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Familial Forgiveness

Parashat Vayigash (Genesis 44:18 - 47:27)

URL: http://www.jewishjournal.com/torah_portion/article/familial_forgiveness_20010105

The syllabus for my USC general education class includes both Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and chapters 37-50 of Genesis -- the Joseph story or "novella." These two narratives share themes that commend themselves: forgiveness and reconciliation. Both Prospero and Joseph were set upon by their own brothers and narrowly escaped death. Both protagonists contributed to their victim role -- Prospero through neglecting governance and Joseph by insensitive boasting. In the end, though, both forgive those who abused them -- enabling their family circle to be repaired and the next generation blessed. Just as Prospero realizes that "the rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance," so too does the instinct for reconciliation surge through Joseph.

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