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Wednesday, Tevet 4, 5779 / December 12, 2018


Parshat Vayeishev which we read two weeks ago, Parshat Mikeitz which we read last Shabbat, and Parshat Vayigash which we will read this Shabbat all tell the story of Joseph (Yosef).


In Parshat Vayeishev, the Torah recounts how, as a result of jealousy, the brothers sold Joseph into slavery. Joseph ended up in Egypt where he endured many hardships. In Parshat Mikeitz, Joseph correctly interpreted Pharaoh's dreams and was made the ruler of Egypt.


In this week's Parsha,Vayigash, Joseph finally reveals his identity to his brothers, who sold him 22 years earlier.  The Torah says that at one point, "Joseph could not restrain himself anymore." He commands the Egyptians to leave the room to spare his brothers from embarrassment. Then he reveals his identity by crying out, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" The Torah then declares, "And his brothers could not answer him for they were frightened at his presence."


Joseph consoles them, "Do not grieve nor should you be angry with yourselves that you have sold me here; For to preserve life did G-d send me here before you." Joseph explains that, "It was not you who sent me here, but G-d; He has made me a ruler of the land of Egypt".


Joseph urges his brothers to hurry back home and bring their father, Yaakov (Jacob), and their families to Egypt, where he will look after all their needs. Jacob's entire family, numbering seventy souls, move to Egypt. Only now did Yaakov understand the apparent loss of his beloved son, Joseph, twenty two years earlier. Joseph had a Divine mission in Egypt to save the lives of many people, including his own family members!


This Torah reading should serve as a guide, inspiration, and lesson for us. Throughout life, we experience events which we feel, "should have, or could have been different." Parshat Vayigash teaches us, as Joseph told his brothers who sold him into slavery; "It was not you who sent me here, but G-d!" Our vision of things is very limited. Only G-d sees the entire picture.


In Psalms, King David states, "From G-d are man's footsteps established." Although it may seem that we decide where we go, King David tells us that G-d is really the One who guides our footsteps.


The story is told of a governor who met a rabbi walking in the street, "Where are you going?" He asked the rabbi. "I don't know," the rabbi replied. The governor became angry at the rabbi's answer and threw him in jail. The next day, the rabbi was brought before him; "How come, when I asked you yesterday where you were going, you didn't tell me? Were you mocking me?" asked the governor.


“G-d forbid,” replied the rabbi. "Had you asked me where I planned to go, I would have told you, but you asked me where was I going? You wanted a definite answer and only G-d knows that. You see for yourself that I ended up in jail... It was surely not the place I intended to go to…"