spirituality >> Torah portion
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Parshat Vayeshev: Genesis 37:1-
40:23; Amos 2:6-3:8.
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his week, we begin to read the for "prophecy:' He took a notebook,
story of Joseph. We all love
says the midrash, and wrote in it exactly
the story, of course, but we
what Joseph said and when he said it,
often fail to realize how serious and
believing it would one day be fulfilled.
complicated a story it really is.
If that is the case, Jacob must also
There is a phrase in this
have realized that Joseph's
week's parshah that exem-
leadership would never
plifies the complexity of the
happen in the shadow
story. The Torah teaches
of his brothers. He must
that after Joseph's dreams in
have realized that Joseph
which he expresses a sense
would have to leave home,
of domination and privilege
where he was treated as
over his brothers — and
the "favored son" and had
even over his parents — the
earned the anger and sus-
brothers grow angry with
picion of his brothers, and
grow and mature some-
Rabb i Robert
And his father shamar
et hadavar: Jacob kept the
So, perhaps, Jacob did
matter in mind.
what all parents do at one
Immediately after noting that he
point: Take a deep breath, say a heart-
noticed and remembered the brothers'
felt prayer and send their child out to
anger and jealousy, Jacob sent Joseph
face the world knowing that they must
out to the distant fields where his
find their own way.
brothers were herding sheep to "see
Whether it is putting our child on
how the flocks are faring and to bring
the school bus for the first time, drop-
me back word:' Why would Jacob send ping them off at college or helping
Joseph to a potential confrontation
them get settled in their own apart-
with his brothers far away from home
ment, at some point, that separation
if he knew the brothers were so angry
must come for the child to achieve his
at him? Didn't he worry about what
or her potential.
For all of us, there comes a point
The Torah says that Jacob was also
when we must leave the comfort of a
angry with Joseph, so perhaps he
secure environment if we are to grow.
wanted the brothers to "teach him a
Joseph's path to greatness was not
lesson," assuming it wouldn't be so
an easy one, to say the least; but it
harsh. Or perhaps Jacob, remembering began when his father instructed him
his own youth, thought that Joseph
to leave his home confident that great-
was crafty enough to escape any con-
ness awaited him.
frontation and so did not worry.
Robert Dobrusin in rabbi of Beth Israel
Rashi, however, teaches differently.
He says that the phrase "his father kept Congregation in Ann Arbor.
the matter in mind" means that Jacob
waited and watched for the time when
Joseph's leadership over his brothers
Discuss with your family your
would come to pass.
experience of separation from
Rashi interprets the word davar not
home. How did it feel? How diffi-
as the "matter," but in the way it is fre-
cult was it? What did you learn?
quently used in the Tanach, as a word