Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jewish Karma: Mida Kineged Mida

Shabbat Vayigash
5 Tevet 5772 /December 30 – 31
44:18 – 47:27

Jewish Karma: Mida Kineged Mida
by Laura W, Guest writer for Moishe House London

In the 2nd Aliyah (part) of this week’s Parsha
Joseph, “Vice-President” of Ancient Egypt, reveals his identity to his

45:4 'Please, come
close to me,' said Joseph to his brothers. When they came closer, he said, 'I
am Joseph your brother! You sold me to Egypt. 45:5 Now don't worry or feel
guilty because you sold me. Look! God has sent me ahead of you to save (your)

With these dramatic
words the Torah tells us that although we have free will, we are paradoxically
part of a divine universal plan. Joseph is in apposition of great power but
rather than resenting his brothers he interacts with them with great control
and is careful not to embarrass them in front of the Egyptian court.

It seems that although
the brothers were destined to travel to Egypt in order to survive the famine in
Canaan they had to, at the same time, experience the Karma of their
actions which is a way for humans to act with free will and
create their own destiny.

Karma is ‘not
punishment or retribution but simply an extended expression or consequence of
natural acts. It is the Sanskrit word for "deed" or "act"
and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, that governs all
life’…’The Hindu view of karma is expressed by the following "God does not
make one suffer for no reason nor does He make one happy for no reason. God is
very fair and gives you exactly what you deserve.’’ (paraphrased from

We see this clearly in
Joseph’s choice of words and how the events unfolded. When Joseph was 17 he
dreamed that his brothers would bow down to him. Here we see those dreams
manifested. It seems that the brothers had to go through a series of events in
order to correct and balance their individual characters traits. It was wrong
for them to be jealous and for Judah to suggest the idea of selling Joseph into
slavery. We now see the Jewish concept of ‘Mida
Kineged Mida’ or ‘Measure for Measure’ clearly played out when Judah finds
himself many years later in the position of choosing to sacrifice his own
life in order save his younger brother Benjamin. Each brother had to
overcome his envy of Joseph, and through this Karmic process were able
eliminate the source of their jealousy.

“When another
person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and
his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help.
That's the message he is sending.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

Our actions are like
boomerangs if we are not mindful of them they will hit us on the back of the
head at a later date. According to Thich Nhat Hanh only through existing 'in
the moment' can we achieve tranquility that enables us to confront our darkest
fears and tap into our own self-healing powers

My bracha to everyone
is the ability to experience a mindful Shabbos and a stronger sense of love and
brother/ sisterhood in our communities and with all living beings around the


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