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The Torah's Weekly Portions
Bereshit - Vayigash 101

Posted, 2000 - Jan 06, 2001
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Parashat Vayigash begins at Sefer Bereshit (the Book of Genesis) Perek Mem-Daled (Chapter 44), pasuk yud-zayin (verse 18) and continues through Mem-Zayin, pasuk chav-vav (47:26).  This Parashah relates the story of the reunion between Yosef (Joseph) and his family including his brother Binyamin (Benjamin) and his father. 

There is a wonderful lesson about life to be learned from the early parts of the Parashah.  It can be found in the first few pasukim (verses) in Perek Mem-Hay (45). 

1. Now Yosef could not restrain himself in the presence of all who stood before him, so he called out, "Remove everyone from before me!" Thus no one remained with him when Yosef made himself known to his brothers:

2. He cried in a loud voice. Mitzrayim (Egypt) heard, and Paro's (Pharaoh) household heard:

3. And Yosef said to his brothers, "I am Yosef. Is my father still alive?" But his brothers could not answer him because they were left disconcerted before him:

4. Then Yosef said to his brothers, "Come close to me, if you please," and they came close. And he said, "I am Yosef your brother -- it is me, whom you sold into Mitzrayim:

5. And now, be not distressed, nor reproach yourselves for having sold me here, for it was to be a provider that God sent me ahead of you:

6. For this has been two of the hunger years in the midst of the land, and there are yet five years in which there shall be neither plowing nor harvest:

7. Thus God has sent me ahead of you to insure your survival in the land and to sustain you for a momentous deliverance:

Specifically, the focus will be on the commentaries around pasuk hay (verse 5).  Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch says the following concerning the point of Yosef's words: 

Do not let thoughts of the way and means through which I was brought here disturb the joy over the fact that I am here, which, after all, is great good fortune. 

In this Hebrew, this situation is the feeling of enforced having to give things up, of renouncing.  You can quietly give yourselves up to the happy feelings of good fortune.  This chapter expresses negatively, that these feelings appear in a different light by the insight of the intelligence. 

It is as if Yosef is saying, "I can not prevent your feelings of regret and sorrow for wrong is wrong, and your feelings are justified.  But your minds should temper even this consciousness by teaching you to look at the deed with other eyes, as I have long ago come to look at it." 

It is also possible that this means, "for it is hither that you have sold me,' as after all, you are the indirect cause of the great fortunate position in which I now find myself here." 

All too often, the cliché of "It is difficult to see the forest for the trees" seems relevant to our daily lives.  The particular point that Yosef is making echoes that.  When we was sold to the traders, thrown into the dungeon, his interpretations to the baker forgotten, no doubt he had no idea what lay ahead nor could he possibly see Hashem's plan in all of this.  That does not negate the fact that the plan was there the entire time, merely waiting to work itself out in its proper order and time. 

When life becomes terribly frustrating and difficult for me, I try to think of this concept - that what is happening is merely a part of God's plan for me and that, with enough time and a few more events, it will all become clear.


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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