SHAZOOM ONLY 6:30 PM December 22, 2023
PRAYER FOR PEACE – OUR HEARTS ARE WITH THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur” CCAR, New York 2007, p.178
SHALOM RAV al Yisrael amcha tasim l’olam, ki atah hu Mélech Adon l’chōl hashalom.
V’tov b’ënécha l’varëch et amcha Yisrael b’chōl ët uv’chōl sha’ah bish’lomécha.
GRANT ABUNDANT PEACE to Israel Your people forever,
for You are the Sovereign God of all peace.
May it be pleasing to You to bless Your people Israel
in every season and moment with Your peace.
From Reform Judaism 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 The Haftarah Commentary, Gunther Plaut/Chaim Stern UAHC Press 1996 p.108
Connection of haftarah and sidra:
The sidra tells us of the reunification of Joseph with his brothers. Ezekiel foretells that the lost ten tribes will be reunited with the tribe of Judah, which, with Benjamin, had formed the Southern Kingdom. [Ezekiel is listed as the third of the “Major Prophets”.]
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayigash
By: Rabbi Kari Tuling
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For the time being, we will meet every other Friday for Torah Study to read and discuss selections from Ketuvim, the third section of Tanach (Hebrew Bible), which follows Torah and Nevi’im. Please see the NEW Torah Study-Shazoom schedule below. NEXT week we will continue studying Tehillim (Psalms).You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.44.18-47.27 and Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/Ezekiel.37.15-28
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D., Women of Reform Judaism/The Federation of Temple Sisterhoods and URJ Press New York 2008
ויגש Vayigash – Genesis 44:18-47:27
Contemporary Reflection – by Miriyam Glazer, pp. 277-8
AMERICANS LIVE in the kingdom of self-help books: Five Steps to Overcoming Fear and Doubt; Five Steps to Emotional Healing; Five Steps to Spiritual Growth. Every self-help book is marketed as the “ultimate one,” or even as “the last self-help book you’ll ever need.” Over 300,000 self-help books are on the market. Typically, they promise a neatly outlined plan for self-transformation, for becoming free of a rooted sorrow or of deep-seated fears. They encourage the reader to believe that suffering is not worth the trouble, and gaining self-knowledge a routine affair–easily available for anyone with access to amazon.com and a credit card.
Thanks to the “self-help” industry, Americans–in particular–flee from mourning. We talk of going through the “grief process” until we experience “closure,” as if we ourselves roll along an assembly line of emotion until we get to the final station: the packaging of our sorrow, the sealing it tight, the storing it away.
But the very notion of “closure” for grief is an illusion. Instead, there is only the tentative recognition that our anguish is endurable, that–despite ourselves–life goes on and engages us with new emotions, new situations and images, new challenges and changes. The remembrance of the people we miss gets tucked into our hearts to be revisited–perhaps when we least expect it. As for the process of true inner change, true self-transformation, we learn to forgive ourselves for the mistakes of the past by not making them again. If we are lucky, life “tenderizes” the heart, gives us hearts not of stone but of flesh.
Vayigash powerfully addresses this more authentic model of true emotional change via the character of Judah. In its very opening lines, we find Judah in the midst of responding in an impassioned voice to the demand of the Egyptian vizier that the youngest of Jacob and Rachel’s sons, Benjamin, be left behind in Egypt. Not knowing, of course, that the forbidding vizier is none other than Rachel’s other son, Joseph–whom Judah and his brothers threw into a pit years before–Judah pleads with him to change his mind. Losing Benjamin would break his father’s heart, already broken because he believes his beloved Joseph is dead, says Judah. He begs to be kept behind in Benjamin’s place. And then he speaks the most plaintive words of all: “For how can I go home to my father if the lad is not with me?” (44:34, my translation).
These words finally break Joseph’s heart–and continue to reverberate through the ages. They signal to Joseph that he can finally trust his brothers, that there has been a profound sea-change in their character, that he can finally reveal himself to them. And so we need to ask ourselves what, in fact, has enabled Judah to come forth in this way? What has enabled the change?
The answer cannot be found in any self-help book. Judah most certainly did not take an instant course in “Five Steps to Become a Mensch.” Instead, we can conclude that Judah is able to stand up to Joseph-the-Vizier’s demand because he himself had gone through a painful, embarrassing experience of growth, one made possible through the courageous and determined intervention of his daughter-in-law Tamar.
Reflecting the Torah’s brilliant narrative strategy, the story of Tamar appears right after the brothers have lied to their father Jacob, trying to make it appear as if Joseph has been killed. Jacob rends his garments, puts on sackcloth, and goes into mourning: “His sons and daughters endeavored to console him, but he refused to be consoled, saying, ‘No, in mourning shall I go down to my son to Sheol!’” (37:35). No sooner does that happen than there is a break in the story, a seeming excursus: the scene switches to the tale of Tamar.
“Around that time,” says the text (38:1), Judah marries the daughter of a man named Shua, and she then bears three sons. The oldest, Er, marries Tamar. But Er dies, with no indication of an emotional reaction from Judah. Following Israelite law, he sends his second son, Onan, to marry Tamar, but Onan refuses to impregnate her and he, too, dies. The law dictates that the third son, Shelah, should now marry Tamar, but Judah delays fulfilling this law, afraid that Shelah, too, will die. Indeed, he waits so long that Tamar, hearing that he is going to a sheep-shearing, presents herself as a harlot on the road. He “couples” with her, not knowing who she is. When rumor later reaches him that his daughter-in-law is pregnant, he demands that she be taken out and burned. Only when she is brought to him and shows him the signet and staff that he had left with her in lieu of payment, does he realize what has transpired. He then admits: “She is more in the right than I, for certainly I did not give her to my son Shelah” (38:26).
Tamar’s achievement lies in more than insisting that her father-in-law right his wrongdoing. Her act also becomes the galvanizing force that enables him to face, and thus finally overcome, the trauma of losing two of his sons and the paralyzing fear that he would lose his third, just as his own father Jacob had feared sending Benjamin to Egypt because he was the only son of Rachel left (42:38). Through the intervention of Tamar, Judah’s heart is “tenderized” by his recognition of the wrong that his inchoate fear of loss had caused. That is why he is now able to plead for compassion before the seeming might of Egypt.
Judah’s experience illustrates that there are no instant transformations, no Five Easy Self-Help Steps to Wisdom. Instead, the Torah teaches that only by fully confronting ourselves–by being open to what we learn from one another–do we grow; only thus are we truly able to change.
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, 11 Tevet through 17 Tevet, we lovingly remember:
Mother of TKH member Mary Caron
TKH Memorial Board, mother of the late Marvin Levy, husband of Iris Adler
TKH Memorial Board
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
There is NO Torah Study this Friday, December 22, 2023. Starting at 6:30 PM on Zoom, Dr. Sam and Mary Caron will lead the Service.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi. From Dr. Sam Caron:
Topic: Friday night services
Time: Dec 22, 2023 06:30 PM Arizona
To join click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser] NOTE-this is a different link, Meeting ID and Passcode than the usual one:
Meeting ID: 853 6755 0448
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos
PS – About Tehillim (Psalms) and the NEW schedule through December 2023:
From My Jewish Learning
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From Encyclopedia Britannica
NEW Schedule for Torah Study and Shazoom (Arizona Time Zone):
December 22, 2023 – Shazoom ONLY at 6:30 pm
December 29, 2023 – Torah Study at 6 pm and Shazoom at 7:30 pm