Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Vayigash
To dedicate this lesson

All Together Now!

Yakov is anxious. Frightened. Scared. He is about to leave Israel, the land he knows is his true home, for the depraved environment of Egypt. On the other hand, he is desperate to be reunited with Yosef.

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Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Tevet 4 5782
Yakov is anxious. Frightened. Scared. He is about to leave Israel, the land he knows is his true home, for the depraved environment of Egypt. Yaakov has been in this position before, when he departed Beersheva for Charan. Then, the angels appeared, descending on the ladder, reassuring him that he would be Heavenly escorted.

Now, Hashem comes to Yaakov – for the first time in 22 years – in a "vision of the night," & promises him, "Anochi eyred imcha Mitzrayma, v’anochi a’alcha gam aloh;" I will both descend with you into Egypt, & also raise you back up (to Israel). Yaakov must balance two most conflicting emotions: on the one hand, he does not want to leave Israel - perhaps he prophetically senses that, despite Hashem’s pledge to him, he will live out the rest of his days in Egypt, & only return to the Holy Land in a casket.

On the other hand, he is desperate to be reunited with Yosef, not only to see his beloved son alive – a miracle come true! – but also to know that at long last his family will again be complete & whole. Fittingly, the Torah’s narrative at this point pauses to list Yaakov’s genealogy & name all seventy of his family members who will be accompanying him to Egypt – kal nefesh banav u’v’notav.

This desire for family unity drives Yaakov forward & gives him the strength, at the advanced age of 130, to make the grueling journey to Egypt, where he will spend the remaining 17 years of his life with his entire family.

A bit of gematriya reinforces how special this time was for Yaakov. The combined numerical value of the two Parshiyot in which Yakov is together with all his loved ones, Vayigash & Vayechi, totals 353. This is the same number as the word "Goshen," the place where the family lived during all those years, as well as the word, "simcha, happiness." Living together in Goshen, it would seem, was a great joy for patriarch Yaakov.

Yaakov’s predicament & mixed emotions are so relevant to the world we Jews live in today. For many of us, our burning desire to accept Hashem’s gift to us & enjoy the blessing of living in Israel – not to mention fulfilling a fundamental Mitzva of the Torah – is tinged by sadness & regret that many of our family, personal as well as universal, are not here to share in this miracle together with us.

Perhaps that is why, when asked by Paro how old he was, Yakov replies, "few & bad have been the days of the years of my life." Yaakov, I suggest, understood that true happiness can only come when all our extended family finally lives together in the redeemed Land of Israel b’b’a’.
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר yeshiva.org.il