• Dvar for Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

    In this week’s Parsha, Vayigash, Yosef finally reveals himself to his brothers, after making sure they didn’t harbor any resentment. As Rabbi Haber points out, what’s more amazing is that Yosef forgave his brothers, after being stuck in a dangerous pit crawling with poisonous snakes, screaming out for help while catching a glimpse of his brothers sitting down to break bread, ignoring his pleas for mercy. If one’s brothers sold them as a slave, would they ever be able to forgive them, kiss and embrace them, and adhere to all the families’ laws and customs after they caused you such profound pain? Yosef did all of these things. He didn’t assimilate; he didn’t become an anti-Semite. He defied every law of human nature. How?

    Rabbi Haber goes on to explain that Yosef was empowered by one sentence: “You didn’t send me here, G-d did” The fact is they did send him there, but from Yosef’s perspective that was something THEY had to deal with. As far as Yosef was concerned, it was all an act of G-d. He was not the judge, he was a brother and he was a Jew. He would act like a brother and he would act like a Jew.

    We can learn SO much from Yosef today, if we could just memorize and adapt one line into our lives – “it wasn’t you that sent me here; it was G-d” – we’d all be closer to all our “brothers”, and we’d all be better Jews.

  • Dvar for Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

    When Yosef sent his brothers to bring his father, Yaakov, the Sifornu implies that Yosef urged them to hurry and bring Yaakov down “so he could be happy to see.” What should Yaakov be happy to see? Some commentaries explain that Yosef stressed his position of power because he wanted to reassure his father that he could care for him and provide for his needs. But that doesn’t explain why Yaakov would be “happy” with what he would see in Egypt.

    Perhaps, it is true that Yaakov would be unimpressed by honor and power, and the ability to care for Yaakov wasn’t an enticing thought because G-d always provided for him. It may be, though, that this message was exactly what Yaakov needed to hear. Yosef’s brothers had been jealous of him all those years ago. They were insulted by his visions of grandeur and this strife led to his sale into slavery. If Yaakov were to go down to Egypt to see Yosef, he might fear suffering a continuation of this animosity. That is why Yosef sent the message he did. When the brothers would tell their father that Yoseph had in fact ascended the throne, and when they would recount all that had transpired, Yaakov would be able to see from their expressions and tones of voice that they had repented of their jealousy and would now be able to live in peace. To see his twelve sons living together in harmony was something that would undoubtedly give him great joy, and he would rush to see it.

    Additionally, it was important for the brothers themselves to be able to get past their earlier pettiness by proving to themselves that they could speak of Yosef’s prestige and not feel bitter, just as they were happy and didn’t feel jealous when Binyamin received more than they did. Yosef knew that they might still suspect themselves of jealousy with regard to him, and this way he enabled them to see that they had indeed overcome the obstacle and were better people than before.

  • Dvar for Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

    In this week’s Parsha, Vayigash, Yosef finally reveals himself to his brothers, after making sure they didn’t harbor any resentment. As Rabbi Haber points out, what’s more amazing is that Yosef forgave his brothers, after being stuck in a dangerous pit crawling with poisonous snakes, screaming out for help while catching a glimpse of his brothers sitting down to break bread, ignoring his pleas for mercy. If one’s brothers sold them as a slave, would they ever be able to forgive them, kiss and embrace them, and adhere to all the families’ laws and customs after they caused you such profound pain? Yosef did all of these things. He didn’t assimilate; he didn’t become an anti-Semite. He defied every law of human nature. How?

    Rabbi Haber goes on to explain that Yosef was empowered by one sentence: “You didn’t send me here, G-d did” The fact is they did send him there, but from Yosef’s perspective that was something THEY had to deal with. As far as Yosef was concerned, it was all an act of G-d. He was not the judge, he was a brother and he was a Jew. He would act like a brother and he would act like a Jew.

    We can learn SO much from Yosef today, if we could just memorize and adapt one line into our lives – “it wasn’t you that sent me here; it was G-d” – we’d all be closer to all our “brothers”, and we’d all be better Jews.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayigash, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: While Joseph supplied his family with food, the rest of Egypt was in a desperate plight. First they expended all their money in exchange for food that Joseph sold them. Then their money ran out, and they paid for provisions with their cattle. Finally, when they had no money or chattel left, they sold their land and themselves to Pharaoh into servitude in exchange for provisions. Meanwhile, in the land of Goshen, Jacob’s family prospered and multiplied exceedingly.

    Yosef did two things because of his sensitivities – he segregated his family from the rest of Egypt so that others wouldn’t see how nicely they were living, and he also gave them food as it was needed (47:12), and not in excess. This is derived from the words “according to the young children”.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayigash, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Jacob arrived in Egypt, to the province of Goshen that Pharaoh had allotted his family. Joseph went there to greet his father. Joseph prepared his family for meeting Pharaoh, and instructed his brothers to tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds, who only wish to tend to their flocks in Goshen until the famine ends. Indeed the brothers followed this script, and Pharaoh acceded to their request. Jacob was then brought before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed him.

