Page 1 of 1

12.22.2017 Weekly Torah Portion

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:09 pm
by RabbiMark
No matter how long I engage in the ever-flowing process of accepting and integrating the various parts of myself, it’s the moments of struggle and resistance that eventually provide me with the deepest significance and insight. The Psalmist shares, “G!D is close to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in Truth.” (Ps. 145:18) Given the wholeness we experience when we’re close to G!D’s presence, one would think we’d be much more motivated to embrace these truths about ourselves and the world. Despite (or maybe because of this?), I’m embarrassed to acknowledge the number ways I continue to look for shortcuts and workarounds in order to by-pass the difficult work of standing in my Truth.

This week’s parashah is one of the most dramatic of the entire Torah! We’re in the third of the four weeks detailing Joseph and the funky relationship he has with his family. After several weeks of build-up, we’ve arrived at the peak of the narrative arc of Joseph’s story, one which includes a grand revealing and a series of subsequent reconciliations. The action begins with a private conversation between Joseph and his older half-brother Judah where Judah volunteers himself into servitude as a means of saving his younger brother Benjamin. This courageous act of self-sacrifice is an authentic demonstration of the spiritual growth Judah has undergone, and it is an act of such profound t’shuvah that it ultimately moves Joseph to reveal the full truth about his identity to all of his brothers. Following this revealing, Joseph is able to make nice with his brothers, and eventually, his elderly father. The parashah ends with the whole family re-locating to a prosperous area of Egypt, which was provided for them by Pharaoh.

The theme of concealment, disclosure, and the eventual acceptance of truth can be found throughout this story. There are several instances that stand out which reflect how difficult this process can be; each of these also gives us insight into how to best deal with our own encounters with truth. Today we will focus on Joseph’s reaction to Judah’s heart-felt negotiation to swap himself for his brother. Prior to this moment, Joseph maintained a formidable façade of strength and power, suppressing his own feelings. He thought he needed this veneer in order to sustain his emotional distance from his brothers. However, the truth of Judah’s selfless willingness to sacrifice his own well-being penetrated Joseph’s soul and showed him that these emotional barriers were no longer protective, but henceforth would actually serve as a hindrances. In that moment of truth, Joseph surrendered the power he held over his brothers through the concealment of his identity for the power found in transparency and revelation.

This is not to say that the initial concealment of his identity was a mistake. In fact, concealment, at times may be appropriate: it was, in this case, a necessary step in the re-bonding of the brothers. As Joseph goes on to explain later in the parashah, he knew deep in his soul how his whole journey, both the failures and the successes, was Divinely ordained. And it follows that this deep sense of faith engendered his decision to stand in truth; that, despite the surrender of his power, this was the path he needed to take.

This episode serves to remind us that when we encounter moments of truth in our lives, it is our responsibility to listen to what we know to be truth in our soul and let go of the aspects of ourselves that are bound up in our egos. (Easier said than done.) Let us find the wisdom in Joseph’s experiences and be further inspired to accept the truth of ourselves and the world around us.

Shabbat Shalom.
Chaplain Adam Siegel