Shabbat December 15, 2023/3 Tevet 5784
Torah:Miketz (Genesis 41:1-44:17) Haftarah: (I Kings 3:15-4:1)
Shabbat December 22, 2023/10 Tevet 5784
Asarah B’Tevet is the 10th day of Tevet is a Fast day for the siege of Jerusalem in ancient times.
Torah: Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27) Haftarah: (Ezekiel 37:15-28)
Torah Miketz continues with Joseph as he interprets Pharaoh’s two dreams. Joseph is then rewarded by being put in charge of the land (vizor/ person 2nd to the Pharaoh). Now, famine strikes, and Jacob sends his sons, except Benjamin, to Egypt. Joseph seizes Simeon and tells the brothers that he will not go free until they return with their youngest brother. Joseph tests his brothers to see how they feel about their wrongdoing of long ago.
Each verse has a myriad of thoughts for discussion. However, a concept and value stands out as “Responsibility.” Judah makes himself responsible for the welfare of his youngest brother, Benjamin. A sense of responsibility for individuals in need of special care is one of the marks of maturity. The rabbinic adage that “lazeKol Ysrael arevim zeh lazeh” (all Israelites are responsible for one another”), this sense of solidarity that should link the Jewish people throughout the entire world.
Today, this word “Responsibility” and the actions of being united with the Jewish people is stronger than ever before, since the horrific barbaric attack of October 7th in Israel. Yet, throughout the world there are a few Jews that stand NOT FOR ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE, but FOR THE EVIL HAMAS and Terrorists. Today, Anti-Semitism is everywhere, and yet there are NON Jews that Stand Strongly with Israel and the Jewish People. There is a new program called “ The Menorah Project”, which has non Jews placing a menorah in their windows to show their solidarity with Israel and the Jewish People! This feeling of unity warms one’s neshama/soul. During the numerous dark times through Jewish history, and the Holocaust, our people did NOT have NON Jews strongly and openly Standing Up for our JEWISH PEOPLE!
Hanukkah means to rededicate ourselves not only to the Holy Temple that stood in Jerusalem, but to Judaism. As we continue to kindle our Hanukkiah, may our shining bright lights spread throughout the darkest in the world.
The Second Torah portion of Vayigash continues to discuss the story of Joseph. The confrontation between Judah and Joseph, whose identity is still unknown to his brothers. Judah pleads with Joseph to take him as a slave in place of Benjamin. Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, Jacob arrives in Egypt for an emotional reunion with Joseph. Jacob and his family increase in numbers and wealth in the area of Goshen.
An important concept and value of Judaism is “Speaking out for Justice.” This Torah portion begins with Judah’s plea for justice before the Egyptian head of state (Joseph), who just announced his plan to enslave Benjamin. At this moment the brothers did not know it was their brother Joseph [one reason, they believed he was dead, and two he was 17 YEARS OLDER and dressed and looked Egyptian]. The brothers knew that if they returned home without Benjamin it would kill their father, Jacob. Every point Judah made to Joseph was supported by facts and impossible to refute. His plea for justice was so compelling that it ultimately forced Joseph to reveal his true identity.
Interestingly, when Judah pleads with Joseph on behalf of Benjamin, he tells him that Jacob’s soul is “bound up with the lad’s soul” (Genesis 44:30). The same phrase was used in the First Book of Samuel to describe the relationship between David and Jonathan. It shows true love and empathy, a genuine entwining of souls.
One may glean from the quote from Joseph after he revealed himself to his brothers and that Joseph truly believed his brothers changed the behavior, “In order to preserve life G-d has sent me before you.” (Genesis 45:5) The brothers after selling him into slavery regretted what they had done. One now views that G-d had chosen Joseph to help save the Israelites from the famine, which helped keep Judaism alive.
Shabbat Shalom V’Happy Hanukkah,
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder
I will be visiting my family in Florida and Pennsylvania from Wednesday, December 13 through Thursday, December 29. Zoom Shabbat Services on December 15 will be canceled and I will be holding a Shabbat Zoom service for December 22.
If you need to reach me, kindly inform Ellen Nathan. As always, I pray for all that need misherberot. Please inform me which individuals do not need the prayers for a misherbrah. I am aware of those that have chronic issues, and your names will be on my list.
On January 1 will be “Prayer Over the City”, which will be held in the Tabernacle on Main Street and Tabernacle. It starts at Noon and it is only an hour. I will be delivering a prayer for Israel and Peace. I usually arrive by 11:30am