By Rabbi David Gross of Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem, who grew up in the South Hampstead United Synagogue community
“And Yisrael (Ya’akov) loved Yosef more than his other brothers for he was a son of his old age…” (Bereishit 37:3)
Small details are something that we tend to treasure. We appreciate and extol the simple, unnoticed ‘thank you’ or a smile that makes one’s day. There is a tradition (see Midrash Tanchuma Vayeshev 2) based on the opening verse of our haftarah, that Yosef’s brothers used the money from the sale of Yosef to purchase new shoes: ‘they sold the righteous and destitute for shoes’ (Amos 2:6). Why is this? What is the significance of this ‘small detail’?
In Temple times, there was a mitzvah to bring the first fruits of one’s annual harvest to Jerusalem. Upon arrival at the Temple, a declaration to G-d was made, thanking Him for the fruits of the Land (see Devarim 26:3 with Rashi).
There is a well-known fairytale involving a mirror. This mirror has magic properties, with the ability to answer questions posed by its owner, the queen. Unsurprisingly, the questions relate to the identity of ‘the fairest of them all’. To the queen’s delight, it is always her, until one day there is competition.