Below is a collection of Parashat Vayeshev resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1: When you see someone doing something wrong, do you go tell the teacher (or person in authority?) How do you balance wanting to stay friends, but also doing the right thing when something bad should be stopped? In Parashat Vayeshev, we read that Joseph tattled on his brothers, which contributed to their problematic relationship. Has anyone ever tattled on you? How did you deal with it?
Look inside the text (Bereshit 37:2),
יוֹסֵף בֶּן שְׁבַע עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה הָיָה רֹעֶה אֶת אֶחָיו בַּצֹּאן וְהוּא נַעַר אֶת בְּנֵי בִלְהָה וְאֶת בְּנֵי זִלְפָּה נְשֵׁי אָבִיו וַיָּבֵא יוֹסֵף אֶת דִּבָּתָם רָעָה אֶל אֲבִיהֶם – At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended the flocks with his brothers, as a helper to the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. And Joseph brought bad reports of them to their father.
Question #2: What happens when you are the one who did something wrong? How hard is it to accept responsibility? What if you know you can get away with it -can you admit you did the wrong thing? Tamar becomes pregnant and Judah condemns her to death. Rather than embarrass Judah, she presents evidence of the identity of the father of her child. Judah publicly admits he was wrong (and he is the father).
Look inside the text (Bereshit 38:25-26),
הִוא מוּצֵאת וְהִיא שָׁלְחָה אֶל חָמִיהָ לֵאמֹר לְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר אֵלֶּה לּוֹ אָנֹכִי הָרָה וַתֹּאמֶר הַכֶּר נָא לְמִי הַחֹתֶמֶת וְהַפְּתִילִים וְהַמַּטֶּה הָאֵלֶּה – As she was being brought out, she sent this message to her father-in-law, “I am with child by the man to whom these belong.” And she added, “Examine these: whose seal and cord and staff are these?”
וַיַּכֵּר יְהוּדָה וַיֹּאמֶר צָדְקָה מִמֶּנִּי – Judah recognized them, and said, “She is more in the right than I am”
Question #3: In Parashat Vayeshev, Reuben tries to save Joseph by deceiving his brothers. What did Reuben think would happen when his brothers found out that he lied to them? Assuming that Reuben’s motives were pure, why did he not make a principled stand against killing Joseph? What prevents us from standing up for things that we believe are right, and what happens to us when we fail to do so?
Question #4: Judah loses his status amongst his brothers as a result of multiple acts of deception and regains his position only after he learns to accept responsibility for his actions even though he could get away with another act of deception. What holds us back from taking responsibility for our actions? What do we gain from that and what do we lose? If we damage our own reputation, what do we have to do to rebuild it?
LESSON PLAN AND ARTICLES
Lesson Plan for Parashat Vayeshev – This lesson plan for elementary school students uses different educational approaches to teach the themes of Parashat Vayeshev.
A Question of Inheritance: Teaching Torah Through Children’s Questions – This article for The Lookstein Center’s journal, Jewish Educational Leadership, uses the example of the story of Joseph and his brothers to demonstrate an innovative educational model.