Torah Study Date
Saturday, September 10, 2022
Bereishit (Genesis) 46:8-47:1
Saturday, October 1, 2022
Starting at Genesis 47:2
Last week we discussed the list of names of the Israelites who went to Egypt with Jacob: the sons of Jacob and Leah: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon as well as their daughter, Dinah (briefly mentioned); the sons of Jacob and Zilpah: Gad and Asher; the sons of Jacob and Rachel: Benjamin and Joseph (as well as the sons of Joseph and Asenath, Manasseh and Ephraim, and the ten sons of Benjamin); the sons of Jacob and Bilhah: Dan and Naphthali.
We noted that the total number of persons is seventy but that the numbers do not add up. Seventy, though, is a perfect number in Torah so that may be its origin.
We discussed the dramatic moment of Joseph going to meet Israel/Jacob in Goshen, embracing him and crying. We noted the text does not say that Israel cries, too. We discussed Jacob saying that now he could die since he had finally seen Joseph. We noted Joseph telling them to present themselves to Pharaoh as shepherds so that they could stay in Goshen since the Egyptians abhorred shepherds. We discussed what that might mean, since there is no historical evidence of such abhorrence. Perhaps it was an urban dislike of things rural rather than some religious stricture.
Our artwork this week is more work by Russian French Jewish artist, Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Jacob Leaves His Country and His Family to Go to Egypt (above) and Jacob blesses Ephraim and Manasseh (below). Chagall completed 65 plates for etchings and engravings in his Bible series between 1931 and 1939. His work came to a halt when his sponsor for the Bible series died and Chagall left France for the United States to escape the Nazis. He returned to France in 1948 and began working on the series again in 1952. It is hard not to think that the passionate, human quality of his illustrations, such as the one above of Jacob leaving everything to go to Egypt, was influenced by his own experiences of exile and loss.