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Vayigash ~ 5772 ~ ויגש
Yehuda approaches Yosef to plead his case to allow Benjamin to return to Jacob. He repeats the sequence of events leading to their Patriarch’s allowing Benjamin to descend to Egypt. Yehuda explains that another trauma involving one of the young sons might kill their elderly father. Yehuda, playing on the sympathies of the Ruler Yosef, offers to remain as a slave in exchange for Benjamin’s release. This is too great a strain on Yosef and he orders the room cleared of strangers and then reveals himself as their brother Yosef. Yosef allays their fears of retribution by declaring their act of selling him into slavery as a part of G-d’s plan to save them all from starvation.
Yosef promises to sustain all the families of his Brethren in the province of Goshen, a pasture-rich land. Pharaoh is so pleased with this family reunion that he further encourages the immigration of Jacob’s family to Egypt. Pharaoh commands the brethren to take wagons with them to bring their families back to Egypt. All the brothers receive gifts but Benjamin’s is greatest. Yosef sends twenty donkeys laden with special gifts for Jacob.
When Jacob hears the news of Yosef’s ascension to imminence and his new life in Egypt, he is still incredulous until he sees the wagons. Enroute to Egypt, Jacob journeys through Be’er Sheva, where after sacrificing to G-d, he has a vision in which G-d assures him this descent to Egypt is according to His wishes. The 70 descendants of Jacob are enumerated here before the Exodus actually begins.
Judah leads the way to Goshen. Yosef prepares his family with prearranged stories for Pharaoh. Five representatives from the brethren are presented to Pharaoh. He only grants them Goshen but asks for assistance with his own herds. Jacob is brought in and blessed by Pharaoh. Although Jacob is 130 years old, he feels his life was unhappy and unfulfilled. Yosef completely sustains his brethren while the Egyptians slowly barter away their livestock and land for food.
MAFTIR Genesis 47:25—27 ~ page 177
HAFTARAH Ezekiel 37:15— 28 ~ page 178-79
Addressing the Babylonian exiles, Ezekiel predicts the restoration of Israel to its homeland as a united people. This is symbolized by his joining together two sticks, one bearing the words “for Judah and for the Children of Israel his companions” and the other “for Yosef, the stick of Ephraim and of all the house of Israel his companions.” The united nation will have one king and will be blessed with peace as G-d’s Divine Presence will dwell among them.
Parsha Study Questions
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1. According to the Hebrew (compared to the translation) who would die if separated: Yakov or Benjamin (44:22)?
2. Why is there neither “plowing nor harvest” (45:6)? Should people at least try to grow food?
3. Why does Yosef refer separately to the “eyes” of the brothers and of Benjamin?
4. Verse 45:26 states Yakov’s heart “fainted – Vayafaag (ופג)” – what is the Hebrew root word?
5. The rabbis note that Yosef readied his own chariot (v. 46:29) as a statement of his enthusiasm to reunite with his father. Now he rushes?