Parsha Poem: Vayeishev / וַיֵּשֶׁב

בראשית / Bereishit / Bereishis / Genesis 37:1-40:23

Printable PDF version here.
Parsha narrative overview here.
Copywork sheet & additional activities available here.

You all know the story of Yosef the dreamer,

Yosef the favourite; Yosef the schemer;

But did you know that he was also quite grand?

The dandiest beauty in all of the land.


Now, don’t you be shocked, and don’t feel alarm,

But Yosef’s good looks led him to great harm.

You might think that nice-looking folks have it easy,

But Yosef’s rough life proved it wasn’t so breezy.

You see, people judged him by how he appeared,

In awe from afar and more so as they neared,

But they all thought he must be quite a snob

With his fanciful coat, his hair snipped in a bob.

His brothers never could trust his good looks,

Though he spent his time learning, with Yaakov, in books;

They feared he would steal their birthright from them,

So they sold him away, marked his coat, tore the hem.


Yet down in Mitzrayim, he prospered, did great;

With his beautiful looks, good fortune his fate,

But Hashem thought that he would give Yosef a test

To make sure that this favourite son was the best.

So one day when Yosef was dressing and preening,

Potifar’s wife stepped in, intervening.

“You’re gorgeous!” she cried, “I must marry you now,

Please Yosef, say that we’ll marry somehow.”


Did Yosef say yes?  Did he marry her or not?

He shook his head shyly, and tried to leave her yacht.

“I’m afraid, dear Madam, that I can’t marry you,

For you are already married and that really will not do.”

“So beautiful,” she said, “you’re really very fair,

With your lovely pale skin and your nice curly hair.”

“It’s true,” said Yosef, “but Hashem made me so,

Now I’m really very grateful, but I really have to go.”

“I insist,” she went on.  “That you marry me today,

“You are so young and beautiful; I need you here to stay.”

“I won’t!” shouted Yosef, “Goodbye, I must leave.

I have to step out – now let go of my sleeve!”


Well, Yosef ran away, but alas, to no avail;

For his troubles, our sweet Yosef was thrown in the jail.

But he’d learned something interesting, better or worse;

He learned that great beauty is also a curse.

It’s not enough, you see, to be pretty, smooth or clean;

It’s not enough to be the best-dressed person ever seen.

To go through life on beauty takes little smarts or skill;

Making the right choices is a harder lesson still.

As Yosef grew up, in jail and as a slave,

He learned how Hashem wants a tzaddik to behave.

The beauty that is outside runs only skin-deep

But inside lies the promise that Hashem asks him to keep.

By the time his brothers came back after years,

Reunited at last, amid their flowing tears;

Though Yosef had become a powerful man,

He’d never lost sight of that much bigger plan.

When the brothers came down, he forgave them at last,

Not only because of the years that had passed;

Forgave them as well for they’d forced him to learn

Through life’s hard experience, bitter to earn.

Beauty might get you quite far in this life,

But the lesson he learned from Potifar’s wife

Is you have to be MORE than your looks or your hair,

To do the right thing is a whole lot more rare. 

Good looks won’t make you a leader, you see –

And Yosef had learned how to rule righteously.

He still looked quite nice, but he’d added so much –

The wisdom he’d gained when he fled from her touch.

Good Shabbos!!!

שבת שלום!!!


More great reading