Parashat VaYigash: Genesis 44:18 to 47:27

Week of December 22, 2023

Our Torah portion’s opening verb means “he approached…him” and begins with the meeting between Joseph and Judah. But the beginning is really in the middle of a strange place. Last week’s sedra ended with Joseph threatening to enslave Benjamin in Egypt. The tale left us hanging for a week, to see if the youngest brother will be saved.

Careful readers should have suspected that Judah would be the brother to step forward and challenge Joseph. Judah has insisted that Benjamin should join his brothers in Egypt; and Judah reminded Papa Jacob of Joseph’s words:  “Do not let me see your faces unless your brother is with you.” (Gen. 43:4)

So Judah must approach Joseph: and we cannot deal with life’s problems without directly approaching those with whom we have difficulties. It takes courage to be honest and forthright. We know how this tale unfolds. The prime minister of Egypt is so moved by Judah’s approach that he reveals his true identity: “I am Joseph.” Then he tells his brothers to come close to him, so he can reveal his secrets, and he repeats: “I am Joseph whom you sold into Egypt.” Joseph then offers a response: “It was to save life that God sent me ahead of you.”  

Join us for Torah study this Shabbat morning!

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