Joseph – Oh Brother!

The story of Joseph, the beloved son and hated brother, the slave-turned-prisoner-turned second to the Pharaoh, is too complex to come down to simple answers. Many of us have studied it before, but each time we approach this narrative we discover something new. More important than the answers that we might arrive at in this course, is the dialogue that we have with the text. Take your time and enjoy the process.

Introduction to Joseph – Oh Brother!

Jerusalem, Kislev 5770 Shalom, Grab a cup of tea (or whatever you like) and something to munch on, and imagine yourself back in the Yeshiva’s Bet Midrash.  Let’s do some learning together. The story of Joseph, the beloved son and hated brother, the slave-turned-prisoner-turned second to the Pharaoh, is too complex to come down to […]

All In The Family – Joseph

Joseph and His (Lost) Brothers – All In The Family Bereshit (Genesis) 37:1-24 We will try to deal with some of the questions that this section raises.  As this chapter contains a great deal of material, we will need more than one session to complete our study. All In The Family – vv.1-11: Biblical text […]

I Am Seeking My Brothers – Joseph

Joseph And His Lost Brothers – I Am Seeking My Brothers! Vv.12-17   Biblical text: Why did Jacob send Joseph, unprotected, to seek his brothers? Could Jacob not have sent a servant?  Was he unaware of the animosity towards Joseph? We will see that both Rashi and Rashbam (Rashi’s grandson and student) struggled with some of […]

Kill That Dreamer – Joseph

Joseph And His Lost Brothers – Kill That Dreamer Vv. Gen 18-24 What seems to be the main instigator for the terrible rage of the brothers, strong enough to lead to murder? It is part of human nature to have conflicts with those around us.  After all, they are they ones who crowd us, with […]

Who Sold Joseph Into Slavery – Joseph

Sold into Slavery Who Did It? Gen. 37:23-36 One of the great mysteries of Tanakh –who sold Joseph  may never be solved.  We will attempt to at least make some order in the story.  I will follow, in part, the direction set by Nehama Leibowitz in her book Studies in Bereshit (Genesis). Jewish tradition has put […]

In Potifar’s House – Joseph

Sold Into Slavery – In Potifar’’s House Chapter 39 מילים מנחות (milim manhot)- Leitwort In a biblical story, where the details are few, every word in the narrative carries weight. Words that appear in (relative) high frequency are called מילים מנחות (milim manhot), Leitwort.  They point us to the main points of the story, as […]

Interpreting The Dreams – Joseph

Second to Pharaoh – Interpreting The Dreams Interpreting the Dreams: 40:12-41:46 Joseph turns out to be a professional dream-interpreter.  Let’s start with the results of his first “job” – the butler and the baker in jail. Biblical Text The Torah (40:23) goes out of its way to describe the forgetfulness of the butler, “did not remember […]

The Brothers Go Down To Egypt – Joseph

Second To Pharaoh – The Brothers Go Down To Egypt Gen 42:1-28 Famine.  Let’s take a moment to contemplate what a famine is like.  Living in an affluent society with food seems readily available regardless of nature, it is hard to imagine the emotions that famine evokes.  The fear and anxiety are there long before the […]

My Son Will Go Down With You – Joseph

Joseph Saves the Family – My Son Will Go Down With You We will focus on several episodes from the rest of the Joseph narrative. My Son Will Not Go Down With You 42:36-43:14 Everybody knows that one load of food will not last forever.  But they can only return with Benjamin. In this section we […]

In A Land Not Theirs – Joseph

Joseph Saves The Family – In a Land Not Theirs First Joseph, then the entire family, learns to live in Egypt.  In the past session we saw Joseph decked out in royal finery, using a translator to speak to his brothers.  Had he become an Egyptian? Let us consider 2 other episodes: Joseph as an […]

Closure After Jacob’s Death – Joseph

Joseph Saves The Family – Closure After Jacob’s Death 50:14-21 A question from silence:  Why did Jacob not ask Joseph what happened? Could it be that this burning question was irrelevant to Jacob?  What stopped him from asking? What is the brothers’ concern following their father’s death? Their fear is very concrete.  Notice that they […]

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