Desire is a potent force. It can be a source of devotion or despair; it can bring us together, or drive us apart.
The mystery of human desire is at the heart of the story of Potiphar’s wife and her longing for Joseph. In this unit, we consider this Biblical story – full of drama, false accusations, and unrequited passion – as well as rabbinic and Islamic retellings which raise deeper questions about the nature of longing, human desire, and even our relationship to the Divine.
What role does desire play in our own lives? How can the story of Potiphar’s wife help us understand our own relationship to this powerful emotion? And what might rabbinic and Islamic interpretations of this story teach us about the meaning of desire?