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November 29, 1991 - Image 44

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-11-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

TORAH PORTION

HAPPY PASSOVER?

Yes, it will be a happy Passover for members of
Congregation B'nai Moshe!

We are scheduled to open our doors and fill the sanctuary
with song by Passover, 1992

"Daddy, why aren't we members of Congregation B'nai Moshe?"

Don't let this be the fifth question asked at your Seder table.

For membership information
please call the synagogue office
788-0600

CONGREGATION B'NAI MOSHE
GET IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR

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44

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 1991

;

AL HARRIS

NO. 1 IN SALES
FOR DETROIT AREA

Telegraph & 12 Mile

353-1300

Two Authentic Streams
Of Jewish Outlook

SHLOMO RISKIN

Special to The Jewish News

E

frat, Israel — When
siblings are engaged in
conflict in the Ibrah, it
may superficially be an issue
of honor or inheritance, but
we can rest assured that the
struggle has far more pro-
found significance. And no-
where is this truer than in
this week's portion, Vayashev,
where the sibling rivalry be-
tween Joseph and his broth-
ers overshadows in intensity
and passion all earlier sibling
struggles in the Bible.
From now until the end of
Genesis, all events including
the sojourn in Egypt, which
brings about the eternal Jew-
ish drama of enslavement and
freedom, emerges directly
from this sibling struggle.
On one side of the conflict
we have Joseph, the beloved
of his father, dreamer of
dreams; opposite him stand
the ten brothers, and of the
ten it's Judah more than any
of the others whom the Torah
pivots against Joseph.
Joseph is the younger son,
favored above all others,
presented by his father with
the coat of many colors. And
lest you think that the older
brother Judah sells Joseph in-
to slavery merely because of
momentary jealousy, remem-
ber that in subsequent Jew-
ish history the bitter rivalry
will continue between the
"Kingdom of Judah" and the
"Kingdom of Joseph," or his
son Ephraim.
So what exactly is signified
by the struggle between Jo-
seph and Judah, and which
profound philosophical and
ideological truths does it ex-
press beyond the matter of
the coat of many colors?
In his work Five Discourses,
Rav Joseph B. Soloveichik ad-
dresses this subject and I'd
like to expand on some of the
ideas presented by the Ray,
my great teacher and mentor.
To understand Joseph, we
must go to his first dream.
"For behold we were binding
sheaves in the field, and lo,
my sheaf arose, and also stood
upright; and behold, your
sheaves came round about,
and bowed to my sheaf. . ."
Genesis 37:7
What's important here is
not only the dream's message
that all the brothers shall end
up obedient to the youngest

Rabbi Riskin is Chief Rab-
bi of the City of Efrat and
Dean of Ohr Torah Institu-
tions of Israel.

brother, but the very use of
sheaves themselves. If we
look at civilization as a proc-
ess moving from the stage of
hunting, to shepherding, to
farming, to industry, sheaves
of grain represent a departure
from the world of Joseph's
fathers, who were shepherds,
to the more advanced world of
Egyptian society, a culture of
farmers.
From his dream it emerges
that Joseph yearns to leave
behind his ancestral world of
shepherding, work which
gives you time to think, and
trade it in for the more so-
phisticated argrarian Egypt.
And Joseph doesn't stop
there. In his next dream, the
sheaves become stars, moons,
suns. Joseph is dreaming of

A universal dream
needs the strength
of the particular.

the cosmos, a long way off
from a shepherd's rock in the
shade. The language of his
dreams implies that he will
travel far from his family's
embrace into a very wide
arena indeed. Perhaps he
senses a coming famine, a
necessity to leave Canaan, if
only temporarily. But certain-
ly he dreams universal
dreams, and although only 17
years old, he sees that his star
is destined to sweep across
history and change the course
of universal events.
In contrast, Judah repre-
sents the brother who never
even dreams of leaving the
home front or wandering too
farm from his father's sight.
In fact, his father Jacob sends
Judah "to direct his way to
Goshen" (Genesis 46:28),
which our sages interpret to
mean "to establish a yeshiva
in Egypt so that Jacob will
feel more comfortable there."
This Sunday evening, we
light the first candle of the
festival of Chanukah, the first
festival since Sukkot. If we
use the Joseph/Judah schism,
we can diagram the festivals
in a way which reveals that
they represent two extremes
of the Jewish experience.
Sukkot is the universalistic
festival, Joseph's dream of the
cosmos, the festival of the four
species, a time when we move
out of our homes to live inside
a but whose roof is covered
with vegetation through
which we are enjoined to
glimpse the sun, moon, and
stars. Every gesture of Suk-
kot leans toward the univer-
salistic; a thanksgiving for
nature (four species-sheaves)

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