Dvar Torah Parshat VaYigash 5776 2015

Our Chazal believed that Hashem operates on the principle of כל מדותיו של הקדוש ברוך הוא מדה כנגד מדה, “all acts of Hashem are measure for measure.” (San. 90a) They find evidence of this principle in the Tanach. Perhaps we can find this demonstrated in our Sidra as well. The brothers sold Yosef to traders who were going to Egypt, taking him into Galut. This led to the result that after a number of years all the brothers also ended up going down to Egypt, into Galut.

This belief holds true in all of history and even in our time. We find all forms of horrible terror are imposed on the Israeli population. The world keeps quiet and does not cry out against these atrocities. The end result is that the rest of the world eventually has to put up with the same brutalities and barbarisms. The violence is practiced on Israelis and then ends up on populations all over the world.

It may not be evident but in our personal lives the same is true. Often we mistreat friends or perhaps only acquaintances, and in time we ourselves suffer the same mistreatment. We may not associate what happens to us to what we ourselves did, but if you give it some thought you can soon see the similarity. Be careful with all your acts.

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Dvar Torah on Parshat VaYigash 5774 2013

Yosef revealed himself to his brothers and when he saw how frightened they were he added: הֵנָּה אַל־תֵּעָצְבוּ וְאַל־יִחַר בְּעֵינֵיכֶם כִּי־מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי, “…be not distressed, nor reproach yourselves for having sold me here…”. (Gen. 45,5) In this world there is no absolute good or absolute bad. It is a fact that everything depends on how you view it.

This is what Yosef meant when he told them not to be disturbed that they had sold him. They may have acted in a wrong manner but the reality was such that it ended in a favorable way. He was now the virtual leader in Egypt and he can now help his brothers and families to overcome the famine.

Things happen in this world and in our lives and we see them as alarming and upsetting events. While they can discomfort us we must not give up in grief and despair. There is always some good even with the bad. We must learn to turn into good whatever we are given. This may be easier said than done, but it is, nevertheless, the truth.

Dvar Torah Parshat Vayigash 2012 5773 – The Leader among his brothers

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Binyamin was accused of stealing Yosef’s goblet with which he divines and can see things unknown to others. Yosef wanted to detain Binyamin and send the other brothers home. Yehudah speaks up forcefully and, not only convinces Yosef to free Binyamin, but even plays on Yosef’s emotions and he had to admit to his brothers who he was. What were Yehuda’s arguments that lead to these results?

He really caught Yosef in a contradiction. He claimed that Yosef had asked the brothers in their previous appearance before him, if they had a father or a brother. To this Yehudah said, if the goblet has such divine powers that you can see in it things unknown to others, then you didn’t have to ask us that question. You could have gotten the information from the goblet. Hence, this goblet is no different from others and you should free Binyamin.

This argument was so powerful that Yosef had to free his brother, but he also realized he was going too far in mistreating his brothers. He was so moved; he had to reveal himself to them.

Yehudah’s arguments were so brilliant, that it was why Yehudah was the leader among his brothers and that is why his descendants became the kings of Israel.

Dvar Torah Parshat Vayigash 5772 2011

Yehudah is pleading with Yosef to allow Binyamin to return to their father. He recounts the discussion Yosef had with them during their previous visit to Egypt. He relates that at that time Yosef said to them: IM LO YERED ACHICHEM HAKATON ITCHEM, “…if your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not see my face again.” (Gen. 44,23)

The famous Rabbi of Berdichev had a beautiful exposition of this passage. There are Jews who are concerned only with their own welfare, be it in material or spiritual matters. “If I have what to eat; if I have what to wear; if I have where to live; if I could get an education; if I could keep Shabbat’ etc., I am happy and satisfied.” He is not concerned about his brother’s happiness and wellbeing.

To such people, says the Rabbi of Berdichev, the Torah exclaims, if your brother is not with you, I cannot look upon you. You cannot see my face again. We Jews have a special obligation. Chazal tell us KOL YISRAEL AREVIM ZE BAZEH, all of Israel are responsible for one another.

Our great sage Hillel also put it very wisely when he said, “If I am for my self what am I?” (Avot 1;14)

[ on that note: In Beit Shemesh today, Kol Hakavod to these Yeshiva boys from Amit Nachshon Yeshiva High School giving out these notes with a little something attached – see below and read original article ]BetShemeshJewishPeace

Dvar Torah Parshat Vayigash 5771 2010

Judaism has an elaborate system of respect. It is absolutely mandatory upon a child to show respect for his parents. It is also required that a person should show respect for a king or any leader. As a matter of fact, there is even a Berachah which is to be recited when one sees a king or, according to some, even when one sees a modern day elected official.

Thus when Yosef and his father met in today’s Sidra, Yosef had to give respect to his father but his father had to show Yosef respect as a leader. In Biblical times one form of respect was to bow down to the honored person. Yosef did not want his father to have to bow down to him. Hence, one of the reasons given that he suggested Yaakov should settle in Goshen was so that they should not meet too often and Yaakov would not have to bow to him.

In our times it is not customary to bow but the obligation to show respect and honor to parents and to elected officials is still obligatory. The Talmud mentions many ways that this respect is to be shown to one’s parents. It is unfortunate that not many children today adhere to these practices and in fact many are not even aware of them.

Dvar Torah Parshat Vayigash 5770 2009

From the moment Yosef laid eyes on his brothers in Egypt he dealt harshly with them. So much so, that they questioned the meaning of it. They asked: MAH ZOT ASAH ELOKIM LANU, “…what is this that Hashem has done to us?” (Gen. 42,28) They could not understand what was happening. It was only when Yosef revealed himself to them did they fully grasp what was going on.

The Chafetz Chaim said that in the happenings in the world the same is true. We see things occurring and do not understand why. We search for reasons but are frustrated to come up with answers. It is only when we hear Hashem speaking to us and saying: ANI HASHEM, I am Hashem, then things become clear.

We must realize that there is HASHGACHA PRATIT or Providence in this world. Only then can we begin to understand. What happens is directed by Hashem. There is meaning though we cannot pin-point the cause and the result. We believe, however, that there is righteousness and justice in the conduct of this world.

Dvar Torah Parshat Vayigash 2009 5769 דבר תורה פרשת ויגש

coming_homeWhen Yaakov and Yosef’s brothers came to Egypt we are told his brothers said to Pharaoh; LAGUR BA’ARETZ BANU, “…we have come to sojourn in the land…”.(Gen. 47,4) The Hebrew word LAGUR, to sojourn, comes from the root GER which indicates a stranger. What the brothers were saying is that they did not come to Egypt to settle and stay there but plan to live there temporarily. We repeat this thought every Pesach when we recite the Haggadah which in turn recalls the words of the Sifri, “…This teaches that Yaakov our father did not go down to settle but to sojourn there…”.

The Vilna Gaon stresses this point and says that the reason the Bnei Yisrael were able to leave Egypt was because they never planned to settle there. Today we find many Jewish people dispersed throughout the Diaspora. It is not through their own will that they find themselves there. Jews were sent into the Galut by our enemies. The fact that they never accepted the Galut as a permanent arrangement is why we were able to come back to the land promised our people by Hashem.

Anyone who still finds himself in Galut because of uncontrollable circumstances, but has not yet made peace with the situation and dreams of some day dwelling in Israel will eventually, with the help of Hashem, find the means and the conviction to make Aliya and come live in Israel.