Vayeishev (Gen. 37:1-40:23)

Jacob and his family have now settled in Canaan. You all know the story. Jacob favors Joseph because he’s Rachel’s son (also he probably looks like her), angering the older sons. Their anger is heightened when Joseph has two dreams that have representations of his family members bowing down to him, and even more so when Jacob gives Joseph That Coat, a symbol implying he is the future head of the household. Joseph is eventually sold to a passing caravan and is apparently resold at least once, ending up as a slave in Egypt, where he impresses his boss Potiphar and is sexually harassed by Potiphar’s wife. Prof. G. A. Rendsburg points out that this motif (virtuous young man is propositioned by the boss’s wife and turns her down) occurs in Greek and Egyptian literature, but only in the Biblical version does the young man add that accepting her would be an affront to the Lord (i.e., morality). However, I should note that the Hebrew for Joseph’s refusal, Va’y’ma’ein, has a shalshelet cantillation mark over it, which is used to signify hesitation (and to let the Torah reader show off). Anyhow, she cries rape, Joseph is imprisoned, again rises to the top (well, as far as you can in a dungeon), and correctly interprets the dreams of the royal baker, who is executed, and the royal “butler” (more of a wine steward), who is pardoned. At the end of our portion, Joseph tries to leverage his relationship with the butler to get released, but the butler forgets him.

In the midst of this is the story of Judah and Tamar, which tends to be left out of Sunday School classes because it gives the etymology of onanism. Tamar is married to Er, Judah’s son, and Er dies childless, so a brother should marry Tamar to provide children in Er’s name. Onan refuses to impregnate her and dies. Judah doesn’t know why his first two sons have died, but he sure as heck is in no hurry to offer Tamar his third, Shelah. Tamar poses as a prostitute, thereby forcing Judah to perform the duty himself. She gives birth to twins, Perez and Zarah, and Perez is an ancestor of King David, which is why this story had to be put in somewhere. It’s also another example of the Bible’s frequent disregard for what we see as the normal social hierarchy. Younger siblings, women, and prostitutes at the fringe of society are often more righteous than or overtake those that we expect to be in charge, the older/oldest, respectable sons.

Of course Jacob favors Joseph because of Rachel, but why does he not see the danger in such blatant favoritism after his own experience with Esau? Perhaps he thinks that, as Esau made peace with him, Joseph’s brothers would do likewise someday. Maybe, especially after Joseph’s sun/moon/stars and sheaves of wheat dreams, he is so firmly convinced of Joseph’s potential that he’s willing to gamble that the brothers wouldn’t hurt him, as least while he (Jacob) is alive (cf. Esau’s promise to wait until Isaac died before killing Jacob). It never occurs to him that they would get rid of Joseph but lead Jacob to believe he’d been killed by a wild beast. Maybe the brothers were willing to put up with Joseph as a child, but now he is a teenager, charming, highly capable, and very definitely in their way.

Shabbat shalom and Happy Thanksgiving,




Why does it take so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?

The man fainted as he came out of his front door onto the porch. Someone who saw it happen dialed 911. When the paramedics arrived, they helped the man regain consciousness and asked if he knew what caused him to faint. “It was enough to make anybody faint,” he said. “My son asked me for the keys to the garage, and instead of driving the car out, he came out with the lawn mower.”

The average income of the modern teenager is about 2 a.m.



After she woke up, a woman told her husband, “I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for our anniversary. What do you think it means?”

“You’ll know tonight,” he said.

That evening, the man came home with a small package and gave it to his wife.

Delighted, she opened it to find a book entitled “The Meaning of Dreams.”


 Parents evolution

My wife and I are both the youngest child. Combine that with our own experience as parents and we often satirically talk about how things change as you have more children:

Feeling the Baby Move

   First Child: I placed my hand on my wife’s tummy every chance I could for two months waiting for that first time when I could feel the baby move. Hours upon hours I waited until that magic moment when, I felt this little movement. We called all of our relatives to tell them about the blessed experience.

   Second Child: When it first happened, my wife called me at the office. I quickly ran home and felt the baby move. We included the experience in all of our letter to our family.

   Third Child: She told me the baby moved. I told her I would check it our during the next commercial break. I missed out because her mother called on the telephone so I went on watching Monday night football. By the end of the third quarter, I finally felt the baby move.

   Fourth Child: We were in bed and I was trying to sleep. I turned to her and said “Can’t you make your tummy stay still? I’m trying to sleep.” When it became clear that the baby would be jumping around for a while, we called the pizza man for a delivery.

The Trip to the Hospital

   First Child: Every time we felt the slightest B&H contraction, we rushed to the hospital. I would carry my wife to the car and lay her down in the back seat surrounded by pillows.

