This week’s parsha is full of little tidbits. Judah pleads with Joseph to free Benjamin and offers himself as a replacement. Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and forgives them for selling him into slavery. Although there is still famine, Pharoah invites Joseph’s family to “live off the fat of the land.” Jacob learns that Joseph is still alive and, with God’s blessing, goes to Egypt. Pharoah permits Joseph’s family to settle in Goshen and then meets with Jacob. As the famine increases, Joseph designs a plan for the Egyptians to trade their livestock and land for food, and the Israelites thrive in Egypt.
Whew. Quite a bit in this parsha, but I knew exactly where I wanted to go – family. While reading various comments on the parsha, I was taken with when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and says, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold me here, for it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Gen. 45:4-4)
Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, in his D’var, comments that “This is a Jewish response to suffering. It’s the biblical version of ‘everything happens for a reason.’” Rabbi Moskovitz continues with “But it is more complex than that. The Jewish response is that something good can come from, or be made from, every challenge or disappointment or heartache life throws at us. It’s making lemonade out of lemons.”
I have always questioned why certain things happened in my life – my father passing away in a horrible death when I was four, my mother remarrying and the relationship I had with her husband, moving from New York City to a small town in the Hudson Valley that was not overly friendly, and then ending up in Saratoga, where I faced another tragedy, that of Dennis’ passing.
Though I grew up connected with family, as my generation grew up, we did not keep in contact and so I lost most of my cousins. I have only one sister, who lives at the end of Long Island, and though we talk once a week, there’s no real connection in our daily lives. My son and his family live in Guilderland, but his life (and my granddaughter’s) take different paths and both Jonathan and Erin are only children, without cousins or connections to much family.
It is interesting that Dennis always pushed me to do more with the Temple. Any time I would waver about a committee or activity, he would tell me to go ahead and do it. And so I became involved. And the Temple has been there for me.
So, who is my family? When I started going to Temple Sinai, I had no idea that it would become my family. I made some friends, talked to people, and eventually friendships formed that have lasted years. There are people I can call on the spur of the moment; others call me daily, to check and make sure I’m okay. I often get together with some to go out for a meal or a walk or just take a ride somewhere. These people were there for me, and are always available in my time of need. They are the ones who include me in their family activities, which shows me that family is
not always the ones you think of as family.
I thought it very appropriate, that, as we were reading the Joseph story over the last few weeks, I had breakfast or lunch with friends from Temple. Each time, our conversations turned to Temple Sinai and every one of my meal companions called the Temple their family.
So is this the biblical version of “everything happens for a reason?” I tend to think of it as a part of life and am so grateful for my family of Temple Sinai.