Rabbi Arthur Waskow 12/18/2003
Each year as the days darken into winter, the cycle of Torah readings returns to the story of Joseph and his brothers. It is almost as if the rhythm of the seasons were joining in the rhythm of the readings, to teach us that we are entering the dark side of the tradition.
And the story darkens us, each time we read it.
For the story of Joseph is one of ambition, envy, material power and slavery. Even darker: it is a story not only of slavery to human beings, but slavery to fate. It is a story of determinism, not the free will and vigorous choice that marked the lives of his forebears. Indeed, Joseph himself explains his suffering by saying it was all foreshaped by God, inevitable; and he explains the doubling of Pharaoh's dream/s by saying they were proof that the future was cast-iron.