Friday, October 3, 2008

1:3:89 - I plead guilty

Crossposted to The Reform Shuckle.

I've heard the midrash before that Yosef "made eyes at girls, he walked with a swagger, and he styled his hair." I've never given it much thought, though. On the surface, it seems to simply point out why it is that his brother's disliked him so much. He was one of those smarmy, popular guys, always around a group of girls. And the description of him certainly reminds me of many of the guys I see around campus in my daily life. 

It seems, upon reflecting a bit, that I may be guilty of the same sins that Yosef's brothers are guilty of in this story. I'm certaintly not saying that I've ever sold anyone into slavery, but I've certainly negatively judged guys that make eyes, swagger, and style their hair. I do it every day in class, at lunch, and walking from place to place on campus.

In this midrash, the sin of Yosef's brothers is an inability to see past the swagger and the hair gel. Yosef has the potential, a potential he later realizes, to become a powerful, influential force of good within a major mediterranean power. His brothers can't see that yet.

In light of their inability to see the good in their brother for all of his swaggering around and use of hair products, I'd like to make a new year's resolution. I'm gonna try hard to see past the surface of some of the people I see around school every day.

1 comment:

Anita said...

My attention goes to the second paragraph of this aggadah, "Israel loved Joseph more than all his children" because, it seems to the aggadah, that Joseph was most like him. Joseph was in a blended family, full of step brothers (and a sister). So many of our families are blended in some way, through second marriages, adoption, and even the array of bio-tech options for parenting. So, is Jacob favoring Joseph because among all the other kids, Joseph just looks more like him? Do we, as parents, look for all the things we'd like to see in ourselves, manifested in our kids? As a mother of a blended family, I can't say that I favor my biological children over my adopted son. He is the only son, and far younger, but is the source of more challenges than his sisters. And like any family, there is a see-saw of family dynamics.
It says that Joseph's "radiant features" were like Jacobs; perhaps Joseph's features were radiant only when he looked upon this father who seemed to favor him so much. There is a lesson for parents perhaps - to bring out the radiance in our children, at times they should each feel like the favored one, and their countenances will shine just like ours when we reflect back the love. Perhaps if Jacob had radiant features when he looked at his other sons, they wouldn't have felt so strongly about seeing their father favor their little brother, knowing that at some point, they shone with their father's love, too. Another way to think about this year as a parent...a goal, a New year hope and prayer. After all, as my mom always said, your only goal as a parent is to give your kids something to tell their therapists when they grow up. Either way, you win! Shana Tovah.