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Daf HaShavuah: Parsha Vayigash

In an act of great integrity, Judah steps forward and explains that he will allow himself to become a slave so that Benjamin will not have to do so, because their father so loves Benjamin that losing his favourite son, to whom his soul is bound, would kill him. Joseph is so moved by this clear evidence of Judah’s repentance that he reveals himself to his brothers, crying so loudly that it can be heard even in Pharaoh’s palace. Joseph explains that it was God’s plan to send him to Egypt to make sure the family wouldn’t starve during the famine, “so it was not you who sent me here, but God”. He tells his brothers to hurry back to get their father, and invites them all to live in Egypt, in the region of Goshen.

Pharaoh is pleased to learn of the reunion of Joseph’s family, and he, too, invites them to move to Egypt. The brothers prepare to fetch Jacob, and Joseph instructs them to not be quarrelsome on the way.

Jacob and his family sleep in Beersheva overnight, and God visits Jacob one more time, assuring him that he need to fear going down to Egypt, for “I Myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I Myself will also bring you back”. Jacob descends on Egypt with a party of seventy people. Joseph rides his chariot to greet his father, and the two men embrace and weep, as Jacob says, “Now I can die, having seen for myself that you are still alive”.

Joseph instructs his family to claim that they are shepherds, whom the Egyptians abhor, since this will allow the Israelites to dwell apart in Goshen. Indeed, when Pharaoh has an audience with the brothers and Jacob, he does grant them the region of Goseh. When Jacob appears before Pharaoh, he tells him, “the years of my sojourn (on earth) are 130. Few and hard have been the years of my life, nor do they come up to the life spans of my fathers during their sojourns”.

During the remainder of the famine, Joseph sustains his family and manages Egypt for Pharaoh. Under his guidance, Pharaoh acquires all the land in Egypt, as well as its people, who sell first their real estate, and then themselves, in exchange for sustenance.

Based on The Bedside Torah by Rabbi Bradley Artson

Questions for discussion

1- Joseph is trying to ease his brothers’ fear and guilt, but isn’t he doing injustice by putting all blame on God’s plan and not on the brother’s hate of him?

2- Why does Joseph choose to say “don’t be quarrelsome” to his brothers before their departure to their father?

3- What does Jacob mean using “sojourns” as a measure for his’ and his forefathers’ lives?

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