37 minutes | Jan 22nd 2021

S1E125 - Russ Roberts on Genesis 44 – “Forgiveness and the Unheralded Hero of the Book of Genesis”

Mark is delighted to welcome Russ Roberts, possibly America’s premier popular economist, to the podcast today. A host of his own remarkably successful podcast, ‘EconTalk’, Russ is also a prolific writer in many forms, including rap, on a variety of topics such as economics and liberty. A three-time ‘Teacher of the Year’ at George Mason University, Russ currently teaches at Stanford. The passage he has chosen to discuss with Mark today is Genesis 44.   Russ begins by sharing his summary of this passage and its backstory before joining Mark in an analysis of the use of the word ‘approach’ and their differing interpretations of both Judah’s words and the notion of forgiveness within the passage. They go on to review Judah’s heroic nature, the actual definition of forgiveness, and the advisability of starting new years without bearing grudges/anti-grudges or ‘keeping score’ within marriages. Russ draws the episode to a close by sharing the lessons he has learned about humankind, highlighting the power of being present for others and simply listening to them. Today’s conversation, with its insightful back and forth of differing interpretations, demonstrates the great tradition of debating the Torah and the expansion of ideas that is inherent to this practice, revealing the lessons and guidance so applicable, and so very necessary, for our current times.   Episode Highlights:    ·   Russ’ summary of the passage and its backstory ·   The use of the word ‘approach’ in the passage ·   Differing interpretations of Judah’s words to Joseph ·   Perspectives on Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers and himself ·   Judah’s extraordinary qualities ·   Defining forgiveness ·   Starting new years by ‘burning them both’ ·   Bearing grudges and anti-grudges ·   ‘Keeping score’ in marriages ·   The lessons that Russ has learned about humankind   Quotes:     “Every single time there’s polygamy in the Bible, it’s a catastrophe.”   “One of the most dramatic moments in all the Bible.”   “It’s ripping his heart open.”   “I don’t think he really forgave them.”   “He doesn’t do the basics of forgiving.”   “I’m not sure Joseph ever forgives himself.”   “Maybe he said to himself, ‘I kind of deserve this’.”   “Judah…he’s like the forgotten hero of the Book of Genesis.”   “It’s quite complicated, the psychology and emotion of this.”   “If you give most people the opportunity, they will disappoint you.”   “Everyone’s in a battle so be kind.”   “We go through life with this ‘Imposter Syndrome’.”   “The world’s a lot more complicated than it appears on the outside.”   “We look for causation everywhere.”   “A lot of what comfort is, is just being there and allowing the other person to be heard.”     Genesis 44 Then he instructed his house steward as follows, “Fill the men’s bags with food, as much as they can carry, and put each one’s money in the mouth of his bag. Put my silver goblet in the mouth of the bag of the youngest one, together with his money for the rations.” And he did as Joseph told him. With the first light of morning, the men were sent off with their pack animals. They had just left the city and had not gone far, when Joseph said to his steward, “Up, go after the men! And when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why did you repay good with evil? It is the very one from which my master drinks and which he uses for divination. It was a wicked thing for you to do!’” He overtook them and spoke those words to them. And they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything of the kind! Here we brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money that we found in the mouths of our bags. How then could we have stolen any silver or gold from your master’s house! Whichever of your servants it is found with shall die; the rest of us, moreover, shall become slaves to my lord.” He replied, “Although what you are proposing is right, only the one with whom it is found shall be my slave; but the rest of you shall go free.” So each one hastened to lower his bag to the ground, and each one opened his bag. He searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest; and the goblet turned up in Benjamin’s bag. At this they rent their clothes. Each reloaded his pack animal, and they returned to the city. When Judah and his brothers reentered the house of Joseph, who was still there, they threw themselves on the ground before him. Joseph said to them, “What is this deed that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me practices divination?” Judah replied, “What can we say to my lord? How can we plead, how can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered the crime of your servants. Here we are, then, slaves of my lord, the rest of us as much as he in whose possession the goblet was found.” But he replied, “Far be it from me to act thus! Only he in whose possession the goblet was found shall be my slave; the rest of you go back in peace to your father.” Then Judah went up to him and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant appeal to my lord, and do not be impatient with your servant, you who are the equal of Pharaoh. My lord asked his servants, ‘Have you a father or another brother?’ We told my lord, ‘We have an old father, and there is a child of his old age, the youngest; his full brother is dead, so that he alone is left of his mother, and his father dotes on him.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set eyes on him.’ We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he were to leave him, his father would die.’ But you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, do not let me see your faces.’ When we came back to your servant my father, we reported my lord’s words to him.  “Later our father said, ‘Go back and procure some food for us.’ We answered, ‘We cannot go down; only if our youngest brother is with us can we go down, for we may not show our faces to the man unless our youngest brother is with us.’ Your servant my father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife bore me two sons. But one is gone from me, and I said: Alas, he was torn by a beast! And I have not seen him since. If you take this one from me, too, and he meets with disaster, you will send my white head down to Sheol in sorrow.’  “Now, if I come to your servant my father and the boy is not with us—since his own life is so bound up with his— when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will send the white head of your servant our father down to Sheol in grief. Now your servant has pledged himself for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I shall stand guilty before my father forever.’ Therefore, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord instead of the boy, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father unless the boy is with me? Let me not be witness to the woe that would overtake my father!” https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.44.1-34?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en     Links:   The Rabbi’s Husband homepage:   The Rabbi's Husband   Mark’s Twitter:   Mark Gerson - The Rabbi's Husband (@markgerson)   The Rabbi’s Husband Newsletter contact:   daniel@therabbishusband.com

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