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Sermon: Parshat Mikeitz, 12/18/20

12/23/2020 01:09:37 PM

Dec23

Rabbi Charlie

Watch Rabbi Charlie deliver this sermon HERE.

 

Shabbat Shalom!

We are in the midst of Joseph’s story. Joseph interprets pharaoh’s dreams, he’s been elevated and is in the process of managing seven years of famine for the entire region. Meanwhile, Jacob is not doing well. When his sons return from Egypt with food, he knows that they aren’t going to starve. But the food delivery is offset by the fact that Shimon is in jail and they won’t be able to get more food unless Benjamin goes down to Egypt.

Jacob’s response: "You have left me bereft! Joseph is no more and Shimon is no more, and now you would take away Benjamin. All these things have befallen me!" (Gen 42:36 TNK). When Reuven tries to convince his father to let Benjamin go down with him, Jacob responds back, “My son shall not go down with you – his brother is dead and he alone remains…” (Gen 42:38).

After years and years, Jacob has never gotten over the loss of Joseph. He’s still grieving. And he is also still playing favorites. “The Torah, A Women’s Commentary” points out that Jacob, in explaining that Benjamin alone remains, again denies an emotional connection with ten of his sons. He remains oblivious to the pain and alienation such favoritism causes.

From this passage, it’s clear that Jacob needed help to deal with the loss he’s experienced and the challenges he’s created for himself within his family. It’s not always helpful to place a 21st Century perspective on a Biblical text, but in this instance, if a good therapist would have been available, I’m comfortable arguing that it would have been a benefit to Jacob and his family. Then again, I’m comfortable arguing that anyone who is struggling to cope with either traumatic episodes or the normal ups and downs of life would benefit from a good therapist.

And right now, that would include most of us… Some people are doing alright, but more and more people are experiencing Zoom fatigue. More people are getting frustrated with restrictions due to the pandemic. More people just want to be with other people. And more people are struggling with mental health issues.

This pandemic has been hard! And it’s not over yet, so I want to stress that even though some people are starting to receive the vaccine that we still need to use caution and follow the recommendations to wear masks and stay physically distant from one another. And in addition to caring for our physical health, I want to encourage all of us to get a mental health checkup.

We get physicals each year – at least we’re supposed to. In the same way, we should reach out to a therapist to get the equivalent of a mental health physical. Have three or four sessions with a therapist that you can work with to give you the time to focus on you and assess how you’re doing. Yes, it may take a few attempts to find the right therapist. And yet we should appreciate that this kind of check up is good for us and it’s good for every member of our household.

If you don’t know where to start, I encourage you to reach out to Dr. Robbie Kinney at Jewish Family Services in Colleyville. He is an incredible resource for our community. He operates on a sliding scale and he can make recommendations if he’s not the right person for you. His office is in Colleyville intentionally so he can help meet the mental health needs of our congregation.

And if you’re having more severe difficulties with depression or you are having thoughts about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Fortunately, we have resources available to us that our Biblical ancestors never had. We just need to utilize them. Don’t wait. Get a mental health check up within the next few weeks. Take care of yourself – you deserve it!

Shabbat Shalom!

Thu, January 21 2021 8 Sh'vat 5781