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Torah Commentary Blog

Parashat Vayeishev (December 13, 2014)
by Rabbi Benjamin J. Zeidman

WITH CHANUKAH BEGINNING SOON and Thanksgiving behind us, we anticipate joining in the traditional American custom of gift-giving. It can be a lovely practice, but what happens when the receiver of gifts gets spoiled like Joseph in our parashah this week? At the age of 17, he was given a k’tonet paseem, an ornamented tunic, that “coat of many colors.” Assyrian inscriptions and Egyptian paintings show men and women of the Ancient Near East wearing these kinds of garments to show high status and wealth.

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