Friday, December 26, 2014

VaYigash 5631 First Ma'amar

At the end of parshas Mikeitz, Yosef frames his younger brother Binyamin. He decides that as a punishment he will keep Binyamin as a servant and free the rest of his brothers.1 In the beginning of our parsha, Yehudah tries to convince Yosef to take him instead of Binyamin. To this end he recounts the sequence of events from the brothers’ initial encounter with Yosef to the present.2 The question that immediately presents itself is that Yehudah’s argument adds nothing that is not already known. He simply recounts the events leading up to the current situation. What is the point of this?

The Chiddushei HaRim explains that Jews are called Yehudim in Hebrew, after Yehudah. The name Yehudah comes from the root word hoda’a which means “thanks” and “admission.” Jews are called Yehudim because we thank God for everything, large and small. We know that everything comes from Him.

Yehudah understood that everything, even the most difficult situation, is from God. Yehudah knew that to be saved he would have to accept God’s providence in the entire sequence of events leading up to the present. By accepting God’s hand in the events, by acknowledging that God was “in” the events and their cause, he was removing the screen that hid God. He was saying, in essence, “I recognize that God is the cause of these events,” thus revealing God. In fact, the Sfas Emes explains in parshas Mikeitz that Yosef himself symbolized the Godliness hidden in the material world.3

The greatest good we can aspire to, is coming close to God himself, experiencing God, as it were. Therefore, revelation itself is redemption. That is why immediately following Yehudah’s argument, the Torah tells us that Yosef was no longer able to contain himself and he revealed himself to his brothers. Once the Godliness was revealed, the brothers were saved.

The Torah is teaching us an important lesson. Any time we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we have the tools with which to extricate ourselves. We need to first understand that God is hidden in even the most difficult circumstances. Even if a person thinks that his own mistakes caused his current situation – the Torah tells us that Yosef’s brothers blamed themselves for their predicament – when he recognizes that God is the life giving force behind his predicament and asks God for help, he will be answered. May we merit it!

1 Breishis 44:2-17
2 Breishis 44:18-33
3 Mikeitz 5631 Second Ma’amar

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