Parashat Miketz

The Limitations of Self-Denial

We must use our gifts of wealth, education, and influence to improve conditions for the poor and powerless.

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Joy & Tragedy

My eldest son's brit milah occurred in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. In true Jewish ritual fashion, the pain of tragedy mixed with a moment of profound joy. Along with our preparations for his brit, we gave a donation to the AJWS Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction Fund. My husband blessed our son, whose name means "gift," with the prayer that he be of service to others. "I hope and pray for the happiness and health of our boy. But, I also hope that he may grow up to provide health and happiness for others--to be a gift not only to us, his parents, but a gift to the world."

Bringing a child into the world can be an act of creativity and of hope. While Joseph refrains from fathering more children, his brother's wife conceives Yoheved. And it is Yoheved who gives birth to Moses, the agent of Israel's redemption from Egyptian slavery.

Rather than denying ourselves the pleasures of living in abundance, we bear responsibility to effectively and generously share the blessings we have received. This, our Torah teaches, is the way toward redemption.

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Rabbi Dorothy A. Richman

Rabbi Dorothy A. Richman is the Rabbi Martin Ballonoff Memorial Rabbi-in-Residence at Berkeley Hillel.