Connecting Strands

by Arliene Botnick, December 25, 2019

The plot unfolds; the strands connect, the future is set in motion.

We began our story, the story of the Jewish people, with “Lech Lecha” as our first patriarch, the first Jew, is told to go to the land that he will be shown and that our people will become a great nation and that those who bless us will be blessed and those who curse us will be cursed.

Abraham and Sarah find their way to that promised land, have a side trip to Egypt but end up back in Canaan and there are born Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael will be cast out but his descendants will later return some 200 years later to purchase Joseph (after being cast into a pit) and take him from the promised land back to Egypt.

Isaac (our second patriarch) will remain in Canaan but his son, our 3rd patriarch, Jacob will “sojourn” in Canaan, until finally he must, with his sons, leave the famine in Canaan to find the stored silos of grain and supplies in Egypt. There, of course, he’ll meet once again with his aforementioned son (Joseph – his favourite) and now all our ancestry appears not to be in the promised land. What has happened to the promise of God?

But the strands continue to take shape. For Abraham was also fortold of another future event. God also told Abraham that his descendants “shall be strangers in a land not theirs, they shall be enslaved and afflicted for 400 years. (Gen. 15.13).

So, it appears, Jacob and clan had to journey from Canaan. It appears that 400 years of affliction were to be part of our story. Thus, perhaps, Joseph’s meeting up with a stranger (an angel?) who directs him to where his brothers are, which leads to Joseph being cast into a pit, which leads to his eventual and temporary imprisonment in Egypt, which leads his opportunity to interpret (through God’s help) the dreams of the cup bearer and the baker, which sets the stage for Joseph interpreting correctly Pharoah’s dreams, which ultimately gives Joseph the role of administering the produce in the land, which connects to his family seeking relief from Canaan’s famine, and coming to him, and all will remain in Egypt for some 400 years as prophesied, being strangers and enslaved.

On the way, as our story unfolds, we see a growth, a development in the character of our ancestors. For example, all the brotherly jealously and disagreement with one another (Cain/Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau/Joseph and his brothers) morphs into a new found love and sense of responsibility as Judah, when another favourite brother, Benjamin, is about to be held captive by Joseph, steps up and says “let your servant (me, Judah) remain as my lord’s slave in place of the lad, and let the lad to home with his brothers.”

We have begun to learn what family means, what community means. We are able to take care of each other, not envy or hate. And it will be Judah who in a very noteworthy and side adventure with Tamar, will father Perez, who is an ancestor of Boaz, who will marry Ruth and ultimately both will become the great-grandparents of David from whose house the Messiah (The Messianic Age) will come.

So, the strands are coming together. God’s words are being fulfilled. When we begin Shmot, the second book of the Tanach, we begin our 40-year journey back to Canaan (that land promised to Abraham) but there will be that one most important stop – the stop at Sinai,
where what began with Abraham’s “Lech Lecha” will culminate, as we truly begin to cohese as a people, a community, in covenant as we stand at Sinai receiving the mitzvot, and saying “Naaseh V’neeshmah”. We will do and we will hear. (Ex 24:7)

To a Healthy and Happy New 2020 year!

Filed under: Educator's Message

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