Chanukah portions (Num. 6:22-8:4). Here we hear the Priestly Blessing as mandated from G-d's very lips. I love this blessing since it is said from pure love in one's heart. You can't help but feel renewed, lifted, and of course, blessed after one has said it to you.
We also witness the original dedication of the Tabernacle, which is quite fitting since Chanukah is a celebration of the rededication of the Temple (a permanement version of the temporary Tabernacle.
Shabbat portions. I Must Be Dreaming! We begin the story of Yosef this week, and I always get excited this time of year not only becuae of Chanukah celebrations but also because of the Torah portions. As a side note, I encourage you to read "Dreamers" by Angela Elwell Hunt. It is an excellent take on the story of Yosef and has a very romantic side to it if you're into that sort of thing.
Josheph's life is so moving on so many levels, I don't know where to begin. We first see him as being this spoled brat and the favouritism his father fels for him. It seems that Yakov is a soul that struggles with playing favourites because he did the same thing with his wives. I feel this is an inherited trait that started with Yitzak and Rivkah. Yitzah loved Esav, and Rivkah favoured Yakov.
In the generation afterward, we see a different, yet equally destructive type of favoritism. Firstly, Yakov favored Rachel over Leah. Then Yakov favored Yosef over all of his other sons because he was the firstborn of Rachel, the favored wife.
This position got to Yosef's head a little as we see when he tells his family of the dreams he has. In one, he is a sheaf and there are sheafs (which represent his brothers) which bow to his. In another dream, he is worshipped by the sun, moon, and eleven stars (his father, mother [Leah--who was not actually is mother], and eleven brothers.
Both of these dreams made the brothers resent Yosef all the more for being the most beloved. Clearly, Yosef had a lack of judgment in telling his brothers his dreams. Indeed, he should've kept them to himself. However, the young are often cocky, and in the end all went for the good.
Yosef's attitude resulted in him being sold into slavery to Midianite merchants. Yosef's beautiful coat was ripped and animal's blood was placed upon it so that Yakov would think the worst. That however, turned out in Yosef's favor eventually as we shall see. So perhap's it wasn't a lack of judgment to tell his brothers those dreams :)
Now we come to an intermission in the story with another story. Yehudah ends up sleeping with his daughter-in-law. First he marries a Canaanite woman and she gives him 3 sons. It seems that at least 2 of them end up being wicked, probably even the third.
The first was killed by G-d, we aren't told how. The next is also killed by G-d after he wouldn't properly perform the brother-in-law's duty. This duty was that you were to have a child with your brother's widow if the two didn't already have at least one child. Tamar, his brother's widow, hadn't conceived with Er, so it was up to Onan to have a child with her.
Since the resulting child would not be considered his, and wouldn't inherit his possessions, Onan decided to pull out at the last minute (literally). He had sex with Tamar, but didn't ejaculate inside of her so that she wouldn't conceive. This was a deliberate disobedience to the laws of G-d, and HaShem killed him.
Many tote this passage as proof that masturbation is evil and G-d hates it, but really it has nothing to do with masturbation. The fact that Onan's seed spilled on the ground is only significant when you remember the context that Onan was purposefully trying not to get Tamar pregnant while enjoying her womanhood. This was a direct disobedience to G-d. It made no difference if his seed spilled to the ground.
Later Tamar is promised the 3rd son of Yehudah, but is not given to him when he comes of age. She dressed up like a prostitute and charmed Yehudah into sleeping with her, and boom, she's pregnant. When Yehudah heard she'd played the harlot he wanted her burned...until she proved that he was the father. Oops! Yehudah said he was more in the wrong than she because he had promised her his last son and wasn't good on it.
Back to the real story: Yosef is sold to Potiphar and is such a wonderful servant that he is put in charge of the entire household. He was very handsome and wifey wanted him in the worst way. So she put the moves on him, but he wisely leaves his coat in her hands and takes off. Unfortunately, the wife accused him of attempted rape and Yosef landed in jail.
Luckily this story has a happy ending. In prison he was again a good worker. In today's society they might've let him out early due to "good behavior". In that day, the jailkeeper put his trust in Yosef and allowed him to be in charge of many things.
In prison, Yosef met two servants of the Pharoah. Both had dreams and Yosef was given Ruach HaKodesh's power to decipher those dreams. One would be re-instated, one would be killed. Yosef was right and the chief butler was reinstated, but unfortunately he forgot all about Yosef...until years later when Pharoah himself had a troubling dream...