    When at long last they met, Yaakov and Yosef reacted very differently. Yosef fell on his father’s neck (hugged?) and wept for a long time, while Yaakov recited Shema without crying, and then expressed the joy of seeing Yosef’s face again. Both were obviously happy, but while Yosef’s joy was raw, Yaakov’s was more acute and directed. He was able to pinpoint what he was most happy about – seeing on Yosef’s face that he was still alive. What about Yosef’s face showed him that he was still alive (more alive than he already knew Yosef was)? Or Hachaim explains that Yaakov was concerned that all the time in Egypt might have made Yosef change his ways away from Judaism, but when he saw his face (and eyes), Yaakov could tell that Yosef hadn’t changed at all, and was still as righteous as he was 22 years ago. Faces tell a lot more than we think…

  • Daily Aliya for Vayigash, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: This Aliya names the seventy members of Jacob’s family that went to Egypt.

    OU’s Torah Tidbits points out that the “whole world” that came from No’ach was 70. We now find the same number here in Yaakov’s descendants. While their 70 became the Nations of the World, our 70 became the Jewish People. There is clearly something about adversity that brings people together, in this case to form a nation. As much as we dislike and avoid adversity, it has its purpose and benefits.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayigash, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Jacob and his entire family left Canaan and headed to Egypt. En route they stopped in Be’er Sheva, where G‑d told Jacob not to fear going to Egypt, for it is there that he will be made into a great nation. Furthermore G‑d told him: “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up.”

    On his way to see Yosef, Yaakov stops to offer sacrifices to “the G-d of his father Yitzchak”. It’s a strange reference to Yitzchak, but an important connection. Yaakov must have realized the connection between the deceit he perpetuated against his father to receive Esav’s blessings, and the deceit of Yosef’s apparent death. Although completely justified, Yaakov was punished for causing his father such pain, and this offering might have been his repentance. Yaakov listened to his mother by deceiving his father, did the right thing for the future of the Jewish people, and yet he had to repent. How much more so should we repent when we do something we shouldn’t…

  • Daily Aliya for Vayigash, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Joseph directed his brothers to quickly return to Canaan and bring Jacob and their families back to Egypt, where Joseph promised to provide them with food until the famine ends. Joseph embraced his brothers and cried. Pharaoh was informed that Joseph’s family had arrived, and he, too, instructed them to come to Egypt where he would give them the “best of the land.” The brothers went to Canaan – laden with gifts from Pharaoh and Joseph – and informed Jacob that Joseph was alive, indeed he ruled over all of Egypt. “And the spirit of their father Jacob was revived.”

    Yosef gives his brothers clothing, but gives Binyamin even more. Notice that once again a son of Rachel is being favored by being given a special garment. The first time, the results were disastrous for Yosef and his brothers. So why tempt them? When a child misuses a book, we don’t forbid him to ever touch a book again. The opposite – teach the child how to properly treat books, and as soon as possible give him another. In this way, you will see if the lesson was learned. The “solution” to the problem of the brothers is not reached by avoiding difficult situations. So, since Yosef tested the brothers before they knew who he was, and they had passed the test, he felt comfortable that they had learned their lesson and were no longer jealous of what others had/got.

  • Dvar for Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

    In this week’s Parsha, Vayigash, Yosef finally reveals himself to his brothers, after making sure they didn’t harbor any resentment. As Rabbi Haber points out, what’s more amazing is that Yosef forgave his brothers, after being stuck in a dangerous pit crawling with poisonous snakes, screaming out for help while catching a glimpse of his brothers sitting down to break bread, ignoring his pleas for mercy. If one’s brothers sold them as a slave, would they ever be able to forgive them, kiss and embrace them, and adhere to all the families’ laws and customs after they caused you such profound pain? Yosef did all of these things. He didn’t assimilate; he didn’t become an anti-Semite. He defied every law of human nature. How?

    Rabbi Haber goes on to explain that Yosef was empowered by one sentence: “You didn’t send me here, G-d did” The fact is they did send him there, but from Yosef’s perspective that was something THEY had to deal with. As far as Yosef was concerned, it was all an act of G-d. He was not the judge, he was a brother and he was a Jew. He would act like a brother and he would act like a Jew.

    We can learn SO much from Yosef today, if we could just memorize and adapt one line into our lives – “it wasn’t you that sent me here; it was G-d” – we’d all be closer to all our “brothers”, and we’d all be better Jews.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayigash, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Judah continued: “When [Jacob] sees that the boy is gone, he will die.” He explained to Joseph that he, Judah, had taken personal responsibility that Benjamin would return unharmed to Canaan. And as such, he asked to remain as a slave in stead of Benjamin. At that point, Joseph could not restrain himself any longer. He asked all the Egyptians present to leave the room, and he revealed his identity to his brothers: “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?!” He then reassured them, and asked them not to be upset about selling him into slavery: “For it was to preserve life that G‑d sent me before you. For . . . another five years there will be neither plowing nor harvest, and G‑d sent me before you to ensure your survival in the land…”

    “For how can I go up to my father, and the youth is not with me?” The straight forward meaning: Yehuda says, how can I face my father Yaakov without Binyamin with me. The Chassidic school of thought sees another meaning to Yehuda’s statement: How can we go up to face G-d (after 120 years) without our youth? Does our behavior when we are/were young serve us well or embarrass us as we get older? It is easy to dismiss one’s youth with a wave and a “you know how kids are”, but it isn’t that simple. Our youth need direction more than anyone else, they need to be “with” us, not on their own, “being who they are”.

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