Rabbi header logo
Shabbat and Candle Lighting  
for Friday, December 25, 2020 / 10 Tevet 5781
 Light Shabbat candles at 5:09 p.m.
border experiment

Dear Congregation Kehillah and Friends,

This time of year is often filled with blessing and light, shorter work days, travel, and time with family and friends, although not so much this year. Even with physical separation, there can still be difficulty and pain where there is estrangement.
Our parasha continues the Joseph story. Last week was a real 'cliff-hanger'! A brief recap: Joseph was the long-awaited, favorite son of Jacob and his beloved Rachel. Because of their jealousy, Joseph's brothers had thrown him into a pit, and then sold him into slavery. Joseph came to serve a wealthy household in Egypt, only to be thrown into prison when falsely accused of trying to seduce 'Mrs. Potiphar' - as Andrew Lloyd Weber wrote in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, "it's all there in chapter 39 in Genesis".
Joseph correctly interpreted the dreams of two of Pharoah's servants who were thrown into his prison cell. As foretold, the butler eventually returned to Pharoah's service. When Pharoah started to have bad dreams and no one was able to interpret them to his satisfaction, the butler remembered Joseph, who was then released from prison to interpret dreams for Pharoah. As a result of his interpretation and subsequent advice to Pharoah, he was appointed as viceroy in Egypt, responsible for stockpiling and rationing in preparation for the impending famine.
Meanwhile, back in Canaan....
The brothers, along with everyone else, were experiencing a major famine and they traveled to Egypt, hoping to buy food to bring home. The decision to grant the right to purchase food came from none other than Joseph. The brothers appeared before him and Joseph immediately recognized them, but they did not recognize him. He set up a test to see if his brothers were remorseful about what they had done to him by placing a silver goblet in his youngest brother's sack, and then accusing Benjamin of theft! Benjamin was the only other child of Jacob and Rachel and a special bond existed.
Will Joseph reveal himself to his brothers? Will he be reunited with his father? Can people actually do teshuvah
Our Torah portion this week is "Vayigash" in which Joseph is moved by his brother Judah's display of courage during the test. (Was it his sorrow and regret? Love of their father?)

Judah, perhaps the ringleader of the brothers' horrible treatment of Joseph 22 years prior, stepped forward and pleaded for Benjamin's life saying that he would take his place instead; for, if the brothers failed to return home with Benjamin, their father would surely die: 'how can I go back to my father unless the boy is with me? Let me not be witness to the woe that would overtake my father!"
"Ve-lo yachol Yosef l'hitapek" (and Joseph could no longer contain himself). Thus, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and they reconciled.

There is a teaching in the Talmud (Kiddushin 31b) that has long resonated with me: a child should not sit at his father (or mother's) place at the table. Since my father has passed, I have not been able to sit in his chair, not at the table in my parent's home nor in the chair he would sit in my home. The teaching really hits home for me as I studied a different part of this parasha. Joseph was only beneath Pharaoh in terms of the position he held in Egyptian society, responsible for a great many decisions that would mean life or death to those who requested his favor. Yet when Jacob went to reunite with Joseph, Joseph did not wait for his father to approach him; he took his chariot and ran to his father. My beloved father may no longer be in this world, but he is still in mine. He remains my teacher. His seat of honor remains.

 A kavannah /intention/focus upon lighting the candles  for Shabbat Vayigash

May my prayers fill me with love overflowing so that, like Joseph, I will no longer be able to contain myself, and will be inspired to heal rifts, connect with loved ones from whom I have been distant, and again feel a sense of wholeness and peace.
[Our kavannah can be extended to encompass not only Joseph's family, but the entire human family...]

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Sharfman  
Congregation Kehillah
info@congregationkehillah.org   |   congregationkehillah.org
5858 E. Dynamite Blvd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

Mailing Address: 21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Ste. 1630 #439, Phoenix, AZ 85050