Rabbi David Kalb, Director of Jewish Education for the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at 92nd Street Y, continues his series of guest blogs below, with another post on the weekly Torah portion.
And here’s to you Mrs. Robinson . . . (or Mrs. Potifar ....)
In this week’s Parshah (Torah Portion), Vayeishev (found in Bereishit/Genesis 38-40), we are introduced to Yoseph (Joseph), the second youngest of Yaakov’s (Jacobs) twelve sons. Despite being the second youngest, Yoseph has dreams of one day being the leader. This coupled with Yaakov favoring Yoseph causes feelings of resentment by the brothers towards Yoseph. His brothers eventually sell Yoseph into slavery in Egypt. While Yoseph is a slave, he rises to a high position as a slave. He becomes the Head Slave, in charge of the entire household of his master Potifar. Yoseph is described in the Torah as a very attractive man Bereishit/Genesis 39:6 “… Now Yoseph was handsome of form and handsome of appearance”. He is so attractive that in verse 7 the wife of Potifar tells Yoseph to have sex with her. Yoseph realizes the obvious moral wrong of agreeing to the indecent proposal of the wife of Potifar, and he refuses to have sex with her. Later on in verses 10-18 she continues to pursue Yoseph unsuccessfully, and eventually one day she tears his clothes off and Yoseph runs away. Presumably to save face and protect herself from what Yoseph might say and the potential reprisals her husband might take towards her, the wife of Potifar lies to the entire household and her husband, and says that Yoseph attempted to take advantage of her. Yoseph is then thrown in jail by Potifar.
Read the complete blog post on the 92Y Facebook page.
Learn more in a fascinating analysis of the central text of Judaism on January 3. Check out all 92Y Jewish Studies - First Class programs and you might also be interested in An Introduction to Judaism for Adults at Derekh Torah™ classes.