Torah Reading: Veyechi (Genesis 47:28 - 50:26)   
Haftorah: I Kings 2:1-12  
Shabbat Candle Lighting: 4:21 PM  
Shabbat ends: 5:26 PM

The blessing Jacob gave his son Joseph, recorded in this week’s parsha reads: 
“Joseph is a charming son, as on whose charm impresses the eye who see him...” 
The Talmud translates the latter part of this quote in a novel way: “[Joseph] was above the effects of the [evil] eye.” Joseph was blessed with an extraordinary gift: the evil eye cannot affect Joseph and the members of his tribe.
Many questions arise as we analyze this Talmudic statement:
First, why was Joseph different from all the other tribes?
Second, what practical implication does this have for all of us that are not Joseph’s descendents?
Third, what precisely is the idea of the evil eye?
There are at least two classical approaches to the understanding of the “evil eye” and its deleterious effects.
The first approach is that the eye contains powerful energy and when a person looks at another’s good fortune with a jaundiced view it can actually become a potent force that can harm the individual who is being so eyed. The converse is also true that when one views another with a positive and loving look it exudes and generates positive energy that can have positive effects on that individual.
The second approach is that when a person is envious of another’s good fortune it is received by G‑d as a “complaint” as to why that individual has been given these blessings that were denied from other, perhaps more deserving, individuals. Once the Divine attribute of justice is, in effect, “petitioned” by the one with the jealous eye, G‑d is “compelled” by His own system of justice to scrutinize that person’s right to those blessings. If that person proves to be undeserving the blessings will be removed. Hence the evil eye (read: jealous eye) can indirectly cause harm to others.
These two explanations, however, do not explain why Joseph was immune to the “evil eye.” 
Perhaps a third approach can be suggested that will explain why Joseph was “above” the “evil eye.”
The “evil eye” can be defined more broadly, and on several levels. 
One the most basic level it refers to one who sees the negative in everyone and everything. That view has the capacity to help those negative traits to become more pronounced resulting in that individual’s loss of whatever blessings he or she did actually deserve.
On a slightly more refined level the “evil eye” can refer to one who has a pessimistic view of things. Translated into interpersonal relationships it means that you will not give the other person the benefit of the doubt when their behavior is called into question. It is not necessarily due to your malevolent nature, but rather because of your pessimistic outlook on life that has been nurtured by so much negativity in our world that we have experienced over time. Ultimately that person will be shunned by you and others with whom you share that negative view.
On a more sophisticated level the “evil eye” refers to one who cannot see the entire picture because they are not privy to the future when things that appear negative today turn out quite differently in the future. 
The difference in these three forms of the “evil eye” is that the first two forms are a reflection of the viewer’s negative personality or/and their jaundiced view of life. However, the third form is not a reflection of any flaw in the vision of the viewer. Rather it is a constraint placed upon us by G‑d who created us with the inability to see the future. And as a general rule we are locked into the present.
The Midrash tells us that the names of all of the twelve sons of Jacob allude to the process of redemption. However, of all the twelve sons of Jacob only Joseph’s name refers to the future redemption. In other words, Joseph was singled out among all of his brothers to have an eye for the future. Joseph transcends the constraints of time. He was liberated from the shackles of living in the present and past. 
Joseph, therefore, represents the ability to see into the future and see how that which appears to be negative is actually transformed into the positive. Joseph’s vision was not tainted in the slightest, so Joseph did not have even the most subtle form of the “evil eye” that is an integral part of human nature.
Now, since Joseph did not see things in a negative light, he was therefore impervious to other people’s “evil eye” as well. Only those who are negative will suffer from other’s negativity directed towards them. When a person is thoroughly positive they will deflect all the negative energy in their environment. 
Of course, this does not mean that optimistic people cannot be harmed. Joseph is a perfect refutation of this notion. He was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, and tossed into prison. What optimism does help is to deflect the negative energy—not negative actions—generated by negative people. It also provides the person with faith and hope with the ability to cope with the adversity they are suffering.
In truth, just as every Jew identifies with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so too every Jew identifies with and possesses the characteristics of Joseph. Indeed, Joseph can be found among the names that the Jewish people have been given in the Torah—together with: Israel, Yehudi, Ivri, Yeshurun. Although most Jews are not biological descendents from the tribe of Joseph we are called Joseph because he was the one who sustained us and guaranteed our survival. We owe our very existence to him. 
But more significantly, contrary to what we may have imagined, the Jewish people are the most forward looking nation, whose survival in exile is due to their uncanny combination of pragmatism and optimism. Our ability to see into the future and see how everything will be positive contrary to the natural tendency to see doom and gloom, is our inheritance from Joseph.
There is no area where this Joseph phenomenon is more pronounced than in our unyielding faith in the coming of Moshiach. For close to two thousand years we prayed daily for the return to Zion. At no time in our history as a people did Jews lose faith in the future reversal of the pain and suffering that was our daily fare. Nowhere is this faith expressed more poignantly than in the famous Ani Ma’amin declaration recited daily by countless Jews and was on the lips of many a Jew on his way to the gas chambers: “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach, and even though he tarries, I will await his coming every day!” This gift we received from Joseph.
Today, the Tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tevet, is a fast day commemorating the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian tyrant Nebuchadnezzar that led to the destruction of the first Temple. On the surface, this is a sad day. But we are promised in the Torah that in the future this day will be transformed into days of rejoicing. Even as we mourn the destruction of the past and empathize with the suffering of the present, we do not lose our faith in the future. This gift we received from Joseph.