Don’t Be Yourself – Parshat Miketz
Isn’t that backwards? Don’t you mean "be yourself"?
Well, kinda. You're right, too.
We are always talking about being your authentic YOU. As Kierkegaard said: “Don’t despair at wanting to become your authentic self.”1
So make up my mind…be yourself…don’t be yourself. What to do? And what do you mean anyway "don’t be yourself"?
When Yosef was called upon by Paroh to interpret his dreams, it was due to the skill Yosef had in such interpretations, as reported by the Minister of Drinks. So Paroh had assumed that it was Yosef's skill alone that had brought about such an exact interpretation. Yosef realized, even when earlier interpreting the ministers' dreams that the interpretations came from a different plane. God will send those interpretations, he told the ministers.2 Even though Yosef had already seen during his experience with the ministers that he was given a gift of dream interpretation, his reply to Paroh was consistent with his belief. The Netziv, explains that it is as if he was saying, I will not be my regular self but rather a higher self. I will put myself aside and allow God to answer through me - He,God, in fact will send the answer to Paroh.3
We realize that sometimes we are being called upon to do something different than we usually do. It can be while dealing with an issue within the family, a health-related issue, something going on in the community, or elsewhere. We could be our normal everyday selves and behave as we always have. Or we may realize that this situation is different and that we are being called upon to respond differently.
So, in those situations when we come to the realization that we are being asked/challenged/called upon to not be our regular 'every day self' and rather to rise above the situation and be our true authentic self, it is at that moment that we can become aware of our true humanness - of that extra dimension that we can reach. And then we can detach ourself from our ego-centered self and become whom we truly can become.
Hope you're still enjoying the last hours of Chanukah.
In memory of my father-in-law Binyamin Shraga Faivel Chaim ben Menachem Mendel z"l
Have A Great Shabbat!