Do you ever feel alone? Not necessarily lonely, but alone, even though you are surrounded by people.

You may have different values from those around you. You may have a different perspective or way of looking at reality. You may feel like an outsider, not quite fitting in to the norms of your society.

And that’s just when you may be presented with a challenge. An opportunity to get recognition. A means to get ahead in life. A prospect that will make your life so much easier.

The catch? Taking that path will not be true to who you are or to what, deep down, you know is the way you ought to be.

A part of you insists, who cares? Why make your situation so difficult? It’s not as if your life has ever been a bed of roses! You’ve been inundated with adversities, confronted by adversaries, and surrounded by people who don’t care about you.

And, who will know? Why stubbornly remain so forlorn because of your unrealistic ideals? Besides, look at how your life has turned out. It’s not like your unwavering values have gotten you very far.

How should we respond to that cynical voice within?

Joseph is presented with this question. He had experienced a harsh life; he was reviled by his brothers, sold into slavery, a stranger in a strange land. Finally, just as fate was beginning to smile—and he had secured an important position—the wife of his master, Potiphar, took a liking to him.

It came to pass, after these things, that his master’s wife laid her eyes upon Joseph. She said: “Lie with me.”1

The Talmud comments: “Each day, Potiphar’s wife would attempt to seduce him. Cloth she wore for him in the morning she would not wear for him in the evening . . . She said, ‘Surrender yourself to me.’ He answered, ‘No.’ She threatened him, ‘I shall confine you in prison . . . I shall subdue your proud stature . . . I will blind your eyes.’

Joseph refused. And he said to his master’s wife: “ . . . How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against G‑d?”2

Said Joseph to her: “I am afraid of the Holy One, blessed be He.” Said she: “But He is not here.” (Midrash)

And then finally, after all her unceasing efforts, one day Joseph was about to relent.

“He entered the house do to his work, and none of the household staff was inside.”3

The Talmud fills us in on what happened: At that moment his father’s image appeared to him through the window, and said: “Joseph, your brothers will have their names inscribed upon the stones of the ephod . . . Is it your wish to have your name expunged from amongst theirs and to be called an associate of harlots?”4

Since the Torah had not yet been given, it is questionable whether Joseph had to risk his life to refrain from this sin. Nevertheless, when he saw the vision of his father, from whom he had been separated for decades, he regained the strength to desist. Why?

Jacob’s face resembled the beauty of Adam, whose sin he worked to rectify. Adam’s sin of eating the forbidden fruit seemed insignificant, but it had cosmic ramifications for all of humankind. When Joseph saw the visage of Adam, he recognized that, while our deeds might seem trivial and our personal affairs isolated, every deed can affect our moral balance, as well as the moral standing of all of creation—for now and all times.

Life sometimes showers us with intensely lonely moments of cold indifference. In those times, we need to remember that our every action has significance and lasting consequences.

We need to respond to our cynical voice: Right now, G‑d needs me to be true to the visage of my Father—by being true to my inner self.