WWOT – Weekly Words of Torah: Parashat Vayeshev

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

Our Torah portion this week, Parashat Vayeshev, teaches a life lesson for parents, teachers, and leaders – do not have favorites, because that will lead to jealousy. When a parent makes it obvious, as Jacob did, that his son Joseph was his favorite child, this caused great resentment from the other sons, who turned their anger and resentment towards their brother Joseph which, in turn, hurt their father. The favoritism that Jacob showed towards Joseph did not help with the group dynamics in the family. One would have thought that, after the parents showed favoritism towards their children, and the problems it had already caused in Jacob’s own family – as his father Isaac favored his brother Esau, and his mother Rebecca favored him, which resulted in a horrible rivalry between Jacob and Esau – that, perhaps, Jacob would have not showed such obvious favoritism towards his son Joseph. But patterns of parents loving one child over another repeats itself, and it leads to tension in the family.

Do you ever look around at the many faces around you and marvel at how different each person is, not only in appearance, but also in characteristics, abilities, opinions, thought processes, approaches? Mah Rabu Ma’asecha Adonai: How great are the works of God, and each of us is a work of God! We all bring different traits and talents to the table. Therefore, in families, classrooms, board rooms, and sisterhoods, no one should be seen as a favorite. We each have something to add to the family, group, etc. No one person’s idea should be favored, just because C always has a great idea, and seems to be the favored person – like the favorite child, like Joseph. Perhaps D has a great idea, too. Treat each person as special, and have no favorites, and each member of our Women’s League can feel important and heard, and no one will feel jealous that someone is that favorite child Joseph. We all are special.

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