Points to Ponder

VaYigash 5778

Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Schwartz

 כי כמוך כפרעה    For  you are like פרעה (44:18) – Why does Yehudah begin his discussion with this point? Rav Mattisyahu Strashun ztl. explained that Yehuda saw through Yosef’s charge that Binyamin should be charge more criminally than he would have for having taken money – because he took Yosef’s divining cup. Yehudah argues that Yosef is no different than פרעה. After all, Yosef had to ask if the brothers had a father or brother. If the cup worked then he would not have had to ask.

כי למחיה שלחני אלקים לפניכם  For it was to support life that Hashem sent me ahead of you (45:5) – Yosef seems to comfort his brothers with the ever-popular “all’s well that ends well” argument. The problem is that the Talmud seems to derive the opposite from the Torah vconcerning the woman whose husband revoked her Neder but she did not know. The Talmud there calls for her to engage in a Kappara process. Why is it different here? Rav Schachter Shlita suggested that when it comes to בין אדם למקום then each step in the process must be pure and unblemished. However in בין אדם לחבירו  the situation is judged based on how it results in the end.


וישבת בארץ גשן והיית קרוב אלי And you will live in Goshen and be close to me (45:10) – Why didn’t Yosef have Yaakov live with him? The Akaidas Davar explains that there is a Halacha that one is not supposed to outdo his father’s fame in the city. By being viceroy, Yosef feared being disrespectful to his father’s deserved honor and as a result, did not live in the same city.

וירא  את העגלות  And he saw the wagons (45:27) – Rashi comments that Yosef had sent a special sign to clarify his existence – it was the wagons that reminded Yaakov of the place that their learning became interrupted – Eglah Arufa. Why do wagons symbolize that Yosef was alive? The Talmud (Bava Metzia 86b) notes that whatever Avraham did himself, Hashem returned to him by Himself. Anything that Avraham relied on a messenger for, Hashem too, only utilized a messenger. This included Yishmael’s involvement in Hachnosas Orchim. Yet, one must ask why giving an opportunity for Chinuch in Hachnasas Orchim should be punished? Rav Shach ztl.  explained that one can can have the child have an opportunity to do a Mitzva but the importance of the Mitzva becomes more imprinted on the child when s/he sees the parent  performing the Mitzva himself. Rav Betzalel Rudinsky Shlita explains that this is exactly what Yosef was telling Yaakov here . Citing Kli Yakar, Rav Rudinsky explains that Yosef’s sending of the wagons was not merely the sending of wagons but rather that he was actually involved in the Mitzva of לויה – he was still very much “alive” in his Mitzva service and Torah existence.

בעגלות אשר שלח פרעה לשאת אותו  In the wagons that פרעה sent to bring him (46:5) – Why the stress on the wagons? And why only AFTER the conversation between Hashem and Yaakov? Rav Chaim Kamil  ztl. explained that Yakov assumed that the wagons were sent to Yaakov by פרעה for use only if Yaakov were coming to live. At the beginning of the trip, Yaakov was only going to see Yosef but not to stay. Hence he did not want to steal from Egypt. Once Hashem spoke to him, Yaakov knew he was there for the long haul and was willing to accept פרעה’s gesture.


בניו ובני בניו וכל אשר לו הביא אתו מצרים His children and grandchildren…he brought with him to Mitzrayim (46:8-27) – The Torah highlights how the Shvatim came down to Mitzrayim separately. Why the stress of their separation and not their unity? Rav Amital Ztl. explained that the parsha  teaches us that each person and each group must be allowed to make its own contribution. The greatness of the Jewish people is that each individual and each group complements the others. Anyone who accepts the basic principles of Judaism, such as the divinity of the Torah, should be allowed to operate independently and contribute to the whole. Once you have this basic common ground, the rest is just details, and should be treated that way.

ואת העם העביר  And the nation was moved from one end of the country to the next (47:21) – Why did Yosef need to do that? The Rogatchover ztl. explained that  Yosef was concerned lest the rules of Chazaka allow the original owners to reclaim their sold lands (See Eruvin 68b). By moving the people and giving them different lands, Yosef removed the chance they would have to be מבטל  the sale. Ergo he protected the sale to פרעה.


Haftorah: ועתה בן אדם קח לך עץ  אחד  Now son of man, take a stick and write Yehuda and friends and another and write Yosef and friends and place them together in your hands (Yechezkel 37:15-28) – Why is this an ideal Nevuah? It sounds as if putting two sticks together will create Achdus? Rav Baruch Simon Shlita once noted that Achdus is not a concept that is created by speeches. It is created when one really feels the needs of the Tzibbur as one. Nowhere is this actualized more than when the people put themselves together by working together B’Yadayim.