וְיֵעָשׂוּ כֻלָּם אֲגֻדָּה אֶחָת לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם

All shall unite to do God's will with an open heart.

וְיֵעָשׂוּ כֻלָּם אֲגֻדָּה אֶחָת לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם

All shall unite to do God's will with an open heart.

4 12, 2023

Parashat Vayeishev 5784

By |2023-12-04T14:23:04-05:00December 4, 2023|

“A dream can follow you, it will not be denied, Dreams can haunt your life until you them guide.” ~ from “Follow Your Dreams: Joseph’s Song” by Robin Anne Joseph

12 12, 2022

Parashat Vayeishev 5783

By |2023-05-03T12:10:54-04:00December 12, 2022|

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah

A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayeishev
By Rabbi Greg Schindler (’09)

Dedicated to the memory of my dear wife Barucha Esther bat Daniel v’Rachel (z”l)

Dream On

Dream on/ Dream on / Dream on
Dream until your dreams come true
– Steven Tyler (Aerosmith)

Did you ever have a dream that came true?

The Talmud tells us that a dream is one-sixtieth of prophecy. (Berakhot 57b) But the trouble with dreams is, they require interpretation.

Rav Hisda said, “A dream not interpreted is like a letter not read.” (Berakhot 55a) Dream interpretation is made especially difficult by the “red herrings” in dreams: “Just as it is impossible for the grain to grow without straw, so it is impossible to dream without idle matters.” (ibid.)

Moreover, the Sages claim that the actualization of a dream depends on its interpretation: “Rabbi Bena’a Read More >

26 11, 2021

Parashat Vayeishev 5782

By |2022-11-09T14:56:24-05:00November 26, 2021|

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah

A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayeishev
By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (’11)

The story of Tamar is sandwiched between two momentous scenes in the Joseph saga:

The first scene: Joseph dreams some dreams, whose interpretation infuriates his jealous brothers, who sell him to Egyptian slavers. The second scene: Joseph lands in the house of Potiphar, where he is harassed by Potiphar’s wife, resists her advances, and is then thrown into jail based on her lies. In jail, he interprets dreams of Pharaoh’s servants.

In the middle we have Tamar. Around the time that Joseph is sold into slavery, Judah, Jacob’s fourth son, has settled himself as a shepherd of his own flocks in Canaan. He has three sons, and marries off his first son, Er, to a local Read More >

11 12, 2020

Parashat VaYeishev 5781

By |2022-07-29T11:24:23-04:00December 11, 2020|

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah


Which Hanukkah Story?
A D’var Torah for Parashat VaYeishev
By Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman

Most of us know that there are two Hanukkah stories. The first is the one that appears in the Talmud (Shabbat 21b). This is the one we learned as children. In short, the Greeks sought to force all the Jews to abandon Judaism and adopt Greek religious culture. A small band of Jews, led by Mattityahu HaCohein and his sons, rebelled and courageously fought back against the Greek armies.

Upon their success, they entered the Temple that the Greeks had defiled. They cleaned the building and rebuilt the altar and as they were preparing to rededicate the Temple, they found that they had but one day’s worth of pure olive oil to light the menorah. They lit what they had and behold, God brought a miracle and the oil lasted not Read More >

19 12, 2019

Parashat Vayeishev 5780

By |2022-07-29T11:24:31-04:00December 19, 2019|

Thomas Mann’s Portrayal of Tamar—A Self-Reflection?
A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayeshev
By Rabbi Len Levin

I first encountered Thomas Mann’s portrayal of the biblical heroine Tamar (from Joseph and His Brothers, pp. 1016–42) as a high school student; it was assigned reading in our Jewish day school. I have never been able to see her otherwise since.

Thomas Mann was arguably the greatest German writer of his age. He worked on his massive fictional rendition of the Joseph saga from 1924 to 1942, years of turbulence and tragedy for Germany and Jewry. He modeled his portrayal of Rachel on his wife Katia, who came from an assimilated German Jewish family. Seeking a leading female character for the fourth part of his tetralogy, he chose Tamar, daughter-in-law of Judah who became the progenitress of the two leading clans of the Judah tribe, Peretz and Zerah, and ancestress of the Davidic dynasty.

Mann masterfully reworks the bare bones Read More >

29 11, 2018

Parashat Vayeishev 5779

By |2018-11-29T09:55:22-05:00November 29, 2018|

Keeping the Mind in Mind: The Essence of Pluralism
A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayeishev
By Rabbi David Evan Markus

Exciting news: studying theology can teach us how to think and even build secular careers! Whatever one’s beliefs, immersion in the complexities of sacred text can expand perspective and cultivate character. Studying theology can make the mind nimbler, the heart more tender and the spirit wiser.

