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Ensuring the Success or Failure of Dreams

Reading Parashat Vayeishev and other dream-filled portions in Genesis, we wonder if it’s possible to influence a dream’s prophecy rather than passively waiting for the outcome to unfold. The upcoming holiday, Hanukkah, provides a clue.

D'var Torah By: 
From Joseph’s Dreams to the Dreamers of Today
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Bonnie Margulis

The story of Joseph and his prophetic dreams in Parashat Vayeishev is familiar to us all, even iconic. It is the beginning of the foundational story of the Jewish people – the 430-year sojourn in Egyptian slavery leading to the Exodus and the coming together as God’s people at Mt. Sinai. Without Joseph and his dreams, the children of Israel would never had ended up in Egypt in the first place.

Growing Up as the Favorite Son

Parashat Vayeishev introduces the Joseph saga. When it begins, Jacob’s 11th son, Joseph, is a 17-year-old shepherd working in the fields alongside his older brothers. The text’s description of him as a “youth,” na-ar, is apt, both biologically and emotionally. As Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg writes: “Joseph behaves with the narcissism of youth, with a dangerous unawareness of the inner worlds of others” (Zornberg, Genesis: The Beginning of Desire [Philadelphia: JPS,1995], p. 253). He consciously tells Jacob malicious tales about the brothers and by wearing the beautiful, multicolored coat (or ornamental tunic) that Jacob has given him, flaunts the fact that he is the favorite son. It is thus not surprising that when Joseph’s brothers see that their father loves him more than they, they come to hate Joseph (Genesis 37:4).

D'var Torah By: 
Learning to Do the Right Thing
Davar Acher By: 
Rebecca Reice

Joseph is not the only figure acting out of self-interest and later gaining an improved understanding of himself and his actions in Parashat Vayeishev. In the middle of the Joseph narrative, we find a story of levirate marriage: the story of Tamar and Judah. Er, Tamar’s husband and Judah’s oldest son, dies before they have any children. As the law of the Torah instructs (Deuteronomy 25:5-6), her husband’s brother, Onan, marries her and the two are meant to conceive a child in the name of his dead brother. Onan refuses and dies childless, like his brother. Judah is distraught and resolves to prevent Tamar from marrying his third son, Shelah, lest he also die. Tamar, upon realizing the wrong being done to her and to Er, resolves to conceive a child through her father-in-law. She tricks Judah into doing the right thing. 

Joseph and Potiphar's Wife: A Study of Moral Ambivalence

The portion Vayeishev contains astounding examples of bad behavior: Joseph maligns and humiliates his brothers; they, in turn, respond by selling Joseph to the Ishmaelit

D'var Torah By: 
His Father's Face
Davar Acher By: 
Tirza Arad

Every year, Jewish parents face the so-called December Dilemma, namely, how they can help their children withstand the temptations and omnipresent attraction of the Christmas season while mak

Our Words and Our Deeds

Joseph is allotted more text than any other person in the Bible, except for Moses.

D'var Torah By: 
What You See is Not Always What You Get
Davar Acher By: 
Laura Bramson

Living in Los Angeles, I tend to see a great deal of visual deception, both amusing and disturbing.

Responding to Those We Love

Joseph seemed oblivious to how his words and actions galvanized the emotions of his brothers, the extent to which they hated him.

D'var Torah By: 
Questions and More Questions
Davar Acher By: 
Lesley Chapman

Biblical stories are not meant to answer your questionsthey are meant to deepen them.

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