Vayigash – A thought for the week by Mike Lewis

Parashat Va-yigash continues the longest narrative in the Torah, that of Joseph and his brothers. It is told without a break. In the Torah there are no paragraph markers since the beginning of last week’s Parasha, Miketz. The new act in the story begins this week with the appeal by Judah for the freedom of Benjamin.

We read the story as reconciliation between the brothers and compassion. Jacob finally finds peace in reuniting with Joseph.

Jacob will live for another 17 years, His life seems complete, but it is not over. But what is not complete is the tension between Joseph and Judah which will go on over the history of Israel. Joseph sees himself as the messenger of God sent ahead into Egypt. Judah is actually sent ahead by Jacob; the Midrash is that he was to set up schools and houses of study. He is preparing for the future. Jacob, who had actually encountered God, realises that Joseph is a dreamer. How we see ourselves often clashes with reality.

Sadly, in many families and communities there are breakdowns and gulfs. There are tensions which remain unresolved and only thinly covered up. Reconciliation is hard.

As we enter a New Year there is the custom of making resolutions. May this year bring peace; not only in the world and in the country but also between us, our families and our communities. What matters is not philosophy and theology, but compassion and kindness.

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