Free Will?

Free Will?

Dec 22, 2001 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Vayiggash

It is commonly accepted that Judaism teaches free choice. Human beings can choose their behaviors and are responsible for those choices. The source for this teaching is traced directly to the Torah:

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Israel Divided

Israel Divided

Dec 10, 1994 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayiggash

As you know, the Haftarah is the prophetic selection with which we take leave from the weekly parasha. The word is a noun which means, “to bring (the Torah reading) to a close.” We do not depart from the Torah abruptly, but gradually with a final reading from the Prophets, chanted from a printed book rather than a handwritten scroll. We withdraw from the realm of the sacred slowly. The prophetic passage chosen always relates to the content of the parasha for that week.

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Making Room for God

Making Room for God

Dec 21, 1997 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayiggash

Jacob and Joseph, father and son, had been separated for 22 years. At first the exclamation of his sons that Joseph was not only alive but ruled over all of Egypt was met with stony silence. Jacob did not dare let their words shatter the emotional equilibrium he had forged out of his suffering. It was only upon seeing the vehicles of Egyptian design sent by Joseph that Jacob softened his resistance. His spirit sprang back to life and he insisted on leaving for Egypt immediately to behold once again his long lost son.

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Judah and Jewish Education

Judah and Jewish Education

Dec 28, 1998 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayiggash

It is the subplots which make the Joseph saga a work of great literature. Had the Torah focused solely on relocating Jacob from Canaan to Egypt it would have left us with a piece of wooden theology and boring prose. But the author is too much the artist to have Joseph reveal his identity when his brothers first arrive. Yet what is accomplished by the delay? Joseph’s dreams, which cost him their love, have surely been fulfilled.

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Joseph’s Three Encounters

Joseph’s Three Encounters

Dec 17, 1999 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayiggash

Parashat Va-Yiggash opens with the dramatic encounter between Joseph and his older brother, Judah. Judah, who years earlier had cooperated with his brothers to betray Joseph, seems to be on the verge of losing his father’s other favored son, Benjamin, as well. Judah makes an impassioned plea to Joseph, offering himself as a hostage in Benjamin’s stead. As it turns out, Judah’s altruism is more than Joseph can withstand. While he was able to hold back and hide his identity numerous times, letting his brothers squirm in discomfort before the strange Egyptian man, this time is different. Joseph reveals his identity. The moment is one of closeness, of reconciliation, and of Joseph’s recognition that it was not his brothers’ deeds but rather God’s plan that had guided the events of his latter years.

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Between Teshuva and Repentance

Between Teshuva and Repentance

Jan 6, 2001 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayiggash

The origin of words is often a good indicator of their deeper meaning. This is surely the case with the well-known Hebrew word “teshuvah,” often rendered in English as penitence or repentance. Yet the etymology of each term in this pairing is decidedly different and reminds us of what is always lost in translation. Both English words derive from a Latin root meaning “to regret,” whereas the Hebrew term comes from the root “to return.” The contrast is pronounced: etymologically, the English concept stresses a state of mind, the Hebrew, an action to be taken.

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Brothers Reunited

Brothers Reunited

Dec 14, 2002 By Charles Savenor | Commentary | Vayiggash

The moment of truth has arrived. With Benjamin framed for stealing and sentenced to enslavement, Joseph waits to see how Jacob’s other sons will respond. Joseph believes that his well-orchestrated ruse will finally expose his brothers’ true colors.

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Cultivating an Ethic of Responsibility

Cultivating an Ethic of Responsibility

Dec 18, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayiggash

Jewish history unfolds as a dialectic between exile and homeland.

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