Vayeshev December 7, 2017

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.