Parshat Bo deals with the final plagues and the essential themes of Passover. England’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks points out that when Moses addresses the Jewish people, who are about to exit Egypt, he doesn’t focus on freedom, or the Land of Israel, but on the “children and the distant future and the duty to pass on memory to generations yet unborn.”
This magnificent Torah reading recounts the denouement of the drama of Joseph and his brothers, with the Grand Vizier of Egypt revealing his true identity in a manner totally devoid of blame or rancor: “And now do not be saddened or angry that you sold me (into slavery). ... It was God who sent me before you ... to enable you ... to remain alive for a great salvation” [Genesis 45:5-8].
This week’s portion of Vayeshev introduces us to Joseph, the beloved first-born son of Rachel and Jacob, whose personality will dominate the last five portions of Genesis. Yet strangely, Chapter 38 disrupts the Joseph narrative with an aside about his brother Judah. Why is Joseph’s life story interrupted by Judah’s? What does it teach us?
Shabbat candles: 5:30 p.m.
Torah reading: Genesis 25:19-28:9
Haftarah: Machar Chodesh; I Samuel 20:18-42
Shabbat ends: 6:30 p.m.
Family can be a source of support and comfort, but it can also be a source of terrible jealousy, fostering a lifetime of enmity. This is as true of the biblical families as it is of our own. Perhaps we get an indication of that from the opening verse of this week’s portion describing Esau and Jacob as “the generations of Isaac, son of Abraham.”
Shabbat candles: 5:39 p.m.
Torah: Gen. 23:1-25:18
Haftarah: I Kings 1:1-31
Shabbat ends: 6:37 p.m.
Abraham and Sarah seem to have been living apart when she died in Hebron, although the text is not explicit as to why. Apparently, the Akeidah (the near-sacrifice of Isaac) separated them. Abraham “came to mourn for Sarah” [Gen. 23:2], arriving from somewhere else, to bury her.