A Word of Torah: Healing and Reconciliation in Parshat Vayeshev



Mick Fine


Mick Fine  |  MAZON Hunger Advocacy Fellow  |  December 14, 2012


December 14, 2012, in response to school massacre in Newtown, CT.


*Healing & Reconciliation: A Word of Torah Parshat Vayeshev*

This week’s Torah portion, at the time of reconciliation, Joseph tells his brothers:
וְעַתָּה אַל-תֵּעָצְבוּ, וְאַל-יִחַר בְּעֵינֵיכֶם, כִּי-מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי, הֵנָּה: כִּי לְמִחְיָה, שְׁלָחַנִי אֱלֹהִים לִפְנֵיכֶם.

/“Don't be sad, and don't be upset, that you sold me into slavery and I am here, because God sent me here to save life.”/

We have a propensity to read the stories in the Torah as about them, then – Joseph was Joseph, whereas I am Eli, or Mick, or Danielle. But I think there's more to it than that. We are called upon to learn from these ancestors how we should act in 2012, 2013, and beyond.

When we prayed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Avinu Malkeinu, we said: Asseh Imanu Tzedakah va’Hesed עשה עמנו צדקה וחסד. We asked God, in fact, we pled - for help in doing justice and life changing good deeds. עשה עמנו – do these things WITH us. We remind ourselves that we are supposed to be, and need help becoming: change agents, people that create and maintain life. That's our calling. As Rabbi Heschel of blessed memory said: "Words of prayer are commitments. We stand for what we utter."

As a rabbi my calling is to help create, maintain, and deepen Jewish life.

As a Jewish people, our calling is to pursue a world without injustice, starvation, and avoidable tragedy.

As humans we shuddered this week at the incredible loss of life that we as a nation felt, and that Newtown as a city experienced.

As our president explained though, now is a time for soul-searching, of asking: /"Is there more that we could, and must, do?"/

At MAZON, that is the question at the center of their mission: How can we save lives? How can we help people escape the terrible reality of hunger? And finally: How do we as a nation plan for that solution on a societal level?

The solutions to the problems we face - whether violence or hunger - are not easily found, nor accomplished. What our religion teaches though, is:

Lo a lecha ha'milacha lig'mor – לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמוֹר,
it's not your obligation to finish the work,

v’elo ata ben chorin l'hebatel mimmena – וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה.
nor are you free to desist from it.

Wishing all of us a Shabbat Shalom - a Shabbat of peace and of completeness, of working towards a repaired world.

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