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Living with the Parsha: The Big Picture

Living with the Parsha: The Big Picture


Rebecca sat by her supper table with her parents and siblings, Michelle and Daniel, but her mind was far away. She was thinking about her Parsha lesson at Hebrew school that day where they had learned about the story of Joseph and his brothers, who had thrown him in a pit and sold him to merchants as a slave. 'What's on your mind?' asked her father.

'Well I was just wondering, how could the children of Jacob, who was such a great man, do such a terrible thing, to their very own brother?'

'You mean when they sold him to the merchants as a slave?' her father asked. 'Yes,' said Rebecca. 'It was terrible!'

'They were jealous of him', said her brother Daniel. 'Joseph told them his dream how they would all bow down to him one day'. 'Yes,' said Michelle, 'and also Jacob favored Joseph, and made him a special coat, so they were jealous of him because of that'.

'But that still doesn't explain it', said Rebecca, almost emotionally.

'You are right', said her father. 'But,' he continued, 'in order to understand how G‑d should let such tragic things happen you have to look at the big picture'.

The three children waited for him to explain what he meant by 'big picture'.

'You see, if the brothers had not sold Joseph to the merchants as a slave, then he would not have ended up in the land of Egypt - which you will probably learn about the next time - and then Joseph would not have been appointed as second to the king, and he would not have been able to warn Pharaoh about the famine, and then Jacob and all his brothers would not have come down to Egypt later on, because Egypt would not have stored up all the food in time for the famine…And we would have not been redeemed from Egypt to receive the Torah...'

'Wow,' said Daniel, drumming his fingers on the table, 'We could learn from this when things look dark it may at the end be good, like with the Jews going down to Egypt.'

By Dr. Tali Loewenthal, Director of Chabad Research Unit, London, UK and a frequent contributor to the weekly Torah reading section.
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Leslie Morgan Plano, December 2, 2015

This was a simple modern day story of a Father explaining why things happen in the Torah. I liked it and will use it with my grandkids and 6th grade class. Thanks. Reply

john (yona) marks LA, CA December 15, 2011

these stories are great. my wife also loves them Reply

Hadassa December 14, 2011

Hadassa This is such a perfect picture of G-d's soverign choices about who is used for noble purpose, and who is used for ignoble purpose. I would say the brothers in this case were used for ignoble purpose, and Joseph, nobler purpose.
Like in the story of Jacob and Esau, they had the same father and mother, same lump. But totally different purpose, in G-d's choosing...."Jacob have I loved, Esau I have hated" There is nothing we can really do to change G-d's purposes, but humbly accept what He desires in our lives and TRUST..... Reply

rivka las vegas, Nevada/America December 17, 2008

nice very good Reply

Anonymous USA November 27, 2007

While we can say that truly G-d's deeds are not as ours nor can we fathom G-d's way.. .I think that it is beautiful that we have never been tempted to tamper with history or if tempted risen above the temptation for "changing the words and putting ourselves in a better light" for even when words are divine man's basic nature is to always present himself in the best way possible. But if nothing else the behavior of our ancestors is a wonderful example of how to and how not to behave.... Reply

Anonymous Jerusalem, Israel November 27, 2007

Parsha - Tali Lowenthal I also had the same question as Rebecca -how could the righteous sons of Yaacov have acted so seemingly heartlessly? With all the explanations, even the one given -how everything turned out for the good, I'm still troubled. Because Yosef could have gone down to Egypt some other way - maybe kidnapped and sold by one of those caravans. That would have saved Yaacov from some- not all - of his suffering since the possibility of his return or recovery would always exist. And most important the brothers would not have conspired against him and actually laid hands on him, throwing him into a pit! Or best in such a way that Yaacov wouldn't have had to suffer at all. I know there are commentaries on why Yaacov was "punished" and so forth but the brothers' insensitivity is what I somehow cannot come to terms with this year. The Rebbe is somewhat consoling in the article based on his teachings on the parsha - any other thoughts? Reply

saul lever December 21, 2005

Why did the brothers who became the foundations of our nation have to do such an act, were they such evil peopl? Reply

Pessy Seidner December 17, 2005

not a comment, but a question. If Yosef's brothers had risen above there jelousy as we try to teasch our children to do and not planned to hurt him, place him in the pit, or sell him as a slave, mabey there would not have been such a famon? Mabey the redemption would have had a different flavor to it? Perhalps a softer one? How can we simplify someone "choosing" to do the wrong thing, that led to many difficulties as an hoshgocha and no more? I realize this is a childrens artical and the point is nice, but I don't think I would feel comfortable comunicating this aspect in the reprecusions of cibiling rialvary to my children. Reply

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