Skip to main content

Torah Reading: Genesis: 44:18 to 47:27
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15-28.

Greetings - I'm honored to have been asked to write the D'var Torah for this week! My name is Eowyn9 and I'm the author of my poetry blog, An Advent Canticle, at Daily Kos.

Today I will be focusing on the reading from Genesis, the final part of Joseph's story.

Last week's reading concluded on a cliffhanger! The silver cup has just been found in Benjamin's sack, the brothers have been dragged back by Joseph's steward, and Joseph is threatening to make Benjamin his slave for life (the other brothers, innocent of the supposed theft, will be allowed to return.) Judah -- yes, the same Judah who first proposed selling Joseph into slavery, and who ordered that his daughter-in-law be burned for her supposed prostitution -- goes up to Joseph and begs him to release Benjamin, and let him (Judah) become Joseph's slave instead.

At this point, Joseph can no longer contain himself. He tells all his attendants to leave the room so that he and the brothers are alone, and he weeps so loudly that everyone can hear. Then he finally declares his true identity: he is Joseph, who the brothers sold into slavery so many years ago. Yet though they intended evil to him, God has changed it to good: because Joseph was sold into Egypt, he will be able to save the brothers and Jacob from the five years of famine to follow. He urges the brothers to go back, tell his father that he is alive, and move the entire household to Egypt. And the brothers (though at first terrified) embrace him and they all weep.

At first Jacob doesn't believe the good news, but when they tell the whole story and he sees the carts that Joseph has sent to move the family, he is convinced. The household (sixty-seven family members in total) set out. Jacob offers sacrifices to God at Beersheba, and God speaks to him, confirming that he is to go to Egypt. Finally they arrive in Goshen, where the Israelites are to settle, and Jacob and Joseph are at long last reunited.

The reading concludes with a description of how Joseph manages the grain reserves during the remaining years of famine: he sells the grain to Egyptians, first for money, then (when this is gone), for their livestock and finally for their land itself. Thus all of Egypt's land becomes, technically, the personal property of the Pharaoh (except for the land of the priests) and a one-fifth tax on the crop is put into place for future years. The Israelites settle in Goshen, and "they acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number."

The first scene of today's reading is one of the greatest revelation moments in all of literature. Tension has been strained to the breaking point: the cup has been found in Benjamin's sack, the brothers are in near-total despair, and Judah himself is begging the man he sold into slavery to make him (Judah) his slave. And then Joseph declares the truth.

Reading this scene, I am reminded of another great revelation scene in classical literature: the climax of Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus has just returned from his long wanderings to find his wife Penelope surrounded by unwelcome suitors who are forcing her to choose one of them as a new husband. He sneaks in (disguised as an old beggar man), wins the archery contest that Penelope has designed -- as he is the only one who can bend Odysseus' great bow and shoot it through twelve axeheads -- and then turns on the suitors, slaying them one by one with the great bow in an epic battle. In contrast, Joseph uses his secret identity to bring about reconciliation instead of revenge.

I had discussed the motives behind Joseph's intricate manipulations in a comment on last week's Genesis reading. Joseph is often portrayed as cruelly tormenting the brothers in revenge, using his position of power to play a "cat and mouse" game. Alternatively, he is wisely "testing" them to make sure they've reformed. Yet this supposed callousness or cool distance is at odds with Joseph's barely controlled tears and genuine emotional distress.

In contrast, I think Joseph's motives are much more human: mixed, confused and probably even irrational. He wants to see Benjamin again, and his father, and to help his family survive the famine. A part of him probably does harbour dreams of revenge -- or at least to see his brothers groveling before him.

But I think a large part of what drives Joseph in these scenes is the human need for acceptance. What is worse than being sold as a slave? Being sold as a slave by your own family. Knowing that all ten of your older brothers, who you look up to and admire, hate you so much that they want you either dead, or gone for good. Joseph, desperate to be accepted back into the family circle, can't bear to simply give the brothers assistance and send them on their way. He wants to keep them wondering, and coming back; he just can't let go of them and his birth family. And on some level he must still be terrified of these men who once threw him in a pit and threatened to kill him, and he wants to make very sure that he can trust them before he tells them the truth. Though he may be the second-highest in the whole land of Egypt, at this moment he is just a rejected and frightened little boy.

