Some words’ richness are in their mother tongue. Try as I might, I have failed to effectively translate the word
fargin without losing its depth. In my house we joke that there’s no English translation for the word fargin because in our competitive, fast-paced society, people find it very difficult to truly rejoice with another ungrudgingly.
The word fargin does not have one distinct analogue in the English language that encompasses its articulate dimensions. Conceptually translated, fargin is when one doesn’t withhold favor and truly rejoices with another even if it may seem to tamper with the individual’s status.
I think the delicate balance of this word symbolizes the difficulty of its mastery. It’s hard to fargin. We raise children to be happy for their friends' successes, but guess what, adults still need to be trained in the feat. It’s easy to rejoice in another’s success when it’s not our playing field. But what about those moments when it steps on our toes? Or squeezes our hearts? When your sibling has the child you have been praying fervently for? Or your friend gets the job you so badly wanted, and you have to call them to congratulate their success?
How then do we muster the strength to rejoice in their joys without our sorrow jading the momentum?
These instances are tough, but circumstance can find us in even more challenging predicaments.
How do we react when there’s unfairness involved? When the shlichus you were looking into was claimed by a family friend? When you worked for an achievement only for another to win without trying?
In these instances, it takes an inner moral compass to foster equanimity. It takes recognition of a higher being to fargin.
And this we see from Yosef Hatzaddik.
As a prized child, bystanders may think that Yosef had everything going for him. But as he grew, life threw Yosef every curveball. Orphaned from his mother, despised by his siblings, sold as a slave and imprisoned—just imagine enduring such turbulence.
Then, Yosef is reunited with his brothers. At the pinnacle of Yosef’s success, his brothers meet him, and they are afraid. Frankly, they should be. Yosef has been hurt and alone for many years due to their hatred and unbrotherly feelings. Now, at the peak of his success, why should Yosef fargin his brothers’ peace of mind? Why should Yosef repress his anger and hurt?
When his brothers come, Yosef does not see them in anger. It’s meant to be. He acknowledges that G-d has a master plan and that his life’s hardships were a G-dly mission. There’s a purpose to his suffering. His brothers are not to blame.
Yosef was a faithful Jew. He did not allow circumstance to deter his faith. He did not give room for hardship to mar his vision. Yosef subsumed control to G-d and allowed life to take its course. He caught the curveballs thrown his way instead of being victim to a punched belly.
Not only does Yosef remove any feelings of inadequacy from his brothers, Yosef repays his brothers. He bestows kindness upon those who tripped him. He gives of himself for those who gave him away.
Yosef looks past his years of anguish and the feelings of hatred he experienced to provide his brothers with riches.
As Yosef’s brothers stand before him, Yosef gives them reason to rejoice and rejoices in their reunion.
Yosef replaces revenge with realization. It’s not about you or me. We are messengers of a Higher Being.