03 January 2017
Oh, the drama! In this week’s parasha – Vayigash – Joseph is reunited with his brothers after many years apart. He reveals himself after initially tricking them into believing that he wanted to hold Benjamin hostage while the brothers went to get their father Jacob. But Judah steps forward and offers himself instead. After excusing the guards, Joseph tearfully reveals his true identity and cries so loudly that he could be heard throughout the palace.
What changes! The same brothers who once deceived their father by claiming Joseph was killed now could not bring themselves to hurt him again. The same Joseph who had stoically withheld his feelings for so long now releases them in a torrent of emotion. Many commentators have discussed the theme of reconciliation in this week’s reading. But perhaps the underlying motif is willingness to change. There was certainly a long and painful history between these brothers, but their maturity and their willingness and ability to change led them to the point of reconciliation.
Change is on our minds this week as we begin a new year. But willingness to change is the prerequisite. So before we begin that diet or exercise program we’ve promised ourselves, and even before we delve into the work of helping to create a stronger community, let’s first declare ourselves open and willing to change. After that, anything is possible.