One of the most fascinating points about this section of Joseph's story is the new singling out of a "special" brother, Benjamin. Benjamin has been marked out already by his father Jacob: the other brothers are to keep him safe, at all costs. When Joseph first sees Benjamin, he needs to quickly leave the room because he cannot stop himself from weeping. At the feast, Benjamin is given five times as much food as everyone else (one wonders how he manages to eat it all!) And then Joseph's silver cup is placed in his sack (like, earlier, the silver in the brothers' sacks). A mark of distinction? A special gift? No: the cup will doom Benjamin, like Joseph before him, to the life of a slave.

Joseph is saying to the brothers, "Look, here's the perfect chance to finish what you started twenty years ago. Get rid of the other "special" brother, the favoured one, Rachel's son. Leave him behind as a slave in Egypt and go back to your father -- now nobody will compete with you for his attention and love."

And yet the brothers refuse the bait. They are devastated at the thought of losing Benjamin (or, at least, of what it will do to their father), and Judah even offers himself as a slave in Benjamin's place. At this point, Joseph knows that the brothers have truly left behind their petty rivalries, and he reveals himself.

One of my favorite things about this scene is Joseph's weeping, so loud "that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it." In our culture we have (quite unhealthy) ideas about what emotions men are and are not supposed to display. Truly "manly" men aren't supposed to cry, even when truly moved. They definitely aren't supposed to bawl so loud that the whole house hears them! And yet, Joseph "threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them." These beautiful touches and very human characters are one of the most amazing things about the Torah's stories for me.

Shabbat Shalom!

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 10:49 AM PST.

Also republished by Elders of Zion, House of LIGHTS, and Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I'm so glad (9+ / 0-)

    you decided to do this. Welcome.

    I agree with you that this reading is the end of the Joseph story - it is also the real end of Genesis itself - the purpose of the story is accomplished - Jacob and his family have settled in Egypt, setting the stage for the story of Moses and the exodus. And that number, 67, is not complete - is is the number of male family members. What of Tamar, whose sons are named among Judah's sons? Has she stayed with them even though she did not become Judah's wife? Wives and daughters are not included in the count. Next week's reading is more of a postscript.

    I also think it is a completion, a true reconciliation and becoming whole. Joseph and Judah have both become wiser for experience, and can truly meet each other face to face. Judah, and probably also the other brothers, have been saddened all these years by Jacob's suffering. The other thing I hear in Judah's plea is understanding of his father. Jacob hasn't changed, but the brothers have relented towards him. For both of them their confrontation is a true reconciliation, a finding of the missing piece of their lives.

    This story is so rich. Thanks for your comments on it.

    Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

    by ramara on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 11:34:55 AM PST

  •  Thanks for doing this (9+ / 0-)

    I am rereading the Iliad now and hope to then restart the Odyssey and I agree that the Biblical characters are much more human, as, with the partial exception of Moses, whose major fault seems to have been striking a rock once in his 120 years, all the Biblical characters have faults.  This compares to the far more wooden characters portrayed by Homer.  Which, not taking anything away from Homer, makes the Bible is a great piece of literature.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 01:23:22 PM PST

  •  Wow! (8+ / 0-)

    You have opened my eyes to the depths within this story.

    This has truly been a holiday gift worth opening.

    Thank you!

  •  This was my Bar Mitzvah Torah Portion (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2thanks, Eowyn9, bronte17, ramara, Mulkum, wbr, Wee Mama

    I'm 42 years old now and I still remember how to chant the first few verses.  Memorize something at age 13 and you remember it for life... I love that Kos does this.  It's so deeply Jewish and also so wonderful to see how we can learn from Torah and religious texts, instead of taking them literally!    

  •  Thank you again, dear Eowyn9, for your uplifting (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ramara, Eowyn9, Amber6541, bronte17, wbr, Wee Mama

    holiday gifts for all of us at Daily Kos.

    Two diaries by the same author in our Community Spotlight at the same time. That is a rare accomplishment.

    Here is the other spotlit diary:

    A Lullaby For Solstice Evening (Dec. 20, An Advent Canticle)
    Here is the whole series:
    Advent Canticles, 2012
    (Thank you, Rescue Rangers!)
  •  questions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2thanks, Wee Mama, ramara

    As a Jew, I've been brought up to question almost everything--please explain why G-d wants Jews to live in, what He knows, is misery and slavery once they get settled in Egypt?  Why it is necessary to have so much pain in order to have a hero (Moses)?  Why our history is one of a chosen people who are forever tortured and murdered?  From Egypt to Germany, we died because of our beliefs--and that's the Almighty's plan?  What kind of being wants --no, plans--to have children slaughtered in order to reach heaven--no, to attain eternal peace?

