Hidden Impact: Vayeshev 2019

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: In your formative years, did you have both male and female positive role models? If so, do you think that fact made a big difference in your upbringing? If not, do you regret it?

The reaction to Joseph’s first recorded dreams reveals a bit about the role of women in his family:

The Pitch: “When [Joseph] told it to his father and brothers, his father berated him. ‘What,’ he said to him, ‘is this dream you have dreamed? Are we to come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow low to you to the ground? So his brothers were wrought up at him, and his father kept the matter in mind.’” – Genesis 37:10-11

Swing #1: “Dinah the Wounded One [says]: ‘Foolish Joseph! Had he told his dreams to the women in the family – me, his father’s wives, his sisters-in-law, his nieces – we would have recognized in these fantasies nothing more than the intemperate arrogance of youth. Instead he told my brothers, who interpreted his dreams as an expression of ambition to lord it over them. A different reading of Joseph’s dreams might well have changed the course of our family and thus of national history.’” – Ellen Frankel, PhD., The Five Books of Miriam: A Woman’s Commentary on the Torah

Swing #2: “[Jacob’s] reaction to Joseph’s dreams is as telling of his character as the reactions of his sons are revealing of theirs. He wonders at these dreams; the ten dismiss them with cynical question. In each case we have here the first direct speech of these figures, and it is especially revealing of character.” – W. Lee Humphreys, Joseph and His Family, a Literary Study

Swing #3: “The fact that [Rachel] had died in Chapter 35 does not detract from the symbol of the dream.” – Everett Fox, The Five Books of Moses

Late-Inning Questions: Do you agree that, had Joseph told his dreams to the women in his family, his journey might have wound up differently? To what extent, if any, are the reactions of his father and brothers motivated by their gender identity? How are the women of the Torah influential even when not (or barely) mentioned in the text?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: We are so proud of our annual Hanukkah tradition known as the “Night of Giving”, taking place this year on Sunday, December 29th, at 6:00PM. Join us at Publix in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, or Summerville to light the first Hanukkah candles of the holiday, and then purchase a bag of non-perishable groceries to give to the Kosher Food Pantry. It’s a great way to celebrate by giving back.

The Big Inning at the End: Regarding women in baseball, I’ll simply say this: I look forward to seeing the first female player appear in a Major League game in my lifetime – hopefully on the sooner side.

Shabbat Shalom!