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Vayigash Summaries

Vayigash 5779-2018

“The Innocent Victim”

When Joseph asked, “Is my father still alive?” he was asking his brothers how could they have been so unconcerned for the feelings of their poor father Jacob, who for 22 years, was inconsolable over the loss of Joseph.

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Vayigash 5778-2017

“Jacob’s Enhanced Joy from Joseph His Righteous Son”

Jacob’s reunion with his beloved son Joseph, after a separation of 22 years, was enhanced by the knowledge that Joseph had remained true to his faith during that long separation from his family.

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Vayigash 5777-2017

“No ‘Man’ was with Joseph”

Why does Scripture emphasize twice that no man (“Ish”)stood with Joseph when he revealed himself to his brothers?

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Vayigash 5776-2015

“Joseph’s Intense Economic Policies”

Joseph, now the viceroy of Egypt, proves himself to be an astute administrator, nationalizing untold wealth to benefit Pharaoh’s monarchy. Could it be that Joseph’s harsh actions led to the eventual enslavement of the Jews in later years, and provided much fodder (although unjustified) to many future generations of anti-Semites?

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Vayigash 5775-2014

“Joseph Calms His Brothers”

With his terrified brothers standing before him expecting the worst, Joseph not only reveals himself but gently and generously calms them, attempting to relieve them of feelings of guilt and vengefulness.

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Vayigash 5774-2013

“The Dreams and the Divine Covenant”

As Jacob’s entire family bows down before Joseph, all of Joseph’s dreams finally come true. But not only Joseph’s dreams come to fruition, the prophesies and predictions of the Covenant between the Pieces have also begun to be realized.

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Vayigash 5773-2012

“Is My Father Still Alive?”

From his own childhood experience of studying the story of Joseph and his brethren, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik teaches a most profound lesson about appreciating parents, and cherishing their spiritual legacy.

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Vayigash 5772-2011

“Joseph and Judah: A Confrontation for Posterity”

The confrontation between Judah and Joseph was not only intended to achieve the release of Benjamin, but was a struggle for the leadership of Israel between two larger-than-life brothers.

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Vayigash 5771-2010

“When a Jew Goes Down to Egypt”

How is it that for 22 years, the second most powerful person in Egypt never found the opportunity to visit the land of Canaan if only to see his beloved father and family, from whom he had been so brutally separated?

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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 5769-2008

“Deferred Punishment for the Sale of Joseph”

The rabbis attribute the martyrdom of the ten righteous Torah scholars in the time of Hadrian to the sale of Joseph. What is the connection, and why was the punishment so long in coming?

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Vayigash 5768-2007

“And Jacob Sent Judah Ahead”

Jacob sends Judah ahead to Egypt to prepare for the family’s arrival in Goshen. Why does Jacob specifically choose Judah, and what exactly is the purpose of Judah’s mission?

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Vayigash 5767-2006

“Two of the Seventy Souls”

The Torah lists 70 descendants of Jacob who entered Egypt. Two names seem to be out of place among the 70 “souls” that are recorded: Serach, the daughter of Asher, and Shaul, the son of the Canaanite woman. Who were these unusual people, and why were they singled out?

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Vayigash 5766-2006

“And Judah Approached”

In parashat Vayigash, scripture tells us that Judah approached “him,” probably meaning Joseph. Our commentators struggle to understand the meaning of the word “Va’yee’gash.” Whatever the meaning of the word, the context of the biblical story calls on every person to assume the mantle of courage and leadership, and to step in where necessary to show a sense of responsibility toward all Jews.

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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 5764-2003

“The Secret of Jewish Survival in Exile?”

From Jacob’s plans to bring his family to Egypt to be with his long-lost son Joseph, we learn a profound lesson about Jewish continuity. Jacob sees to it that the people of Israel will be securely ensconced in Goshen, the suburb of Egypt, that is to be their new home. What Jacob regards as essentials for the survival of his family in his day, are truly timeless needs that Jews must meet in every one of the lands that Jews call home.

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Vayigash 5763-2002

“Joseph Reveals Himself to His Brothers: The Triumph of Jewish Identity”

Although Joseph remains thoroughly committed to G-d and to monotheism, he seems to be rather ambivalent about his own “Jewish identity.” As soon as Joseph is summoned to Pharaoh, he shaves and changes his clothes. After he successfully interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, he is dressed in garments of fine linen and has a gold chain placed around his neck. Pharaoh then gives him an Egyptian name, Tzofnat Panayach, and Osnat, the daughter of Potiphera, the High Priest of On, as a wife. Joseph even gives his children names that are critical of his previous life in Canaan and extol life in Egypt. In the end, however, Joseph re-embraces his identity–a true triumph of Joseph’s inner spirit.

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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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Vayigash 5761-2001

“Joseph Helps His Brothers Repent”

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 see whether his brothers were truly Ba’alei T’shuva–true penitents. 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 send him down the river as they did with Joseph?

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Vayigash 5760-1999

“The Reunion of Jacob & Joseph: An Immortal Lesson About Love”

After 22 years of mourning for his lost son, the rabbis say that when Jacob and Joseph are reunited, Jacob could not kiss his son because he was reciting the Shema prayer. What was the reason for Jacob’s odd behavior? Couldn’t he have prayed before or after the reunion with his son?

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