    I am a proud Jew out of respect for all those victim's.  No way I let Hitler win--but as Tevya would say--"Would it be so bad if there was less pain and suffering?"

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:33:56 PM PST

    •  Or as Tevye also says (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eowyn9

      "God, couldn't you sometimes choose someone else?"

      I don't believe in a God that acts in the world like this, so it's not a problem for me. In Biblical terms, I think it's a matter of God redeeming her people.

      And we don't have a monopoly on suffering. It's important to remember that.

      Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

      by ramara on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 10:28:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  no (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ramara

        We don't have a monopoly on horrendous-- but we are quite the market leader.  The error, in most religions, is thinking that G-d is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  If that's true, He/She is no angel.

        Apres Bush, le deluge.

        by melvynny on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 12:22:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you read the bible carefully, you will see that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          melvynny, ramara

          such unlimited characteristics are not there. The three omnis come from Greek philosophy, not scripture. In addition if you look at the roots of "all mighty" it turns out to be something of a mistranslation. The Latin recursor to "all mighty" is "omnipotens," which in turn was the translation for "pantocrater." "Pantocrater" is "ruler of all" and "omnipotens" does mean that, but it is ambiguous and also means "all powerful." Unfortunately it was the latter sense that made it into most English translations.



          Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

          by Wee Mama on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 12:50:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  okay (0+ / 0-)

            Then G-d is only the prime mover--not the controller of our fate?  Not the One that heals?  Not the One that is involved with present day mankind?  Then He/She is not who one should put any stock in--is superfluous?  Not really thinking any clergy would go there--my rabbis always taught G-d could do anything--but not necessarily would do anything.

            Apres Bush, le deluge.

            by melvynny on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:02:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Lot of questions there! I'll answer for myself, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ramara, Eowyn9

              but my answer overlap a lot with what most Episcopalians/Anglicans would say.

              Prime mover? Check
              Controller of our fate? Complicated - will comment more below.
              One who heals? Check
              Involved with present day humankind? Check
              Superfluous? Not in the least

              My understanding of G-d's interaction with my fate is that the ultimate goal is unchanging - to know G-d and love G-d - but that I have some measure of freedom in how I respond to G-d's calling, and that G-d has great power to redeem my mistakes and to bring something good out of them (like the story of Joseph, for example). Or, as someone else said, in the end for everyone either they say to G-d, your will be done, or G-d says to them, ok, if that's the way you want it,  your will be done (but the outcome will not be as good!).

              Polkinghorn is a particle physicist and Anglican theologian who has given a lot of thought to the interaction of G-d's will, our freedom of choice and the open endedness of the universe. From the newly revealed character of the universe that chaos theory has shown us, there is genuine room for becoming, a universe coming into being in a way that is not fully determined in advance, and that leaves room for us too to become in our relations with G-d.

              Much of what G-d does is through us, and being open to that willing co-operation is part of our relationship with G-d.



              Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

              by Wee Mama on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:10:25 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  ??? (0+ / 0-)

                Why would G-d care about us?  Why have the power to change--to have the knowledge of good and bad--and allow free fall?  Are we His/Her her chess pieces--a game for amusement--an xbox thriller?

                My original complaint was that the bible stories often have the schemer as the winner.  Jacob over Esau.  Or, bad things done by agents of G-d------David conniving Batsheva's husband's death--Samson sending in burning rodents to burn a village.  When my daughter went to Hebrew School, they taught these stories--where basically ethics loses to capriciousness.  The stories may be full of human foibles, but the victory often went to the wrong person --and that is not a message I wanted my daughter to get.

                Apres Bush, le deluge.

                by melvynny on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:27:52 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, if one believes that G-d created out of love (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ramara, Eowyn9

                  and that authentic love is the goal, there has to be freedom to choose or not choose. I don't think in the least that we are mere toys to G-d.

                  As to the stories where the schemer wins, I suppose I see them as showing human nature, that G-d does not in fact treat us as puppets and that sometimes the schemers get what they think they want, short term - but they are losing out on other, better things.



                  Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

                  by Wee Mama on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:51:10 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  God heals (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Wee Mama, Eowyn9

                  by giving human beings the intelligence to find cures; ditto other sciences. God certainly didn't give us intelligence so we would not use it.

