Be Like Joe
Who is our Jewish role model in the area of abstinence? That would be Joseph, or as he is known in Hebrew, Yosef HaTzaddik - Joseph the Righteous.
Look at all our other Torah role models. "Avraham Avinu" (Abraham our Father), "Rachel Imeinu" (Rachel our Mother), "David HaMelech" (David the King), "Eliyahu HaNavi" (Elijah the Prophet), "Shimshon HaGibbur" (Samson the Strong). Even Moses is called "Moshe Rabbeinu" - "our Teacher." Why, out of everyone in Tanach (the Jewish Bible) is only Yosef called HaTzaddik - the Righteous?
It's not because he had a multi-colored coat or because he could interpret dreams. Yosef is called HaTzaddik because he resisted the temptation presented by Potiphar's wife. This was no small thing, even for someone of Joseph's stature!
When Joseph was brought to Egypt as a slave, he was sold to a man named Potiphar, who put Joseph in charge of his entire household. Mrs. Potiphar found Joseph to be so attractive that she invited him to her bed every day. (Today this is what we would call "sexual harassment." )
But don't think that Joseph wasn't enticed! Mrs. Potiphar was a very striking woman. (Today this is what we would call "hot." ) The Talmud tells us (Sotah 36b) that Joseph's resolve had weakened and he was actually ready to give in. What saved him was that he saw a vision of his father's face and this strengthened his determination. And what did he do? The Torah tells us quite clearly (Genesis 39:12), "He ran and he got out of there."
This is what we should do when we are faced with temptation. If we are about to give in, we must remember the thing that makes us strong and take advantage of that moment of strength to get the heck out of that dangerous situation. One has to treat these literally seductive environments like a recovering alcoholic treats booze - complete avoidance of temptation!
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