TTT: Vayishlakh 5772

December 7th, 2011 by admin | Filed under TTT.

Torah Thoughts for Today
Shabbat Vayishlakh 5772
Rabbi Mark Mallach
Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael, Springfield, NJ

1. Martha Flashberg has her father’s Yahrzeit, your help to assure a minyan on Tuesday, December 6th @ 7:45 PM is requested
2. Marlene Freeman has her father’s Yahrzeit, your help to assure a minyan on Sunday, December 11th @ 7:45 PM is requested
3. Friday morning, December 16th, 7 AM, the Yahrzeit of Rosalie Millman, Joel is requesting your assurance for the minyan PLEASE, DO NOT ASSUME THAT SOMEONE ELSE WILL RESPOND AND COME HELP OUT – YOUR HELP IS REALLY NEEDED

December 10, 2011 – 14 Kislev 5772
Annual: Genesis 37:1-40:23 (Etz Hayim p. 226; Hertz p. 141)
Triennial: Genesis 38:1-38:30 (Etz Hayim p. 233; Hertz p. 145)
Haftarah: Amos 2:6 – 3:8 (Etz Hayim p. 247; Hertz p. 152)
Prepared by Rabbi Joseph Prouser
Jacob shows marked favoritism toward his beloved son Joseph, provoking his other sons’ bitter resentment. Joseph compounds their hatred for him with his habit of reporting unfavorably on them to their father. Jacob presents Joseph with a “coat of many colors.” Joseph describes his dreams to his brothers: their sheaves of grain bowing to his; the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing to him. The brothers’ disdain for their privileged and ambitious brother is inflamed further. Jacob sends Joseph to check on his brothers, who are pasturing flocks at Shechem. As Joseph approaches they conspire to kill him, but at Reuben’s behest they modify their plan, agreeing to throw him into a pit instead. Reuben intends to return to the pit to rescue him.
Before he can help Joseph escape, however, the brothers modify the conspiracy further. They sell him to a caravan of traders, variously identified as Ishmaelites and Midianites, and the traders sell him into Egyptian slavery. To conceal their crime, the brothers dip the tunic, the symbol of Joseph’s favored status, in animal blood, and show it to Jacob as evidence of his beloved son’s death. Jacob mourns Joseph’s violent end: “A savage beast has devoured him!” In Egypt, Joseph is sold to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s chief steward. The Joseph narrative is interrupted by the story of Judah and Tamar. Judah’s son, Er, dies after displeasing God through an unspecified offense. Judah instructs a second son, Onan, to enter into a levirate marriage with his widowed sister-in-law, Tamar. Under this arrangement, Onan’s children by Tamar would be counted as Er’s offspring. Onan impedes conception of an heir to his brother, giving rise to the term “onanism.” Onan also dies for his sin. Judah procrastinates in arranging a union between Tamar and his youngest son, Shelah, fearing for Shelah’s life. Some time later, Judah is widowed. He travels to Timnah, where Tamar contrives to meet him. Disguised as a prostitute, and veiled to conceal her identity, Tamar arranges a liaison with her father-in-law, and Judah leaves a staff and signet with her as promise of payment. Tamar, still incognito, disappears with Judah’s collateral before being paid, and she conceives Judah’s twins. When her pregnancy becomes apparent, Judah assumes she has had an illicit affair and orders her killed. When she produces his staff and signet, he understands that he has been duped into a levirate marriage of sorts: “She is more righteous than I!” Perez and Zerah are born of their union.
The narrative returns to Egypt, where Joseph rises to high position as major domo in Potiphar’s household. Joseph repeatedly repels sexual advances by Potiphar’s wife, who claims Joseph has assaulted her, showing a garment she seized from him as evidence. (This claim is a striking parallel to the false evidence used by Joseph’s brothers to document his alleged death.) Joseph is imprisoned by a furious Potiphar. In prison, Joseph interprets dreams for the imprisoned royal cupbearer and baker. He accurately foretells their restoration to office and execution, respectively – fates meted out at a celebration of Pharaoh’s birthday – but despite Joseph’s pleas for his intervention and advocacy, the cupbearer, restored to his position, forgets Joseph’s cause.
Halachah L’Maaseh – Practical Legal Aspects
While the period of mourning for close relatives (sibling, spouse, child) normally is 30 days, we mourn for a parent for a full 12 months (Talmud Moed Katan 22B, Gesher Ha-Chayim 1:249), reciting Mourner’s Kaddish through the eleventh month (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 376:4). It is appropriate to offer formal condolences to someone bereaved of a parent throughout the year of mourning (Yoreh Deah 385:2). Rabbi Beryl Wein explains that we officially mourn for a parent longer than for a child not because grief at the death of a child is less intense – quite the contrary. At the death of a parent, we may be tempted to rationalize, to accept the loss as an expected part of life inherent in the natural order. Mourning for a full year is intended to assure that we do not minimalize or dismiss the loss. No such danger attends the tragedy of a child’s death: no parent would or could minimalize or dismiss such an event as “natural.” The longer mourning period is not required under such tragic circumstances because like Jacob the bereaved parent will fully and intensely grieve as a matter of course, as a result of her or his emotional devastation. “Parents expect to see their children grow and mature. Ultimately, parents expect to die and leave their children behind. The death of a child signifies the loss of the future, of hopes and dreams, of new strength, and of perfection” (see Arnold & Gemma, above). May we see Scripture fulfilled: “God will swallow up death forever; and the Lord will wipe away tears from every face.” (Isaiah 25:8)

Your thoughts as always are welcome…


A. Sunday, December 11:
1. 9 AM:
a. Religious School
b. Morning Minyan
2. 7:45 PM: evening minyan

B. Thursday, December 15th, 7:45 PM: Torah on Tap
C. Friday, December 16th
1. 6:30 PM: Kids’ Kabbalat Shabbat Program
2. 8 PM: Shabbat Services

D. Sunday, December 18th, 7 PM: Step Up for Israel Film/Discussion #4 of 5
E. Tuesday, December 20th, 5:45 PM: Temple Hanukkiah Lighting Ceremony followed by Hasmonean Hotdog Feast
F. Morning Minyan times for Hanukkah: 6:45 AM on 12/21, 12/22, 12/23, 12/26, 12/27 & 12/28

There have been inquiries about the next potential congregation Israel tour, such an event depends on several factors:
1. Currently exploring departure dates for the end of June, 2012
2. Having a nucleus of participants to make it viable – 20 adult minimum
3. Having a chairman to organize
If anyone is interested, please let me know and we can discuss the possibilities (NOTE: HAVE GOTTEN MANY RESPONSES, INTEREST IS CLEARLY GROWING…)

For updated information go to:

You can also visit my website at