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Parsha Overview: Joseph/יוסף & his brothers

Adapted from the Vayishlach pages of Parsha Pages for Sefer Bereishis, this is a basic overview of the continuation of the story of the twelve shevatim (tribes) in a traditional “Q&A” format, which can be easily reworked for kids of any age.  Answers in brackets are the usual, traditional or common answers, from the parsha text and midrash.  But be open to anything your child might have to say! 

Please read on below the narrative (**) for a description of how we use them in our homeschool!  I also have several copywork sheets to go with the weekly parsha.

יעקב now had twelve sons, who were mostly all grown up.

Which son was most special to יעקב? (יוסף)

Why was he special?  (he was born from רחל, he learned תורה with יעקב)

יעקב gave יוסף a special gift… (the כתונת פסים – coat of many colours)

יוסף’s older brothers didn’t like the special attention יוסף got!

Then, יוסף had two dreams. image

In the first dream… (11 bundles of wheat were bowing down to one bundle)

In the second dream… (11 stars, sun and moon, were bowing down to one star)

Did his brothers believe יוסף about his dreams?  (no, they did not!)

They thought it meant that… (יוסף wanted to be the ruler over them all)

יוסף’s brothers had had enough!

image שמעון and לוי wanted to  kill him, but _____ said no.   (ראובן)

So they decided to…  (throw him into a pit)

Did they leave him in the pit?  (no, they sold him to some ישמעלים going past)

What did they tell יעקב? (they said wild animals had eaten him)

How did they prove it?  (they put animal blood on the כתונת פסים)

The ישמעלים took יוסף with them down into מצרים. 

Who was the leader of מצרים?  (פרעה)

Who else in the Torah had been to מצרים before?  (אברהם went during the famine)

יוסף became a worker in the house of… (פוטיפר)

imageWas he a good worker?  (yes,  he was!)

פוטיפר became very wealthy and successful with יוסף in charge.

 But פוטיפר’s wife wanted to marry יוסף.  Did he let her?  (no,  he ran away)

She lied about יוסף and he was thrown into… (jail)

Two people were in jail with יוסף, פרעה’s שַׂר הָאֹפִים )baker) and שַׂר הַמַּשְׁקִים (wine butler) 

image One night, both of them had a… (dream)

Who could explain their dreams?  (יוסף)

What were their dreams? 

The שר האפים dreamed that while carrying baskets of bread… (birds ate it away)

This meant he would… (be punished and killed soon)

The שר המשקים dreamed he was squeezing wine into…. (פרעה’s cup)

This meant he would… (be back working in פרעה’s palace soon)

יוסף told the שר המשקים to remember him so פרעה could take him out of jail.

But the שר המשקים forgot, so as this parsha ends, יוסף is still stuck in jail…


** How we’ve been using these narratives: 

1.  Early in the week (Monday or Tuesday), we read the parsha from My First Parsha Reader and any other sources that we have.  Then, I read the narrative I’ve created, which puts the whole thing in a nutshell.  If the kids know the answers, great, but they’re not expected to this early on.

2.  On Friday, we read through the narrative again, but I pause and let the kids try to fill in the answers.  No pressure!  If they don’t know them, I fill in the answers.

3.  Next, we do parsha narration, Charlotte Mason-style.  I let Naomi know that I’ll be asking her to narrate and when I’m finished reading, I let her tell me everything she remembers, with minimal cues and ZERO Q&A.  This is not a quiz!  I write everything she says down and afterwards, she illustrates it.

4.  On Shabbos, we bring the narrative to the table and both kids (3 and 5) generally know most of the answers… and under the right circumstances, are quite proud of knowing the entire parsha!


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