Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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Vayeshev is the beginning of the story of Joseph, which continues through a total of four Torah portions.  Chapter 38 of Genesis, however, interrupts the focus on Joseph for a side-story about Judah and Tamar.  This is the point at which the brothers have sold Joseph to a caravan that passed by and then bloodied Joseph’s special tunic and lied to their father that Joseph was dead.  Jacob was inconsolable over the supposed death of Joseph. It is here that Chapter 38 begins with:  “At that time Judah left his brothers….” The Midrash explains that Judah left the others because they blamed him for what had happened to Joseph and the grief it caused their father. They accepted no responsibility. (Torah Shelema 38:6-8) The time-worn excuse of “we were just following orders” appears here as it has so many times in history. 

As we continue to live through an avalanche of sexual harassment and sexual impropriety accusations and admissions among the most powerful men in American society, Torah portion Vayishlach comes to remind us that the “me too” hashtag is as old as time.  Not only does the parasha contain the story of the rape of Dinah in Gen. 34, but also the implied rape of Bilhah by Jacob’s son Reuben in Gen 35, and the continuation of Jacob’s simultaneous relationship with 4 women,  Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah, that we first encountered in last week’s parasha, Vayeitzei.   These stories are written from the vantage point of men, and the women’s account of what has happened to them is virtually non-existent.  Granted, different mores existed in ancient times.  But we are now only beginning to understand how society has successfully muted the voices of women  up to the present time when it comes to power and sex.  It is only because our mores have changed, even in the last two decades, that some women have acquired the courage to speak out.  May such courage be granted to all who have been wronged.

The word “toldot” means “generations,” but also often means “family history.” In Torah portion Toldot, we learn the family history of Isaac and Rebekah’s children, the twins Esau and Jacob. By the end of the parasha, they have gone in separate directions, Esau living in Canaan and Jacob heading to the ancestral homeland, Padan Aram, where he ends up settling for 20 years. The story of our people throughout history is one of pulling up stakes and moving to a new place, by choice or by force. This weekend of Toldot at Beth Hillel we will have two special events related to this theme: On Friday night, we will listen to a program about immigrants who wish to make a new life in the United States, only to be confronted with challenges at the U.S./Mexico border. On Saturday, we will have a cross-continent conversation with our “twin” congregation in Tivon, Israel, and we will share about our own family histories that have brought us to the places we now reside. Join us!

April FOOD OF THE MONTH: Raisins

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This Week at BHT

27 Apr 2018
07:30PM -
Shabbat | MIDRASHA_KRAFTY 8-9 grade on the Bima | High School Grad farewell
29 Apr 2018
11:25AM -
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
30 Apr 2018
12:00AM
4th Qtrly MCC Payment Due
01 May 2018
12:00AM
Achshav Deadline Summer
01 May 2018
07:00PM - 09:00PM
Israel's Milestones and Their Meanings Class
02 May 2018
12:00AM
Lag BaOmer
02 May 2018
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
02 May 2018
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
02 May 2018
12:00AM
Lag BaOmer
03 May 2018
05:30PM -
CUSH Banquet - "Raise Your Voice"
04 May 2018
05:45PM -
Kabbalat Shabbat
05 May 2018
09:15AM - 10:15AM
Torah Study
05 May 2018
09:30AM -
Parashat HaShavuah Torah Study
05 May 2018
10:30AM -
Learner's Minyan | Student on the Bima Make-up Day
06 May 2018
09:30AM - 11:30AM
Great Decisions
08 May 2018
06:45PM -
Leadership Council Meeting
09 May 2018
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
09 May 2018
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
10 May 2018
06:30PM -
JCF Meeting
10 May 2018
07:30PM -
Sabbatical Committee