The brothers are in front of Joseph whom they do not recognize. Judah pleading for the release of Benjamin and offers himself to be slaved instead of his little brother. Joseph is moved by the loyalty of his brother to one another and finally breaks down to reveal himself to them. The brothers are stunned and overcome by shame and remorse. Joseph assures them that this was not their fault but God’s plan to save the Jewish people. The brothers go back to Canaan to bring the stunning news to Jacob. Jacob is elated and rushes to Egypt to reunite with his beloved “lost” son after 22 years. Pharaoh gives Jacob’s family the fertile land of Goshen to settle and they multiply and prosper in their new exile.
The Parasha describes the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Jewish people. The original plan was for Jacob and all his people to dwell in the land which was going to be the Land of Israel. But due to the famine and the invitation of Joseph, the entire family is heading to a foreign land, Egypt.
Jacob was worried though. What will happen in a foreign land? Would they lose their Jewish identity? Would they be assimilated? How would they be treated? Furthermore, how would the Egyptians relate to the Hebrews’ worship of only ONE God? You can imagine Jacob’s desperation and anxiety as he thought about these things.
During the journey to Egypt, God assured Jacob in his a vision. “Do not be afraid of going down to Egypt,” said God; “I will go down with you.” Adonai promised that eventually the Jewish people would return to the Holy Land.
This promise from God gave the family of Jacob a sense of direction. They never forgot who they were and where they came from. After two hundred years of hardship, God sent a great leader to them to set them free. As promised by God, they returned to the Holy Land, taking possession of the land of “milk and honey” and built the Temple.
In today’s world, it is very easy to follow the crowd and go down on the wrong path. It is not easy to be set apart and follow God’s way. But, by following the path of the Torah, we will make a dwelling for God in our hearts, homes and lives. Torah will set us free as the Hebrews were set free from the bondage of Egypt. Let the Torah guide you and direct you on the righteous path.
Shabat Shalom ~~~~~~~~ Yosef
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Lee Torah from Around the World #303: Parashat Vayigash (Gen. 44:18 – 47:27)
“Lifting the Burden of Unforgiven Pain”
By: Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash, Los Gatos, California.
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