Devoted Until the End: Vayehi 2020

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Do old habits truly die hard? Have you tried to give up a bad habit, only to resolve that it would take too much effort to actually succeed? Does it make you more or less likely to make New Year’s resolutions?

Whether or not Jacob ever tried to stop treating Joseph as his favorite son, he shows in his final breaths that Joseph remains Number One in his book:

The Pitch: “The God of your father who helps you, and Shaddai who blesses you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that couches below, blessings of the breast and womb.” – Genesis 49:25

Swing #1: “Joseph is … described in water images and blessed with ‘the blessings of the deep that couches below’ — the symbol of female sexuality and fertility, moistness, and receptivity. Water, connoting impulse, sexuality, release, is now not a negative image, but a figure of erotic and procreative force.” – Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, Genesis: The Beginning of Desire

Swing #2: “Joseph would receive his father’s greatest material blessings, far surpassing those which even Jacob himself received; the blessings of heaven and earth. Joseph, though not to hold the mantle of rulership like Judah, would be seen as the elect of his brothers.” – Norman J. Cohen, Self, Struggle & Change

Swing #3: “Separated from his brothers.” – Commentary of Shabbat Siddur Sefard Linear

Late-Inning Questions: Should we have expected Jacob to treat his sons more equally, even after he learns that his uneven treatment had led to Joseph’s longtime separation from the family? Can we attribute his final blessings as an admission of what he’s always felt? How should we react to an authority figure who treats us unfairly?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: We’re excited to go on another Virtual Tour of Israel on Sundays, January 3rd and 10th, at 10:00 a.m. Go to the Temple website to register.

The Big Inning at the End: According to Forbes, the main reason why Clint Hurdle was a longtime Major League manager was not because of his in-game strategy; it was because he went to great pains to not play favorites and to spend one-on-one time with each of his players and coaches. One wonders how the story of Jacob’s sons might have been different had Jacob employed a Hurdle’s strategy.

Shabbat Shalom, and Happy Secular New Year!