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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Coat of Many Colors

Parshat Vayishlach is perhaps one of the most interesting stories in the Torah as we begin to explore the life of Yosef and his unwilling journey to Egypt. It is in this parsha that we learn of the coat or tunic of many colors. There is more to explore in this parsha of note, including the actions of the brothers, the actions of Tamar and Yehudah, the dreams and the house of Potiphar, but in this poem I will focus in on the coat of Yosef, made for him by his father, Jacob.

This poem was inspired last week when attending the funeral of the elderly mother of an old friend. As the participants stood in black, a eulogy was read by a granddaughter which helped me understand this great grandmother who had passed.

It is the winding stories of one's life expressed during a series of eulogies that is the weaving of that coat of many colors. Sometimes, if one is honored during their lifetime or if one attends pivotal life cycle events, one is able to listen to words that describe an individual's actions and good deeds; otherwise the story is finally and lovingly woven together at the end of a lifetime when the true colors glow and shine.

No matter who we are, our coat is being woven now, in the actions that we take today.

This poem is in memory of Rachel bat Mazal and Solomon, may her memory always be a blessing. Z"L

Coat of Many Colors

Eventually we all get our coat of many colors.

It might not come from

our parents or our children

and it may not come from

or teachers or bosses.

Our coat is rarely designed when we are children,

and it might not be ready until we are old and bent;

but never doubt this coat you wear;

the weight of the fabric,

the colors and prints,

are earned

through a lifetime

of actions and deeds.

Sometimes we are lucky

and we wear our coats while we still walk this earth,

but often times the coat is woven

by people standing

wearing only black;

the coat is created through their final words

to us

and about us;

color by color,

woven bright with their words

expressed through tears,

so that we may don that coat

that shimmers and shines

like the blue of the sky

and the yellows of the sun;

when our souls


float free as a robin's downy feather,

rising far above

higher and higher

as we soar to greet those above,

those who have waited for us.

We beam.

We shine,

wearing our coat of many colors,

unique to just us;

woven over a lifetime

deed by deed,

action by action,

and we are loved.

And we are




Now Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him an ornamented tunic.

Genesis 37:3

Translation from Sefaria

וְיִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל אָהַ֤ב אֶת־יוֹסֵף֙ מִכׇּל־בָּנָ֔יו כִּֽי־בֶן־זְקֻנִ֥ים ה֖וּא ל֑וֹ וְעָ֥שָׂה ל֖וֹ כְּתֹ֥נֶת פַּסִּֽים׃

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