Wednesday, December 31, 2008



This week's parshah is Vayyigash.

As this portion begins, Joseph's brothers face the fear that Joseph will keep Benjamin with him as a slave, and send the rest of them home to their father Jacob. Jacob's heart would be broken at this new loss.

Judah, as leader of the brothers, steps forward to offer his own life in place of Benjamin's life. This courageous act corrects the brothers' error of years earlier - they had sold one son of Rachel (Joseph) because they had viewed him as a threat to their lives, and now Judah endangered his own life to save the other son of Rachel (Benjamin).

Joseph sees that Judah has completed the brothers' repentance by righting the original wrong, and he reveals his identity. He still rebukes them, albeit somewhat subtly, for selling him: Judah's main claim on behalf of Benjamin was, 'If you take him, it will kill my father,' to which Joseph responds, 'I am Joseph, is our father still alive?' referring to the fact that they hadn't cared about this issue in selling Joseph.

The brothers are ashamed and afraid, but Joseph assures them that he won't attack them.
Joseph sends the brothers back to tell their father Jacob that he is alive, and that Jacob should come down. Jacob, reassured by Gd that it is all right to go to Egypt, comes down to Egypt.

Upon arriving in Egypt, Joseph's family meets the Pharaoh. The brothers say they are shepherds, and so they are kept apart from the sheep-worshipping Egyptians. Jacob meets the Pharaoh and blesses him.

Due the two-year-old famine, Egyptians are desperate for grain. At the end of the Torah portion they actually sell themselves to Pharaoh, as slaves, to acquire the harvest Joseph had saved up.

Have a great day,

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