Rabbi’s January 2021 Column

Shalom All,

For most of this month, our weekly Torah readings have been retelling the story of Joseph. As you know, Joseph started out life adored and doted on by his father Jacob, because he was the favored son of the favorite wife. He is given a special “ornamented tunic” from his father that his siblings don’t receive, and has dreams of his brothers and parents bowing to him, which only make his brothers hate him more. When the chance arises they sell him to traders heading to Egypt and tell their parents he was killed by a lion. In Egypt, Joseph is first a slave and then a prisoner, due to a false accusation by his master’s wife. After a few years in prison, and a few correctly interpreted dreams, he is elevated to Pharaoh’s right hand in order to save the land from the seven years of famine that are coming.

It is from this position that Joseph finally meets his brothers again. They no longer recognize him, but he recognizes them. After a series of loyalty tests to see if his brothers have changed, Joseph reveals himself and tells them not to be afraid. He harbors no anger toward them telling them that God meant for him to end up in Egypt so he could save them all. It is a beautiful conclusion to a well told story. Joseph grows during his experiences to be able to see God’s hand guiding his life, even his most difficult and challenging moments. Through the gift of hindsight, Joseph sees the good that followed the bad.

As we conclude a truly difficult and challenging year, hopefully we too, with the benefit of hindsight, will find the good that is coming. There is light ahead. We will, at some point this coming year, be able to congregate together again, to celebrate and pray and eat and hug. It will happen.

Until that day comes, we’ll just have to continue to congregate virtually, over Zoom. In that regards, we have a busy month ahead us. In addition to our normal service schedule and religious school classes, January will see the start of a new Video Lecture series from the Shalom Hartmann Institute, a Thaler Holocaust Memorial Fund webinar, and even a Tu B’shvat Seder.

May 2021 be better in every way.
May it bring us back together, in the real world.
May it bring goodness and blessings to all us.

Rabbi Todd