Servant of the Secret Fire

Random thoughts on books and life in the reality-based community

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Location: New York, United States

The name I've chosen comes from "Lord of the Rings," when Gandalf faces down the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My Hebrew name is Esther (which is related to the word for "hidden" or "secret") Serafina (which means "burning"). This seems appropriate because although I don't usually put myself forward, I do care very passionately about a lot of things. Maybe through these blogs I can share some of these passions, as well as less weighty ideas and opinions, with others.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Some thoughts on last week's Torah portion

Unfortunately, I have yet to write any of this down in a coherent form.

The fifth aliyah of parashah Miketz is packed with undercurrents of emotional intensity. Joseph has his brothers at his mercy, although they still don't know who he is. He toys with them, accusing them of being spies, and when they protest, demands that they bring Benjamin back with them as proof that they are telling the truth about their family. Interestingly, the first words of the aliyah (at least in English) are, "If you are honest men." The irony is that we, they and Joseph know that they are honest, at least in what they are telling Joseph, but he and we know that they have not been honest in their past lives.

The crucial part of this aliyah for me is what happens during the time the brothers arrive home and the time they set off for Egypt again with Benjamin. What is going on emotionally with Jacob, with the brothers, and with Benjamin himself? What kind of relationship, if any, has Benjamin had with his much older half-brothers? Are any of Jacob's wives still alive, and where do they come into the story? What about Dinah? What is going on in Simeon's mind, imprisoned back in Egypt? Maybe the reason it's so hard to do anything with this part of the story is because there is so much there.


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