In our parasha, we first hear Ya’akov’s sons referred to as “Bnei Yisrael”—the sons of Israel, rather than “Yoseph’s brothers”. While Yoseph’s brothers may make individual choices and mistakes and Ya’akov’s sons may decide for the family, it is Bnei Yisrael who represent the entire Jewish nation—past, present, and future. It is by that designation that they take their first step into what will soon become Egyptian slavery and subsequent nationhood. What brings about this first nominal hint of history in the making? To answer that, we need to go back two parshiot, to the incident of Tamar and Yehuda.
We often internalize Jewish tradition to such an extent that we act on it without conscious awareness, much the way we speak a language without consciously being aware of grammar. Is this a good thing? Is it better to perform an act in full awareness of what we’re doing and why? Or, is it better to internalize right actions to such an extent that we never even consider an alternative?
Here in Israel the first rains have fallen and the nights are getting cooler. A great time to get cozy under the covers with a glass of wine and a good book. Here are some recommendations from around the Jewish blogosphere.