adapted from Meta Parshiyot 5755 ad 5756 by R David Wolfe-Blanke and Living Torah R Aryeh Kaplan
G’VURAH IN G’VURAH
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PARASHAH
YOSEPH IS SOLD INTO SLAVERY
This Parashah establishes seeds of jealousy and competitiveness. The results are harsh and heartbreaking for the ancestral family. And, it is relevant that these kernals both enslaved and saved The Tribe of Yisrael as we will see in the upcoming weeks.
Yoseph‘s beautiful coat, a gift of love from his father which he, sadly, flaunts to his less favored brothers and fuels their jealously. Yoseph adds insult to injury by spouting off about dreams where all bow down to him. This was more than the brothers could tolerate. They respond by abducting Yoseph, throwing him into a pit, and selling him into slavery. He is exchanged from master to master on his journey to Egypt,
Yaakov was told that Yoseph must have been devoured by a wild animal. This harsh news breaks Yaakov’s heart – his most beloved son was gone as well as the Rahel, the love of his life. As a result, understandably, Yaakov falls into a lengthy period of mourning.
Are these patterns of awareness imprinted deeply in Jewish tribal consciousness to this day? How so?
Were these action a mistake ? or destiny?
TAMAR AND YEHUDAH
In an interlude story of love longed for, but not realized, Yehudah‘s daughter-in-law, Tamar, outlives two of his sons. In those days the widow of one brother was cared for by the next surviving brother. Yehudah hides his third son from her claiming he is too young to marry.
Tamar waits. And She waits. Eventually, it becomes clear that the boy has grown up but was kept from her. One only can imagine the pain and loneliness Tamar endured as she patiently waited at her father’s house for a promised husband who never turned up. Tamar took matters into her own hands. She put her life on the line to initiate the Messianic lineage.
Yehudah, seeing an anonymous veiled women on the road assumes she was a sacred prostitute and prepositions her. They have sex and Tamar becomes pregnant, bringing potential shame on Yehudah, her father in law. Upon learning Tamar is pregnant Yehudah responds, “Take her out and have her burned”. The way she reveals who the father is exquisitely dignified and clear. Yehudah admits he is the father, exposing himself to shame, and says “She is more innocent than I am. She did this because I withheld my son from her”.
Is there a hero here? A villain? What other lessons can be learned from Tamar and Yehudah?
Yoseph was brought to Egypt and was purchased by Potipher, one of Pharorah‘s officers. God was with Yoseph and made him very successful. Before long, Yoseph was in charge of everything in the household.
Yoseph grew to be a very handsome man. Over time, Potipher‘s wife was attracted to him and invited Yoseph to sleep with her. Yoseph adamantly refused. She would talk to him everyday and he kept a guarded distance. One day none of the other staff were around Potipher‘s wife grabbed him by the cloak to draw him close to her. He ran away leaving his cloak in her hands. She shrieked and claimed he was trying to rape her. It looked bad. Yoseph was sent to the dungeons again.
Yoseph and Tamar are both associated with the S’firah of Yesod . Why?
THE PRISONER’S DREAM
Yoseph, once again, made himself useful to the prison guards. He was put in charge of all the other prisoners. Soon after, the wine steward and baker offended their master, The Pharaoh. They were sent to prison and shared a cell with Yoseph.
One morning both his cell mates woke up agitated and upset. They both had strange dreams. Yoseph effectively interpreted both dreams. One was a vision of success and reinstatement by the Pharaoh, the other, harsh a vision of execution. Soon after, both of Yoseph‘s visions came to pass.
VAYESHEV IN G’VURAH IN G’VURAH
The capture of Yoseph, the losses of Yehudah, the imprisonment of Yoseph, Yakkov’s heartbreak, and its string of betrayals qualify this Parashah to reflect G’vurah of G’vurah. This demonstrates the intensification of the intensification of the power to hide, obscure the path, deflect, intensify the drama, redirect, and as a result, challenge.
This story is a sad one with many boundaries making themselves known. My heart goes out to Yoseph and Yaakov. Truly the whole rest family suffered the heartache of knowing they sold Yoseph into slavery. As a result, everyone in the sphere of this break in trust was impacted, whether they knew it or not.
It is significant that this year the first light of Hannukah, begins on November 28, the day after this Parashah symbolizing G’vurah in G’vurah completes, November 27. Interestingly, this sequencing represents the darkest shadow – deepest absence of light in the Jewish calendar (G’vurah in G’vurah) immediately, followed by the festival of light with an opportunity to participate in amplifying it.