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This week's portion: dreams and responsibilty

This week's Torah portion, Vayeshev, begins the "Joseph novella." This is one of the Torah's most fascinating stories, chock-full of symbolism, metaphor, repetition, and literary tropes.

This week, in my d'var for Radical Torah, I riffed a little bit on the trajectory of Joseph's story, and on what we might choose to take away from his experiences:

What can we learn from this piece of Joseph's story this year? First, that we need to take each others' feelings into account when we open our mouths. Young Joseph's dreams may have been dreams of benevolent dominance -- maybe they foretold how he would someday be the person capable of stewarding the land, and his family, through feast and famine -- but the way he expressed them made his brothers feel inadequate. We can relate both to Joseph's eagerness, and to his brothers' frustrations. This piece of the story is a cautionary   tale.

Second, we can learn that, like Joseph, we are capable of change. When his story begins he is brash and a little bit unthinking. After a few hard knocks, he grows more able to bend, capable of putting his talents to work in the service of others, and capable of remaining thankful to God. All of us descend, in one way or another, into difficult circumstances at some times in our lives. If those circumstances help us to grow and mature, then like Joseph we can help others out of their own binds -- which, in turn, means helping ourselves.

Read the whole thing here: In dreams begin responsibility. (With apologies to Delmore Schwartz, whose terrific story title I co-opted and modified slightly for the title of this RT post...)

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