“And Joseph fell upon his father’s face and wept upon him and kissed him” Genesis 50:1


The story of Joseph, who cries and weeps rmore than anyone else in the Torah, is a story of deep emotional engagement and also of existential in-betweenness.

Joseph becomes a vessel for the unfolding human story of love and loss, betrayal and reconciliation, of righteousness, and of God who can be caught peeking through the light refracted in a droplet of water, a tear. Joseph accompanies us through our national experience of exile, left in Egypt waiting to be brought out in his coffin. 

The last word of our book, the book of family, the book of Genesis, is Egypt. Joseph lies in waiting to be carried back to the land of his ancestors, through the waters of the Sea of Reeds.

Thus Joseph and his tears become a triple symbol. Firstly, Joseph is a symbol of the Jewish people’s longing for redemption — an age of righteousness and justice. 

Secondly, Joseph is a symbol of our very personal yearning to break free from the fetters of slavery and exile — the human experience of our own loneliness amid a fragile existence on this planet. We ward off its pain in companionship and good deeds; like Joseph, there is a desire for reconciliation and of wholeness. 

Finally, we are reminded that even though God is barely felt, yet when we embrace the prophetic message of pain of the vulnerable and weep, it is God’s tears we weep. In the words of Jeremiah: “Let my eyes run with tears, day and night, let them not cease, for my hapless people has suffered a grievous injury, a very painful wound” (14:17).

God hears the sound of every plea and God weeps with us. Yet, God cannot redeem our world. That is our task and God waits constantly for us.

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