Our first four days of hashpa'ah
This week's portion: becoming

This week's portion: instead of sons


Asenath longed for daughters
to whom she might teach

the ways of her mothers
but Joseph's God had other plans.

In dreams her grandchildren nightly
crossed the sea of reeds again

and again she woke gasping
with the impossible hope

that they would remember Egypt
kindly, and their foremother

who had hoped for a girl
who would stay close to home

instead of boys who belonged
to someone else's story

which would unfold without
her memory, without her bones.

In this week's portion, Vayechi, we read about Joseph taking his sons to see Jacob as Jacob lay on his deathbed, and about the blessings that Jacob offered to Joseph's sons and to all of Jacob's sons. Reading the portion, I couldn't help noticing the invisibility of the women in this part of the story; there's one mention of Jacob's beloved Rachel, who died in childbirth, but aside from that there are no women here at all.

So in this week's Torah poem, I found myself exploring Asenath, the daughter of Poti-phara, Joseph's Egyptian wife (about whom we know nothing at all except for her name and the name of her father.) I wonder what it was like for her to marry into this family...and I wonder whether she realized that someday Joseph's bones would be carried out of Egypt, while her bones would be forgotten altogether.

No recording this week; sorry, gang, I'm on the road and haven't had time/space to make the recording. (As usual, if anyone reading this wishes to record the poem, feel free.)

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