Vayigash: Joseph and the Children of Sandy Hook



Surely every one of us painfully identifies with the grieving parents of Newtown. Last Friday started out for them as any perfectly normal day, and it ended as the worst nightmare.

It was such a nice morning – parents dressed their children, packed their lunches, sent them off to school. And then the peace of this postcard-perfect town was shattered, never to be restored again.

It’s heart-wrenching to just look at the ages of the little victims — all six or seven years old.

The parents of one of them – Noah Pozner (a Jewish boy, by-the-way, who was shot 11 times) – moved to Newtown from Brooklyn because they believed that it was safer than the inner city. Where will they go now? Where will they find peace? How will they make sense of this senseless tragedy?

As Jews, we look for answers in the Torah. And indeed, that is where we always do find them. And there we are struck by an uncanny parallel between Newtown and an event which took place 3,557 years ago.

Back then, another young child was marked for death by his own brothers but then was sold into slavery instead. Over the past couple of weeks we have been reading his shocking story, which culminates in this Torah portion.

After a twenty-two-year estrangement, Joseph is finally reunited with his brothers. And what we have to marvel at here is his surprising response to them. We have much to learn from it … how to cherish our children… how to respond to this and any other tragedy which may seem too great to bear … how to grow through it … and how to prevent anything like it in the future. And all that has to do with how we treat and what we must teach our children now.


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