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Vayeishev ~ 5773 ~ וישב
Jacob settles in the land of Canaan. His favorite son, Joseph, brings him critical reports about his brothers. Jacob makes Joseph a fine tunic of multi-colored woolen strips. Joseph exacerbates his brothers’ hatred by recounting prophetic dreams of sheaves of wheat bowing to his sheaf, and of the sun, moon and stars bowing to him, signifying that all his family will appoint him king. The brothers indict Joseph and resolve to execute him.
When Joseph comes to Shechem, the brothers relent and decide, at Reuven’s instigation, to throw him into a pit instead. Reuven’s intent was to save Joseph. Yehuda persuades the brothers to take Joseph out of the pit and sell him to a caravan of passing Ishmaelites. Reuven returns to find the pit empty and rends his clothes. The brothers soak Joseph’s tunic in goat’s blood and show it to Jacob, who assumes that Joseph has been devoured by a wild beast. Jacob is inconsolable.
Meanwhile, in Egypt, Joseph has been sold to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s Chamberlain of the Butchers. In the Parsha’s subplot, Yehuda’s son Er dies as punishment for preventing his wife Tamar from becoming pregnant. Onan, Yehuda’s second son, then weds Tamar by levirate marriage. He too is punished in similar circumstances. When Yehuda’s wife dies, Tamar resolves to have children through Yehuda, as this union will found the Davidic line culminating in the Mashiach.
Meanwhile, Joseph rises to power in the house of his Egyptian master. His extreme beauty attracts the unwanted advances of his master’s wife. Enraged by his rejection, she accuses Joseph of attempting to seduce her, and he is imprisoned. In jail, Joseph successfully predicts the outcome of the dream of Pharaoh’s wine steward, who is reinstated; and the dream of Pharaoh’s baker, who is hanged. In spite of his promise, the wine steward forgets to help Joseph and Joseph languishes in jail.
MAFTIR: Genesis 37:1 – 40:23 ~ page 151
HAFTARAH: Amos 2:6- 3:8 ~ pages 152-154
Amos was a resident of Tekoa, south of Jerusalem, who was one of the earliest of the prophets whose prophecies are recorded in Tanach. In this portion, he calls upon Israel to repent its ways. The connection to the parsha is obvious – in the parsha we read of the first transgression of the children of Israel. There is specific reference to the sin of “selling the righteous one for silver and the poor for a pair of shoes”. This can be directly related to the sale of Joseph.
Chanukah and Parashah Study Questions
You can open a separate window with the full text of this week’s parashah by clicking HERE.
1. Is there any positive imagery in v. 37:7 or is the dream negative in its entirety?
2. In verse 37:28, what imagery is associated with the word “vayamshichu”?
3. Why do you think the Torah states that Joseph was successful inside Potiphar’s house and outside in the field too(39:5)?