This is a Shalom Bayit Challah. With little separate rolls, each joining together to form the whole challah. Each roll with its own flavor, so everyone is happy and there is peace in the home.
This week's parsha is Vayigash. This literally translates as "encounter."
In the first verse of the portion, we learn of a life defining moment.
A wronged brother encounters the 10 perpetrators of his sale into slavery, his very own brothers who were so bothered by him that in a moment of jealousy they disposed of him!
The younger, despised brother is now in a position of power. He holds their very lives in his hand. What does he do?
In the first verse of this parsha, Yehuda—leader of the brothers—stands up to this mighty ruler on behalf of the youngest brother, and he says the words "bi Adoni" please, master... But more literally translates as "I am within you!" I see myself within you. And thus Yosef sees that there is "no man" —no interfering ego—in the room, and reveals himself as their very own brother.
When he sees that they recognize themselves in another, he understands that they have transcended their pettiness and ego, and are ready to encounter another in a real way. This paves the way for his reconciliation with them and becomes a defining moment in our history as we become at that moment a unified tribe. A Family.
While out walking today, (had to get out of the kitchen and get some fresh air!) I passed by the neighborhood wine store. Here's what the sign said "we have everything you need to tolerate your family this holiday" (I had to take a picture) oy. What have we come to? We need to be drunk to simply endure the presence of our very own family??
This week saw the greatest show of pure love in the Jewish community that I have personally ever seen. A man was released from prison where he was sitting for 8 years of a terrible sentence of 27 years, essentially a life sentence for a crime not worthy of such punishment.
The outpouring of pure joy and celebration that came forth from his family—because yes, we are all his family—was something that felt like a foreshadowing of a coming redemption. When we are all able to go out of ourselves, our petty judgmentalism and our fear for own "survival" and truly, unself-consciously, encounter another - their joys, their sorrows, their "bumps, warts and all" we will have redeemed ourselves and the world.
Yosef had good reason to never speak to his family again, to even punish them, cause them to experience the suffering caused him... but he doesn't do anything of the sort. He recognizes that all of the pain and suffering he endured brought him to this very moment. Allowed him to fulfill his dreams and even to create a better future for his family who wronged him. He says to his brothers that they shouldn't fear, because he understands how this was all part of Hashems great plan. Wow.
Can we see all the bumps in our life's journey... Particularly the ones caused by the people closest to us... as pure blessing? Can we encounter each other fully and gratefully? Can we be a family?
We can. We must. Our very survival depends on this.
The Torah is not a history book, it is a guide for our lives.
The reason we exist at all today is due to Yosef's ability to fully embrace his family.
This month of Teves, from the words "tov bas" (a good time for intimacy) is a month in which we nurture our most intimate relationships, finding true unity with another.
All love must begin with ourselves, with a healthy appreciation of the gift that we are, so that we can truly, intimately, love another, when we see ourselves within them. This love then spreads outwards, eventually encompassing all of creation.
We pray each day "barchenu avinu, kulanu k'echad b'or panecha" "bless us our Father, we are all one in Your light" When we stand unified-a whole vessel, a family-the blessings naturally flow into our lives.
Let us use the power of this parsha and this month of Teves to put aside our anger and ego, and really deeply see ourselves withing another. We can—we must—encounter each other in a deep and meaningful way, and this will bring us to the ultimate healling of the world, the final and lasting redemption. May it be Today.