Rivki’s room looked very much like the carnival her class was planning for Chanukah. Papers, streamers, balloons, tickets, prizes, and boxes were scattered all around. Rivki was the class president, and her friends were going to come over soon to organize the project.

Rivki sat hunched over her plan book. “What are we going to do?” she thought. “We don’t have enough room to set up all the booths.” She tried to rearrange the floor plan again on a fresh piece of paper.

While Rivki was busy working, her sister Leah came into the room. “Rivki, our class is putting on a Chanukah play. I’m one of the seven sons of Chanah who wouldn’t bow down to the idol. I can’t decide which costume to wear.”

“Oh, Leah!” blurted out Rivki. “I’m busy enough with my own problems, and I can’t possibly worry about yours!” Rivki went back to her work. She didn’t notice her mother standing in the doorway of her room.

“Rivki, I’m happy that you are so involved in a good project,” her mother said with a smile. “I’m sure it’s a lot of work and that you have to handle many details. Still, you might try to put your affairs aside for a moment and help someone else with theirs. Think what Yosef HaTzaddik did when he was imprisoned in Egypt.”

Rivki put down her pen and looked at her mother. To tell the truth, she was pleased to take a break from her project.

“Yosef HaTzaddik,” her mother continued, “certainly had plenty of problems of his own. Nevertheless, he paid attention to other prisoners as well.

“One day, Yosef noticed that the royal butler and baker were in a bad mood. Yosef was probably not in a great mood himself, since he was taken from his family and thrown into prison. Still, he listened patiently to their dreams, and he offered them some advice.

“This was very typical of Yosef. He was a person who cared about others even if he had his own worries. When he was born, his mother said, Yosef HaShem li ben acher. Acher means ‘another.’ It also means ‘an outsider.’ Yosef cares for other people even those who are different, and even those who are outsiders. He reaches out to these people and brings them close, making the ‘acher’ into a ben ‘a son.’ “

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVI, p. 91,
Sichos Shabbos Parshas Bo, 5752)