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Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

Vayeishev- 12/7/23

In Vayeishev, we meet Joseph as a teenager.  We witness his development as he is sold to Egypt by his brothers, out of revenge for Joseph’s past behavior toward them, and as he grows in maturity and character during his time in Egypt.  Joseph has a lot of personal flaws, and it is hard to rehabilitate him completely, though the Rabbis tried mightily in their commentaries and midrashim, as did Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice  in their famous musical about Joseph.  There is one moment in the Torah portion, however, when we begin to see a compassionate and empathetic side to Joseph.  During his time in the royal dungeon, he interacts with two of the Pharoah’s courtiers who are imprisoned with him and, seeing that they are troubled upon awakening in the morning, he reaches out.  He “came to them in the morning when he saw that they were distraught” and he asked them “Why do you appear downcast today?” (Gen 40:6-7).  In so doing, Joseph “showed up” for his fellow prisoners with concern and support.  Noticing that someone else is in distress is a skill we all need to nurture within ourselves, and “presence,” being with them in their time of uncertainty or trial, is an even more important step that we need to take when others are hurting.  Joseph models this quality here, even though he is still working other aspects of his moral development.


Fri, December 8 2023 25 Kislev 5784