"And the brothers of Joseph saw that their father had died and they said: Perhaps Joseph will hate us and desire to pay us back for all the evil that we did to him." (From this week's Torah portion, Vayechi, Genesis 50:15)
It seems a bit strange. After the emotional reunion, the public display of forgiveness, the shared lives - suddenly the brothers fear that it was all just a show? That Joseph was nice to them only superficially and was just waiting for their father to die?
We are not usually aware of the power of parents' influence on their children. We think that after the children get older and leave their parents' nest, they are already completely independent. But children have a natural need to look back and get the parental ok for their path in life. Children study and integrate all of a parent's actions. Always. Even the most rebellious of children. Even when the parents are very old. One never knows how much influence he has on his descendants and how much influence he will continue to have - even after he is no longer living among them in this world.
Joseph's brothers apparently feared a deep change in Joseph after their father's death. But what does Joseph answer them? Do not worry; my relationship with you is not dependant on changing moods or proper education. Our brotherhood is solidly based on faith and fear of G-d.
"And Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, am I instead of G-d? You thought to do evil to me, G-d thought to do good in order to do as this day, to give life to a vast people." (Genesis 19, 20) Shabbat Shalom