• Rabbi Michael Barclay

Table for Five: Vayechi

You Shall Emulate God In All Ways But One…


Now Joseph’s brothers saw that their father had died, and they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us and return to us all the evil that we did to him.”

-Genesis 50:15


If we look deeply, ultimately every choice we make is based in either faith or fear. It is a spiritual truth that the two cannot exist in the same space at the same time: the more of one, the less of the other. The remedy to acting out of fear is to increase our embracing of faith, and in so doing, deepen our conscious relationship with God.


This lesson was forgotten by Joseph’s brothers after their father’s death. They remembered the hurts they had caused Joseph, and rather than having faith in their brother as well as God, they were scared and expressed that fear to Joseph in this verse. Joseph’s answer of “Have no fear!” (50:19) a few verses later is a reminder to all of us to always have faith in the Eternal One and in each other.


In these times when the entire world seems to be locked in cycles of fear, it is more important than ever that we remember these words of Joseph. The world is in chaos, people are being ostracized out of fear, and it seems as if much of society is even trying to inculcate our children into a fear-based psychology.


But we are Jews, and we must remember to be lights to the world by embracing faith: faith in God, each other, and our Jewish communities to do what is right and true to Jewish teachings.


May we all choose faith over fear in every moment; and see our faith rewarded with joy, good health, and peace.



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