This week’s Torah reading relates how, out of jealousy, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, how he served as a servant in the home of Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s courtiers and how he was framed and thrown into prison.

While Joseph was in prison, Pharaoh became enraged with two of his courtiers, the butler and the baker, and threw them into the same cell. They awoke with sorry faces and yet Joseph did not share his misery with them. Instead, he did everything he could to lift their spirits.

Now that’s the sign of real character. Too often, we get caught up with ourselves and our problems, real or imagined. We worry about the problems we face and we blow them out of all proportions. Have you ever seen a major executive become all flustered and raving just because he misplaced his keys? Even when our problems are genuine, heaven forbid, we can’t allow them to take over our lives.

Joseph had real problems. He had been taken from his family and was imprisoned with no real hope of being set free, and yet he was able to look beyond his own difficulties and grant others hope and strength.

Not only should we look at Joseph’s conduct as ideal, we should also probe to discover the factors that empowered him to act in this manner. Although it is important to point to spiritual leaders as heroes, we have to focus on the principles that motivated the exemplar to express them.

What gave Joseph the ability to focus on others rather than on himself, was his awareness and his trust that everything that happened to him came from G‑d. Later on when his father passed away and his brothers feared that he would take revenge for their selling him into slavery, he told them: “Although you meant to do me harm, G‑d intended it for the good.” And this wasn’t merely hindsight. On the contrary, Joseph maintained an ongoing awareness that whatever happened to him was transpiring because G‑d so desired. That enabled him to maintain his inner strength and hope. For nothing that G‑d does is for the bad. On the contrary, His intent is always for the good and ultimately, that positive intent will be manifest in our lives as well.

This was the secret of Joseph’s ability to look beyond his troubles. When a person has a locked treasure chest and has been promised the key, he won’t be upset if it takes a while before the key arrives. Joseph’s trust in G‑d was real, not just a spiritual belief. And because it was real, it gave him the power to experience inner peace and happiness and share that peace and happiness with others.