Three tiny teachings on Chanukah's light
Making God present: protecting human rights

This week's portion: when we reveal ourselves

This week we are reading parashat Vayigash.


When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, they are stunned into silence.

He draws them close, and urges them not to be troubled or upset by having sold him into slavery. Not they, he says, but God is the One who truly sent him down into Egypt. God did this in order that he might be there to help interpret Pharaoh's dream of lean cows devouring the fat ones, in order to convince Pharaoh to stockpile grain against the coming years of famine, in order that when his family came begging for food he could not only feed them but bring them all down to herd their flocks on Egypt's fertile soil.

Then he falls weeping on his brother's neck, and Benjamin weeps with him; and he kisses all of his brothers and weeps with them. Only after this can his brothers respond to him.

When we reveal our true selves, removing the masks with which we disguse our deepest identity and our souls' own light, both we and those to whom we reveal ourselves may weep. Emotions may run high. Revealing who we really are, in all of our vulnerabilities and differences, requires great bravery. But it is only through that revelation, and through the healing tears which ensue, that we can begin to truly respond to one another -- to speak to, and from, the heart of who we really are.