The Jewish Chronicle - - JUDAISM - RABBI STEVEN DANSKY

“And these are the names of the chil­dren Is­rael, who came into Egypt” Gen­e­sis 46:8

This week’s To­rah por­tion deals with Joseph’s el­e­va­tion from prison in Egypt. Joseph is asked to in­ter­pret the dreams of Pharaoh. He in­ter­preted them in such a favourable man­ner for Pharaoh that he ap­points Joseph as viceroy over Egypt, then the most pow­er­ful na­tion in the known world.

As Joseph’s star waxes, the stars of Ja­cob and his sons in the land of Canaan be­gins to wane. There is a famine in Canaan and Ja­cob is forced to ask for grain from Egypt, as morally cor­rupt as it was pow­er­ful. This re­sults in Ja­cob and his sons even­tu­ally go­ing down to Egypt, be­gin­ning a bru­tal slav­ery that lasted 210 years.

The Midrash quotes a verse from Job which is used to de­scribe the parashah, “God places an end to dark­ness”. While this verse aptly de­scribes Joseph’s as­cent from the dark­ness of prison, it cer­tainly does not do jus­tice to the weak­ened state of the rest of the fledg­ling Jewish peo­ple. This is the gen­e­sis of their ex­ile. How can it pos­si­bly seen as an end to dark­ness, when it is essen­tially the start of their dark­ness?

Cog­ni­tive psy­chol­ogy sug­gests that some peo­ple dis­tort their think­ing by em­ploy­ing a po­larised view of any given sce­nario. This essen­tially refers to see­ing things lit­er­ally in terms of black or white, with­out see­ing the spec­trum of colours that may ex­ist be­tween those two colours. For ex­am­ple, a de­pressed in­di­vid­ual may see their life as be­ing com­pletely with­out hap­pi­ness and dis­count those mo­ments of joy when they oc­cur, be­cause their mind can­not com­pute light in a world of dark­ness. The joy does ex­ist, but not for a hu­man be­ing who re­fuses to see it.

The Midrash sug­gests that while the Jewish peo­ple may have faced their first real cri­sis as a na­tion, that does not mean to say that hope could not be found, even in the dark­est of times.

All we need to do is to search for that small spark of light, be­cause even the small­est spark of light can ex­pel the dark­ness. A spark of hope can undo the dark­est de­pres­sion, re­veal­ing those things around us with greater clar­ity than ever be­fore. All that is needed is to search for it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.