   Second Child: We timed the contractions. By the time she had three in thirty minutes, we rushed to the hospital. She sat in the front seat, with it leaned back and a pillow behind her head and another at her feet.

   Third Child: I came home from the office as soon as she started having regular contractions. When they were five minutes apart and hard, we went to the hospital. I gave her a pillow to hold along the way.

   Fourth Child: When she called me at the office and told me that she was having contractions hard and five minutes apart, I told her to drive to the hospital. I would meet her there as soon as I finished the set of correspondence I was working on. I reminded her not to forget the pillows.

The First Step

   First Child: My wife grabbed the camera. I grabbed the Video Camera. My wife took four rolls of film. We immediately ran out to the one-hour developing place and had all four rolls developed with double prints. We had the best picture blown up to 24″ X 36″ and framed. We hung it up in the entry hall. I had a professional studio turn the four hours of video I taped into a one-hour documentary complete with voice-over by a local anchor-man.

   Second Child: We took one roll of film and five minutes worth of video. The next day we took the film and had it developed by a twenty-four hour developing center. I took the best picture and put it into my wallet.

   Third Child: We couldn’t find the video-camera and we only had five shots left on the roll of film. We took all five shots but I don’t remember if we ever got the roll developed.

   Fourth Child: I quickly got up and grabbed the camera. I placed it up high so the child wouldn’t grab it.

The First Time the Child Fell and Got a Cut

   First Child: My wife and I frantically ran over to the child. We swept him up and rushed him to the emergency room. No stitches were needed but we spent the night with him in his room just in case the bleeding started again.

   Second Child: We walked over to her, picked her up and quickly bandaged her up. We spent the next two hours rocking her in the living room to comfort the pain.

   Third Child: I told my wife that if he was still crying in a couple of minutes, we should go over and make sure he isn’t hurt too badly. When he didn’t stop crying, we bandaged up the cut and laid him in his bed for a while but we went on about our business.

   Fourth Child: Put a bandage on the cut and told him it’d get better after he stopped crying.

[By the way, I’m a fourth child. IGP]


 The Baker’s Assistant

Many years ago, a baker’s assistant called Richard the Pourer, whose job it was to pour the dough mixture in the making of sausage rolls, noted that he was running low on one of the necessary spices, sent his apprentice to the store to buy more.

Unfortunately, upon arriving at the shop the young man realized that he had forgotten the name of the ingredient.

All he could do was to tell the shopkeeper that it was: “For Richard the Pourer, for batter for wurst.”


Wine Jokes And Humor

Now it’s time to pour some wine and smile a little. Many of these wine jokes and quips are available on posters, magnets, and shirts. I haven’t scratched the surface here so check them out for more laughs and maybe something for your wall or fridge or back. Here we go…

Forgive me for I have zinned.

I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put in the food.

Wine drinkers make grape lovers.

Wine is like opera. You can enjoy it even if you do not understand it.

Dr. Freud would say that pinot noir lovers suffer from pinot envy.

Doormat: “We only serve the finest vintage wines. Did you bring any?”

In NYC, they hail taxis. In Napa, they hail cabs.

How Merlot can you go?

Don’t drink and drive – you may spill your wine.

Money may not buy happiness but it will buy wine.

A cork retriever is not a dog from Ireland

Wine improves with age. The older I get, the more I like it.

What did the grape say when he was squeezed? Nothing. He just wined.


TOP 10 HALACHOS [Laws] FOR THANKSGIVING by Michael Feldstein from STAMFORD, CT! Posted: 11-01-2010(Viewed 718 times)

10) No turkey allowed to be eaten 30 days before the holiday (some hold starting from November 1)

9) One must eat at least a k’zayis [olive-sized portion] of cranberry sauce with his or her turkey in order to fulfill the mitzvah of Thanksgiving

8) The night before Thanksgiving, search for the bread stuffing

7) The morning of Thanksgiving, burn the autumn leaves

6) In Israel, celebrate one day of Thanksgiving; in chutz l’aretz [outside of Israel], it’s a two-day Yom Tov

5) On Thanksgiving, start counting the days until you reach XMAS (“Today is the first day, which leaves 29 more shopping days until XMAS)

4) First of the four questions asked at the Thanksgiving table: “On all other weekday afternoons, there are no football games on TV. Why are there football games on TV on this day?”

3) Second of the four questions: “On all other days, the department stores open at noon. Why are the department stores open before noon on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving?”

2) Third of the four questions: “Why do the right wing yeshivas have classes on Thanksgiving morning, while Modern Orthodox day schools are closed?”

1) Fourth of the four questions: “On all other nights there is some traffic to Long Island. Why is there so much traffic to Long Island on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving?”

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