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Monday, Kislev 18, 5782 / November 22, 2021


This week's Parsha, Vayeishev, describes the special relationship that Yaakov (Jacob) had with his son, Yosef (Joseph).  The Torah says, "Israel [Yaakov] loved Joseph more than all his children because he was the son born to him in his old age; and he made him a coat of many colors." 


Yaakov's special relationship with Joseph caused jealousy and rift between the brothers and Joseph.


We read about Joseph's dreams which he told his brothers, for which they hated him even more.


In his first dream, he and his brothers were out in the field binding sheaves when his brothers’ sheaves bowed down to his. In the second dream, the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed to him. The eleven stars refer to his eleven brothers, further increasing their jealousy and hatred for him.


Later, when their father, Yaakov, sends Joseph out to the field to check on his brothers, they sell him to a caravan of merchants and Joseph ends up in Egypt as a slave to Potifar. When Joseph refuses the advances of Potifar's wife and runs out of the house, she later complains to her husband that it was Joseph who wanted to force himself upon her, which results in Joseph being imprisoned.


At the end of the Parsha, Joseph properly interprets the dreams of the king's butler and baker who were also in prison. In next week's Parsha, Mikeitz, Joseph is summoned to interpret King Pharaoh's dreams, and as a result, Pharaoh appoints him ruler over Egypt.


All these years, Yaakov thought that Joseph was devoured by a wild animal, and he mourned after him. Only later did Yaakov come to Egypt where he was re-united with his beloved son, Joseph.


Q.   How many years were Yaakov and Joseph separated?


A.   22 years. Joseph was sold when he was 17 and reunited with Yaakov at 39.


Q.   What did Yaakov do to deserve such harsh punishment for 22 years?


A.  It was measure for measure for the 22 years which Yaakov was away from his parents. He spent 20 years with his father-in-law and two more years on the road returning home. For those 22 years that he was away from his parents, his son Joseph was away from him.


Although it may have been a punishment, yet Joseph's ending up in Egypt was ordained by Divine Providence to benefit Yaakov and his family.  G-d told Abraham, many years earlier, that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land.  By Joseph being sold to the Egyptians and eventually becoming the ruler of Egypt, it made Yaakov’s transition to Egypt much more pleasant.