OU Tehillim Wide

Life is a Coat of Many Colors

Dec 15, 2011

"And Yaakov loved Yosef because he was his ben zekunim, and he made for him a ktonet passim"


Rashi comments on the words ben zekunim that Yaakov taught Yosef all that he had learned from Shem and Ever.  On the ktonet passim Rashi comments that the striped, multicolored coat was a hint to all of the trials that Yosef was destined to endure, and in fact the word passim is an acronym for Yosef's travails - Potiphar (letter pei), Socharim (letter samech), Yishmaelim (letter yud), Midianites (letter mem).


It would be interesting to know what exactly the teachings that Yaakov transmitted to Yosef were. In addition, why did Yaakov choose to make for Yosef a striped, colored coat, and not one of a solid color?


My father שליט"א explained that Yaakov was attempting to prepare Yosef for the challenges of life. He surely told him of the struggles he had with his brother Esav, of the trials and hardships he endured in the house of his father-in-law Lavan, of the tragedies and dangers he encountered in Shechem, and the list goes on. He also must have told him that Hakadosh Baruch Hu was always at his side, guiding him, and lifting him from all of the pitfalls of life. In the end he succeeded in building a beautiful family, and attained physical wealth as well. It was this masechet, the masechet of life that Yaakov taught Yosef. By the way, this was probably the exact same thing that Yaakov had learned from Shem and Ever when he studied in their beit medrash for 14 years before journeying out to the house of Lavan.


The coat that Yaakov made for Yosef was meant to symbolize exactly this same teaching.   Sometimes life is bright like the clear blue sky. However, sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is grey and even black as night. Sometimes the red shades of blood threaten to harm a person. The striped, colored coat is meant to remind Yosef that life has many phases and facets, but Hashem's protection is constantly with us.


May our Yaakov Avinu's teaching stay with us as it did with Yosef, and may we succeed to navigate the trials of our life and overcome them, as did our brother Yosef!

Venue: Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh


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