Updated: Jan 1
VAYIGASH (GEN 44:18- 47:27)
This week’s parshah opens with Judah (who, of course, is the brother who originally argued that they all sell Joseph as a slave in the first place), asking that he himself replace Benjamin as a slave rather than return home without him. This full circle is enough to convince Joseph that the brothers have changed, and he asks his attendants to leave, then reveals himself to be their brother, there is some crying, asking about Jacob, etc etc.
So, we’ve now had “the Joseph story” for weeks- which is good, because it is, arguably, as I’ve said, really interesting. The characters feel really authentic, and last more than just a few lines, which allows you to actually feel a connection with them. Especially, here at the end, I think that is what matters most, because this seems ultimately to me, to be a story of forgiveness. I mean, they actually SOLD HIM AS INTO SLAVERY.
I do think it’s hard, sometimes, to think about these bible stories in any culturally-relational way (“the-rape-of-Dinah” I’m looking at you) - because any time we look back on things we have to remember we have these 2021 goggles on that we can’t take off, so things don’t really translate…. Buuuuttttt….. still. Even back then, being sold by your family was… yikes. I mean. It’s just really shitty, there’s no way around it. It’s worse that being cast out. I mean, he was SOLD.
Anyway, it was really bad. And by the end of it, he says to them, it’s OK. Don’t blame yourself anymore, it was G-d’s plan (which my brain translated into “it worked out the way it was supposed to” because I have some trouble with a personified g-d form).
I think that, as queer people, we are forced to believe in ourselves in a different way than cisgender or heterosexual people ever have to. And for me anyway, that feeling started to feel a little bit like “a g-d something”. Like, the deeper I dug, (was forced to dig?), the more true/obvious it seemed. After I came out, it felt like there was no place to hide, and I had no place to go but to search deep deep within myself, questioning, making sure I hadn’t made a mistake (honestly sometimes wishing I did). But it only made it more and more clear that this was right- that who I am, the way I was made, as a transgender person- in THIS body, with THIS gender, was real. And so then, if this is just who I am… OK, well I don’t really know how to make that leap into g-d, but it feels like it’s there. That, somehow, I guess, ultimately, when I really reached deep down, and felt MOST ALONE, I also, somehow, wasn’t.
And (getting back on track here)- that’s what I felt in the Joseph story. He says to his brothers. Yes, it sucks. Yeah, it was terrible. But, g-d was with me, this is how things are, things are OK, and look at all the good I can do now, now that I am who I am.