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This week's 10-Minute Torah (November 27, 2021): "Parashat Vayeshev" 5782

Parashat Vayeshev 5782 / פָּרָשַׁת וַיֵּשֶׁב

Read on 27 November 2021 / 23 Kislev 5782.

Parashat Vayeshev is the 9th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.

Parashat Vayeshev tells the stories of how Jacob's other sons sold Joseph into captivity in Egypt, how Judah wronged his daughter-in-law Tamar who then tricked him into fulfilling his oath, and how Joseph served Potiphar and was imprisoned when falsely accused of assaulting Potiphar's wife.

Triennial year 3

1: 39:1-6 · 6 p’sukim ·

2: 39:7-10 · 4 p’sukim ·

3: 39:11-18 · 8 p’sukim ·

4: 39:19-23 · 5 p’sukim ·

5: 40:1-8 · 8 p’sukim ·

6: 40:9-15 · 7 p’sukim ·

7: 40:16-23 · 8 p’sukim ·

maf: 40:20-23 · 4 p’sukim ·

Haftarah: Amos 2:6 - 3:8 · 19 p’sukim

This portion focuses on Joseph and we now see the interaction of him and his brothers. Joseph, seventeen years old, is Jacob’s favorite, being the older son of Rachel, his favorite wife. While the other brothers are laboring in the fields with the flocks, Jacob sends off Jacob to bring back a report. Jacob also gave Joseph a multi-colored robe, a sign of a chieftain. Joseph tells his brothers and father his prophetic dreams, that first he and his brothers had sheaths of wheat and his brothers’ sheaths bowed down to his, and that the sun, moon and eleven starts also bowed down to him. The brothers are envious with rage. Jacob sends out Joseph to check up on his brothers. The brothers see him and conspire to kill him, but he is stolen away by Midianites and Ishmaelites and ends up in Egypt, sold to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard.

The portion turns now to Judah. He marries the daughter of a local merchant and has three sons: Er, Onan and Shelah. He gets a wife for Er, Tamar. Er was wicked in the sight of Hashem and he dies. Judah then tells Onan to have relations with Tamar so Er will have an heir. Onan is jealous that that child would have the privilege of the first born instead of him, so he doesn’t go through with it. He, too, is struck down by Hashem. Shelah is too young to have relations with Tamar, so Judah tells Tamar to wait. Shelah grows up and still Judah does not give him to her, afraid that Shelah will die like his two older brothers because of Tamar. Tamar then disguises herself as a harlot and tricks Judah into having relations with so she could have an heir. Judah, not knowing she was Tamar, pledges a goat as payment, and gives her his signet ring, staff and cord as collateral. Later, Tamar is pregnant, and Judah is told she got pregnant from being a harlot. Judah sentences her to death, but she displays the ring, cord and staff, and Judah admits to being the father. Judah acknowledges that she did the right thing in getting pregnant to have an heir since Judah didn’t allow her to have relations with his youngest son.

The story of Joseph continues as he is now the servant of Potiphar. Potiphar sees that Joseph has divine support because everything Joseph does makes him prosper. Potiphar makes him his chief of staff. Potiphar’s wife lusts for Joseph, but Joseph is loyal to his master and refuses. One day when the two of them are alone, she tries to take Joseph by force. He runs from her but she had grabbed his garment. Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of trying to molest her and Potiphar puts him in prison. In prison, however, he impresses the prison chief and is made superintendent of the other prisoners under him.

While in prison, both the chief butler and chief baker are imprisoned. They have dreams and Joseph tells them he can interpret them. The chief butler’s dream was of a vine that budded three blossoms that grew grapes. He then pressed the grapes into Pharaoh’s cup and gave it to him. Joseph told him the three buds were three days after which he would be restored to his position in Pharaoh’s court. Joseph also asked the butler to remember him to Pharaoh. The chief baker told Joseph his dream that he had three baskets of bread on his head from which birds ate. Joseph told him he would be hanged in three days, which he was. Both instances happened but the chief butler failed to tell Pharaoh about Joseph.

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