Learning Group–Parshat Vayeshev
(Haftara: Amos 2:6-3:8)
1. [38:1] King David is a descendant of Yehudah and Tamar and he is also a descendant of Lot and his daughter. King David is the ancestor of the Messiah. Why does the Messiah have so much sexual sin in his ancestry?
2. [38:26] “…’She is more righteous than me…'” Our commentaries tell us that Yehudah’s greatness is shown in the fact that he admitted his failure in the way that he had treated Tamar earlier. At this point, he was a powerful person and could have had Tamar executed, but instead, he chose to be very embarrassed. Was Yehudah’s admission of guilt really as praiseworthy as some say, or would any average person have done the same thing?
3. [39:1] Yosef’s entry into Egypt is the beginning of the exile. God had told Avraham that there would be an exile in Egypt. Why does it seem that the exile is a necessary condition in Jewish history?
4. [39:9] “…how could I do such a great evil and sin against God.” Yosef seems to say that he cannot betray Potiphar’s trust by having an affair with Potiphar’s wife.
Our tradition tells us that this story shows us that Yosef is a person with total self-control. Is Yosef really a person with total self-control or is he a person with deep conscience and morality?
5. [Haftara Amos 2:7] “…to profane My holy name.” The prophet Amos lists the sins of Israel that show man’s inhumanity to man. Why are these sins considered profaning God’s holy name?
[37:14] “Go now and see about the peace (the wholeness) of your brothers.”
Ya’akov was telling Yosef to look at the complete aspects (shlaymut) of his brothers. He was telling him to look at the positive and Godly qualities in his brothers. In this way, they would avoid arguing.
–R. Simcha Bunim of Pszycha –1827
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