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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Jealousy As a Test of Virtue

Jealousy As a Test of Virtue

Dec 14, 2007 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Vayiggash

Gifts can make you crazy. Picking them is hard, and so is accepting them with grace.

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A Question of Translation

A Question of Translation

Dec 30, 2006 By Robert Harris | Commentary | Vayiggash

Parashat Vayiggash (or, as it is sometimes known in Hebrew school circles, “parashat omigosh”) serves as the denouement of the “Tale of Joseph and His Brothers.”

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Words that Come from the Heart

Words that Come from the Heart

Dec 30, 2006 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayiggash

Parashat Va–yiggash leads us to the dramatic conclusion of the Joseph narrative, as the protagonist reveals his identity to his estranged brothers. Out of a profound and real fear of losing another brother, Judah makes a stirring appeal to Joseph. As Joseph imbibes the emotional outpouring from Judah, he cannot restrain himself from a similar outpouring. The Rabbis teach that “words that come from the heart, go to the heart.”

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Cultivating an Ethic of Responsibility

Cultivating an Ethic of Responsibility

Dec 18, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayiggash

Jewish history unfolds as a dialectic between exile and homeland.

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Journeying in God’s Presence

Journeying in God’s Presence

Jan 3, 2004 By Rachel Ain | Commentary | Vayiggash

We are all on journeys. Yet, journeys by their very nature entail uncertainty and fear. In this week’s parashah, Va-Yiggash, our ancestor Jacob makes a journey. Jacob leaves the Land of Israel, and descends to Egypt. Once he discovers that Joseph is alive and well in Egypt, he prepares to move his entire family to what he hopes will be a better place. He is leaving a land of famine, to dwell in Egypt, the land of plenty.

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Where Is God to Be Found in Exile?

Where Is God to Be Found in Exile?

Jan 3, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayiggash

Jacob receives the news from his sons that Joseph lives with silent incredulity. Numbed by his mourning, he dares not expose himself to more pain and disappointment. The report was counter-intuitive: not only had Joseph survived, he had risen to become the second-most powerful man in Egypt. But the abundance of provisions and possessions that his sons had brought back from Egypt confirmed their words. As Jacob’s resistance gives way, he resolves to accept Pharaoh’s invitation to settle in Egypt. He must be reunited with Joseph before death separates them irremediably.

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The Life and Death of Relationships

The Life and Death of Relationships

Dec 14, 2002 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Vayiggash

Family reunions come in several varieties. They might be occasions of joy — or sadness. Relationships are revived — or neglected. Change is the only constant.

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Brothers Reunited

Brothers Reunited

Dec 14, 2002 By Charles Savenor | Commentary | Vayiggash

The moment of truth has arrived. With Benjamin framed for stealing and sentenced to enslavement, Joseph waits to see how Jacob’s other sons will respond. Joseph believes that his well-orchestrated ruse will finally expose his brothers’ true colors.

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The Search for Torah

The Search for Torah

Dec 22, 2001 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Vayiggash

Imagine that you have just been reunited with your long-lost beloved child.  For years, your days were full of grief as you mourned his tragic loss.  Now you have not only learned of his miraculous existence, but you have also discovered his incredible success.  His political and economic accomplishments will ensure the future safety and security of you and your entire family during a period of hardship and despair.  After an emotional reunion, your wildly successful son brings you to meet his boss, the ruler of the nation.  When the king asks you how you are doing, what do you say? 

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Free Will?

Free Will?

Dec 22, 2001 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Vayiggash

It is commonly accepted that Judaism teaches free choice. Human beings can choose their behaviors and are responsible for those choices. The source for this teaching is traced directly to the Torah:

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Between Teshuva and Repentance

Between Teshuva and Repentance

Jan 6, 2001 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayiggash

The origin of words is often a good indicator of their deeper meaning. This is surely the case with the well-known Hebrew word “teshuvah,” often rendered in English as penitence or repentance. Yet the etymology of each term in this pairing is decidedly different and reminds us of what is always lost in translation. Both English words derive from a Latin root meaning “to regret,” whereas the Hebrew term comes from the root “to return.” The contrast is pronounced: etymologically, the English concept stresses a state of mind, the Hebrew, an action to be taken.

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Joseph’s Three Encounters

Joseph’s Three Encounters

Dec 17, 1999 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayiggash

Parashat Va-Yiggash 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. Judah 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.

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Judah and Jewish Education

Judah and Jewish Education

Dec 28, 1998 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayiggash

It is the subplots which make the Joseph saga a work of great literature. Had the Torah focused solely on relocating Jacob from Canaan to Egypt it would have left us with a piece of wooden theology and boring prose. But the author is too much the artist to have Joseph reveal his identity when his brothers first arrive. Yet what is accomplished by the delay? Joseph’s dreams, which cost him their love, have surely been fulfilled.

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Making Room for God

Making Room for God

Dec 21, 1997 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayiggash

Jacob and Joseph, father and son, had been separated for 22 years. At first the exclamation of his sons that Joseph was not only alive but ruled over all of Egypt was met with stony silence. Jacob did not dare let their words shatter the emotional equilibrium he had forged out of his suffering. It was only upon seeing the vehicles of Egyptian design sent by Joseph that Jacob softened his resistance. His spirit sprang back to life and he insisted on leaving for Egypt immediately to behold once again his long lost son.

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Israel Divided

Israel Divided

Dec 10, 1994 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayiggash

As you know, the Haftarah is the prophetic selection with which we take leave from the weekly parasha. The word is a noun which means, “to bring (the Torah reading) to a close.” We do not depart from the Torah abruptly, but gradually with a final reading from the Prophets, chanted from a printed book rather than a handwritten scroll. We withdraw from the realm of the sacred slowly. The prophetic passage chosen always relates to the content of the parasha for that week.

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Vayiggash

Vayiggash

Jan 1, 1980

15 The word of the LORD came to me: 16 And you, O mortal, take a stick and write on it, “Of Judah and the Israelites associated with him”; and take another stick and write on it, “Of Joseph — the stick of Ephraim — and all the House of Israel associated with him.”

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Vayiggash

Vayiggash

Jan 1, 1980

18 Then Judah went up to him and said, “Please, my lord, let Your servant appeal to my lord, and do not be impatient with your servant, You who are the equal of Pharaoh. 

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