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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Chance Encounters

Updated: Dec 20, 2020

Parshat Vayeisheiv is probably one of the most well known parshiyot, as it contains the story of Yosef and his coat of many colors. There is so much to write about in this parsha, but there is one small part that has caught my eye for years and I am happy to have the opportunity to write about it. In the story of Yosef, after we know that he is Ya'akov's favorite and that his brothers are jealous of him and after Yosef has announced his dreams where his brothers symbolically bow down to him, his father asks him to go and find his brothers as they pasture the sheep. As he finds his way to them, he is found by a man as he wanders in the field. This man (or was he an angel?) directs him to his brothers and the story continues as eventually Joseph ends up in Egypt.

I am intrigued. Who was this man? What was his place in the story? He remains nameless, and not spoken of again, but it is through him that the story continues and history is written.

This is a poem about that man and Yosef, but also years later it is my father's story in Poland and the chance woman who was nameless and helped to save his life and the life of his brother as they entered the woods and joined with a partisan group.

These nameless people, these angels, who knows when they appear in our lives? Pay attention to the people around you, both those you know and those you don't. Perhaps it is through them that your own history is made.

Chance Encounters

Once upon a time there was a boy who dreamed dreams

of corn and cows, the moon and the stars

He wore a coat of emerald, gold and royal blue

In his mind he was grand, but he was just a boy

His mind was filled with daydreams as he circled the field

Around and around the field he wandered

His head in the clouds, spinning tall tales

as only a dreamer can do

A man found him as the dreamer hummed and wandered

"Child, you circle about.

What is it that you seek

Where do you wander?"

"I go to find my brothers" said the dreamer of dreams

The man pointed north and gently turned the dreamer around

"This way, my child, follow this path to your brothers

To your brothers and to your life"

"Thank you, sir," the dreamer answered

And he meandered away from the man

Never to see him again

And the dreamer dreamed and dawdled

as only dreaming children can do

On the other side of the field the dreamer found his brothers

and the rest is history

Once upon another time long afterward there was a boy who occasionally dreamed

Bad dreams of guns and soldiers and hatred

He fled one cool evening through fields and swam across a river

Wet and cold he wandered about

Afraid to be seen, alone and confused, as children in danger can be

A woman emerged from her home at the entrance to the forest

He begged, "Shield me, please, from this nightmare."

"Give me refuge, if you will."

"This way, my child" and she guided him toward the barn

where he hid in the hay, safe for a moment,

safe for one night

"Thank you, ma'am," the boy said as dawn approached

And he departed quickly away from the woman

Into the dark forests, into the breaking day

Never to see her again

And the boy dreamed of freedom, as only dreamers can do

And he entered the forest and found his brother

And the rest is history

The world is full of dreamers, children and adults alike

And they wander the fields and they dream dreams at night

And for each dreamer there is a person

Who appears in the field or in the forest or on a dark city street

Who sees the dreamer, and taps him on the shoulder

and gently nudges him toward his future.

And although these people remain nameless

and with a blink they disappear

Their actions live forever in the hearts of children

and their children's children alike.

Genesis 37: 15-17

וַיִּמְצָאֵ֣הוּ אִ֔ישׁ וְהִנֵּ֥ה תֹעֶ֖ה בַּשָּׂדֶ֑ה וַיִּשְׁאָלֵ֧הוּ הָאִ֛ישׁ לֵאמֹ֖ר מַה־תְּבַקֵּֽשׁ׃ a man came upon him wandering in the fields. The man asked him, “What are you looking for?”

וַיֹּ֕אמֶר אֶת־אַחַ֖י אָנֹכִ֣י מְבַקֵּ֑שׁ הַגִּֽידָה־נָּ֣א לִ֔י אֵיפֹ֖ה הֵ֥ם רֹעִֽים׃ He answered, “I am looking for my brothers. Could you tell me where they are pasturing?”

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר הָאִישׁ֙ נָסְע֣וּ מִזֶּ֔ה כִּ֤י שָׁמַ֙עְתִּי֙ אֹֽמְרִ֔ים נֵלְכָ֖ה דֹּתָ֑יְנָה וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ יוֹסֵף֙ אַחַ֣ר אֶחָ֔יו וַיִּמְצָאֵ֖ם בְּדֹתָֽן׃

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1 Comment

Dec 12, 2023

Thank you Leann. This is so beautiful..

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