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Parashat Vayeshev

by Muriel Stern

In this parashah, we get to know Joseph and his story. It is well known. His special coat, his dreams, the hatred of his brothers that led to him being sold into slavery. His faithfulness to his master for which he ended up in prison and the dreams for the cupbearer & the baker.

Two things stand out for me in the week’s reading.

The first is how unbelievably dysfunctional this family is. I know, I know, I am not allowed to say such things about the forefathers of our faith. But look at Jacob, he had a total blind spot when it came to Rachel’s son. We understand that he missed his most beloved wife and we know that he had to wait a long time for a son from her. But Jacob spoiled Joseph. So much so that his brothers hated him. That is more than a little spoiled. All the brothers knew that their father loved Joseph more than them. What a way to grow up, knowing that your father loves one of your siblings more than you.

And it seemed like Jacob was oblivious to what was it going on. Because despite this hatred he sends Joseph to go check out how his brothers were doing and report back to him. The previous time Joseph reported on his brothers it had not shown them in a good light. His brothers hated Joseph so much that when they saw him coming they came up with a plot to kill him. We know the story, they didn’t kill him but sold him into slavery instead.

The brothers brought Joseph’s robe to Jacob, covered in goat’s blood. Jacob believed the lie and mourned for his son for many days. All his sons & daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave. (Genesis 37: 35) As a parent, we can understand the heartbreak of Jacob, after losing Rachel in childbirth he also lost her son. But he is still a father. What about the other eleven sons? We know that Jacob didn’t love their mothers, but what about them? It is heartbreaking to see how messed up it all was.

Also this week’s portion has the mistreatment of a woman in it. Jacob’s son Judah did not give his daughter in law Tamar what was rightfully hers. She took action herself and almost got killed for it. (You can read the whole story in Genesis 38.) Which brings me to the second thing that stood out to me this week. Tamar’s son Perez was the one who continued the family line, all the way to the Messiah. Because no matter how big a mess we make of things, the Lord is still at work. No matter what happened in your past or how hopeless things look today, He has a plan and His plan is good.

So this week I want to encourage you with the words from the prophet Jeremiah 29:11-13;

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

About Muriel Stern

Muriel Stern has a lifelong love affair with words, specifically with the Word. It is her hope that with her writing she does honor to the Author and inspires others to fall head over heels for the Creator as well. Muriel & her husband Daniel reside in the City of the Great King. Their four children love books as much as their parents.

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