Torah: Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)
The Torah continues with Joseph’s story. The confrontation between Judah and Joseph, whose identity is still unknown to his brothers. Judah pleads with Joseph to take him as a slave in place of Benjamin. Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. Jacob arrives in Egypt for an emotional reunion with Joseph.
Jacob and his family increase in numbers and wealth in the area of Goshen.
The concept and value of this Torah portion has unique insight on reconciliation. The scene in which Joseph reveals himself to his brothers is a memorable one. Overcome with tears, he tells his brothers, “I am Joseph,” and asks, “Is my father still alive?” His brothers, quite astonished, are totally speechless. Reconciliation is an important value in Judaism. Rabbi Samuel Nachmani claims that Joseph acted with great sensitivity and wisdom. He did not fear his brothers. After overhearing them speaking to one another, he knew that they felt angry for selling him into slavery. Seeing how much they regretted what they did to him, and how they fear now for the welfare of both Benjamin and their father, he was right to trust them (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 93:9).
Some interesting facts…
Joseph was 17 years old when his brothers sold him into slavery.
Benjamin was an infant at the time. Now Joseph is first meeting with his true brother, while the others are half siblings.
Jacob lives another 17 years after going down to Egypt. It was the 17 years he lost being with his son, Joseph.
Joseph should have lived to be 120 years old, however every time his brothers’ told the Head of state (Joseph)… “Our father your servant” twice G-d took 5 years away from Joseph for not stopping them from calling their father his slave.
Many people have had or are dealing with trying to rekindle that special connection with a loved one, family member or a friend. If you try to reach out and may not have a good result, at least you made the effort. If you tried to reach out and you were able to reconnect, that is priceless. Sometimes time is needed on the part of both to have a healing before reconciliation may be reached.
During Hanukkah we rededicate ourselves to Judaism as we did to the Beit Midash (Holy Temple) in Jerusalem so many years ago. If we do more mitzvot (good deeds) and Gemilut Chasidim (acts of righteousness and kindness) to each other, we would feel better and make others feel good as well. As we look towards the secular new year, we pray that all are healthy, happy and the world has a real peace.
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder