A SUMMARY OF VAYESHEV, GEN. 37:1- 40:23:
Yaakov's well- earned peaceful return to Israel is shattered by the apparent death of his favorite and closest son, Yosef, at 17. His brothers misunderstood Yosef's dreams and visions of migration to an advanced agrarian hi-tech civilization (sheaves and stars); vigilantes Shimon & Levi tried to kill him; they accepted Yehuda's compromise, however, and sold him as a slave into Egypt (cf. Yosef Grunzweig, Haredi responses to Zionism). Yaakov was inconsolable.
CH. 38: Disgraced impovrished Yehuda left the family to live with Canaanites (cf. Eilat). He lost his wife and two sons, and wound up sleeping with their widow, Tamar; God was secretly at work, bringing the Messiah out of this nadir of Jewish history, via foetus Peretz (cf. 1945 & 1948, 5705 & 5708, reflected in Torah verses 5705 & 5708, Deut. 29:28, 30:3).
CH. 39: Meanwhile Yosef rose in the ranks of his master's household, until the mistress of the house had him wrongly jailed, after failing to seduce him- "Hell hath no fury...". He quickly rose to become manager of the prison for ex- establishment leaders; there he correctly interpreted predictive dreams of Sir Baking and Sir Drinking. The latter, restored to the court, "forgot" Yosef.
THE HAFTORA, AMOS 2:6-3:8, (unless Chanuka) shows God's disappointment with Israel, who, as Yosef's brothers, still lack mutual love and respect: FOR THEY SELL THE RIGHTEOUS FOR SILVER AND THE POOR FOR SHOES. God's tougher with the Jews, who must achieve their great potential for leadership, A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS AND A HOLY NATION (Ex. 19:6): ONLY YOU HAVE I INTIMATELY KNOWN OF ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH (parental favoritism?)-- THEREFORE I'LL VISIT ALL YOUR SINS UPON YOU (are siblings consoled by huge demands made upon the favorite?)... WILL A SHOFAR BE BLOWN IN A CITY AND FOLKS NOT TREMBLE? WILL THERE BE EVIL IN A CITY AND GOD DID NOT DO IT? If Shabat Vayeshev is Chanuka, we read the princes' dedication of the tabernacle in Num. 7 for maftir; the haftora discusses God's messianic return to Zion and Israel-- Zech. 2:14-4:7.
A SHORT STUDY OF VAYESHEV, GEN. 37:1- 40:23: Yaakov's well earned rest turns to mourning after Yosef's brothers sell Yaakov's favorite son and companion into Egyptian slavery, faking Yosef's death. Yehuda, the leader, leaves his brothers and loses his own 2 sons and wife; at his lowest point, he fathers Peretz, progenitor of King David and the Messiah. Yosef refuses his Mistress' advances and winds up in an Egyptian political prison; there he correctly interprets the dreams of Sir Baking and Sir Drinking. The Haftora, Amos 2:6- 3:8, portrays God's strictness with Israel, to force them to live up to their potential.
Rav J. Soloveichik (THE RAV SPEAKS- Yosef and His Brethren) sees Yosef's dreams as prophetic visions of great changes. Dream 1 shows the family binding sheaves, transferred to a developed agricultural land, led by Yosef. In Dream 2, he leads them into the intellectual and cultural life of high-tech astronomic civilization- "sun, moon, and stars"- without losing their Jewish essence. Rav JBS calls Mizrachi "Yosef of 5662". Both religious zionists and religious modernists saw European Jewish life facing internal and external devastation; they strove to perpetuate Judaism WITHIN rapidly expanding new worlds of knowledge and opportunity; Jewish nationalism was to restore Israel and begin the 3rd Commonwealth. Their religious brethren of lesser vision, as Yosef's, reviled them. Unlike Yosef's brothers, many still won't admit their error! Their leaders, anti-Zionist Torah giants, would have done so, had they survived WWII. In any event, the authority of the majority of such great rabbis is limited to halachic ??- the intuitive wisdom of a sensitive dissenting soul, e.g. Yosef, may prevail in ?? on the nature of the world and how to successfully deal with it.
SIBLING SITUATIONS: WOW, HOW GOOD AND HOW NICE (IS IT) WHEN BROTHERS TRULY DWELL TOGETHER (Prov. 17:17)- AND HOW RARE in Genesis, e.g. Cain and Abel, Yitzchak and Yishmael, Yaakov and Esav. Rav (Shab. 10b) blames Yaakov for the terrible hatred of Yosef by his brothers. By giving Yosef a cheap garment, Yaakov ignited flames of jealousy, leading to Egyptian exile. One must not demonstrate the slightest favoritism of one son over the other (tho he may feel it inside- Sporno). Per Rav Hirsch, Yaakov's weakness (also that of Avraham and Yitzchak?) brings family tragedy in its wake (if the patriarchs were fallible humans, a fortiori their rabbinical descendants to this day! Hirsch's critique of Yaakov reflects traditional Jewish freedom of thought, amidst obedience to halacha.
However, One even greater than the Patriarchs and their rabbinic critics openly favored one son- God specially loves His Chosen- Israel! So Abarbanel and the Zohar defend Yaakov, who emulates Him! Yaakov appreciated the great soul of multi-colored (multi-faceted) Yosef- only it would finally bring Messianic redemption via his descendants. Thus Yaakov is called Yisroel here, his highest and messianic state. True love CANNOT be suppressed (cf. Yaakov's feelings toward his wives) and true greatness SHOULD be encouraged. God's favor has indeed infuriated Israel's siblings, Esav and Yishmael.
Miriam Levi (EFFECTIVE JEWISH PARENTING) does not combat sibling rivalry by denying or restraining superior talents. However, children (and parents!) must realize that talents come from God; we should be both quietly thankful for our blessings and keenly aware of the responsibilities they impose. Older or superior children must realize that one must honor others in order to receive honor (Avot 4:1) One can respect a less gifted child even more, if he or she tries harder. EQUALITY is NOT being equal in size, age, position, intelligence. It is treating each other with EQUAL respect. We're all created in His Image, not just functionaries (Dreikurs).
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