Parashat Vayigash 5783

December 27, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Anti-Shemitism: The Power of Names to Turn Us Into an Abomination A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayigash By Rabbi Mitchell Blank (’21) In a recent notorious SNL monologue, Dave Chappelle proclaims: “There are two words in the English language you should never say together, in sequence, and those words are “the” and “Jews”.” As per Chappelle, this would violate the “show business rules of perception: If they’re Black it’s a gang, if they’re Italian, it’s a mob but if they’re Jewish; it’s a coincidence and you should never speak about it.”  Each group receives its own racial or ethnic epithet. As for the Jews, they control Hollywood. In Chappelle’s opinion, Jewish control is so pervasive that even naming “the Jews” will unleash a severe backlash against anyone who tries. Jews are uniquely noxious in that epithets are insufficient to dirty our name. In addition, Jews are allegedly...

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Parashat Vayigash 5782

December 9, 2021

A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayigash By Rabbi Doug Alpert (’12) Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah With this week’s Parashah we are neck-deep into the Joseph story. A prominent focus of the narrative has been, and continues to be, on Joseph’s relationship with his brothers. Was Joseph seeking revenge on his brothers by withholding his identity, fulfilling a Divine purpose set forth from his youth and/or simply following a series of dreams (his and others) as he interprets those dreams? Can the idea of dreams in Joseph’s case be a stand-in for ambition? All good questions for discussion, but I am drawn in more to how Joseph acts as leader and administrator. In this week’s Parasha Joseph acts upon his interpretation of Pharoah’s dream predicting the famine to come. His administrative and problem solving acumen in devising a national plan to provide food during the famine leads him to a position of power in Egypt. He is...

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Parashat Vayigash 5781

December 25, 2020

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Encouraging ALL Our Children to Dream A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayigash By Rabbi Marc Rudolph (’04) This week in our parasha we continue to read about that dreamer par excellence, Joseph. The second youngest child among 12 sons, he dreams of his older brothers one day bowing down to him. His brothers ridicule him for his dreaming, and his father, Jacob, rebukes him for sharing his dreams and causing trouble in the family. But Jacob also takes his son’s dream seriously. Joseph’s dreams express his ambition to someday be great. In this week’s parasha he uses his extraordinary talents to rise to become second in command to the Pharaoh in Egypt. In that position he will save the country from famine and help Pharaoh to amass a considerable fortune in the process. His achievements will have surpassed his wildest dreams. Have...

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Parashat Vayigash 5780

January 3, 2020

A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayigash By Rabbi Heidi Hoover In this week’s Torah portion, Vayigash, Joseph reveals who he is to his brothers, in an awkward and fraught family reunion. It could hardly be otherwise. His brothers, when they were more powerful than Joseph due to age and numbers, sold him into slavery years ago and let their father believe his favorite son was dead. Now, he is the powerful one—the Egyptian official second only to Pharaoh—and they have come begging to buy food in the famine. They never had much in common with each other, Joseph and his brothers, and they never got along. Joseph insulted his brothers and reported on their behavior to their father. They, of course, rejected him in the most extreme way, just short of murdering him. Still, the bond of family remains. Times are hard now, during this great famine. Joseph forgives his...

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Parashat Vayigash 5779

December 13, 2018

Reconciliation is Difficult A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayiggash by Rabbi Len Levin “Then Judah went up to him and said, Please, my lord…” (Gen. 44:18) “And Joseph could no longer refrain before all those standing before him…” (Gen. 45:1)  Reconciliation is difficult. This week’s Torah reading provides the climax to a narrative that has been unfolding for the past several weeks. This narrative begs to be read on two levels—on the level of a specific family, and on the level of social groups. On the specific level, there is a clash of personalities, such as we experience in many families. The personalities are sharply different, and the sharp personal differences generate conflicts that escalate to critical proportions. In a family of strong personalities, Joseph is extraordinary, and he demands to be treated as special. The brothers resent his superiority attitude and find dubious ways to be rid of him,...

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