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Shabbat Commentary

8/9 Dec: Shabbat Vayeshev  comes in 3:37 pm, goes out 4:46 pm

The Torah gives a substantial prologue to Joseph: We are told about his age, his pursuits, his relationship with his brothers and his father, as well as about his favoured status. The characteristic that emerges from the many details, however, is less than flattering: Joseph is terribly immature.

Although almost an adult, he seems to spend much of his time prattling about his brothers’ perceived misdeeds. Oblivious to the sensitivities of his siblings, he delights in reminding them of his special rank as his father’s favourite. In his dreams, Joseph betrays his ambitions and his egocentrism. He believes himself to be superior to his brothers and to deserve their adulation.

Thus far, we have been introduced to a young man saturated with hubris, self-admiration and overbearing confidence. The recurring phrases in Yosef’s descriptions are all possessive: ‘my dream,’ ‘my sheaf,’ and ‘me.’ His brothers, on the other hand, are consistently described as ‘hating him,’ ‘jealous,’ and ‘full of enmity.’ It is a great beginning to a story about how our important ancestor went through trials and tribulation to become a mature and moral individual.

Written by

Rabbi Paul Arberman.















December 7, 2017