Parshat Vayechi: Solving the Jewish identity crisis (IV)

“And Joseph said to his brethren, ‘I die; but God will surely remember you, and bring you up out of this land unto the land which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob’.” (Genesis 50:24)

We said in our commentaries on the previous portions in the book of Genesis, that Joseph as the inheritor of the birthright embodies Jacob’s legacy, which is making goodness prevail in the world.

This goodness is the one God wants to rule in human consciousness, based on the firm ethical foundation that does not compromise or yield to evil. This is the kind of goodness that benefits all and doesn’t have losers, for we all win when we partake in true goodness. This is Israel’s mission stated and commanded in the Torah as the essence and identity of the Jewish people.

Joseph’s words can be understood as prophetic vision, in regards to times when goodness seems to disappear from our midst, because evil ways become the norm and an acceptable way of life as it has happened in diverse periods of history.

These times are similar to those when Joseph “dies”, and then we have to wait on God’s goodness that transcends all dimensions of existence and is beyond the laws that rule His creation. This is the Divine goodness that some call “Divine Providence”, but is actually unfathomable to human understanding.

This is the one that later came to deliver the children of Israel from the slavery and oppression in Egypt, that repeatedly broke the laws of nature, from the ten plagues through the split of the Sea of Reeds, and to the manah in the desert among other marvels and miracles.

This goodness referred in Joseph’s words is the same that the Creator will provide with similar wonders for His final redemption. The effect in human consciousness will be also similar to what happened to the children of Israel when they left the burdens and ballasts of the slave mentality under the abjection of the Egyptian lifestyle, in order to enter the consciousness of moral freedom, granted by goodness as the ethical principle that rules God’s creation.

Joseph promised us that “God will surely remember” His people, not only for their redemption from slavery and oppression under Egypt’s Pharaoh, but also for our final redemption from the slavery and oppression of evil ways derived from ego’s materialistic fantasies and illusions, in which we get trapped in attachments, obsessions and addictions that keep us captive to death.

When we see goodness disappear as we saw it with the rise of Nazi Germany, we are left in God’s goodness to redeem us from that and other kinds of evil. In such circumstances we have to return to the essence of our Jewish identity that maintains goodness in this world united to God’s goodness. Thus we will be able to eradicate evil from human consciousness and enter in the Divine goodness where there is no limits to know our Creator, as promised by our Prophets.

“And the house of Jacob shall be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble; and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken.” (Obadiah 1:18)

Jacob and Joseph are aspects of the same Jewish identity when empowered with the awareness of God’s goodness, for the times when the only purpose of human consciousness will be the knowledge of God. May Joseph words be fulfilled in our times, as they were fulfilled in the times of the Exodus from Egypt.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Zefat.
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