Search URJ.org and the other Reform websites:

Famine

Can You Find the Good in a Catastrophe?

As we begin Parashat Vayigash, Joseph is seated as second in line to the pharaoh in Egypt. His brothers had come down to Egypt seeking food as there was a famine in the land of Canaan. Joseph concealed his identity from his brothers, and in last week’s portion, Mikeitz, he framed them for stealing and held his brother Simeon for ransom until they return with Benjamin.

D'var Torah By: 
How Many and Difficult Are the Years of Your Life?
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Elana Nemitoff-Bresler, MAJE

In his commentary on Vayigash, Rabbi Moskovitz writes of Joseph and his brothers reconnecting. I’d like to discuss some other connections that take place in this parashah: the reunion of Joseph and his father Jacob, and Jacob’s introduction to Pharaoh, which reveals Jacob’s suffering. When Joseph brings his father to meet Pharaoh, his boss and CEO, Pharaoh asks Jacob a simple question, “How many years have you lived?” (Gen. 47:8). Jacob answers the question with an elaborate spin.

Dream a Little Dream, and Then Interpret It

The entire story of Joseph, which spans three parshiyot in the latter third of the Book of Genesis, centers around dreams: their interpretation and the actions that interpretation then inspires. This week, we read the second portion in that series, Mikeitz.

D'var Torah By: 
Recognizing the Dreams of the Powerless
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Nikki DeBlosi, PhD

"Your sons and daughters shal prophesy; your elders shall dream dreams, and your youth shall see visions (Joel 3:1). ... According to Joel, dreams and visions will accompany a sudden transition our of hardship and oppression. In his day, the Jewish people were toggled between the rulership of societies more powerful than us. In Parashat Mikeitz, we imagine that Joseph feels a hopelessness brought about by a similar subjegation.

Traveling Down the Road That Helps You To Find Yourself

In The Fires of Spring, the late prolific American author, James Michener, wrote: “For this is the journey that humans make: to find themselves. ... " In this week’s parashahLech L’cha, we read a similar imperative to find purpose in life, to listen to and live — as your true self. 

D'var Torah By: 
Call and Response: The Hero’s Journey
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar

In this week’s parashahLech L’cha, I have always been more mystified by the call and response rather than the journey itself. God says to Abram, in the imperative, “you go” (Gen. 12:1).

Finding Guidance and Direction from the Voice Within

Joseph, then viceroy of Egypt, decides to hold Benjamin to pressure his brothers to bring their father Jacob to Egypt. His true identity is still hidden from his brothers. But Judah steps forward to intervene (Gen. 44:1-14). As Vayigash opens, in an impassioned plea, Judah offers himself in place of Benjamin (Gen. 44:18-34). Where does Judah, who once lacked strength to protect Joseph, finally find the courage?

D'var Torah By: 
The Challenge to Find Meaning and Connection
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Zachary Shapiro

“You’re Zachary, right?” Grandma asked. “What do you do?” “I’m a rabbi,” I answered. “What do rabbis do?” ... Thirty seconds later, she asked, “What do you do?”  My grandma's repeated questions were difficult to understand and to respond to. In Parashat Vayigash, Joseph reaches out to his brothers, taking a chance to reconnect, even though theirt responses may have been difficults to understand and respond to.  I

Israel in Egypt: From Valued Subjects to Persecuted Minority

Parashat Mikeitz illuminates how the deep bond between Pharaoh and Joseph developed. How is it then that a new Pharaoh, who knew not Joseph, could suddenly enslave the whole Israelite people (Ex. 1:8)?

D'var Torah By: 
Paying Attention to the Afflicted Among Us
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Mark Miller

Some may be shocked to read the poem that opens the commentary by Rabbi Kipnes. Some may be surprised at the overt nature of the connection he makes between our Torah portion, Mikeitz, and current events in our country. Some may be disturbed by the political nature of a moment dedicated to Torah study.

The Challenge of Letting Go of Children

“Lech L’cha: Heartbreak and Hopefulness as Children Go Off and Move On,” is spoken-word poetry to dramatize the wide array of thoughts and feelings that occur to Abram's parents.

D'var Torah By: 
Can You Go Home Again?
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Noam Katz

“Toil on, son, and do not lose heart or hope. ..." is a message in Thomas Wolfe's classic novel, You Can’t Go Home AgainThe same themes apply as Abram embarks on his own road to self-actualization in Lech L'cha.

The True Measure of Repentance

In Vayigash, Joseph now a powerful man in Egypt conceals his identity from the brothers who had sold him into slavery years ago. In so doing, he allows them to confront their past mistakes.

D'var Torah By: 
Taking a Step Toward Renewed Trust and Conflict Resolution
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Ted Riter

What if Joseph, after so many years of separation from his brothers were to write a letter to communicate with his brothers in Parashat Vayigash. What would that letter say?

Jewish Self-Definition: One Size No Longer Fits All

Jewish assimilation — the loss of followers through attrition, absorption into other faiths, or the practice of no faith — harkens back to Joseph, the first Israelite to live in a diaspora. In Mikeitz, we read how Joseph adopted Egyptian customs and clothes, took an Egyptian wife, and was given the Egyptian name Zaphenath-paneah (Genesis 41:45), a sign of acceptance into Egyptian society. Joseph offers us a window into the broad spectrum of Jewish affiliation and practice that exists today.

D'var Torah By: 
Adapting to New Circumstances Without Abandoning One’s Beliefs
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Stacy Eskovitz Rigler

In Mikeitz we see that Joseph is not an example of assimilation, but rather an example of acculturation and adaption that defines modern Judaism. Joseph attributed his success to God. He navigated the intersection between Judaism and diaspora, overcoming the desire to focus on the supremacy of self and through him our people grew mighty and numerous.

Searching Oneself on the Way Forward

In Lech L’cha, God commands Abram and to travel on a physical journey “to the land that I will show you.” At the same time, God instructs Abram to look within, taking an inner spiritual journey within himself.

D'var Torah By: 
The Reward of a Journey
Davar Acher By: 
Zachary Herrmann

Looking at Parashat Lech L’cha, Rabbi Pearce analyzes Abraham’s departure and his difficult journeys: one a physical challenge, and the other a spiritual challenge. These journeys end with instant gratification: Abraham is given a new name by God for the spiritual journey and land for the physical journey. This inspires us to put our faith in God and be willing to leave everything we know for the greater good. The problem is that Abraham is rewarded at the end. With this example, are we learning that we should expect a tangible gift at the end of our efforts and journeys?

The Formation of a People

Parashat Vayak’heil/P’kudei is a double Torah portion that concludes the Book of Exodus. The paired Torah portions describe the building of the Tabernacle and the anointing of the priests. The parashiyot are primarily contain many verses of detailed plans and descriptions of rituals, some of which are hard to visualize sitting in such a different world today. 

D'var Torah By: 
Finding Humanity and Divinity in the Other
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Linda Bertenthal

Parashat Vayak'heil/P'kudei describes the process of building the Mishkan (Tabernacle), which serves as a model for building Jewish community. The cherubim on the kaporet (ark cover) of the Mishkan that faced each other remind us that we should face one another and listen. 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Famine