Double Mitzvah – Vayehi

Double Mitzvah Jewrotica Parsha

Written by Tamar Fox.  Check out last week’s post in this series, Double Mitzvah – Vayigash.  

Rated PGThe end of Bereishit doesn’t have much sex in it. It’s much more focused on getting the Israelites to Egypt and setting up the next book. Jacob and Joseph die after blessing their children, and finally the stage is all ready for Act II: Exodus.

But reading this week’s parsha, I’m struck by the way that Joseph’s brothers have to do a second round of apologizing and ingratiating themselves to their powerful brother.

After Jacob has died and has been buried in Hebron, Joseph’s brothers worry that Joseph will turn on them. They throw themselves at Joseph’s feet and beg for forgiveness. Joseph is magnanimous, telling them, “Have no fear! Am I a substitute for God? Besides, although you intended me harm, God intended it for good so as to bring about the present results–the survival of many people. And, so fear not. I will sustain you and your children.” (50:18-21)

Generally, I am the last person to suggest, as Joseph does in this situation, that a bad situation is simply a good situation in disguise. But it is helpful for many people–including, in this case, Joseph–to look at a crappy situation in their past this way. And in past parshiyot, we’ve seen it from Judah, too.

Joseph learned from his past, and ultimately got the upper hand. With family and romantic relationships that go sour, it’s easy to look back and assume that it was all toxic to begin with, but just as Joseph is able to play the long game, anticipating ultimate salvation, so too can we choose to take and appreciate the big and little blessings that come along with failed relationships.

Author of Jewrotica's Double Mitzvah column, Tamar Fox is a writer and editor in Philadelphia. She will try anything once, including open relationships, dating someone who is chalav yisrael, and going to Suriname.