Weekly Reading Insights: Vayigash 5766


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Vayigash

To be read on 7 Tevet 5766 (Jan.7)

Torah: Genesis 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:1166/Vayigash)

We have established that the throne of precious stone stands upon four legs.[1] And upon that throne is the likeness of a man[2] And upon with whom to unite in communion, and be blessed, as is proper.When [all these levels] are rectified within the person himself, so that all the levels are a Merkava [i.e. a vehicle] for G-dliness, then it is written, "Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen."

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

* * * * *

From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:1166/Vayigash)

The significance of these [six names Havayah] is as follows: We have explained in numerous contexts, including that of the commandment of circumcision in our discussion of parshat Lech Lecha, at length, that even though the five states of chesed spread throughout the body of Zeir Anpin, from chesed to yesod, nonetheless, the radiance of all the five states of chesed is absorbed in yesod; the five states of gevura descend into yesod as well.

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

* * * * *

From Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) Ibn Atar (S:1166/Vayigash)

The purpose of the various exiles is to isolate elements of holiness which are scattered within various branches of the kelipa, the "peel" surrounding the kernel which is all sanctity. Inasmuch as Egypt was full of abominations [manifestations of such kelipa] and impurity had its "headquarters" in that country, it was no more than natural that many such segments of sanctity were scattered throughout that country. In fact, the amounts of such scattered segments of sanctity are usually proportionate to the amount of impurity and defilement that abound in a certain area or environment.

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


Hurry back to my father and say to him...G-d has made me lord (samani) over all of Egypt (Gen. 45:9)
The intention was not that Jacob would be pleased to learn that Joseph now occupied a high political position. Rather, samani can also be translated "I put" - that through me, Joseph, G-d's name has been publicized and made great throughout the land of Egypt. Indeed, such a message would surely bring immense joy to Jacob.
(Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:1166/Vayigash)

"Yehudah approached Yosef…." (Gen. 45:18)
The word used for "approached" is vayigash, which implies that they came very close together. Many years later, the descendants of Yehudah and Yosef split. In fact, there were two separate kingdoms of the Jewish people in the Holy Land: one king from Yehudah and one from Yosef.

But when the Redemption comes, they will not only come very close, but unite together into one kingdom. This is spoken of in the Haftorah, where Yechezkel is told to take one stick for Yehudah and another stick for Yosef and to combine them into one stick. At that time, all the Jews will have one king, Melech HaMashiach.

[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:1166/Vayigash)

If we look closely at the events surrounding Joseph's revealing himself to his brothers, there is something not so clear. Joseph explains that his arrival in Egypt was directly arranged by G-d, whose purpose was to make him the ruler. Joseph continues by instructing his brothers to give the same message to their father Jacob: "The Almighty has made me to be the master of Egypt." And then Joseph makes the request, "Come down to me; do not wait" (Ex. 45:9).

Why should his father move just because Joseph was the ruler of Egypt? Joseph was aware that, by heavenly decree, the Jewish people had to be in exile in Egypt and that his becoming ruler was a necessary stage in the process. Furthermore, in order to fulfill this juncture of the divine plan, Jacob also had to arrive.

This necessity was explained by G-d to Abraham at the Covenant Between the Parts: "Your seed will be strangers in a strange land…and afterwards leave with great wealth" (Gen.15:13-14). For this reason Joseph had to collect wealth from all over the world, exchanged for the food he had stored for the famine years. Egypt would become the wealthiest of nations in order that the Jews could leave later with great wealth. Even the plague of darkness was arranged so the hiding places of the Egyptians' treasures would be revealed to the Jews, that they could later acquire it. Why is this great wealth so important?

"Great wealth" denotes more than just physical wealth. It also refers to the great spiritual wealth they acquired there. Egypt was a place of extremes. Although the lowest place on Earth morally, it also was a powerful intellectual and spiritual center. The purpose of the Jews being there was to isolate and remove all of the sparks of good that were buried within the 49 "gates" of impurity.

This is also the inner purpose of exile, whether on a community or on a personal level. The Talmud says, "The reason G-d exiled the Jewish people among the nations was to gather converts." (Pesachim 87:2) The soul of a convert is a lost spark of G-dliness. And the general purpose of exile is to isolate and redeem the sparks of holiness that are scattered in the world. This was the true "great wealth" for which the Jewish people descended. And this was the reason they could not leave until it was accumulated.

We are in exactly the same situation now. Our job is to remove all the good and to sanctify all of the physical that we come in contact with. A Jew is not allowed to say, "Forget about the exile! I relinquish my rights to the 'great wealth'. I prefer to just do my thing." We have a mission. G-d wants the "great wealth", the sparks of the world isolated and elevated by our using them for holy purposes.

The true and ultimate purpose of a Jew in exile is to live in the world, with all of the difficulties that involves, and to imbue it with Torah and the fulfillment of its commandments. And when we will uplift all the hidden sparks that are found in the "great wealth", we will merit immediately the final redemption and the arrival of the Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom , Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here)

For all our insights for this parsha:

from last year

from two years ago

from three years ago

from four years ago

Back to Top


Redesign and implementation - By WEB-ACTION