[At this time of year the weekly Torah readings have told the story of Joseph]
By Rachel Blechman
Or Tzedek Alumna
Everybody knows the story of Joseph, Jacob’s favored son—the firstborn child of his beloved wife Rachel who had been barren for seven years.
With 10 older brothers to look up to, Joseph soon realized that he was different from the rest.
Like his father Jacob, Joseph was able to have dreams that could be interpreted—sheaves of wheat, moons and stars—from an early age, Joseph was a privileged child.
At the age of 17, he was thrown in a pit by his brothers and sent into slavery in Egypt.
As the rest of the story goes, his ability to interpret dreams raises him in the hierarchy of Egyptian politics and it all works out for a couple of hundred years.
The true question however, deals not in how he got to Egypt, but why. Was it fair for his brothers to be forced into feeling inferior to their golden brother?
The issue of equality has long been disputed throughout history. No one can deny that at some point or another, the world has been divided over issues of race, gender, belief, and family problems.
When studying this portion, students are taught to think “Oh, poor Joseph,” about his being sold into slavery.
But his brothers are the oppressed ones. They have to contend with being second best.
At no point, should a person feel unwanted.
This is a major issue in the United States right now. Why should immigrants from Ecuador, Mexico, Bangladesh, or anywhere else have to feel inferior to someone who happens to have been born in the United States?
Although Jacob is remembered as being the first to divide up the final blessing, he still favored some children and hurt others.
By looking at their histories, he messed up their futures.
Equality is something people have been fighting many generations to achieve. We have come a long way, but there is still plenty of work to be done.