The word “economics” often evokes stock markets, exchange rates, global trade, and unemployment. But whether we are talking about buying groceries or the national debt, our material welfare and well-being have been of paramount concern since the beginning of human existence.
Just after the opening number of the 1992 animated Disney classic Aladdin, its title character sings “One Jump Ahead,” a catchy tune that introduces us to the young “street rat” and his sidekick, Abu, after they’ve stolen a loaf of bread.
With this week’s Torah portion, we enter the final four (Torah portions, that is) of the Book of Genesis.
This portion can be read as the first of the Joseph stories or the culmination of the sibling rivalry that has plagued the families of Genesis.
Among the prominent themes of the Book of Genesis are sibling rivalry, the supplanting of the firstborn by a younger brother, and difficult family dynamics in general. The pattern is repeated with Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, and Esau and Jacob.
Four years after my grandfather died, my grandmother remarried. She changed her last name from Dunsker to Hyman, and two months later her second husband died of a heart attack. But she kept the last name Hyman for the rest of her life until she died fifteen years later.