The End Of Genesis

I discuss the parsha with Rabbi Rabbs Mondays at 7pm PST on my live cam.

This week we talk about the Torah portion of Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27).

Video seven has been deleted because we said some things that were not accurate.

* When Joseph tells his brothers not to be distressed for selling him into slavery (Gen. 45:6), does he mean it or is he just trying to comfort them? When he says it was part of God’s plan, does he mean it?

* Joseph lavishes special favors on Benjamin and then sends his brothers home to Jacob with the instruction to not quarrel. (Gen. 45:24)

* The Torah is obsessed with justice. So are Jews. The Torah wants a world of balance. If you lie, there should be equivalent punishment. Eye for an eye is just. Jacob does not believe the brothers when they say that Joseph rules Egypt. When the brothers deceived about Joseph being dead, Jacob believed them. When they say truth, not believe.

* Then Jacob sees the wagons that Joseph sent. Money talk more powerfully than words.

* Artscroll on Gen. 45:27 says the divine spirit rests only amid joy.

* When God identifies himself, he does it as the concrete God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, rather than as the universal source of morality. The latter would not have worked. Abstract moral principles are not enough, you need a concrete people to live them and the only way to maintain a commitment to principles is through ritual observance. Rituals guard ethics (Dennis Prager).

* Judaism isn’t stoical. Jews give vent to their emotions from Genesis to the present day. This is dramatic to me as I was raised a stoical Protestant. So the patriarchs and other Biblical characters are much more real and accessible to me since I converted to Judaism. As a Christian, they were also my ancestors, but they lived contrary to Protestantism. They had dietary laws. They were very emotional. They lusted. They observed mourning rituals. They were tribal. They had attachments to places such as Israel.

* Jews were shepherds. Egyptians despised that profession, just as Christians despised money lenders in the Middle Ages and pornographers today.

Jews wanted their own area and Egyptians wanted to put them in their own area.

It’s important to know your place in life.

Should Jews live in their own enclaves as they did at Goshen?

* Awareness of being strangers in Egypt left a profound impression on the Jewish consciousness and is a source of numerous statements in the Torah such as to the love the stranger.

* What do you think of Rabbi Meir Kahane?

* Dennis Prager: “The greatest human task is to see people different from us as fully human. One of the few places to embark on this task is America.”

* Was it hard for you to grow up to see other groups as fully human? Blacks or women or Reform Jews?

* Do you feel any comfort with Genesis being filled with dysfunctional families and imperfect people?

* Orthodox rabbi Emmanuel Rackman said God created doubt. If we didn’t have doubt, we wouldn’t have freedom of choice. Does anything affect your faith in God and in the divine status of Torah? Sexual tension is a good thing. Is tension with God good? Do you struggle with God? Do children born deformed affect your faith? How about the Holocaust?

* Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Or character? Do you think your life has been easier than Joseph’s or Jacob’s or Isaac’s or Abraham’s? Do we expect too much from family?

* Rabbi Rabbs posts to FB: Ugh! I just witnessed some frightening child abuse right in front of everyone, and none of us did a damn thing about it. I got so much anger right now.

i’m living proof that years of therapy doesn’t do jack. shrinks are a fraud. I CANNOT STAND UP FOR MYSELF OR FOR OTHERS AGAINST ABUSIVE ASSHOLES and all the therapy in the world can’t changed that.

* When the Torah commands us to love the stranger, does that mean that we learn to love the stranger in ourselves? Our shadow? How is your self-esteem? Have you learned to love yourself?

* The enslavement of the Egyptians is attributed to Joseph. Does enslavement happen to a nation without its consent? I dig how the Torah blames not Joseph but the Egyptians for willingly and gratefully selling themselves into slavehood (Gen. 47:25).

* Does God intervene in our lives as much as He did with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?

* If Jacob only had some therapy and parenting classes!

* Did the patriarchs speak Yiddish?

* Why isn’t Joseph a tribe?

* Why do pro football teams maintain the same identities over decades? For instance, the Dallas Cowboys have always been finesse teams and the Pittsburgh Steelers power teams. I guess stadium and weather influence this. Mike Shanahan designed the Broncos around playing at Mile High Stadium.

DrMabuse: How did Adam and Eve produce such a diversity of offspring so quickly that in just a few thousand years we have dark negroes, swedes, chinese, melanesians etc?
gufds: They begot different races by doing each other in different positions.

DrMabuse: What if God sent you John Travolta, and he said “give me oral and I will make you famous and rich”
DrMabuse: But if He sent me Mila Kunis and/or Katy Perry, well, I would not kick Mila Kunis out
Beth: I might fall on that grenade if he’d publically admit Scientology is a scam
Ellen: would it be kashrut to have torah action figures or would that be too close to idols?
DrMabuse: Rabbs could marry a sterile woman
Ellen: should we enforce a parenting license you need to get before you can have one
DrMabuse: Congratulations to Rabbs for this self awareness
DrMabuse: Rabbs, there are women who cannot have kids.
DrMabuse: Marry one of them
DrMabuse: Rabbs could marry an infertile woman
DrMabuse: It is a fact that some women cannot have children.
DrMabuse: Including some religious Jewish women
Ellen: that sounds like a hindsight explanation for being single and not “making it” in the religion
DrMabuse: Also, Rabbs could marry a male to female transexual who obviously can never have kids
DrMabuse: My deeper serious point is that there are indisputably Jewish and indisputably female women out there who cannot have kids, and who would benefit from a man to marry.
DrMabuse: And Rabbs would benefit from getting married to such a woman.
Ellen: how much tv do you guys watch?
Ellen: what do you do for fun Luke
Ellen: outside of studying torah
gufds: Rabbs, you should take up reading Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. They are almost as deep as the Torah…
Ellen: i could just see you two – mystery science theater
YourMoralLeader: how did you find our show?
Ellen: i stumbled on it, and it’s been entertaining me for sometime
Ellen: does rabbs REALLy believe that strongly?
YourMoralLeader: i am curious what amuses you? is it the psycho case study?
YourMoralLeader: i think he does
Ellen: i’ve had a jewish upbringing by non-religious parents. my mother still tries to keep shabbat, my father denounces religious altogether, my sibling went to Hillel and Yula, and Barilan, me not. I feel like you two are somewhat of a gateway to a hidden
Ellen: or secret world. most orthodox, as mentioned in the article you posted, shun the outside world
Ellen: and you two embrace others – its just very different and amusing – you’re like an orthodox mole

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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