Parshat Vayigash1

[47:9]” When Yosef introduces Ya’akov, his father, to Pharoah, Pharoah asks Ya’akov how old he is. Ya’akov answers, and then continues to say that his life has been bad. This is unusual. Why did Ya’akov tell Pharoah that he has had a bad life, even though he had not been asked about his life?”

Learning Group–Parshat Vayigash

(Genesis-44:18-47:27)

(Haftara: Ezekiel 37:15-28)

1. [45:3] After Yehudah’s speech, Yosef suddenly tells his brothers that he is Yosef. What did Yehudah say that convinced Yosef to reveal his identity after all this time?

2. [45:14] “…and he cried and Binyamin cried on his neck.” Rashi says that they cried over the Temples that would be destroyed in the future—each in the other’s territory. Each of the brothers had a deep love and compassion for the other in relation to eternal matters. Other commentators say that they cried because they had been separated for so long. What might motivate Rashi to explain the brothers’ deep emotion in such an impersonal way?

3. [47:9] When Yosef introduces Ya’akov, his father, to Pharoah, Pharoah asks Ya’akov how old he is. Ya’akov answers, and then continues to say that his life has been bad. This is unusual. Why did Ya’akov tell Pharoah that he has had a bad life, even though he had not been asked about his life?

4. [48:16] In the next parsha Ya’akov blesses Yosef’s children. He begins by saying, “The angel who redeemed me from all evil…” In other words, my life was good. This contradicts what Ya’akov said previously. Was his life really bad or was it really good? How can this contradiction be explained?

5. [Haftara: Yechezkel 37:22] The prophet tells us how in the messianic era, there will be no divisions among the Jews. If that is the ideal, then why was the division into tribes encouraged and reinforced earlier in our history?

Commentary

[Yechezkel 37:24] “And my servant David will be king over them…”

In the messianic future, all the Jews will return to God, and will repent totally for all their sins of the past. However, there will be many who will be embarrassed because they have so many sins. For these people, King David will be their inspiring example. From David’s life they will understand that “tshuvah” helps for everything—even the most severe sins– and one’s relationship with God and with the world can always be repaired.

–Ahavat Yehonatan, Yonatan Eibeschitz, (1690-1764), Prague

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

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