This week is one of my favorite Torah portions. It begins the longest narrative in all of the Bible, that of Joseph and his brothers. It also sets up the whole rest of the story: slavery, Pharoah, plagues, leaving Egypt, desert wandering, Sinai, receiving Torah.
So, you’d think that I’d jump deep into this parasha (Torah portion), with Rabbinic insight and deep Judaic meaning. But tomorrow is Thanksgiving and all my kids are home, the kitchen smells great, and the house will be full tomorrow.
So, instead, I’m going to a whole different place with Joseph: onstage. Yes, I’m going to Broadway with a technicolored coat. Now before you roll your collective eyes, let me tell you about the first time I saw “Joseph”. I was in London, traveling after college. My sister didn’t want to come with me that night, so I went to this off-off-Broadway equivalent of a theater, and saw a pleasant children’s theater production. Years later, when the re-written production came to Chicago, I didn’t go because I’d already formed an opinion of the show. I finally saw it again, and loved it. Still do. Still get chills when the brothers reunite. And when an orchestra tunes, someone hits the money note, or a dance number has a kick line. And I’m thankful for learning to give things a second look.
Which brings me to Thanksgiving. Getting chills from a musical is something I got from my mom. I think in lyrics, I hear melodies all the time. My childhood was filled with music. I put on a musical to clean house, cook, clean closets, drive long distances. I break into a dance number in the middle of the kitchen, which I know embarrasses my kids when I grab them to become part of the number, but I do it anyway, and I hope they remember it when they have children.
For this I am forever thankful.
Joseph and his brothers always give me a chance to think about me and my sisters. We may not follow the same narrative arc, but we made our own stories. And for that I’m forever thankful.
And since this year, Joseph’s story begins around Thanksgiving, right now I have a kitchen full of college girls, making cookies, laughing and catching up. Two of those girls are sisters, my daughters, and for that I am supremely thankful. I’m thankful for their brother in untold ways, and for their desire to have a “sibling” date earlier tonight. I’m thankful for the man who never gives up.
Joseph’s family story isn’t like mine, and for that I am thankful, too. My father died too early, but just like he promised, he’s still sitting on my shoulder. There will be new faces at the table tomorrow, because my mother taught me to open my house to friends and family whenever possible. Find things to be thankful for tomorrow, and every day. Actually, that is pretty Rabbinic, I guess.