Vayigash 5781-2020

“Joseph Helps His Brothers Repent”
(updated and revised from Vayigash 5761-2001)

Why did Joseph have to be so cruel to his brothers? Joseph apparently felt that it was necessary to put his brothers through an agonizing test in order to determine whether his brothers were truly Ba'alei T'shuva--fully penitent. Joseph brilliantly recreates the circumstances where Benjamin is now in the exact position that Joseph was in when he was thrown in to the pit by his brothers and sold to the Ishmaelites. Will the brothers this time stand up for Benjamin, or will they abandon the lad, as they did Joseph?

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Vayigash 5770-2009

"How Much is Enough?"

Scripture informs us that upon their arrival in Egypt, Joseph provided his family with food, sufficient to sustain the family and the children. The rabbis read into the nuances of the verse that Joseph provided his family with only the bare essentials. How much should Joseph have given?

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Vayigash 5765-2004

"And He Fell On His Neck and Wept"

At the moment of the dramatic reunion of Jacob and his beloved son Joseph that takes place in parashat Vayigash, Scripture tells us that "he fell on his neck." However, we don't know whether Jacob fell on Joseph's neck or vice versa. The rabbis explore this issue and suggest a number of truly profound insights.

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Vayigash 5762-2001

"The Virtues of Assimilation"

Once the brothers arrive in Egypt, there develops a difference of "philosophy" between Joseph and his siblings regarding assimilation and the possible loss of national identity while in Egypt. The brothers prefer to avoid any hint of permanent settlement in Egypt. By not establishing comfortable homes in Egypt, they hope to assure Israel's eventual exodus. Joseph, however, was optimistic about his family being able to lead a productive Jewish life in Egypt. Joseph does not see assimilation as total evil, but rather as a possible source of cultural enrichment, without resulting in a loss of personal identity.

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