                  For most of human history the question "I - Why?" was answered by a combination of science and religion. There was not the separation that came later. In the past few hundred years, we have tools of observation that allow us to go beyond what is easily observed, and for some people this has been overwhelming and they have retreated into an earlier form of religion. Plenty of scientists are practicing Catholics or Jews or whatever, and believe they are doing what they are supposed to be doing and advancing our knowledge of God's creation.

                  There is really no either/or.

                  Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

                  by ramara on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:54:43 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Second-Guessing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ramara, Eowyn9

      Through God's providence, Joseph was able to bring his family to a land where, several generations later, they were enslaved and suffered misery.  But in the short term, he saved them from starvation, and the Sons of Jacob prospered in Egypt until a later pharoah showed up "who did not know Joseph".

      Well then, couldn't God have delivered Israel without packing them off to Egypt?  I dunno.  The only answer Scripture gives us is the one God gave to Job, which is:

      "I'm God, and You're Not."

      Not very satisfying, I know; but it's all I got.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:23:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But she chose to answer (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eowyn9, quarkstomper

        the questioner, not the would-be comforters.

        Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

        by ramara on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:01:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Questions (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ramara, Eowyn9

          Well, the would-be comforters weren't the ones asking the questions in that case.  They had the answers.  Job was the one asking questions of God.

          And after speaking to Job, God did address those other guys too.  God said, "Hey,  guys.  Job was right.  He questioned me, and he demanded justice of me, and he was right.   And you guys are yitzes."

          But now I've lost track of what my original point was.  I do that often.

          "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

          by quarkstomper on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:38:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know if this is a good answer (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eowyn9, quarkstomper, ramara, melvynny

      but it's one I've always seen to have the most value, at least in regard to why the Egyptian slavery.

      In the later books of the Torah, when God is givng the Israelites all the commandments and strictures about how to live, there is one theme that keeps coming back -- that we are supposed to be kind to those less fortunate and to not oppress the stranger, because we were strangers in Egypt.

      Maybe we were oppressed and enslaved solely in order to teach us empathy for the oppressed.

      (As to why the rest of our history is full of other people trying to wipe us out ... I don't think we're really all that unique in that way.  History is full of people trying to wipe out other kinds of people, and frequently succeeding.)

      •  Wow - I like this perspective! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Batya the Toon, ramara

        In the same way that God gave Abraham a blessing, not just that he could be personally happy or his own tribe would be favored, but so that "through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed".

        In the same way, perhaps God allows us (individually and en masse) to suffer -- so that we can learn empathy and love for others. What horrible, arrogant, cold individuals most of us would be, if we had never known suffering.

        •  Some of us suffer and learn empathy (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eowyn9, ramara

          and some of us suffer and become hardened against the suffering of others.

          Sometimes, weirdly, the same person does both.

          I think the point is that, knowing both reactions are possible, we're supposed cultivate the empathic reaction in ourselves and in our children.

        •  That is the commandment (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eowyn9

          that is stated most often in the Torah, to be kind to strangers since we were strangers in Egypt. That makes it even more meaningful.

          Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

          by ramara on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 09:37:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I think it's right on target. n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eowyn9, Batya the Toon

        Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

        by ramara on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 05:01:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  unique (0+ / 0-)

        Actually, to scale, I believe our people's victim status is quite unique--over time and scale.  I agree that Jews should be the most compassionate of people--because we're always expecting to be next and realize "never again" means for anyone.  I basically got rid of my right wing friends--to be a Jew means to care for--not to blame--the less fortunate.

        Apres Bush, le deluge.

        by melvynny on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 06:49:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Over time, maybe. (0+ / 0-)

          It could well be that the reason our perennial persecution seems so unique is that we keep (a) surviving it -- not just as individual descendants but as a more or less coherent people -- and (b) remembering it in detail.  Most persecuted peoples are lucky to do either.

          And yes.  I have not gotten rid of my right-wing friends -- most of whom are also my coreligionists -- but I will not give up arguing with them either, and I don't hold back on invoking the Torah to make a point.

  •  Very interesting (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eowyn9, 2thanks, Mulkum, Wee Mama, Amber6541, ramara

    I've heard this story dozens of times but never saw it from the very clear perspective you present. Thank you for the insights!

