News From Ramaz
By Jacqueline L. and Talia L. (Grade 8)
This week, we read the final parasha of ספר בראשית. Jacob is living the last 17 years of his life. Before his passing, he makes Joseph take an oath that he will bury his body in Israel. Jacob blesses Joseph's two sons,מנשה אפרים elevating them to the same level as his own sons by giving them each their own tribe. Jacob also gives each of his sons a blessing, assigning to each their role as a tribe. We learn that Judah will have leaders, legislators and kings; Priests will come from Levi; Scholars from Issachar; Seafarers from Zebulun; Teachers from Simeon; Soldiers from Gad; Judges from Dan; Olive-growers from Asher, and so on. We also learn that Reuben is in trouble for "confusing his father's marriage bed, as are Simeon and Levi, for the massacre of Shechem and the plot against Joseph. Naphtali is given the swiftness of a deer. Benjamin is given the ferociousness of a wolf, and Joseph is blessed with beauty and fertility.
After all of his brothers' anxiety and jealousy, Joseph didn't even end up getting the best bracha. The whole time Joseph's brothers were doing such evil things to him and he did not do anything to hurt them back - what a mensch! We can learn such a big lesson from this -- if someone is being mean to you, don't stoop down to their evel and be mean back; just ignore them and walk away. In the end, Joseph was vindicated when his brothers were rebuked by his father for their actions against him.