Unraveling The Chiasm In Parshat Vayeitzei

The Secret Meaning Behind Joseph's Name

Rabbi David Fohrman

Rabbi David Fohrman



In Parshat Vayeitzei, Jacob sets off from home and begins to build his family, the future twelve Tribes of Israel. But while his wife Leah gives birth to child after child, his other wife Rachel remains barren for many years. Finally, Rachel gives birth to a son, whom she names Joseph, because, as she puts it, “ God has gathered in (assaf) my shame.” And we all understand what she means. For so many years, she’s been watching from the sidelines as her sister has risen to become the matriarch of this great family. This must have been a painful and agonizing experience. It’s no wonder she would have felt shame.

But what if this wasn’t what she was referring to in naming Joseph? What if the shame she experienced was actually from another event, a crisis that finally got resolved in this moment? Join Rabbi Fohrman as he uncovers a dizzying number of textual parallels that reveal a chiasm running through this entire parsha. The hidden structure behind these verses shows us a whole new way to understand the story of Jacob’s journey from his parents’ home to the house of Lavan, and helps us understand Rachel’s own difficult journey... Come see it for yourself!