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Dec 22, 2023 By Ira Tokayer | Commentary | Vayiggash
Parashat Vayiggash is a good place to illustrate the modern scholarship, which sees the Torah’s Joseph story as a combination of three source documents with separate accounts of how and why Jacob descended to Egypt.Read More
Dec 30, 2022 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayiggash
Parashat Vayiggash opens with the dramatic encounter between Joseph and his older brother, Judah. Judah, who years earlier had cooperated with his brothers to betray Joseph, seems to be on the verge of losing his father’s other favored son, Benjamin, as well. He makes an impassioned plea to Joseph, offering himself as a hostage in Benjamin’s stead. As it turns out, Judah’s altruism is more than Joseph can withstand. While he was able to hold back and hide his identity numerous times, letting his brothers squirm in discomfort before the strange Egyptian man, this time is different. Joseph reveals his identity. The moment is one of closeness, of reconciliation, and of Joseph’s recognition that it was not his brothers’ deeds but rather God’s plan that had guided the events of his latter years.Read More
Dec 10, 2021 By Rabbi Joel Seltzer | Commentary | Vayiggash
Most often, when I describe my own faith in God, I liken it to a number line from middle school math class. On the left are the negative numbers, in the center is the lonely zero, and to its right are all the positive numbers, stretching toward infinity.Read More
Dec 25, 2020 By Burton L. Visotzky | Commentary | Vayiggash
In a curious foreshadowing of the book of Exodus, in this week’s Torah reading (Gen. 46:8) we read, “Ve’eleh shemot—These are the names of the children of Israel who came into Egypt . . .” This is verbatim the same report as the opening verse of the book of Exodus. But there, the names are limited only to Jacob’s actual sons, and the full enumeration of their own offspring is absent.Read More
Jan 3, 2020 By Sarah Wolf | Commentary | Vayiggash
Vayiggash brings us to the culmination of the drama between Joseph and his brothers that began in Parashat Miketz. Ten of Joseph’s brothers—all but Benjamin—had travelled to Egypt to buy food during a famine. Joseph, newly in command in Egypt, had disguised himself and, perhaps in retaliation for the way they had treated him earlier, forced his brothers to go through various ordeals and humiliating situations. One of Joseph’s demands was that his brothers bring their youngest brother Benjamin when they returned to Egypt, with which they now comply, despite their father Jacob’s resistance to putting his youngest and beloved son in danger.Read More
Dec 14, 2018 By Shayna Golkow | Commentary | Vayiggash
In a moment of joy, how many times have you said, “I’m so happy that I could die now,” or “If I died right now, I’d be satisfied!” In a way, this reaction is counterintuitive; if we are so happy, why would we wish to die? But this reaction also comes naturally, because of our awareness that dying during a time of harmony and wholeness in our lives is the ideal.Read More
Dec 22, 2017 By Zohar Atkins | Commentary | Vayiggash
Although we know how it ends, this week’s Torah reading can be, by turns, anxiety-provoking, cathartic, and unsettling. We know a reconciliation between the brothers will take place, but we don’t fully understand how. We know a peace deal will be reached, but we suspect that, like all new agreements, its character will be tenuous, fragile, and ad hoc, its consensus constructed atop a minefield of lingering resentments and fundamentally conflicting narratives.Read More
Jan 6, 2017 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Vayiggash
Our attention as readers of Vayiggash is naturally riveted by the dramatic events in the first half of the portion: Joseph’s self-revelation to his brothers; the family of Jacob coming to dwell in Egypt; and Jacob’s declaration that he “must go and see [Joseph] before I die” (Gen. 45:28). What happens later in Vayiggash, however, is to my mind of far greater significance for the future of the children of Israel and the people of Egypt alike. The second half of the portion bears truths about Jewish history and destiny as relevant now as ever before.Read More
Dec 30, 2016 By Allison Kestenbaum | Commentary | Vayiggash
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Yes I am!
Yes I am!
When he’s pushed to the edge when he’s out on a ledge
Can I help him to think with his heart
When he’s wrong when he’s right I’ll be there to remind him
That he’s made in the image of God
Dec 18, 2015 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Commentary | Vayiggash
Shortly after Jacob arrives in Egypt Joseph—undoubtedly eager to introduce his father and his patron to each other—arranges an audience with Pharaoh for his father. Following the time honored traditions of polite conversation, Pharaoh asks a prosaic question: “How many are the years of your life?”Read More
Dec 17, 2015 By Julia Andelman | Commentary | Vayiggash
They grabbed me and led me to a van. I told them: ‘I’m an old man. I’m not a threat.’ But they didn’t listen. On our way to the prison, they kept stopping on the street and collecting more people. They blindfolded me when we arrived and they beat me very badly. Then they put me with seventy other people in a room smaller than this one. It was very cold because it was December and I was barefoot because I’d lost my slippers.
Dec 26, 2014 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Vayiggash
When kids in Hebrew School read the story of Joseph, he looks very good. He saves the lives of many Egyptians by storing grain in the fat years and dispensing it in the lean years. But when an adult reads the same verses, Joseph appears unscrupulous. We ask: when the hungry people come to him during the years without crops, does he have to make them sell him all their cattle? And when they come back a second time, does he have to make them sell him all their land and also offer themselves as slaves?Read More
Dec 19, 2012 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Vayiggash
Joseph’s brothers got very lucky. What started as an act of malice inspired by jealousy and spite turned out to secure the future of the Jewish People. Did they imagine the implications of their action? Did Joseph’s brothers know that their initial plot of murder and their eventual sale of Joseph into slavery would ultimately save their own lives? No, they did not.Read More
Dec 19, 2012 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayiggash
Over the past few weeks, we have been immersed in the story of Joseph, from the fateful gift of the striped robe, to his sale to the Ishmaelites and Midianites, to his imprisonment in Egypt, his meteoric rise, and finally the family reunion.Read More
Dec 11, 2010 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Vayiggash
If patience is a virtue, it is one that we have all but lost. Living in a point-and-click world, we have grown accustomed to instant gratification. We spend our days in a rush, multitasking so as not to waste a minute and our brains—as study after study has shown—are becoming addicted to the endorphin rush of the Internet. Fast food, instant messages, “on demand” TV shows—we want what we want and we want it now.Read More
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