Shabbat Shalom: What are you looking for?

Dec 7, 2023 | Article

Shabbat Shalom: What are you looking for?

Dec 7, 2023

By: Michael Kahn
Jewish Student Connection Education Coordinator

This week’s Parsha, Vayeshev, which means “And he settled,” is packed with action and the famous story of Joseph and his brothers, popularized by the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I want to pick up the story with Joseph searching for his brothers in Shechem when they were out herding sheep. Joseph, lost and unable to locate his brothers, encounters a mysterious man who asks Joseph, “What are you looking for?” This one question changes the course of Joseph’s life.

He tells the man he is looking for his brothers and the man directs him to Dothan. The rest of the story may be familiar, with Joseph being thrown into a pit by his brothers, then being sold to Ishmaelites and landing in Egypt where the Parsha ends with him in prison.

I want to return to the random man in Shechem who is responsible for changing the course of this story. There is a lot of speculation from the Rabbis that this person was an Angel sent to guide Joseph and push him in the right direction. Had this “man” not seen Joseph looking lost and taken the initiative to ask him, “What are you looking for?” this story may not have taken this amazing course.

We do not always know the answer to this big question, but like us, when Joseph was asked what he was looking for, he too did not know the answer. The directions the man gave led Joseph to be thrown into a pit and put in prison. When we end this Parsha, everything is going wrong for Joseph, and we do not know that next week we are going to read about his rise to power in Egypt and his role in saving the region from famine. So, what was Joseph really looking for?

I graduated from the University of Arizona in May 2022, moved to Denver two months later in July, and two weeks later began working here at JEWISHcolorado as the Jewish Student Connection Education Coordinator, helping to run Jewish Cultural Clubs in 12 schools in Denver and Boulder. On my journey in Denver, there have been a series of difficulties: struggling to make friends, find new activities, and enjoying life in Colorado.

Like Joseph, I have found myself navigating through unfamiliar territories, facing challenges, and grappling with questions about my purpose and direction. Despite the setbacks that Joseph faces, his story presents a lesson in resilience. The question of what Joseph was truly looking for remains unanswered, much like the uncertainties I have experienced in my personal journey. But the reminder that Joseph’s story does not end in the pit, but rather evolves into a story of triumph and leadership, offers inspiration. As I continue my journey in Denver and beyond, I find comfort in the understanding that, much like Joseph, we can overcome our current struggles and our life’s journeys can unfold in ways we least expect.

Please email Michael Kahn at with questions or comments.