Wednesday, December 19, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Vayigash/10th of Tevet (Oh my gosh, it's Vayigash!)

A little delayed, but I'm in finals

This past week we read of one of the most emotionally charged moments in history, what was intense fear turned to grief turned to immense anger and then to shock and disbelief and in a blast of emotion turned to blissful elation. I am referring to the standoff between Judah and Joseph. The Prince of Israel faces off against the Prince of Egypt and according to midrash, it ain't pretty. Oh, sorry... ai not pretty. Blood oozing from eyes-not pretty. It is quite graphic what Judah and Joseph do to intimidate one another. Judah almost tears heaven and earth asunder and Joseph is not destroyed because he holds on to the marble columns.

Or something. I really didn't research this week because I am, as mentioned, in finals. Everyone around me is standoffish this week. We are feeling all of the emotions that were felt in the palace that day in varying quantities and intensities. Maybe we can learn from the midrash on this portion when your teeth begin to shatter, blood oozes from your eyes, and you are knocking down marble columns with your bare hands then maybe it's time to take a break.

Speaking of breaking walls down, today begins a fast day (the first since Yom Kippur, exactly 3 months ago and the longest break between public fasts during the year... actually with the leap year, maybe not...), the 10th of Tevet, in which a number of horrible events happened in Jewish history most importantly for the biblical basis of the holiday: the beginning of the 3 year siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadrezzar in 588 BCE which led to the destruction of the First Temple. Another interesting reason tacked on is that it is the anniversary of the publication of the Septuagint, the first ever translation of the bible into another language, this time Greek, some time in the 300s BCE. Apparently this is seen as a blackletter day for the Hebrew Language and the Jewish people...

Anyway, back to studying. Best of luck to all those taking finals. An easy and meaningful fast to those taking up the fast.

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