TORAH READING FOR SHABBAT 7 TEVET 5782 SHMITAH December 10-11, 2021
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur” p.145
ENTRANCES to holiness are everywhere.
The possibility of ascent is all the time,
even at unlikely times and through unlikely places.
There is no place on earth without the Presence.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayigash
Vayigash (וַיִּגַּשׁ — Hebrew for “And [Judah] Approached [Joseph]”) – Gen. 44:18-47:27
Judah now approached him and said, “By your leave, my lord, please give your servant a hearing, and do not let your anger flare up at your servant–for you are like Pharaoh”. – Genesis 48:18
- Judah pleads with Joseph to free Benjamin and offers himself as a replacement. (44:18-34)
- Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and forgives them for selling him into slavery. (45:1-15)
- Although the famine still rages, Pharaoh invites Joseph’s family to “live off the fat of the land.” (45:16-24)
- Jacob learns that Joseph is still alive and, with God’s blessing, goes to Egypt. (45:25-46:33)
- Pharaoh permits Joseph’s family to settle in Goshen. Pharaoh then meets with Jacob. (47:1-12)
- With the famine increasing, Joseph designs a plan for the Egyptians to trade their livestock and land for food. The Israelites thrive in Egypt. (47:13-27)
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vayigash
The parashah and the haftarah both tell stories of the reconciliation of Jacob’s progeny … [and] of the relationship of Judah and Joseph, in the parashah as individuals, and in the haftarah as representatives for the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel.
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vayigash
Vayigash (וַיִּגַּשׁ — Hebrew for “and he drew near” or “then he drew near”) – Gen. 44:18-47:27
“In the [complete] parashah, Judah pleads on behalf of his brother Benjamin [who has been accused of stealing Joseph’s cup], Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, Jacob comes down to Egypt, and Joseph’s administration of Egypt saves lives but transforms all the Egyptians into bondmen.”
In Modern Interpretation
[The Protestant theologian Walter Brueggemann, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary (retired early 2000s)] wrote that the Joseph story’s theme concerns God’s hidden and decisive power, which works in, through, and sometimes against human power. Calling this either providence or predestination, Brueggemann argued that God thus worked out God’s purpose through and in spite of Egypt, and through and in spite of Joseph and his brothers.
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
ויגש Vayigash – Genesis 44:17-47:27
Reunion and Reconciliation of Joseph, Jacob, and the Brothers by Naomi Steinberg, p.259
The highlight of parashat Vayigash (“he approached”) is when Joseph reveals his true identity to his brothers. This parashah starts with Judah’s emotional plea to let Benjamin return to Jacob in Canaan. The plea revolves around the effect on Jacob of the brothers’ returning without Benjamin. Unable to contain his feelings any longer, Joseph discloses his identity and sends his brothers home to bring his father to Egypt.
The brothers are both sorry and apprehensive about reprisal for what they did to Joseph long ago. But Jacob is happy to learn that Joseph, his elder son by his favorite wife Rachel, is still alive. He and the entire family move to Egypt. Family matters occupy center stage in parashat Vayigash as father and sons are reconciled with each other and forgive past behavior. The other brothers seem to set aside jealousies stemming from Jacob’s favoring Rachel and her children.
On a deeper level, this parashah explores the dynamics of human growth. Robert Alter sums up the issues beautifully:
What is it like, the biblical writers seek to know through their art, to be a human being with a divided consciousness–intermittently loving your brother but hating him even more; resentful or perhaps contemptuous of your father but also capable of the deepest filial regard; stumbling between disastrous ignorance and imperfect knowledge; fiercely asserting your own independence but caught in a tissue of events divinely contrived; outwardly a definite character and inwardly an unstable vortex of greed, ambition, jealousy, lust, piety, courage, compassion, and much more? (The Art of Biblical Narrative, 1981, p. 176).
The parashah, then, presents a study in the human capacity for lasting change. While not mentioned in the parashah, Tamar has been a pivotal figure in Judah’s own growth. Their encounter in Genesis 38 best accounts for Judah’s new capacity to sympathize with his father.
Women appear infrequently in this parashah. There are references to women in 44:20, 45:19, and among those who went to Egypt (46:5-27). The list of the descendants of Jacob who traveled to Egypt divides the entire family according to their mothers (46:8-27). Of the daughters of Jacob, only Dinah is mentioned by name (46:15). The total number of offspring of Jacob who traveled with him to Egypt does not count the wives of his sons (46:26).
A STORY OF FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION
From the D’VAR TORAH BY: RABBI KARYN D. KEDAR
The story of Joseph is the story of heroism, forgiveness, and redemption…. He becomes a ruler of the land and navigates through a seven-year famine. And he uses his position of power not for revenge or vengeance but rather to enact lifesaving agricultural reforms that save Egypt.
He is also a powerful teacher of that elusive, complicated, and transformative force we call forgiveness. Joseph, though victimized, is not a victim. Though estranged from his family, he never forgets his roots. Though ridiculed for his gifts, he continues to nurture his unique abilities. Joseph becomes the hero of his own life, and thereby the hero of our people.
Forgiveness is a complex process. We are never obligated to condone bad behavior. When an act or a word or a manipulation or an offense comes our way, we are not compelled to say, that’s okay, never mind. Forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation. Sometimes when a relationship is difficult, hostile, not supportive, toxic, we forgive and get out of the way — not because our offender deserves it but because we do. Nor do we forgive and forget…. [Read the complete D’var Torah at the Reform Judaism.org website]
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 7 Tevet through 13 Tevet, we lovingly remember:
TKH Memorial Board, mother of the late Marvin Levy, husband of Iris Adler
Mother of TKH member Mary Caron
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
Being a part of, contributing to and connecting with Temple Kol Hamidbar helps us fulfill our three-fold purpose as a Beit Tefillah (House of Prayer), a Beit Midrash (House of Study) and a Beit Knesset (House of Community). We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, December 10, 2020.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this Friday evening:
Topic: Torah Study – Vayigash (triennial part) Gen 46:28-47:27
Time: Dec 10, 2021 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Dec 10, 2021 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!