In this week’s Torah portion, the story of Joseph and his brothers reaches a powerful turning point. The brothers still do not recognize Joseph and, while Joseph knows who they are, he keeps them in the dark and afraid. Through trickery, Joseph has captured his younger brother Benjamin. The other brothers are distraught, knowing that it would destroy their father Jacob, who believes that his son Joseph has died, to lose this son as well.
As the Torah portion opens, we witness Judah approach Joseph, knowing only that Joseph is the Egyptian official who controls the fate of his family. Judah speaks as much truth as he can in this moment. He tells the story of his father and brothers and makes an offering of his own life saying, “Please take me and let our brother Benjamin return home.”
This offering breaks open Joseph’s heart. Through a flood of tears, he reveals himself.
“Ani Yosef, ha’od avi chai? I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?”
With these few words, Joseph reclaims all of who he is:
I am the young boy you once knew
And I am the man who stands here today.
I am my father’s son and your brother.
I am all the experiences that have brought me to this moment.
Joseph assures his brothers that they are all here through the force of the great Mystery that flows through all of our actions, words and circumstances.
Joseph reminds us that our lives take shape beyond anything we will ever understand.
And instead of trying to figure it all out, instead of trying to make rational sense of all the twists and turns, our task is to notice the beauty, be aware of the connections, acknowledge the mystery and create meaning out of the fragments.
Joseph also calls us to gather the strength and willingness to meet each experience with truth, forgiveness and love.
- Rabbi Yael Levy