Our special guest this week is Rabbi Yehudah Mirsky, associate professor of the practice of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis. Rabbi Mirsky studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion and Yeshiva College and received rabbinic ordination in Jerusalem. He graduated from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the law review, and completed his PhD in Religion at Harvard. He worked in Washington as an aide to then-Senators Bob Kerrey and Al Gore, and at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and served in the Clinton Administration as special advisor in the US State Department's human rights bureau. From 2002-2012 he lived in Israel and was a fellow at the Van Leer Institute and Jewish People Policy Institute. He has written widely on politics, theology and culture for a number of publications including The New Republic and The Economist, and he is on the editorial board of Eretz Acheret. After the attacks of September 11 he served as a volunteer chaplain for the Red Cross. He is a member of the board of Ha-Tenuah Ya-Yerushalmit, the movement for a pluralist and livable Jerusalem. His biography of Rabbi Abraham Issac Kook- "Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution"- is forthcoming from Yale University Press.
This week's Torah portion- Parashat Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17)- features the second part of the story of Joseph and his brothers. The parasha begins with Joseph interpreting the Pharaoh's dream and continues to tell us about Joseph's rise to power, about the seven years of famine, and about Joseph's first re-encounter with his brothers who come to Egypt to purchase grain. Our discussion focuses on the Jew, the outsider, as the interpreter of dreams and on the theology behind Joseph's role as God's vessel.