On Being Present

Dena Weiss

Parashat VaYeishev

After his brothers sell Yosef, they smear his special coat with blood and bring it to their father.  When Ya’akov is presented with the bloody coat, he appears to reach the conclusion that his sons are leading him toward, that Yosef has been killed.  However, Rabbinic sources teach us that in his heart of hearts, Ya’akov knew that Yosef was still alive.  Ya’akov’s subconscious awareness of his son speaks deeply to what it means to be alive and present in the mind and heart of another. Similarly, though Yosef is far away in Egypt, sold and abandoned by his brothers, he does not forget his father and lives his life accompanied by his father’s image.  Yosef’s holding on to his father in this way demonstrates how powerful even the imagined presence of another person can be.  Not only does this presence have emotional impact, it can also play a critical role in developing and nurturing one’s religious integrity. (5778)