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Saturday, December 12, 2009

The "Downs" of Judah and Joseph

This is based on Parshat, the Weekly Torah Portion, "Vayeshev."

For someone like me, who finds the dynamics of human relations, politics fascinating and also likes grammar, especially Hebrew grammar, there are some very interesting things here.

After the disastrous sibling rivalry among Jacob's sons, his beloved, most favorite son Joseph וְיוֹסֵף, הוּרַד  hurad, is brought down, sold by his brothers to some merchants.  As a result, Judah, one of his older brothers,  וַיֵּרֶד יְהוּדָה  yarad, went down.

There's an interesting relationship between those two verbs, the same root, one passive and one active.  Joseph didn't get along with his brothers and continued his negative behavior, only making things worse, until he was taken away, passive tense.  Judah realized that he had made a mistake, so he took himself away and went down, active voice.

Joseph proclaimed himself a leader, but he didn't have followers.  Judah took the leadership role and had the respect of others.  People trusted and followed him.

In Jewish History our first king, Saul, was descended from Yosef.  He showed no leadership until he was anointed king by Samuel the Prophet.  And eventually he was taken down from power, because he didn't obey G-d's instructions.

King David, descended from Judah, showed leadership when he "was a nobody."  He wasn't a soldier when he killed Goliath.  He was just visiting his soldier brothers when he heard Goliath mock the Israelites cringing under King Saul's command. 

Yes, that's another interesting comparison the visits to their brothers by Joseph and David.  David didn't brag; he just acted.

Today we're looking for a David, a true leader to lead us out of the mess we're in.

Chag Urim  Smeach
May You Have an Enlightened Chanukah


Sammy Finkelman said...

Yosef wasn't actually sold by his brothers (according to Rabbi Hertz in his Chumnash)

Remember, he disappeared while the brothers were eating and Reuven went to take him out of the pit.

It was the people who took him out of the pit who got the money.

Batya said...

The pshat isn't all that mysterious. I find the commentaries in Hertz and Art scroll rather annoying, making excuses and white-washing. I don't go for drash, prefer pshat.