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.
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.
While the Torah explicitly cautions against putting the younger before the elder in terms of inheritance, time and time again, the narrative portions of the Torah provide a lesson to the contrary: Yitzhak before Yishmael, Yaakov before Esau, Rahel before Leah, Yoseph before all his elder brothers, and Ephraim before Menashe. What is the meaning of this odd discord between law and example? What is the Torah trying to tell us?