Family Corner: Parshat Vayeshev

Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Posted by: Family Corner

Family Corner is a space to offer interactive and thoughtful ideas for family engagement with the Parshat Hashavua (weekly Torah reading). 

This week in the Parsha we encounter themes of family strife, favoritism, faith in God, and dreamsAlso, in this week's Torah portion – Jacob's Coat of Many Colors!  

Parsha Summary 

  • Jacob is shown to favor his son Joseph, whom the other brothers resent. Joseph has dreams of grandeur. (Genesis 37:1-11) 
  • After Joseph's brothers had gone to tend the flocks in Shechem, Jacob sends Joseph to report on them. The brothers decide against murdering Joseph but instead sell him into slavery. After he is shown Joseph's coat of many colors, which had been dipped in the blood of a kid, Jacob is led to believe that Joseph has been killed by a beast. (Genesis 37:12-35) 
  • Tamar successively marries two of Judah's sons, each of whom dies. Judah does not permit her levirate marriage to his youngest son. She deceives Judah into impregnating her. (Genesis 38:1-30) 
  • God is with Joseph in Egypt until the wife of his master, Potiphar, accuses him of rape, whereupon Joseph is imprisoned. (Genesis 39:1-40:23) 

Torah Thought

This is the family line (offspring) of Jacob: Joseph (Yosef), a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers..."

The word Yosef (Joseph) means to add or to increase. Accordingly, the Chassidic masters taught that the verse above alludes to a moral lesson. The offspring of Jabob, meaning Jacob’s lasting lesson was “Yosef”, to always try to achieve more greatness in the realm of their Jewish life. 

This idea is directly related to Hanukkah (coming soon!). Regarding the proper way to kindle the Hanukkah lights, the Talmud records the following dispute.  

Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree as to the nature of that adjustment. Beit Shammai say: On the first day one kindles eight lights and, from there on, gradually decreases the number of lights until, on the last day of Hanukkah, he kindles one light. And Beit Hillel say: On the first day one kindles one light, and from there on, gradually increases the number of lights until, on the last day, he kindles eight lights...” 

Explaining the reasoning for Beit Hillel’s ruling (our common practice), the Talmud notes: “One elevates to a higher level in matters of sanctity and one does not downgrade.”  

The homiletical explanation of the name Yosef – and the Talmud’s requirement that we elevate in matters of sanctity provides an opportunity to talk with our family about adding goodness to the world.  

Activities, Crafts and More! 

  • Torah Treat - Edible Coat of Many Colors - Jacob shows favoritism to his son Joseph by gifting him a beautiful coat of many colors.  This caused jealousy amongst Jacob’s other sons.  Make your own edible coat of many colors, and make enough to share so that no one gets jealous! 
  • Coloring Page - Color this beautiful color-by-number Coat of Many Colors   
  • Craft - Create your own “coat of many colors” with a Tie Dye Craft!  Take a picture of your “coat of many colors” and tag us on Facebook. 
  • Video - Check out this clip Joseph’s Coat from the Broadway favorite, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, written by Andrew Lloyd Weber, starring Donny Osmond!

PJ Library Recommendation

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
Ages: 2 to 3 Years
Synopsis: In this beloved Jewish folktale, Joseph’s old and tattered coat is recycled and takes the form of increasingly smaller articles of clothing.

Devash (Published by Hadar): Devash is a weekly parashah magazine that makes learning Torah sweet. By engaging directly with texts and taking kids seriously as Jews, Devash helps children and grownups discover new ideas, values, and sweet morsels in the weekly Torah portion. Devash is designed for kids aged 7-11 to read independently, or together with families and teachers. 

Israel Connection

This week, on November 29, 1947, was the day on which the United Nations voted on Resolution 181 and decided on the end of the British Mandate in Israel and the establishment of two independent states in its land - a Jewish state and an Arab state (the Partition Plan).  
The vote was as such: 33 in favor, 13 against, 10 avoided voting, 1 one was absent from the vote.  

In the picture: people dancing in Tel Aviv after hearing about the vote 

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Category: Family Corner