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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

12/29/2022 05:00:00 PM

Dec29

Rabbi Daniel K. Alter

So much can be said about this week’s Torah portion, Vayigash. It’s easy to summarize: Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, who then return to Jacob and bring the entire family down to Egypt, where they are given lands by Pharaoh. However, when we read Torah in this manner – focusing merely on the major narrative beats – we miss so much. We miss Joseph’s brothers’ reactions – dumbfounded out of shock, shame, or fear, so much so that, according to one commentary, they lose consciousness! We miss Pharaoh’s joy for his friend Joseph and his generosity toward Joseph’s family after their reunion (despite our commentator’s cynical interpretations!). And we miss Jacob’s Jerry Maguire-esque response after hearing that not only is Joseph alive but he is now a ruler over all of Egypt! His spirit revived, Jacob simply says: “Enough! My son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him…” 
 
Judaism and Jewish text invite us to read closely, to think deeply, not simply to go through the motions but to notice and appreciate the details of life and the world around us. For too long and for good reason, many of us have been on auto-pilot, accomplishing what we have needed to do to make it to the next day. We quickly approach a new year, 2023, and many of us will be setting goals, New Year’s Resolutions such as: eat healthier, exercise more, travel more, spend more time with family. To borrow a phrase from another popular movie, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” In the coming year, let us resolve to bear witness not only to the major narrative beats of life but also to the details that make life worth living. 

Tue, January 31 2023 9 Sh'vat 5783