able to make a life for himself. As young Joseph starts to get comfortable in Potifar’s house, his master’s wife starts to make unwelcome sexual advances. Seizing a moment of absolute seclusion the harassment turned to potential abuse with Joseph fleeing rather than remain a victim of rape. His word versus hers led him to be put away for twelve years in a jail that would make our penitentiaries look like palaces.
There is a timeless lesson in morality we can learn from this episode which is even more powerful considering todays state of affairs.
Joseph had every reason to give in to the sexual propositions of Potifar’s wife. She was the controlling personality, probably used to getting her way with everything. He was advancing his career in a debased culture where shedding your esteem and morals was the norm for anyone in the lower tier of society. He wasn’t even bound by Halacha being that it was before the Torah was given, and the laws of a Noahide are more lenient for life and death situations.
The commentaries explain that even he, planned to just give up and give in to the sexual overtures. However, at the last moment he had a vision of his father, evoking in him images of Adam and the original sin. Reminding him how just one seemingly inconsequential sin could alter the history of all his descendants. A small concession to immorality can stimulate a massive backlash of evil.
Joseph teaches us how to muster the strength when faced with our lonely moments of distress and hardship, to not acquiesce to life’s fleeting unethical routes of least resistance. Every moment and every act is to be viewed not as solitary events, but as a catalyst for enormous change.