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The Power of Loving Relationships

12/10/2018 11:19:18 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Years earlier, Joseph drew his brother’s jealousy as a young man with grand dreams and as their father’s obvious favorite child. Joseph’s brothers conspired and sold him into slavery. Everyone in Joseph’s family suffered the legacy of that horrible conflict. Joseph was cut off from his family and survived repeated deprivations as a servant and then as a prison in the foreign land of Egypt. Back in Canaan, Joseph’s father, Jacob, was led to believe that his son had been killed by a wild beast and remained sorrowful thereafter. We can only imagine the sense of guilt, loss and remorse that plagued Joseph’s brothers, who brought about this family tragedy and who continued to hid the truth about it from their father.



Now we find all of Jacob’s sons in the same room, in the Egyptian palace where the powerful Joseph dispenses grain to famine-stricken petitioners. Joseph has recognized his brothers, has tested their loyalty, has taken steps to make a permanent hostage of his younger brother Benjamin; and all the while his brothers have not realized that the high official before them- with his courtly Egyptian dress and commanding speech- was their own flesh and blood.



VayigashIn this week’s Torah portion, , we witness a great healing that comes when Joseph, the now-powerful right-hand-man to Egypt’s Pharaoh, reveals his true identity to his long-estranged brothers.



Finally, Joseph can hold back no longer. Years of hurt and resentment seem to melt away as he breaks into tears and declares, “I am your brother Joseph.” From that point on, Joseph is able to move into completely new territory in his relationship with his brothers. He announces that they need not be distressed about what they did to him earlier, for he had come to see this was all for the ultimate good- part of God’s plan for the family’s survival during the years of famine. Joseph asks about his father, and makes arrangements for food and gifts for each of his brothers. Everyone weeps together. Eventually the other brothers find their voices and are able to once again talk. The text does not spell out the words they then shared with Joseph- one can imagine some of the intriguing possibilities! The narrative continues with a sense of both relief and redemption.



Reflecting on the coming together of Joseph and his brothers allows us to consider the trajectory of our own lives. In this new year, may we find the strength, the inspiration, and the willing partners to open and sustain deep, honest and loving relationships. An early Shabbat Shalom.







Tue, February 18 2020 23 Sh'vat 5780