Weekly Reading Insights: Vayigash 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Vayigash

To be read on 6 Tevet 5765 (Dec. 18)

Torah: 44:18-47:27;  Haftorah: Ezekiel 37:15-28 (a prophecy of the ultimate resolution of the division between "Yehuda" and "Yosef")

Vayigash is the 11th Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 11th overall, and 34th out of 54 in overall length.

Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27) opens with Yehuda begging Yosef (who had yet to reveal his true identity) to allow Benyamin to return home to Yaacov, and to keep Yehuda, instead. At this point, Yosef could not restrain his emotions any longer and declared his identity. He sent his brothers to bring Yaacov and the rest of their families to live in Egypt. Yaacov journeyed to Egypt to meet Yosef. On the way, G-d promised Yaacov that his offspring would become a great nation in Egypt. The portion then lists the individuals who went to Egypt which totaled 70. Yosef went out to greet his father.

Yosef then took Yaacov to meet Pharaoh who allowed the family to live in Goshen as it was good shepherding land. The parsha concludes describing how the people of Egypt used up their money buying food during the famine. Eventually they had to sell their cattle and livestock to buy food. When this too was expended, they even sold their land to Pharaoh. Yosef moved the people from on side of the country to the other, and required them to give 1/5 of their crops to Pharaoh. Only the Egyptian priests were provided with food at no cost and owned their land. Meanwhile the Jewish nation grew.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:11-65/Vayigash)

He then fashioned him at the place where the Holy Temple was to stand physically in this world [the Temple Mount in Jerusalem]. He then drew down into him the breath of life [Neshama] from its source in the spiritual Holy Temple above it.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

* * * * *

From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:11-65/Vayigash)

Know that Adam was reincarnated in the Patriarchs, and that is why they are called "the fathers", after Adam, who was the first father.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

* * * * *

From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:11-65/Vayigash)

He explained to them that G-d had sent him ahead in order to facilitate their becoming a nation, and Judah's kingdom becoming established.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"For how shall I go up to my father, and the youth is not with me?" (44:34)
Every Jew must ask himself this same question: After 120 years, how will I be able to face my Father in heaven "and the youth is not with me" - if I have wasted my younger years on trivial and frivolous pursuits? This is also a question to be asked by every Jewish parent: How will I answer to G-d "and the youth is not with me" - if I have not met the Jewish educational needs of my children, and allowed them to become estranged due to ignorance?
(Der Torah Kval)

"Yosef provided the needs of his father, his brothers, and all his father's family." (47:12)
Our Sages comment that the entire Jewish people is often referred to as "Joseph" in the merit of his having provided sustenance for them during the years of famine. "Providing sustenance," however, also has a spiritual connotation, and refers to Joseph's willingness to help his brothers even after he was wronged by them. This quality of doing good rather than taking revenge is the inheritance of all Jews, and is derived from our Patriarch Jacob.
(Likutei Sichot)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:11-65/Vayigash)

"He sent Judah before him to Joseph, to direct him to Goshen." (Gen. 46:28)

Our Sages explain that Judah was dispatched to Egypt before everyone else "in order to establish a house of learning...that the tribes be able to study Torah-Hogim baTorah." Jacob understood that their sojourn in as corrupt a place as Egypt would pose a threat to the spirituality of the Jewish people, and thus prepared the antidote before their arrival. The word "hogim" implies a study so deep and comprehensive that the Torah actually becomes part of the person. Moshiach is therefore described as "hogeh baTorah," for the power to redeem the Jewish people from exile can only come from one whose entire existence is absolutely unified with the Torah itself.
(Hitvaaduyot 5750)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:11-65/Vayigash)

In reference to the verse, "I am Yosef, is my father still alive? And his brothers could not answer him", the Midrash (Bereishis 93/10) says, "Oy to us on OUR day of judgment, Oy on the day that we are reprimanded (for our evil deeds)".

Even though Yosef was one of the youngest of the tribes, his brothers could not stand up to his chastisement, as the verse continues, "they were disconcerted before him". If the brothers reached this level of shame in front of Yosef', imagine how much more so we will feel when we stand before The Holy One, Blessed be He?

The Zohar relates how each and every body and soul will stand up on our day of judgment and testify, giving an account of all of our actions. However, this can be a positive experience. While we are still alive on this earth, we have the ability to improve our actions and our quality of life so that we can stand proud before the eyes of G-d.

It is difficult to see how Yosef's can be considered a reprimand to all of the brothers, since it was Yehuda who was doing most of the talking. Rashi explains that their shame was from just seeing Yosef in front of them. The Sfas Emes deepens this idea. He explains that the shame came from the brothers' shock at seeing the true holiness of Yosef that had all along been hidden to them, and the consequent realization that they had erred from the outset.

Each of us will experience something similar in the future, when we will see that in fact, all of the aspects of the world are filled with an inner holiness and it is our spiritual blockage that blinds us. How many times do we make decisions thinking we are standing alone in our righteousness? How often are we blinded by our own selfish needs into doing the opposite of what is required of us? What can we do about it now?

We can start by seeing the divine life force in everything and always asking ourselves what G-d truly wants of us in every situation that He puts us in. Are we being repelled by a lack of holiness and spirituality, or perhaps it is an extraordinary holiness, like that of Yosef and his special covenant with G-d, that makes situations more challenging for us?

Rabbi Yosef Ber Solovechik offers another explanation in his book Bais Halavi. Not only do we not see any reprimand from Yosef, why does he automatically ask "Is my father alive?" upon seeing his brothers? After all of the presentations, Yosef still does not know that his father is alive? There are two different ways of being reprimanded. One way is to have someone tell you the truth about yourself. The other is when realize on our own how we have erred.

The confrontation with Yosef falls into the latter group. It was the words, feelings, and admissions of his brothers that revealed their mistakes to themselves. Yehuda did not bring any new argument to the table concerning the freeing of Binyomin. Rather, he says, "We will all be slaves". He was asking for clemency and mercy for their elderly father who would die from losing Binyomin.

It is at this point that Yosef could no longer contain himself and says, "I am Yosef who you sold! And if you are such good sons as you proclaim, who are worried about their father, where was your concern back then for him?" This is the question, "is my father alive?" Is it possible to survive such emotional violence as this? It was to this revelation that the brothers could not answer.

In the future, on our day of judgment, we will feel the same way. Each person will understand his faults from his own testimony. Who will be justified for not giving tzedakah when we treat ourselves to all types of pleasures. We will be proved through our actions, not our excuses. Now is the time to prepare ourselves, and to perfect our actions.

This is may be why the Torah portion Vayigash usually begins during the last days of Chanukah. Chanukah is about constantly increasing in holiness, and being a positive example to others as we add a candle each night, illuminating the world

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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