These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem


Posted on October 28, 2011 by Barer

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The end of this week’s parsha, like last week’s, details the lineages leading to the main protagonists of Bereishit, mainly those of Noach’s children.  Unsurprisingly, for those who know the story that comes next, the lineages rush through the generations in between Noach and Avram and then slow down just in time to talk about where Avram comes from.  Rashi brings a parable to explain this phenomenon (beyond the obvious explanation that the narrative is focusing in on the protagonist-to-be): It is like a person who lost a pearl in the sand.  She will dig through the sand with a sieve looking for the pearl, and when she finds it, she will discard the pebbles and other ‘stuff’ that she went through in her search, and focus on the pearl.  So too, the Torah sifted through the generations looking for a ‘pearl’ – and when it found that pearl, namely Avram, it slowed down and focused on it.  The editor of this comment of Rashi added an unexplained citation to Bereishit 37:1, which confused me for a while, since no verse was quoted.  With some help from those wiser than me, I learned that the connection is that there, too, the parable applies.  The verse in question begins the story of Jacob’s descendents, and in a similar fashion, discards most of his children and focuses most of the story on one child, namely Joseph.

Sifting through the years

Highlighting the best among us

To be a lesson