The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary

By Steven; Sarah Levy | Go to book overview

VA-YESHEV

❖ WYSIWYG (What You See
Is What You Get)
Parashat Va-yeshev opens by focusing on Jacob’s special relationship with his son Joseph, as evidenced by the colorful coat Jacob gave only to Joseph and by how Joseph brought his father incriminating reports about his brothers. Joseph’s behavior had the predictable effect of poisoning his relationship with his brothers, as described in the following verse:

And when his [Joseph’s] brothers saw that their father
loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated
him so that they could not speak a friendly word to him.
(Gen. 37:4)

It would seem that Joseph’s brothers also bore responsibility for the deterioration of the relationship, given that “they could not speak a friendly word to him.” Nevertheless, Rashi finds something positive in their conduct:

they could not speak a friendly word to him: From what is
stated to their discredit, we may learn something to their
credit, that they did not say one thing with their mouth and
think differently in their heart. (Rashi, Gen. 37:4)

Despite other shortcomings in their behavior, Rashi explains that the brothers exhibited integrity in their relationship with Joseph by letting him know exactly what they thought of him.A hallmark of any authentic relationship is knowing where the parties stand with one another. This generally requires candid communication. If one party feels aggrieved, it is difficult for the relationship to be restored to health unless this grievance is carefully communicated to the other party. While this may be a sensitive process fraught with risk, it may also be the best way to rebuild a damaged relationship.
Questions for Discussion
1. If you have siblings, has your relationship been characterized by sibling rivalry? If yes, how so? Did you or your siblings feel that either you or they had a special relationship with your parents? Have those perceptions changed over the years?
2. Describe an instance where you made a conscious decision to communicate candidly with another about a difficult issue, despite the possible discomfort and risks it entailed for you.
3. Do you agree with Rashi that it is to a person’s credit to “not say one thing with their mouth and think differently in their heart”?

❖ Favoritism

Fraternal strife is a familiar theme in the book of Genesis. We see it in three successive generations of brothers: Isaac and Ishmael,

-27-

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The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction - Introducing Rashi xv
  • Genesis 1
  • Bere’shit 3
  • NoaḤ 6
  • Lekh Lekha 9
  • Va-Yera’ 12
  • Hayyei Sarah 15
  • Toledot 18
  • Va-Yetse’ 21
  • Va-YishlaḤ 24
  • Va-Yeshev 27
  • Mikkets 30
  • Va-Yiggash 33
  • Va-YeḤi 36
  • Exodus 39
  • Shemot 41
  • Val-‘Era’ 44
  • Bo’ 47
  • Be-ShallaḤ 50
  • Yitro 53
  • Mishpatim 56
  • Terumah 59
  • Tetsavveh 62
  • Ki Tissa’ 65
  • Va-Yak’Hel 68
  • Pekudei 71
  • Leviticus 75
  • Va-Yikra’ 77
  • Tsav 80
  • Shemini 83
  • Tazria’ 86
  • Metsora’ 90
  • ’AḤarei Mot 93
  • Kedoshim 97
  • ‘Emor 100
  • Be-Har 103
  • Be-Ḥukkotai 106
  • Numbers 111
  • Be-Midbar 113
  • Naso’ 116
  • Be-Ha’Alotekha 120
  • ShelaḤ-Lekha 123
  • KoraḤ 127
  • Ḥukkat 130
  • Balak 134
  • PinḤas 138
  • Mattot 141
  • Mase’Ei 144
  • Deuteronomy 147
  • Devarim 149
  • Va-EtḤannan 152
  • ‘Ekev 156
  • Re’Eh 160
  • Shofetim 163
  • Ki Tetse’ 167
  • Ki Tavo’ 171
  • Nits Avim/Va-Yelekh 174
  • Ha’Azinu 177
  • Ve-Zo’t Ha-Berakhah 181
  • Subject Index 185
  • Index of Sources 189
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