Judaism Inward Or Outward? The Great Debate #2
Yosef: Tear Down that Wall; Yehudah: Keep Up that Wall
Class Summary:
On his deathbed Jacob speaks to Joseph: “A charming son is Joseph, a son charming to the eye; the women strode along to see him. They made his life bitter and they quarreled with him; archers despised him.” Rashi explains: “The women of Egypt strode out on the wall to gaze upon his beauty. Of the women, each one strode to a place from which she could catch a glimpse of him.” What is Jacob trying to bring out? Literally, that Joseph’s beauty was dazzling. Not only was he appealing to any eye that saw him, but even the Egyptian women were enthralled by his figure. They ascended the walls and fortresses of Egypt to be able to gaze at him. But why is this so relevant on the deathbed of Jacob? There is a remarkable law in Talmud. While when the Temple existed in Jerusalem you can only eat the meat of the sacrifices within the Jerusalem walls, when the Tabernacle stood in Shilo, in Joseph’s territory, you can eat the meat of the offerings as far as the eye could behold the Tabernacle. This law captures the magic and revolution of Joseph which we must appreciate today. For this we have to understand what was at the root of this conflict in the first family of Israel?  Could it be that a multicolored coat or a favorite son’s share of his father’s affections should generate such profound strife? Something deeper was at stake. Joseph and Judah (representing the other brothers) embodied two divergent world-views. They possessed different approaches on the meaning of Judaism, which was just beginning to bud, and the place of the Jewish people in society. The conflict still persists in the Jewish world (though in a different form). At last, perhaps, we can create peace between the weltanschauung of Yehudah and Yosef.