Arrogance or Love? – the Biblical Story of Joseph

Two years ago, my life-partner, co-author, and often co-teacher Rabbi Phyllis Berman and I wrote and Jewish Lights published  a reinterpretation of the biblical stories of Exodus and Wilderness: Freedom Journeys. (If you’d like to have this kind of biblical reinterpretation available to stir your own journeys toward freedom in the world – and/or you’d like to give its gift of freedom for Hanukkah or Christmas —  you can receive Freedom Journeys, with a personal insciption, by clicking to

Our book beckons toward freedom. Yet it begins with a story of enslavement, not liberation.  It begins with the story of Joseph, which we enter this week in reading the Torah.

The story of Joseph is a novel that takes up one-third of the Book of Genesis. There is a recurrent pattern in Joseph’s life: He depends on a powerful overlord in his life to lift him above others who feel they ought to be treated as his equals, and who are enraged by his arrogance.

  • The pattern begins when with his father’s help in favoring him. He rises above his brothers

The Missing Daughters of Jacob

Rabbi Phyllis Berman and her smikha sisters, 12/27/2004



Breishit : In the beginning of the process of creating four women rabbis and a rabbinic pastor there were five women living in three continents ranging in age from 41 to 61.

One, a Sabra whose Orthodox Zionist parents, arriving in Israel from Hungary and Poland, met in a kibbutz and settled in Jerusalem, comes from a family with a documented rabbinic lineage of 32 generations through her Saba, and a similar one through her Savta;

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