Vayeshev 5777

When Jacob hears that his older sons are in Shechem, a place of danger, he is worried. Doing something, anything, is easier than being in this mental state. He sends Joseph to “see their peace… and send me a word.” Rationally, he knows they are probably fine. Irrationally, he wants to reach out to make sure. Later Hebrew calls this act of reaching out ‘drishat shalom – enquiring after peace, but also interpreting peace and even demanding peace. Checking that a loved one is well is a performative act too, it creates the love it comes to describe. Feeble as it sounds, re-establishing such connections is the antithesis of the chaos we fear, and often our first way to fight terror.

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[Inspired by: Genesis 37, with Rashbam and Targum Yonatan; Esther 10:3; Shadal on Genesis 47:7; Der Rufer by Gerhard Marcks and the accompanying inscription by Francesco Petrarch.]

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