Faith by Numbers

Faith by Numbers

Dec 10, 2021 By 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.

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A Song of Hope

A Song of Hope

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.

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Why Everyone Should Cry in Public

Why Everyone Should Cry in Public

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. 

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Dying Whole and Living Whole

Dying Whole and Living Whole

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.

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Hearing Our Own Stories

Hearing Our Own Stories

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.

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In Pharaoh’s Court

In Pharaoh’s Court

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.

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Sibling Loyalty

Sibling Loyalty

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

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A Tale of Two Dreamers

A Tale of Two Dreamers

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?”

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Judah’s Story, Our Stories, and the Stories of Refugees

Judah’s Story, Our Stories, and the Stories of Refugees

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. 

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Finding the Larger Message

Finding the Larger Message

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?

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A Narrative for Our Lives

A Narrative for Our Lives

Dec 26, 2014 By Tim Daniel Bernard | Commentary | Vayiggash

No matter if we are philosophers, scientists, or grand viziers of Egypt, we all constantly engage in the process of slotting the “disordered fragments of raw experience” into an overarching framework. 

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Judah Leads

Judah Leads

Dec 4, 2013 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayiggash

This week’s parashah, Vayiggash, showcases the most dramatic moment of the Joseph narrative.

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What Did Joseph Mean to Say?

What Did Joseph Mean to Say?

Dec 3, 2013 By Walter Herzberg | Commentary | Vayiggash

Joseph, viceroy of Egypt, who has not yet revealed himself to his brothers, threatens to retain his brother Benjamin as a slave (Gen. 44:17).

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Seeing the Big Picture of Joseph’s Life

Seeing the Big Picture of Joseph’s Life

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.

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Unanticipated Consequences

Unanticipated Consequences

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.

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Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Dec 31, 2011 By David Marcus | Commentary | Vayiggash

Parashat Va-yiggash continues the longest narrative in the Torah, that of Joseph and his brothers.

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Patience As a Biblical Virtue

Patience As a Biblical Virtue

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.

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The Distraction of Bickering

The Distraction of Bickering

Dec 11, 2010 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Vayiggash

In an age in which bickering about halakhah—its particulars and its generalities—has become the Achilles’ heel of the Jewish community, Rabbi Elazar’s words resound.

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The Painful Truth

The Painful Truth

Dec 25, 2009 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Commentary | Vayiggash

Sometimes the midrash takes up a difficult verse and offers an interpretation that is even more opaque. This week’s Torah portion contains an example of this. We are told that initially Jacob refused to believe the brothers when they told him that Joseph was still among the living. However, “when they recounted all that Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived” (Gen. 45:27).

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A Vision of Jewish Unity

A Vision of Jewish Unity

Jan 3, 2009 By David M. Ackerman | Commentary | Vayiggash

This Shabbat, whatever our politics, we stand together with concern and worry as our brothers and sisters in Israel engage in yet another battle in what often seems like an unending war. The ongoing terror of rockets, fired arbitrarily into southern Israel, along with Israel’s military response, unite us in shared anguish. We also share in the hope for a just end to this battle, to this war, and to all wars.

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