What can we learn from the life of Joseph? His story, told partly in this week's Parshah, seems simply a succession of unhappy events. His mother Rachel died in his youth. He could not get on with his elder brothers, the children of Leah. The conflict became so great that they sold him into slavery. Then further sad events led to his being put into prison in Egypt.

One thing we can learn from this is that G‑d has His own Divine "plan" for the world. We do not realize at the time, but very negative or even tragic events can sometimes lead to openly positive results. In the case of Joseph, the fact that he was in prison in Egypt led to his appointment as viceroy of Egypt. This in turn meant that he could provide food for his family during the famine which was to come.

This is how Joseph himself understood his life. When, as viceroy, he finally revealed his identity to his brothers (in the Parshah Vayigash) he said to them: "Don't be upset that you sold me here. G‑d sent me here in order to provide for you... G‑d sent me here to save you" (Genesis 45:5-7).

Trust in the ultimate rightness of G‑d's plan for our lives is an important quality. In the case of Joseph, the Plan seems quite simple. A child could understand it. Yet when you turn to the overall history of the Jewish people the Plan looks more complex. Something like a game of snakes and ladders in four dimensions... (and are you sure you know which direction is "up"?). One thing is sure, you do not stand still. And eventually you get there!

The story of Joseph in our Parshah gives an example of how the Plan unfolded in the past. It carries with it the promise that this will happen for us too, as individuals and as a people, in the present and the future.