How’s Your Daddy? Vayigash 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Have you ever had your hand caught in the proverbial cookie jar? How did you react? Do you wish you had reacted differently?

Finally ready to reveal his identity to his brothers, Joseph arguably lays a little bit of guilt on his one-time captors:

The Pitch: “Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph. Is my father still well?’ But his brothers could not answer him, so dumbfounded were they on account of him.” – Genesis 45:3

Swing #1: “He knows that his father is still alive. He already asked his brothers this. … The key [to understanding this] is that when he asks them the first time, it is in the role that he is playing as an Egyptian official, with his real identity hidden from them. But now he puts together his revelation of who he really is with his question about Jacob. … For all he knows, his brothers were lying to him as the Egyptian official.” – Richard Elliott Friedman, Commentary on the Torah

Swing #2: “By recalling to them the words they themselves had spoken, he convinced them that they had sinned. Judah had wanted to awaken compassion in Joseph for his aged father, pleading that the old man would die of grief if Benjamin were not to return to him. With this in mind, Joseph now said: ‘I am Joseph, the brother whom you sold into slavery. Is my father still alive? If it did not occur to you when you sold me into slavery that it would kill my father, why are you so worried about him now?’” – Bet HaLevi

Swing #3: “If language breaks down between Joseph and his brothers, then, Joseph knows that this is no trivial failure. … The fratricial impulse is played out in the Joseph story in disguised forms; but, in the end, even after Joseph has revealed himself, the residue of past passion silences his brothers.” – Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious

Late-Inning Questions: If you were in Joseph’s shoes, how might you have announced yourself to your brothers? Would you have done anything differently? Does it ever help to add shame on those who do shameful things?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: We sincerely hope that you’re emerging from the recent blizzard. There are many ways to help out those who are having more trouble getting on their feet; one is giving to the Thurman Thomas Family Foundation.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of awkward reveals, any guesses where Carlos Correa will play in 2023, now that both the Giants and Mets have questioned his long-term health? New York? Los Angeles? Tokyo?

Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year!