Friday, December 6, 2013

Xnay On The Sheepnay

Shabbat Viyigash 5774 / 2013: All happy families, Abq Jew firmly believes, are alike. But, Abq Jew firmly believes, so are all unhappy families. So much for Tolstoy.

And exactly how are they alike? Abq Jew will tell you.

At one time or another,
and sometimes at one time and another,
your family will embarrass you.

Privately. Publicly. And often.

Certainly, it is the parents who have the primary obligation to embarrass their children. Our timeless tradition values such discomfiture almost as much as it values teaching children Torah, or teaching children to swim.

But every now and then, one's siblings must step in to provide the full measure of mortification. And that, Abq Jew must tell you, is the hidden theme of Vayigash, this week's Torah portion.

Now, for those on the triennial cycle: we read this final portion of the portion last year, the last year of the cycle. This year we're reading the first portion of the portion, which continues the story of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Please allow Abq Jew to paraphrase the relevant verses of Chapters 46 and 47 of Genesis.
Joseph tells his mishpocha: When you go visit Pharaoh, he's going to ask you,"What do you guys do for a living?" You gotta tell him,  
"We're cattlemen, and always have been."  
"Xnay on the sheepnay! Egyptians don't like shepherds. If they find out you're really shepherds, they won't let you live in Bel Air Goshen."
So what happens? The brothers go visit Pharaoh, and sure enough, Pharaoh asks them, "So what do you guys do for a living?" 
And sure enough, the brothers answer, in loud unison,  
"We're shepherds, and always have been. 
How do we get to Bel Air Goshen?"
What is Pharaoh's response? Pharaoh says unto Joseph,
"Oy, am I glad they're your family, not mine."

How does one deal with an embarrassing family (and, by definition, they're all embarrassing)? The dating site eHarmony offers some guidelines.

But say you're at party and someone says "Look whose parents are pulling up in the driveway!" [Note: This can happen at any age.] And it turns out to be your mom and dad! Here is advice from
  1. Laugh with everyone. Pretend that everything is hilarious, no one will even notice that you are the one getting laughed at.
  2. Leave the area quick. When everyone is still laughing at you, when no one is looking at you anymore, walk away. soon enough they will notice you are gone.
  3. Change the subject. Tell everyone that you are going to a concert or something. Pretty soon, everyone will forget the fact that they are laughing at you.
  4. Find a friend to protect you from emotional pain. If your friend sees trouble coming, she will tell you to walk away.
Will this work? Abq Jew assures you that it could.

Glow in the Dark Sheep! Shear Mishegas!

And speaking of sheep and cattle (we were, weren't we?), surely you are now aware that Sheep Wars (or Sheep and Cattle Wars) have been fought since there were sheep. Or cattle. Which goes back to Day 6 of Creation.

If you're thinking that no, that was Day 5 - well, you're wrong. The Bible tells us that Day 5 was devoted to fish and birds. You know, the evolutionary ancestors of the land creatures that God created on Day 6.

Back to Joseph. It's been a while since Abq Jew brought you a video from G-dcast (see G-dcast On Parshat Vezot Habracha), whose welcoming home page says

If you've ever felt awkward about your Jewish knowledge, welcome home. G-dcast is for you! A place to tune in to Torah for a few minutes at a time, we've got dozens of animated short films and mobile apps for adults and kids.

Here is G-dcast's video for Parshat Vayigash:

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

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