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Second chances sometimes come in most unexpected ways

11/28/2018 10:29:51 AM


Rabbi Laura J. Abrasley

It happens to me almost every year. I sit down to study this week’s Torah portion, Vayeshev, and a show tune pops into my head.
“Way way back many centuries ago, not long after the Bible began, Jacob lived in the land of Canaan, a fine example of a family man. Jacob, Jacob and sons.” - from the song “Jacob & Sons” in the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. 
Next summer, the iconic Broadway musical will celebrate its 50thanniversary. This enduring show reimagines the biblical story of Joseph, his father Jacob, his 11 brothers and that coat of many colors. I was first introduced to this show, this music and this story at Jewish summer camp. For those keeping tabs on my teenage summer activities, I was in the ensemble and can probably still sing along with most of the songs in the show.
It’s not hard to imagine why this wonderful story got the Broadway treatment 50 years ago by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The story of Joseph, his father and brothers and their challenging family circumstances, which dominate the remaining chapters in Genesis, is clever, varied and challenging. The narrative is rich and full, as the very human character Joseph lives a life filled with distressing lows (he gets thrown into both a pit and a prison), unexpected highs (in Egypt, Joseph will be second-in-command to the great Pharoah), concerning family dysfunction and an ultimate reward through reconciliation and the blessing of second chances.  
I love this story for the plot twists and for how quickly we relate to these familiar themes in our own life. Family and life, the story teaches, is complicated and messy. It is full of highs and lows, perhaps brief moments where we maybe consider throwing a loved one in a pit (not forever but just until they see things our way), and a reminder that second chances sometimes come in the most unexpected ways.

Wed, June 19 2019 16 Sivan 5779