our actions and others create conflict. much conflict is of one’s own, conscious or unconscious.
the vayeishev torah portion for this week shows how prior event and actions create major conflict. vayeishev famously contains the tale of the “coat of many colors” and, for this post, joseph being subduing by his brothers and being taken to be sold into slavery.
joseph’s sibling conflict started before he was born. it started with the births of jacob’s many sons with his wives and concubines. jacob’s first wife, and not his favorite, was blessed with many children. the master of the universe, it is reported, plays a role with fertility matters. genesis 29-30. to the second and favored wife rachel, fertility is a struggle. genesis 30. her first child is joseph. jacob’s children’s are unique. leah’s childrens’ names are pitiful and depressing rachel’s name of joseph is uplifting.
given this background, we can see that that conflict is on the horizon. the brothers from other mothers are destined for a “dust up” old testament style.
the vayeishev portion offers the match and the lighter fluid to the conflict. joseph’s brothers are reportedly considered evil. this, joseph reports to jacob. jacob throws some straw onto build up the flames. he provides joseph with the famous coat of many colors. joseph, not to be outdone, douses the fire with some more lighter fluid with his disclosure of dreams of sibling domination.
as we step back from the story, we see the many wheels driving the conflict: mothers, a father, siblings and the master of the universe are all contributing to the eventual moment.
was this all intended? did the master of the universe see that there would be such a conflict? did anybody else? jacob and joseph were certainly aware they were pushing buttons on brothers who knew they were not favored.
conflicts can be understood. knowledge of moral values can play a huge role. coveting and honoring one’s parents were at stake. individual’s actions were going to be determined by how strongly values were held.
thus, we often can predict conflict when we see that there will be values challenged. leaving money on the kitchen table with children around or having a spouse spend time with a former paramour are two examples.
when one ignores their values, they lose their ability to understand, appreciate, and anticipate that their actions can lead to conflict.
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