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Goats and Coats
Video 6 of 14
Let's begin with the why now part of the question, why now? What's happening now? What's happening now is that Jacob is going to meet his son. What would that have to do with the Akeidah story? So a clue here again is just to go back to these parallels, what are these parallels about? They're really - again, towards the end of the Akeidah story, that's what they're about, even if you think about this little diagram over here, these words, Jacob, Jacob, followed by here I am, these are the words which over here in the Akeidah story were spoken by the angel at the end of the story, when the angel stays Abraham's hand. Then right after these parallels over here, when you actually get this Divine communication between G-d and Jacob, so what we've begun to see is that all of this over here is mirroring what happens at the end of the story of the Akeidah when the angel finally starts talking to Avraham and says don't do it and I'm going to bless you. So the copious - I would say maybe the bulk of the parallels in Genesis 46 are really towards the end of the Akeidah, and maybe that's a clue to what's going on here.
Maybe the real question we should be asking is when does it end? If the story of the sale of Joseph is an Akeidah story when does that story end?
So when does the Akeidah story implicit in the sale of Joseph end? In other words, if we accept this premise that somehow maybe there's this test going on, Jacob is testing his son in some way, shape or form, along the lines, say, that G-d is testing Abraham to see whether Abraham is worthy in some way, in this case to see whether Yosef is maybe worthy of being his Bechor - of being his firstborn, whatever that means. But if that's true, if we accept that premise that it is an Akeidah story, an interesting question is when does that end? So the traditional Akeidah story - in other words, the actual Akeidah - the actual Akeidah - the Binding of Isaac, ended of course when Isaac was saved from death, that's what happens at the end of the story. The angel comes out in the pieces which we've been seeing, and says Abraham don't do it, and then Abraham gets blessed and that over here is the end of the Akeidah. So the end of the Akeidah happens when Isaac's life was saved.
So that would mean that if we believe that the sale of Yosef is an Akeidah story, that Yaakov is dispatching him on this test, there's this potential for doom, Yosef is going to die, in the end he doesn't really die. So we might say when does that story end? The story ends when - when what? When would that Akeidah story end in the sale of Joseph? Well we know of course that in the end it looks like Joseph is going to die, he almost dies, he almost gets killed in the pit but in the end Yosef is saved, Yosef remains alive.
But you see that possibility that the Akeidah story sort of ends here, is a little bit tricky. The reason why it's tricky is because of this. You see, when is it that Abraham's original Akeidah test is over? One way of saying it's over is it's over when Yitzchak is saved. But another way of saying it's over is that it's over when Avraham finds out that Yitzchak is not going to die. You see it doesn't really make much of a difference in the context of the Akeidah which way you say it because both of these events are simultaneous. We, the reader, find out that Yitzchak is saved just around the same point in the text that Avraham finds out that Yitzchak is saved. Right there when the angel comes out of the clouds that's when we the reader realize that oh Yitzchak isn't going to die, and that's when Avraham actually living the story realizes oh Yitzchak is not going to die, here's the angel, he says don't do it. So these events are simultaneous.
But if we project that actually into the Yosef story those events aren't simultaneous anymore. In other words, if we buy the idea that we're dealing with sort of an Akeidah test sort of engineered by Jacob, and Yosef is sent down and maybe he's going to die, so when is that test over? Is it over when we the reader find out that Yosef is actually saved? Well when does that happen? That happens at the end of Genesis 37 - at the end of Bereishit Lamed-Zayin, when of course we find out that Reuven said, oh let's not kill him, and Yehuda sold him to the Ishmaelites. If we go back to the original Akeidah parallels over here in the sale of Yosef, so it ends right over here when Yosef is actually saved, and in fact we've got these Akeidah parallels - over here shaded - which seems to indicate this is Yosef being saved. V'yad al tishlechu bo. That's the language of the angel, don't stretch out your hand against him. Vayisu eineihem vayiru v'hinei orchat Yishmaelim ba'ah m'Gilad - with the Ishmaelites come it's like the ram, there's an alternative to slaughter. So all of this makes a lot of sense, and this is one way of seeing the end of the Akeidah story, it ends right over here.
You see, but that's only from our perspective, that's just sort of from the reader's perspective. Or you might say in the story it's also the perspective of the brothers, the brothers realize that Yosef is going to live at this point. But who doesn't realize it? The person who doesn't realize it is dad, father, Yaakov doesn't realize it. When is the story over from Yaakov's perspective? Yaakov thinks that Yosef dies that day, he gets a bloody coat back, when does he realize that oh in the end Yosef is alive? That his child makes it out alive just like Yitzchak made it out alive from this great test. Well that only happens in - oh yes - Genesis Chapter 46.
Right? That's exactly what's happening in Genesis 46, look at these events. Genesis 45. So the brothers come and they tell, Yosef is alive, and he sees this; Vatechi ruach Yaakov - and he lights up and he realizes; Od Yosef beni chai - my child is alive, let me go see him. This is the end of the Akeidah story, and all of a sudden you start hearing these Akeidah parallels. Oh, Yaakov is going to Be'er Sheva, oh he's offering these offerings to the G-d of Isaac, oh here Yaakov, Yaakov, and he's saying Hineini. It's - because the Akeidah is over, this is the end of the Akeidah from Yaakov's perspective.
So what's happening, according to this chart really, is really something very elegant, which is, that the sort of Akeidah test is over. We hear that the Akeidah test is over by this flourish of Akeidah parallels when on the one hand Yosef is actually saved, when we the reader and the brothers realize that Yosef is going to be saved. But the test is also over from a different perspective when father finds out that Yosef is saved, and that happens over here in Bereishis Mem-Vav - in Genesis 46, and perhaps that accounts for all these parallels here.
But we would be remiss in saying that we've really solved all the problems here. Perhaps we've gotten some insight into why now. That problem maybe. But what does it all mean? I think we've just begun to scratch the surface there. What does it all mean that we're hearing echoes of the Akeidah? Here we've got to really relate to the fact that they're not regular echoes, there are backwards, they're reverse echoes. Why am I hearing backwards and reverse echoes? What would it mean - what do you think the significance, the larger meaning of echoes that are not straightforward but are backwards and reverse? I think when we ponder that, and we look carefully at the text of Chapter 46, what it is that G-d is really saying to Yaakov, we'll understand why it is that we're hearing about the Akeidah now and why it is that we're hearing about it backwards. Give it some thought, join me in the next video, let's talk about it.
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