Usually a sign of weakness. Of unchecked emotion. Some would say they reflect a lack of control.

It's no secret that a man's biggest nightmare is to be caught crying. Men don't cry. Not real men at least.

Controlling emotion has been seen since time immemorial as a sign of strength.


So real. So human. So normal.So real. So human. So normal. They express sincerity at times. Compassion at others.

A gentle person cries. A sensitive person cries.

Tears express genuineness.

When it hurts we cry.

When we are touched we cry.

In pain and in joy we cry.

On a wedding day we cry.

When a baby is born we cry.

When a loved one passes on we cry.

In real moments we cry.

Tears, then, express the realest and truest part of us. They reflect our core that is usually concealed and rarely revealed.

To cry, then, is not a sign of weakness. Perhaps to build walls around our emotion is.

I never cease to be fascinated when reading a particular narrative in the Torah towards the end of the Book of Genesis.

Quoted are some of the verses that mention a recurring behavior of Joseph Prince of Egypt:

"He turned away from them (his brothers) and wept" (Genesis 42:24).

Joseph is a bundle of emotion with tears his constant companion"Joseph rushed because his compassion for his brother had been stirred and he wanted to weep; so he went into the room and wept there" (ibid. 43:30).

"Joseph could not endure the presence of all who stood before him…He gave [forth] his voice in weeping" (ibid. 45:1).

"He fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck and wept…he then kissed all his brothers and wept upon them" (ibid. 14-15).

"Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father…and he wept on his neck excessively" (ibid. 46:29).

"Joseph wept when they spoke to him" (ibid 50:17).

Joseph is portrayed here as a bundle of emotion with tears his constant companion. It takes little or nothing to get him bawling.

And so I ask:

Is this the same Joseph who found favor in the eyes of Pharaoh and his ministers to the degree that he was appointed viceroy of the mighty Egypt?

Is this the leader whose name was known throughout the land and in whose hands lay the economic and political future of that ancient world?

How did Joseph remain revered and respected by all as a mighty ruler despite his apparent inability to contain his emotions?

I'd like to suggest – and perhaps this is what the Torah is alluding to by mentioning this interesting recurrence – that it was not despite his emotional expression, rather because of it, that he appealed so strongly to the Egyptian people as a beloved ruler.

They saw not weakness in his tears but strength. They saw not a deficit but a quality.

They saw not weakness in his tears but strengthA true leader doesn't build a wall of cold formality and bureaucracy around himself. He does not get carried away with himself and world politics leaving the needs and sensitivities of his people behind.

A true leader remains compassionate and warm. A true leader resonates with the heartbeat of his people.

This is what defines a true leader.

Joseph had every reason to be hardened. His youth was most traumatic, filled with pain and suffering. From being despised by his brothers, sold into captivity, the center of a national scandal, spending years in prison, his was not the journey of a normal child. Notwithstanding his difficult past, his emotional disposition proved that he was still in touch with his human side.

This is what made him appeal to his people.

It is time to reevaluate and redefine the meaning of leadership. The world needs true leaders today more than ever.

Proper ones. Like Joseph the Prince of Egypt.