But for all of theology’s great promise, theology doesn’t promise certitude. The call to cultivate mind, heart and spirit isn’t about fixity or certainty, but rather something far more important.

Exhibit A: Jacob’s response to Joseph’s dreams in Parshat Vayeishev.

Joseph recounts his dream of 11 stars, sun, and moon bowing to him. Jacob responds with pique (“are parents to worship their child?”) and Joseph’s 11 brothers seethe with jealousy (Gen. 37:10-11a). The encounter ends with Torah narrating that Jacob shamar et ha-davar: he “kept the matter [in mind]” ( Read More >

5 12, 2017

Parashat Vayeshev, 5778

By |2017-12-05T12:08:08-05:00December 5, 2017|

The Dreams of Joseph and Solomon
A D’var Torah for Vayeshev
Rabbi Jill Hammer

Many have suggested that events in the Book of Genesis are intertextual with events in the Book of Samuel. For example, the ketonet pasim, the colorful striped coat that Joseph wears as his brothers betray him and sell him into slavery, has a direct relationship with the ketonet pasim, the colorful striped coat that Tamar daughter of David wears as her brother Amnon betrays and rapes her. In fact, in Tanakh there are the only two “striped coats” (the Hebrew word pas may mean “to divide into parts”).

Both coats are torn. Joseph’s brothers tear his in an effort to fake his death, and Tamar tears hers in mourning for what has happened to her. Joseph and Tamar, both betrayed by siblings, must be read in light of one another. It is not even clear which text we should read first. As Read More >

22 12, 2016

Parashat Vayeishev

By |2016-12-22T23:04:59-05:00December 22, 2016|

by Rabbi David Almog

Once upon a ‘Vayehi‘: Listening to the Torah
Parashat Vayeishev

And then 

I always thought the words, and then, were a prelude to something wonderful. Like seeing a ship come in or finding a note in your letterbox, when you weren’t expecting one. That swift, surprising transition from nothing to everything.

And then.

Two little words that hold a world of promise.

And then the light pierced though the dark, forbidding sky, and the rain stopped falling.
And then I met you.
– Lang Leav

For writers, the simple words “and then” are much maligned as redundant. The sequence in the sentence, “I sat down and I read the parashah,” is clear without the word “then”. “And then,” if used repeatedly, can sound unwieldy. “I went to the store, and then I bought groceries, and then I cooked dinner, and then I did the dishes.” Nevertheless, when used effectively, “and then” can be emphatic, clarifying the Read More >

3 12, 2015

Parashat Vayeishev-Hanukkah

By |2015-12-03T11:35:46-05:00December 3, 2015|

Joseph and Judah as Paradigms
by Rabbi Len Levin

Everyone loves Joseph. But my mentor Maurice Samuel did not. In Certain People of the Book (1955), he relates how Joseph’s taunting his brothers and later manipulating his awesome power to scare the living daylights out of them reminded him of experiences of being taunted and bullied. Samuel tells the story of Joseph and the brothers from the brothers’ point of view.

Samuel also made a broader, more serious analysis of the historic role that Joseph played, according to the biblical narrative. Joseph was the first in a line of Jews (including Samuel Hanagid of 11th century Spain, Benjamin Disraeli, and most recently Henry Kissinger) who rose to positions of power in the non-Jewish political world. Though occasionally using their position to benefit their people of origin, their primary allegiance was to their gentile patrons. The brothers’ not recognizing Joseph is perhaps symptomatic of an ambiguity Read More >

10 12, 2014

Parashat Vayeishev

By |2014-12-10T12:41:46-05:00December 10, 2014|

Cantor Sandy Horowitz

“Trouble, trouble, trouble trouble…trouble been doggin’ my soul since the day I was born…”
Ray Lamontagne

At the beginning of Parashat Vayeishev we read that Jacob settled in the land of his fathers. Right away however, things become quite unsettled: “Joseph brought bad reports about [his brothers] to his father” (Gen 37:2). Jacob’s youngest son is a seventeen-year-old tattle-tale.

When we read the brothers’ perspective on the situation two verses later, we see that Joseph’s actions actually aren’t the primary reason for their hatred: “His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, so they hated him” (Gen 37:4). Jacob’s blatant displays of favoritism are at the root of the problem.

Jacob’s favoritism goes back to Parashat Vayishlah, when he encountered his estranged brother Esau. As Esau advanced towards him with four hundred men, “He placed the maidservants and their children first and Leah and her children Read More >

Go to Top