Dvar Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
After the brothers threw Joseph into a pit and were deciding what to do with him, the Torah states:
“And they sat down to eat bread, and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and behold, a company of Yishme’alim came from Gilad with their camels carrying aromatic gum, balm, and ladanum, going to carry it down to Egypt.” (Genesis 37:25).
Why did the Torah deem it necessary for us to know what the camels were carrying?
Rashi teaches us that the Torah is extolling the reward for the righteous. This was the caravan to which they would sell Joseph and which would transport him to Egypt. Usually caravans to Egypt carried kerosene and resin used for fuel – which had unpleasant odours. However, this caravan which carried Joseph to Egypt had pleasant smelling spices; because of his righteousness, he was not subjected to the unpleasant odours on his journey to Egypt (which was part of the divine plan to save the Jewish people from the upcoming famine).
This seems to be little consolation for Joseph. He was being sold as a slave by his brothers. How would something as minor as pleasant smelling merchandise on the caravan taking him to Egypt make a difference? The answer is that this was a subtle hint from the Almighty to Joseph. It was a message to Joseph that all was not lost – that he should appreciate the hand of the Almighty that is guiding his life and supplies him with minor pleasures to enhance his life. This is a sign that all the Almighty does is for his – and your -ultimate benefit.
This is an important lesson for anyone undergoing a difficult life situation. Upon facing painful experiences, one is apt to become lost in self-pity and despair. It is easy to focus solely on what is going wrong with one’s life. However, one needs to keep his eyes open! Be aware of any positive aspects. Don’t ignore anything that you can possibly appreciate. These minor pleasures are messengers from the Almighty. Appreciate them for themselves; and what is more important, allow them to change your evaluation of your entire situation. Learn to see every situation as a means to help you reach your ultimate potential in this world!