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Parashat Vayigash

Parashat Vayigash December 14, 2007

Determining leadership for the Jewish people has never been an easy thing for any age in our long history. But when a leader’s time comes to reveal himself, he can no longer stand beside and hide. Our first encounter with “hide and seek” is when our first King, Saul, described as good looking and tall, hides amongst the barrels and he can’t be found. And they could not find him. ולא מצאו “ואין “”והנה הוא נחבא עם הכלים (Samuel one, chapter 10 verse 22)

The search for King David was not done simple either, even for our prophet (Samuel one chapter 16 verse 11) He sifts through all of Yishay’s sons and asks, “Hatamu hanearim?” “Is there not another son to be found?” “Oh him!” they are practically rolling their eyes and point to the young David out pasturing the sheep.

Up until now, Yosef displays, on an obvious level, emotional indifference as well as hides his true identity. He has been thrown into the pit 2 times, looses his brothers and suffers at the hands of Eshet Potiphar. Yehudah faces personal tragedy in his own family loosing 2 sons to death, not to mention his ordeal with Tamar and his coming to terms with the his own truth. His tikkun reaches a climax when he is ready to sacrifice himself as a guarantor for his brother, Binyamin. This devotion is what brings Yosef to finally reveal himself.

If passion and desire and overcoming these tests were the theme of the previous parshas, now we are focused on heart and soul emotion. Feelings are brought up afresh by thoughts of home, family standing up for brotherhood. Yosef, who rules half the world but in one second is again taken into the fold of the family, and Yehudah who is almost crowned king of the House of Israel have both “learned on their own skins” what responsibility and accountability mean.

The slander, pits, and dreams zenith as Yosef, the lifesaver emancipates himself as he cries, “ANI YOSEF!”(I am Joseph) This he only does when he sees the brother’s sin rectified. כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה” All of Israel is responsible for one another. This is the key of redemption. May it arrive speedily in our days, Amen.

Shabbat Shalom,

Leah Goldsmith Itamar

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