There are a good many details about the Joseph narratives that elude ready explanation. We absorb them readily and ignore them just as readily.
In our age of Facebook and Twitter, we know all too well how fast words can spread. When I was a kid, we played the game telephone, passing a word or phrase around the circle by whispering it into each other’s ear, knowing that by the time it went all the way around, it would probably be transformed into something completely different — that was funny!
The biblical book of Exodus begins the ominous story of the Israelites’ descent into slavery with the following words: “A new generation arose” in Egypt that did not know Joseph.
At a recent dress rehearsal at Temple Beth Am for the Jewish Women’s Repertory Company’s (JWRC) November production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Margy Horowitz, the company’s founder, musical director and accompanist, played piano while the narrator belted out the famous opening line: “Some folks dream of the wonders they’ll do, before their time on this planet is through.”
Parshat Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27): It was brief. Jacob, head of the House of Israel, met with Pharaoh, King of Egypt
Parshat Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23) How about, for starters -- crossed path by crossed path, person by person, angel by angel -- a rescued world?
Madeleine Adler died April 13 at 83. She is survived by her daughter, Jackie (Doug) Bristol; son, Robert (Maxine); two grandchildren; and sister, Vera Adler. Malinow and Silverman
It happens to all of us. You are with friends, engaged in small talk, and then someone makes a disparaging comment about a common acquaintance. You didn't see the insult coming, but there it is. It's entered the conversation.
What should you do? Should you challenge the slight or let it go by unaddressed?
There is a modern-day term for the inability to admit wrongdoing: sociopathy. A conscience that cannot feel guilt is capable of untold evil. An ability to look critically at ourselves, to see where we are wrong, is the beginning of making things right. Being right -- in the narrow sense of "correct" -- amounts to very little, if a correct position isn't also righteous. Joseph is correct in interpreting his dreams of domination and superiority to his family, but he is also insensitive and inflammatory. He is right again, according to midrash, in what he tells his father about his brothers' bad behavior. But in Jewish law, unlike American, truth is not a defense against defamation. Accuracy is not piety.
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.
Do you remember your dreams?
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.
It's a cautionary tale for parents, and one whose message will resonate with children: the new DreamWorks telling of the biblical tale of Joseph in the animated direct-to-video film "Joseph: King of Dreams."In a style similar to that of "The Prince of Egypt," which told the story of Moses, "Joseph: King of Dreams" imagines the childhood of Joseph and illustrates the dangers of favoring one child and the extremes to which sibling rivalry can lead. Animated by their jealousy, Joseph's brothers sell their preferred brother to Egyptian slave traders. It's an act they come to regret.
There's a Yiddish saying that goes: "I've been poor and I've been rich. Believe me, rich is better!" In the Midrash we read: "Nothing in the universe is worse than poverty; it is the most terrible of sufferings." (Exodus Rabbah 31:14)
Every summer, my sisters and I, along with our husbands and children, spend a few days with our parents at Red's Meadow resort near Mammoth.