Vayeshev

The reading starts as Yaakov moved in to the land of Canaan. His favorite son, Yosef, brought him false reports about his brothers, accusing his brothers of various misdeeds. This was Lashon Hara on his part and also Yosef failed to judge his brothers favorably (Bereishit 37:2). The Talmud teaches us that the way one judges an individual, Hashem will judge the other person in retribution (Sota 11). Giving the benefit of the doubt in an average case is always good as Hashem will in turn give that person the benefit of the doubt in effect.

Yaakov made Yosef a multi-colored coat of woolen strips. This in turn triggered off further hatred and jealously by the other brothers. Yaakov was at fault for showing one of his sons favortism, the Talmud states that a father should not single out one child among the others (Shabbat 10b). Yosef furthermore increased his brothers jealousy by relating prophetic dreams of sheaves of wheat bowing to his sheaf, and of the sun, moon and eleven stars bowing to him, signifying that all his family will appoint him king (Bereishit 37:7).

The brothers really believed that Yosef was following the footsteps of their wicked ancestors, Esav and Ishmael and believed he was potentially a big problem in the family and resolved to execute him.

When Yosef came to Shechem at a later date to find his brothers at work, the brothers saw him from a far and relented and decided to kill him (Bereishit 37:18). However Reuven pleaded with them, to only throw him into a pit instead (Shabbat 22a), thus saving his life. In fact Reuven was in a period of repenting after a major transgression he performed in previous years, and many people use him as the benchmark on how an individual should repent if transgressing, he was sincere and repented out of love of Hashem, not fear.
Yehuda then persuaded the brothers to take Yosef out of the pit and sell him to a caravan of passing Yishmaelites, selling him off as a slave. Reuven returned shortly after, to find the pit empty and then rended his clothes, believing Yosef was dead.

The brothers soaked Yosef’s multi colored tunic in goat’s blood and showed it to Yaakov, who assumed that Yosef has been killed by a wild beast (Bereishit 37:31). Yaakov was absolutely distraught. In fact he morned for 22 years of what he thought was the death of Yosef, during which in all these years he did not have the divine presence resting among him unlike the other years of his life (Megilla 17).

Meanwhile, in Egypt, Yosef had been sold to a man named Potiphar, King Pharaoh’s Chamberlain of the Butchers. The Torah reading then extraordinarily changes its theme and concentrates on Yehuda’s journey as he moves away from his family; Yehuda married and had three sons. His eldest son, Er died as punishment for preventing his wife Tamar from becoming pregnant. Onan, Yehuda’s second son, then married Tamar by levirate marriage (Yibum). He was also punished in similar circumstances. Then as Yehuda’s wife died, Tamar resolved to have children through Yehuda, as at this point she couldn’t marry anyone else as Yehudah still had a young son, whom he hadn’t given to Tamar to marry. Eventually through Tamar making drastic action, posing as a harlot, she was intimate with Yehuda (Bereishit 38:18). The union between Yehudah and Tamar actually founded the Davidic line culminating in the Messiah. Tamar gave birth to a pair of twins, Peretz and Zerach (Bereishit 38:37).

Meanwhile, Yosef rose to power in the house of his Egyptian master, Potiphar. His extreme beauty attracted the unwanted advances of his master’s wife. She continuously harassed Yosef, and he kept rejecting her, she even threatened him with humiliation and physical harm (Yoma 35b). Enraged by his rejections, she accused Yosef of attempting to seduce her, and Potiphar in turn imprisoned him (Bereishit Rabba 87/ Sota 36). Yosef did a great act by refusing to be with the wife of Potiphar, in turn he was given the title of 'Porat Yosef - Charm of Yosef,' as he was oblivious to the evil eye, since he did not stray after his eyes (Berachot 20/55).

Yosef then made a huge in impact in prison, changing many of the prisoner's lives and became a popular figure there. In the tenth year of his stay, Yosef successfully predicted the outcome of the dream of Pharaoh’s Butler, who was reinstated to his position as Butler, giving a favorable interpretation.

However, the dream of Pharaoh’s baker, Had a less favorable interpretation, resulting in the baker being executed. Due to his successful interpretation of the butler’s dream, he requested him to inform his expertise of dream interpreting to Pharaoh (Bereishit 40:14), who in turn would release him from Prison, however due to his great trust in the butler, Hashem extended his prison tenure by another two years, totaling his prison sentence to 12 years, a year for each of his brothers he slandered and the two extra years for having a lack of faith in Hashem by trusting to much in the wicked Butler.

The Haftorah for this weeks reading is taken from the book of Amos, chapters 2 and 3 respectively (Amos 2:6-3:8). I would like to dedicate this Dvar Torah Rivka Bat Rachel, please everyone pray for her to find a suitable marriage partner.