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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Never forget your royal blood!

Daf Yomi Sotah 36

A prince was once sent abroad by his father to study in a prestigious university.  En route, however, his ship capsizes.  Luckily surviving, he is washed ashore in a foreign land, left with nothing but the shirt on his back.  Slowly but surely, he begins to build his life.  And eventually, he has enough money to start making his way back home. 

But by now, it’s been years.  He no longer looks like a prince.  He no longer dresses like a prince.  He no longer sounds like a prince.  Indeed, it’s been so long that he has lost his fluency in his mother tongue.  He arrives at the gates of the palace and tells the guards that he is the prince.  They laugh in his face.  Everyone knows that the prince died years earlier.  He becomes so desperate that he lets out an almighty shriek.  The king hears the commotion and wanders outside to see what is going on.  He immediately recognizes his son and rushes to embrace him.

The Baal Shem Tov compares the shriek of the prince to the sound of the shofar.  Throughout the year, we have done much to distance ourselves from Heaven.  Many of us no longer look like princes.  But when we blow the shofar, our Father, the King comes running.

Rabbi Chiya bar Aba quoted Rabbi Yochanan: When Pharaoh said to Yosef, “Without your permission, no man shall raise his hand in the land of Egypt,” Pharaoh’s advisers exclaimed, “A slave that was purchased by his master for twenty pieces of silver should rule over us?!”  Pharaoh responded, “I sense royal tendencies in him!”
Rashi explains: Royal characteristics, such as wisdom, might, and beauty.

Why did Pharaoh sense royal attributes in Yosef?  Because Yosef was a prince.  As a child of the King, King of all Kings, the Holy One blessed be He, Yosef was not just a prince; he was a prince of Heaven.   And you could sense his royalty when you met him. 

Throughout his ordeals, the barrage of challenges that life threw his way, Yosef never lost his royal airs.  Whether he was being cast into a pit by his brothers or accused of the most heinous crimes and sentenced to the dungeon in Egypt, he knew that he was a prince and that it was all some kind of big mistake.  And so he maintained his composure and dignity at all times. 

You are a prince.  Your Father is the King, the King of Kings.  You are a more exalted prince than all the princes on Earth.  And you don’t need to wait until Rosh Hashanah to remember who you are.  You have the power to demonstrate your princeliness today and every day.

How do you look?  How do you dress?  How do you sound?  Do you carry yourself with the airs of your royal blood?  Or have you consigned yourself to the dungeon that this world has cast you into?  Have you forgotten Who your Father is?  Have your forgotten the palace you come from?

It’s time to hold your head high.  It’s time to give off that air of royalty once more.  So that the Pharaohs of the world sense that you have royal blood.   Sense that you are wise, powerful, beautiful. 

But with rights come responsibilities.  When you are royalty, there is no disappearing into the shadows.  The eyes of the world are always upon you.  You must always be your best because you represent the King.  You are a prince of Heaven and have been tasked with upholding Heaven’s great name through your actions.

Never forget who you are.  You are a princess.  You are a prince.  Whenever things are tough, remember that it’s just some kind of big mistake and you will momentarily be restored to the throne.  May you never lose your dignity or royal characteristics even when life attempts to humble you!  

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