Like Jacob, who paid attention to Joseph's dreams and their effect on the family, we should be mindful of events and experiences that evoke a sense of the Divine presence.

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Provided by the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America.

  • Jacob shows favor to his son Joseph, whom the other brothers resent. Joseph has dreams of grandeur. (Genesis 37:1-11)

  • After Joseph's brothers have gone to tend the flocks in Shechem, Jacob sends Joseph to report on them. The brothers decide against murdering Joseph but instead sell him into slavery. After he is shown Joseph's coat of many colors, which has been dipped in the blood of a kid, Jacob is led to believe that Joseph has been killed by a beast. (Genesis 37:12-35)

  • Tamar successively marries two of Judah's sons, each of whom dies. Judah does not permit her levirate marriage to his youngest son. She deceives Judah into impregnating her. (Genesis 38:1-30)

  • God is with Joseph in Egypt until the wife of his master, Potiphar, accuses him of rape, whereupon Joseph is imprisoned. (Genesis 39:1-40:23)

Focal Point

"Look, I [Joseph] have had another dream: And this time, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me." And when he told it to his father [Jacob] and brothers, his father berated him. "What," Jacob said to him, "is this dream you have dreamed? Are we to come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow low to you to the ground?" So his brothers were wrought up at him, and his father kept the matter in mind." (Genesis 37:9-11)

Your Guide

What does Joseph's dream tell you about God's plan?

What does the manner in which Joseph relates the dream tell us about him?

Right after this episode, Jacob sends Joseph, his most beloved son, on a distant mission to report back about his brothers. Jacob knew that the other brothers were jealous of Joseph. Why then do you think that Jacob put his son in harm's way?

Jacob was aware of the tension that Joseph's dreams created in the family. What do you think the Torah text is implying by stating that Jacob "kept the matter in mind"? (Genesis 37:11)

Joseph's mother, Rachel, had died giving birth to his brother Benjamin, yet Jacob says "I and your mother" when referring to Joseph's dream. What do you make of this?

By the Way…

"His father kept the matter in mind." R. Levi said: He [Jacob] took a pen and recorded the day, the hour, and the place. R. Hiyya interpreted: And his [Joseph's] brethren envied him; but Jacob's [Heavenly] Father--the Divine Spirit--bade him, "Keep the matter in mind [because the matter will be fulfilled]." R. Levi said in the name of R. Hama b. R. Hanina: Jacob did indeed foresee these events impending. Said Jacob, "If my ledger has been scrutinized, what can I do?" (Genesis Rabbah 84:12)

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Rabbi Jeffrey L. Glickman

Rabbi Jeffrey Glickman is the rabbi of Temple Beth Hillel in South Windsor, CT.