E 1. Yaakov lived for 147 years unlike his father, Yitzchok, who lived 180 years. The Avos were all meant to live to 180. Why did he die 33 years earlier?
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I recently heard a story about two brothers who were separated during the war, one of whom managed to escape from Poland to America, while the other was left under the icy grip of the Soviet Union.
After twenty years they discovered each other, and were able to meet, if somewhat briefly, somewhere deep inside Russia under the watchful eye of the KGB. How emotional that first moment of reunion must have been! The tears, the joy, disbelief and of course gratitude to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.
In our parsha, a somewhat similar scene plays itself out Yosef, his fathers darling child, missing presumed dead for twenty two years, is finally reunited with Yaakov. Yosef, second only to the king Pharaoh, wearing his finest garb of power and kingship, breaks down in public and cries on his fathers neck. Meanwhile, Yaakovs expected reciprocation of emotion is strangely omitted from the pesukim. Rashi explains in the name of Chazal that in fact Yaakov didnt cry or even kiss his son he was occupied with saying Shema. Why did Yaakov chose this moment of all moments to be busy and seemingly ignore his sons tears?
Perhaps we can suggest an answer based on an examination of an earlier moment in the parsha. When Yosef caves in and reveals his identity to his brothers the shevotim, they are left speechless. Speechless with the shock of the realisation that while they had thought that they had been right in their rejection of Yosefs dreams, the opposite was true, and they themselves had brought about his rise to power.
Speechless with the knowledge of the harm they had attempted to cause him and no doubt fear of what he might seek to do to avenge himself. Yosef attempts to comfort his brothers and says the following (45:8)
And now, it is not you that sent me here rather Elokim, who has made me a father to Pharaoh etc.
This statement is astonishing. Remember, Yosef had spent many years in servitude due to his brothers, and it would be most understandable if he had more than a little feeling of resentment against them because of this. Yosef Hatzaddik however felt otherwise. He bore no grudge against his brothers because he recognised that all that had befallen him while seemingly disastrous had actually been for the good. The hardship which he had endured had been a blessing in disguise because (45:5) to sustain (us) Elokim sent me in front of you. As the Sforno points out (on verse 9)Yosef was telling his brothers that since the purpose had clearly been Divine surely so the means, that is to say, that the achieved purpose could not have been achieved in any other way, and therefore was for the good.
Often in life we are sent challenges, some of them momentary, others somewhat longer and some of them life long. We need to constant remind ourselves that Hashem is good, the whole existence of the world to for Him to be able to do good. All that occurs to us is ultimately for the good, just sometimes that good is readily apparent and other times hidden. This is a difficult concept to internalise, a fact reflected by Chazal; the gemora says that in the future we will make a bracha of hatov ve hameytiv on both good and bad, but in the world in its current state we make this brocho only on the
recognisable good, and on mishaps, baruch dayan haemes. We are not expected to be able to see the good in such things, to the extent that we can bless Hashem equally as we do on something joyous. However, we should try eventually to give presence to the thought which should be with us on some level gam zu letova this also is for the good!
Perhaps this then, was what happened when Yaakov was reunited with Yosef. In krias shema we declare that Hashem is One this means that all that happens, whether for good or seemingly bad, is from Him. There is nothing other than His will and it unfortunately necessary sometimes for bad things to happen. Often we do not and cannot understand why, and yet nonetheless we believe in His Oneness
Everything is from Him.
For twenty two years Yaakov was inconsolable over the loss of his son. Upon seeing Yosef again Yaakov realised with a powerful clarity that not for one second had Hashem abandoned him, and that really, all that had transpired, had been for his and his familys good. What could be more appropriate then, for Yaakov to declare acceptance of Hashems kingship at this moment?
We have a twice daily opportunity to contemplate this thought, at the beginning and the end of every day. May Hashem help us to be able to see His hand in all that He does.
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E 2. In Parshas Vayigash, where do we see a hint to the waychildren eat?
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PARSHAHVAYIGASH INSIGHTS INTO RASHI:
YOSEFS REUNION WITH BINYAMIN
Rabbi Yehonoson GefenRabbi for Keter HaTorah
BEREISHIS, 45:14: Then he fell upon his brother Binyamins neck and wept; and Binyamin wept upon his neck.
RASHI, 45:14: SV. Then he fell upon his brother Binyamins neck and wept: Over the two Temples that were destined to be in the portion of Binyamin, and whose end was to be destroyed.
Upon the momentous reunion of Yosef with his brother Binyamin, Yosef sees through ruach hakodesh that in the future, the two Temples which will be located in Binyamins portion will be destroyed, and this brings him to tears. The obvious question is why Yosef received this vision at this point in particular? In order to answer this question it is necessary to delve more deeply into the saga of mechiras Yosef.
It seems clear that there is an underlying connection between the whole episode and the future tragedies that would befall the Jewish people with regards to the destruction of the Temples. The Megaleh Amukos provides the first key to discerning this connection.1 He writes that all the exiles were caused by the sale of Yosef. In particular, it seems that the sinas chinam (baseless hatred) that was generated in this tragic story was the cause of all the future hatred that caused such damage to the Jewish people throughout history.
It seems that Yosef understood the long-term significance of the damage caused by his sale, and this can help us understand his actions when the brothers came to Mitzrayim. The commentaries are very bothered as to why Yosef acted so harshly towards the brothers, thereby causing intense pain to the brothers and to his father, Yaakov Avinu.2 The Kli Yakar explains in great detail that everything Yosef did to them before revealing himself was carefully planned to bring them to recognize the gravity of their sin in selling him and to rectify it.3 He did this by inflicting on them, measure for measure, the suffering that they caused him twenty two years earlier. For example, he threw them into a prison to correspond to the fact that they threw him into a pit; and he kept Shimon as prisoner in Mitzrayim because he was the main instigator of the plot to harm him; most significantly he placed them in a situation as similar as possible to the one they were in so many years earlier; where the other son of Rachel stood to be lost would they now rectify their earlier hatred
1 Heard from my dear friend, Rabbi Eli Birnbaum.2 See Ramban, 42:9.3 Kli Yakar, 42:9.
of Yosef by willing to give up everything to save Binyamin? Indeed it is apparent from the Torahs account that his goal was being fulfilled as we see that they increasingly recognised that the tribulations they were undergoing now were teaching them of the severity of their sin in selling Yosef, until the point where Yehuda showed how dedicated they were to saving Binyamin.4
Yet it is clear that he did not succeed in completing his goal of bringing them to complete teshuva; after Yehudas passionate plea for mercy, the Torah tells us that Yosef could no longer continue his pretense. The clear implication is that ideally he planned to continue even further.5 The reason for this is that he realised that he had not yet fully rectified the hatred and distrust sowed so many years earlier. And the ramifications of this failure were enormous it meant as we said in the beginning, that the remaining remnants of hatred would emerge to plague the descendants of the Shevatim in future generation.