Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein


Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Sunday, January 15, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

Joseph took the two of them, Ephraim with his right hand and Mennaseh with his left hand...and he drew them close to him.(Genesis 48:13)

When I was a young child I often sat in shul with my Bubbie. I remember her hands and the way she would clean her glasses with just her fingers. I remember the bracelets she wore and the way her engagement ring seemed a little large for her finger because it easily could be spun around. I remember the wrinkles, though she never liked me making mention of them.  I remember sitting next to her while she prayed and I listened.  My grandmother was a deeply religious woman and I was profoundly influenced by her.

Grandparents have the opportunity to influence their grandchildren in ways parents are not able. However, it is the parents' task to ensure they have time together.  "Joseph drew them close to him." Although Jacob had missed most of their life, Joseph wanted his sons to be close to his father. Although Joseph may have had a complicated relationship with his father, he wanted his children to feel his blessing.   

May we all fondly remember our grandparents.  


We All Want to be Seen

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

In this week's message I read between the lines.  Between verses 3 and 4, I imagine an internal monologue.

Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph..." (Genesis 45:3)

I demand to be seen for who I am.  I spent my life struggling to find myself. Now I have  and I want to be seen and heard.  I might have spent a life looking to get noticed. Maybe there is some psychological explanation.  Maybe it was my subconscious searching for my own identity among so many brothers. 

I am no longer the loud, obnoxious, attention grabbing youth I was when I put on my coat of many colors in order to draw your eyes to me.  I am an adult who has arrived. I am accomplished. I am successful. I am powerful and you still do not see me. You still do not recognize me and so I weep.  I cannot go anywhere incognito.  Everyone knows who I am.  I am famous.  I am in control. They call me by another name, but my face is basically the same. Yet, you still have no idea who I am and so I cry.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come forward to me... I am Joseph your brother..." (Genesis 45:4)

We all want to be seen, we all want to be heard and when we are not, we all shed a tear.    


Just Say, "I'm Sorry"

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at 12:00:00 am

The chief cupbearer then spoke up and said to Pharaoh, "I must make mention today of my offenses." (Genesis 41:9)

"I'm sorry I hurt your feelings" has been replaced by "I'm sorry your feelings are hurt."  "I apologize for getting you upset" is not the same thing as "I'm sorry you are upset."  While I understand that we are responsible for our own feelings and what we do with them, I still can't get over the fact that sometimes people do things to me. People lie, people say hurtful things, people make mistakes yet it seems nearly impossible to simply say, "I'm sorry, I did something wrong."

There are circumstances when a person is caught in a lie and there is no getting out of it.  In those situations, we usually get a partial apology or a litany of excuses.  It comes in the form of, "I'm sorry but..." And to tell you the truth, I would prefer the person not bother with an apology at all.

From a minor character in this week's portion we have the most profound lesson.  Just say, "I'm sorry."  Don't make excuses, just own the mistake and try and learn from it. The person, who thinks he is better than everyone else, feels he doesn't need to express regret, however, it is the person who thinks most of himself that is able to.