February 19, 2020

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parashat Vayeshev with Rabbi Martin Cohen

Our guest this week is Rabbi Martin Samuel Cohen of the Shelter Rock Jewish Center in Roslyn, New York. Rabbi Cohen was born and raised in New York City, where he received his B.A. summa cum laude from the City University of New York and where he was ordained as rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1978. In addition to his ordination, Rabbi Cohen earned a Ph.D. in the history of ancient Judaism from JTS, which degree was awarded to him in 1982. The recipient of post-doctoral fellowships at the Hebrew University in 1983 and at Harvard University in 1993, Rabbi Cohen has also lectured on the history of religion at Hunter College of the City University of New York and taught Bible and Talmud both at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York and at the Institute for Jewish Studies attached to the University of Heidelberg in Germany. In 1986, Rabbi Cohen left Europe for Canada, where he accepted the pulpit of the Beth Tikvah Congregation in Richmond, British Columbia. In 1999, he left Canada to assume the pulpit of Congregation Eilat in Mission Viejo, California, the position he left in 2002 to become the rabbi of the Shelter Rock Jewish Center, where he has now completed thirteen years of service. In addition to his work as teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Cohen is an author and has published two scientific studies in the history of pre-kabbalistic Jewish mysticism, four novels and four books of essays.

This week’s Torah portion — Parashat Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23) — features the first part of the story of Joseph and his brothers. It begins with Joseph’s dreams and continues to tell us about how he was sold into slavery by his brothers, about the affair with Potiphar’s wife, and about the beginnings of his career as an interpreter of dreams. Our discussion focuses on personal destiny as it emerges from the story of Joseph in Egypt.


Our past discussions of Vayeshev:

Rabbi Joe Blair on the role of sexuality and morality in the parasha

Rabbi Reuven Leigh on the relation between the story of Judah and Tamar and the story of Joseph

Rabbi Harold Robinson on the role of fate in the story of Joseph