Joseph had spent an entire year in prison when one morning he noticed that two Egyptian prisoners seemed more unhappy than usual.

So he asked them what was wrong. And out of that question, years later, emerged not only his own release from prison, but the rescue of all Egypt, indeed all the known world, from a famine of seven years.

Everything Joseph did defied human nature.

These were, after all, former officials of the royal court. It was just such an Egyptian official who had thrown him in the dungeon to begin with. It’s only human to harbor prejudice against the ilk of those who have caused you harm.

And why shouldn’t they be miserable? They’re in a dungeon, where hope dims every day as the ugly claws of despair suffocate the human spirit.

Indeed, by human nature, Joseph more than anyone else should have long ago succumbed to bitter apathy, as a helpless victim of a cruel and unjust world.

He was imprisoned despite his excellent service only because he stuck to his principles in the face of overwhelming temptation. And before that, he had been sold by his own brothers as a slave as a direct result of faithfully carrying out his father’s request.

Yet when Joseph saw two of G‑d’s creations were unhappy with how G‑d had made them and where He had put them, he felt it was his responsibility to do something. G‑d’s world was his world, and if any creature’s sadness reached out to him, it was a mission handed to him from Above.

When your world looks dim, when you feel you are stuck in a prison and all is unjust, do yourself a favor. Look up and see what’s going on with the people around you. Do something, however small it may be, for a fellow human or two.

You will liberate yourself, perhaps even your entire world.

Miketz 5734