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Vayeishev ~ 5772 ~ וישב
Yaakov settles in the land of Canaan. His favorite son, Yosef, brings him critical reports about his brothers. Yaakov makes Yosef a fine tunic of multi-colored woolen strips. Yosef 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 Yosef and resolve to execute him.
When Yosef 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 Yosef. Yehuda persuades the brothers to take Yosef 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 Yosef’s tunic in goat’s blood and show it to Yaakov, who assumes that Yosef has been devoured by a wild beast. Yaakov is inconsolable.
Meanwhile, in Egypt, Yosef 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, Yosef 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 Yosef of attempting to seduce her, and he is imprisoned. In jail, Yosef 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 Yosef, and Yosef languishes in jail.
MAFTIR: Genesis 40:20-23 ~ page 151
HAFTARAH: Parshat 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 Yosef.
Chanukah and Parsha Study Questions
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1. Does the Hebrew actually say Yosef was “feeding the flock WITH his brothers” (37:2)?
2. Isn’t Shechem upon Shimon and Levy’s annihilating the men, Yakov feared for the family’s safety (see v. 37:12-14 and 34:30 pg. 129)?
3. Midrash explains the aromatic cargo of the caravan (37:25) as the reward for Josef, but doesn’t the same Midrash say he was sold to 3 different caravans?
4. If Tamar’s veil is a sign of a ‘questionable profession’(38:14) how do we explain Rivka’s veil of humility in 24:65 pg. 87?
5. Potifar was minister of the “Tabachim” – טבחים (39:1) What is a “Tabach”?