Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Vayeshev 5776

Yosef’s brothers strip him of his fancy coat, and to cover their tracks after selling him into slavery, they slaughter a goat and cover the coat with its blood. They come and ask their father, Ya’akov, if he recognizes the coat. “My son’s tunic! A savage beast devoured him! Joseph was torn by a beast!” he cries (Genesis 37:25).
 
Yehudah has an unwitting intimate encounter with his own daughter-in-law, Tamar, whom he has trapped at home, unable to remarry. When rumor reaches him that Tamar “has played the harlot; in fact, she is with child by harloty,” Yehudah responds: “Bring her out and let her be burned.” (Genesis 38:24)
 
Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Yosef, but he resists her. She grabs for his clothes and while he escapes, his garment remains in her hand. The evidence is all she needs to incriminate him. She holds on to his garment, tells anyone who will listen what “happened,” including Potiphar, who “was furious. So Joseph’s master had him put in prison…” (Genesis 39:19-20). 
 
What’s the common thread that runs through these three stories? On Shabbat morning, we’ll look at these narratives closely, and apply what we learn to a consideration of the response to the horrific shooting in San Bernardino this week. We wonder what might come first–comfort or clarity.
 
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
 
Rabbi David Wise