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Dec 6 2013

Torah MOMentary: A Bond Between Brothers, Even Those Who Sell Each Other into Slavery

By at 10:30 am

joseph-and-his-brothers_hp

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This past Shabbat we read Parashat Vayigash. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

As the mother of two boys, and someone who grew up with only a sister, I have recently taken an interest in stories of brothers.

I wonder about the special bond that some brothers share and what I might be able to do as a mother to nurture such a bond between my two boys. In looking to stories as role models, at first glance, I would not think that the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers would be one to which I would turn–jealousy that runs so deep that it causes Joseph’s brothers to plot together to sell him into slavery and then to deceive their own father into thinking that Joseph was killed by a wild animal. If anything, it reads like a worst case scenario, and the only thing I can take from it is relief that my boys’ jealousy of one another is not that bad, and that their greatest deception to date is hiding behind the couch to eat a candy bar that I had explicitly told them not to.

But by reading this week’s Torah portion, Vayigash, I have found a more positive lesson in the story of Joseph and his brothers. Toward the end of last week’s Torah portion, Joseph hid a silver goblet in Benjamin’s (the youngest and his father’s most beloved son) bag as a test to see what the brothers would do when the goblet was discovered. Joseph demanded that, as punishment, Benjamin stay in Egypt as a slave. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 2 2013

Torah MOMentary: Bible Drama Vs. Toddler Drama

By at 10:58 am

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This past Shabbat we read Parashat Miketz. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Last week’s Torah portion, Miketz, is full of large-scale drama: fortunes rising and falling, pilgrimages for survival, power struggles, and internal journeys of the heart.

joseph and his brothers discover cup

Pharoah dreams of extremes: seven fat cows, seven emaciated cows. Joseph, called to interpret these dreams, rises from his prison cell to a position at Pharaoh’s side. The earth goes through seven years of plenty, then seven years of famine. Joseph’s brothers journey across a great desert to beg Pharoah’s assistant for grain, not realizing that Pharoah’s assistant is actually Joseph. Now in power, Joseph plays a game of cat-and-mouse with them, withholding his identity, alternating between public sternness and private weeping.

Yep, this is the stuff of great family drama. Will Joseph reveal himself to his brothers? How far will he go to punish his siblings’ past cruelty? How can siblings do this to each other?

Meanwhile, at my house, a different drama is playing out. I call it toddler drama. Read the rest of this entry →

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