Friday, December 30, 2011

Vayyiggash: moving closer to reconciliation

Parshat Vayyiggash: Gen Ch. 44:1. Then Judah came near to him, and said: ‘Oh my lord, let your servant, I pray, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not your anger burn against your servant, for you are even as Pharaoh.  Gen Ch. 45:1, 4 “Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried: ‘Cause every man to go out from me.’  And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known to his brothers.  .  .  .  And Joseph said to his brothers .  .  .  ‘I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.  And now be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you sold me here; for God did send me before you to preserve life’”.  

The Sefat Emet says that the words “to him” in the phrase “and Judah came near to him” mean that Judah not only came close to Joseph but to his own higher nature and to God.  This spiritual transformation moved Judah to offer himself in the place of Benjamin and Joseph to reveal himself to his brothers.  Judah could only offer himself as a substitute for Benjamin; and Joseph could only make himself known to his brothers after both acquired self-knowledge.

May we be blessed to move and respond like Judah and Joseph to foster moments of reconciliation.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mikeitz: Cultivating understanding

Parshat Mikeitz: Gen Ch. 41:33  “ So now, let Pharaoh seek out an understanding and wise man and appoint him over the land of Egypt.   

Within a few hours, Joseph emerges from two years in prison, shaves, puts on clean clothes, gives an insightful interpretation of dreams, and is elevated to viceroy of Egypt.  What had he been doing while imprisoned to prepare himself to lead Egypt?  Exactly what he advised Pharoah – he was seeking the understanding and wisdom that rested within him.  Instead of despairing or fighting against the narrow space in which he found himself confined, he turned inward and cultivated discernment.

May we also learn to respond to tight and narrow times in our own lives by seeking understanding and wisdom within.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vayyeshev: In a dry and empty place

Parshat Vayyeshev Gen 37: 24  “ And they took him [Joseph] and cast him into the pit; now the pit was empty and there was no water in it.   

How many times have we ourselves been cast into a pit of desire, anger, fear, anxiety or doubt? From where does our help come in those times of emptiness and dryness?

May we, like Joseph, learn – even if it takes a lifetime -  to be forgiving of whoever and whatever has pushed us into a dry and empty place.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Parshat Vayetzei: Awesome reality

Parshat Vayetzei Gen 28: 17: “ And he was frightened, and he said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."   

Is this not the entire point of paying attention – to realize that every place we stand is the gate of heaven?
May we fully feel the awe of being alive in this awesome creation.