  •  Redemptive suffering/ redemptive violence (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Eowyn9, ramara, quarkstomper

    The Christian theologian Walter Wink, who died earlier this year, would talk about society being in thrall of "the myth of redemptive violence". To perhaps oversimplify, that means that many of us somehow believe that if we kill the "other", this would heal the planet. But to a believing Jew or Christian, this belief is, if you will, the "original sin".

    And so it is that Odysseus kills his enemies, demonstrating his acceptance of the myth of redemptive violence. But Jews and Christians believe in the myth of redemptive SUFFERING, do we not, or at least we are supposed to if we are true to our God. And here we see Joseph develop as a human being over these chapters until he shows us how to live this life. Thank you Eowyn 9.

    Shalom

    •  I love the work of Walter Wink (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ramara

      especially his "Powers" trilogy. A much more holistic/societal way to look at "sin" and redemption than the typical mainstream Christian view of "sin is just something individuals do" and having a "personal saviour".

      I also very much enjoyed his discussion of nonviolence as a "third way", re-interpreting Jesus' stories of the slap on the other cheek and the cloak and going two miles in a historical and the Jewish/Roman legal context of the day.

  •  Lovely, lovely! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eowyn9, Amber6541, ramara

    This year I am doing my first Jesse tree, and perhaps you will enjoy the Joseph I made for it:

    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 07:42:46 AM PST

  •  By the way (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eowyn9, Batya the Toon, Navy Vet Terp

    this is the kind of discussion I imagined when I started this series. Thank you all.

    Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

    by ramara on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:06:43 PM PST

  •  This is beautiful. (5+ / 0-)
    Joseph is saying to the brothers, "Look, here's the perfect chance to finish what you started twenty years ago. Get rid of the other "special" brother, the favoured one, Rachel's son. Leave him behind as a slave in Egypt and go back to your father -- now nobody will compete with you for his attention and love."
    This is an interpretation I've heard before, and one I've always been fond of.  I think it's Maimonedes who describes the stages of atonement for sin, and the last stage is having the opportunity (and motive) to commit the same sin again -- and refraining from doing so.

    Whether one sees it as a cool calculation or as a desperate scrabble, Joseph is pretty definitely doing exactly this: providing his brothers with the opportunity to do again what they did to him, to see if they'll take it.  And not only do they not take it, Judah volunteers himself in Benjamin's place -- and gives as his reason, how could I bear to see what this would do to my father?

    Which (in addition to everything else) has to bring home to Joseph what his own absence, so much longer than it had to be, must be doing to his father now.

    It's kind of no wonder he weeps.

    •  "The last stage is having the opportunity (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ramara, Batya the Toon

      (and motive) to commit the same sin again -- and refraining from doing so."

      I love this! It really ties in well with the Hindu idea of karma. Reliving the circumstances that led up to one's past mistakes, but this time not making them. So true and a much more healthy approach to "atonement" and redemption.

      •  It does rather, doesn't it? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eowyn9, Amber6541

        I never thought of it that way, but yes.

        The entire point of being allowed to make mistakes -- sometimes terrible mistakes -- is being allowed to learn from them and do better.

        •  I am a piano teacher, and I often tell my students (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Batya the Toon, Amber6541

          to not be afraid of mistakes. Getting things wrong is the only way to eventually get them right.

          Of course, when I go do my own Aikido practice (which I am still quite a beginner at), I am terribly hard on myself at even the slightest mistake, berating myself and going "Why can't I get this right???" Easier to preach acceptance of one's own mistakes, than to live it.

          •  Much easier. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Eowyn9, Amber6541

            Which is a very good reason to have our holy books about our revered ancestors include their mistakes, rather than papering them over.

            We need to know that even the greatest people can fall into error and sin, sometimes by only the tiniest margins -- and that they can learn from either the natural consequences or the punishments that result from them, and become better for it.

            •  Yes, definitely - the story of David & Bathsheba (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Batya the Toon, Amber6541

              probably being the best example of this.

              It's very tempting, in general, for people to engage in hero-worship. Picking someone "amazing" to look up to and going "Oh wow, person X is so perfect/enlightened/spiritual/talented (etc). I could never be like that."

              As you say, a good counterbalance to this sort of tendency is to see stories about these heroes that show that, yes, they too had their dark side and their own internal battles, and that sometimes they did not come out on top. But they learned from it...or if they didn't, then worse things followed until they did...

              And that, if these "heroes" are "like us" in the bad respects, perhaps we are "like them" in the good respects as well...and we could all be equally amazing. Indeed, that we already are.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site