To Fulfill a Mitzvah

To Fulfill a Mitzvah

Dec 19, 2008 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Commentary | Vayeshev

There is an interesting moment in this week’s parashah during Joseph’s search for his brothers. Initially, Joseph seeks them in Shechem, where Jacob supposes them to be. As Joseph fruitlessly seeks his brothers, a man who perceives that Joseph is wandering aimlessly asks Joseph the purpose of his search. When Joseph replies that he is seeking his brothers, the man tells him he has heard that they are headed for Dothan. Joseph then follows his brothers there, and the story unfolds of his sale as a slave and his descent to Egypt.

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A Literary Analysis of Judah and Tamar

A Literary Analysis of Judah and Tamar

Dec 24, 2005 By JTS Alumni | Commentary | Vayeshev

By Rabbi Steven Lindemann

Interruption, intrusion, insertion: these are terms often used to describe the placement of the story of Judah and Tamar in the midst of the Joseph narrative (Genesis 38).

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Greetings of Peace

Greetings of Peace

Dec 16, 2006 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayeshev

Greetings and farewells are significant in Jewish tradition. Appropriately enough, the word “shalom” meaning “peace” is often the thread that ties many of these expressions together. Sometimes, it is a simpleshalom; and other times, a warm embrace is accompanied by “shalom aleichem,” meaning “peace be upon you.” To which one responds by reversing the greeting “aleichem shalom” (“to you, may there be peace”).

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Troubling Feelings

Troubling Feelings

Dec 24, 2005 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayeshev

Duplicitous behavior is one of the hallmarks of the Genesis narratives. Jacob seizes the birthright and blessing from Esau, Lavan deceives his nephew Jacob repeatedly during the latter’s sojourn, and Jacob’s sons deceive the Hivites as they exact revenge for the rape of their sister Dinah. Of all of these deceitful episodes, none warrants stronger biblical condemnation than the acts of Jacob’s sons in defending their people and honor. Simeon and Levi are explicitly condemned by their father Jacob — both in the immediate aftermath of the episode and then once again as their father lay on his deathbed.

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Permanence in a Land of Impermanence

Permanence in a Land of Impermanence

Dec 4, 2004 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayeshev

The opening verse of this week’s parashah begins the Joseph narrative which will carry us to the conclusion of Genesis. Even more significant, these opening words highlight an issue at the heart of Jewish history and Jewish life. In Genesis 37:1 we read, “Jacob settled (va-yeishev) in the land of his father’s sojournings (megurei aviv), in the land of Canaan.” The Hebrew word va-yeishev means ‘he settled’; it is a verb that speaks to a sense of rootedness and permanence. On the other hand, a few words later, we encounter the Hebrew megurei meaning sojournings – a word that at its root (gar) echoes strangeness and impermanence.

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A Search for Peace

A Search for Peace

Dec 20, 2003 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayeshev

Jacob’s life is a search for blessing and more importantly, a blessing that will culminate in peace. Knowing full well that his blessing was acquired through deception, Jacob seeks uncategorical recognition – a legitimacy that Esau grants him in last week’s parashah. Indeed, Jacob desires the fulfillment of blessing in his own life. Sadly though, his life proves to be just the opposite.

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Where It’s Least Expected

Where It’s Least Expected

Nov 30, 2002 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayeshev

God’s Presence in our world is truly in the eye of the beholder. While there are times we feel an acute absence of God in our lives, there are also times that we are keenly aware of God’s Presence. More often than not, it is in times of distress and tragedy that we turn to be discovered by God rather than in times of blessing. Our patriarch Jacob is the quintessential model of such relationship. When Jacob leaves home and again when he is about to confront his brother Esau after twenty years, Jacob prays to God — for protection and blessing. 

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Slaves Will One Day Be Free

Slaves Will One Day Be Free

Dec 17, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Vayeshev

In the narrative unfolding of the biblical drama, the Joseph story accounts for the arrival of Jacob’s sons and their descendants in Egypt. It also serves to introduce one of the main themes to emerge from the rest of the biblical story: the overturning of oppression with redemption.

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