I know that many of you must be feeling low these days, with the hope of seeing family and friends, even if for the wrong holiday, scrapped, and with loneliness and darkness once again surrounding us. I know that for many of you, the winter break held the promise of making up for lost joy in our own festivals this year, from Passover, through the High Holy Days and Chanukah. I know that many felt that those five days, which were not meant for us, nevertheless meant a lot. I know, because that is exactly how I feel. Writing this message to you at the shortest day of the year, the darkest of nights, the week we learned of a new, even more contagious strain of Corona, offers a special challenge. Tomorrow, however, we will be reading the most moving part of the Bible, the story of how Joseph, who spent some time in a pit, some more in prison, and generally, had a rather miserable life, still rose to greatness. We’ll read how after the pain of abandonment by his family, the loss of his home, he still manages to find it in his heart to forgive his brothers, to unite his family, to not fall into another, psychological pit of despair. Joseph thinks of the future, rather than the past, which opens the door to the magical moment described in Genesis:
“And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, at Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, I can die now, since I have seen your face, because you are yet alive’ (Gen 44:29-30).
We may not get to cry this year on our parents’ and children’s necks, but let us hope that the will to do so will keep us, just like it kept Jacob, alive; let us decide that we will not succumb to pain and fear, and remember that the Joseph story ends not with the death of Joseph and his father, but with the Exodus, that while we might still be very much in Egypt, perhaps we now have real reasons to believe that by Passover, like the Israelites, we will be able to cross the Red Sea, and start life a new, surrounded by our loved ones.
Student Rabbi Tali