How do our relationships with each other impact those around us? Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch, Dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, discusses a relationship gone sour that ultimately is still influencing us today. He shares insight on the lasting effect of the rift between Judah and Joseph in Parashat Vayigash and the need for us to work together to unite our people and our tribes.
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Three weeks ago, when we spoke about Vayishlach we spoke about a dispute between brothers that ended well, that ended up with peace and a happy ending. Our weekly parasha starts with the encounter between Judah and Joseph. The two tribes, the two leaders, that will end up as the leaders of the kingdoms of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. The kingdom of Judah led by the tribe of Judah and the kingdom of Israel led by Ephraim, the son of Joseph. These two kingdoms split and created a lived-in tension in the Land of Israel for many years, a tension that in a way ended with the exile of the Kingdom of Israel, an exile that never ended. And these lost tribes cannot be found any more.
This reminds us that not every dispute ends well, the tribes can get along with each other but at the same time can split and divide, and are unable to do things together. The People of Israel today are also made up of many ,many tribes in very different places with different views and with different attitudes. This can end up with a lost exile, this can end up with a split that will never resolve. Our challenge is to bring the tribes together to find the way to create a Kingdom of Israel that unites the different tribes and make our story, a story that ends up with a happy ending.
Avi Novis-Deutsch is the outgoing Dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary. Ordained as a Masorti rabbi by the SRS in 2003, Rabbi Novis-Deutsch also holds an MA in Jewish Studies from JTS. He served for nine years as a pulpit rabbi at two Masorti congregations in Israel, most recently, at Haminyan Hamishpachti Masorti Kfar Veradim. Rabbi Novis-Deutsch also worked for two years as a Jewish educator in Berkeley in the Bay Area, California. He is married to Dr. Nurit Novis-Deutsch. They and their three children live on Kibbutz Hanaton.