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01/14/2019 01:07:52 PM


From Jill Liflander, Educational Director:

Joseph On My Mind


Joseph the dreamer has been lingering an unusually long time in my subconscious this winter! He floats through my mind as I ruminate on his behavior towards his brothers. Even though I do own a funky multicolored coat, I long for a technicolor dream coat of my own, that’s sublime, fantastic and virtually glows. I’m singing corny songs from the musical (…children of Israel are never alooooone…) and I’m incredulous every time I think about Jacob’s favoritism towards Joseph. SMH. (shaking my head).

Spending Tuesday afternoons studying with Ruth and the B’nei Mitzvah class, I am becoming more intimately acquainted with the familial structures within the Torah. Observing the repetition of generational mis-steps is mind-blowing, and admittedly reassuring; Perhaps my own family’s mishegas isn’t so unique after all.


Seriously though, how could Jacob pick a favorite son after all that he had been through? Hadn’t he learned from his own life, how his relationship with Esau mangled by deceit and trickery? And how could Joseph have been so arrogant? So daft? Didn’t he know that his brothers would kick his *** after listening to his incendiary dreams, so obviously about his inherent superiority?


It’s all part of a larger story, and each piece has to happen for it all to unfold. I think that’s what moves me the most these days and brings the Torah home. If Joseph hadn’t goaded his brothers with his arrogance, he wouldn’t have been thrown into a pit and sold into slavery… He never would have traveled to Egypt as a slave…One of the most epic sagas of Jewish history would never have been set into motion. Mistake A brings about wonderful experience B, growth opportunity C and then all of the ups and downs to follow, D-Z. I suspect that defining actions as mistakes or missteps could be shortchanging the Divine order of things too. It’s so hard to have a bird’s eye perspective; Perhaps everything unfolds perfectly, the way it all needs to happen for soulful growth.


A dear friend is in drug rehab for the second time in a year. I keep hoping that maybe this reckoning, to be face to face with her bad decisions and the compost of her horrible outcomes, is the fertile ground where she begins to develop into who she is meant to be. Like Joseph in jail, his dream telling abilities finally ripening-the right time and the right place- to be put to good use. I’m trying to look at my friend’s life in a grand view, like all of the people and families in the Torah, moving pieces in a larger saga of connection and triumph, failure and redemption.


Identifying with the Torah and the steep learning curve of the matriarchs and patriarchs makes my own stumbles and blunders seem less maddening. It humanizes our struggles and reminds us that we are human beings on an arc of a path of learning how to be, on a personal level and on a societal level.


Happy 2019! Another trip around the Gregorian calendar, another opportunity to make mistakes, to learn from our mis-steps, and to dream our dreams.





Sun, January 20 2019 14 Shevat 5779