Next year, one year
This week’s Torah portion is one of the most impassioned in all of the 5 books, though my poem for this week (“Next Year, One Year“) is a bit of a smart-ass.
After tens of verses where Joseph tests his brothers, brings them to the brink, sends them back and forth to Jacob in Canaan, he (Pharaoh’s #2, formerly boy tossed into a pit) finally breaks down. As Judah pleads for Joseph to spare their father the emotional havoc of having his son(s) jailed for theft, Joseph sends his attendants out of the room and uncovers his true identity to the shell-shocked brothers. His sobs, the text tells us, were loud enough to reach Pharaoh’s ears. To top it off, he assures his siblings that God meant this to be – the pit and subsequent years in exile – so that he (Joseph) could come to Egypt and make sure no one starved to death. (What he doesn’t say is their immigration to Egypt sets up the whole 400 years of slavery business so necessary for the next 4 books.)
Joseph cops to his true identity, he weeps with his brother Benjamin, then arranges for his father & brothers to come down to Egypt where they will be fed, given land, and otherwise lead out their lives quite nicely. This bugs me. Every time I read it, I feel ripped off. I think: where’s the real reunion? You know — the one with with yelling & “what were you thinking” & a certain amount of real-life disrepair. Unfinished business and lingering doubt. At least, that’s what I would do were I in the scene.
Some things really can’t be undone.