Parshat Vayigash 

This week’s Parasha is Vayigash 📖

The pesukim provide us with what is really the start of the “happy ending” of the Joseph story. After years of grief following the presumed death of Joseph, Jacob is told that the unthinkable has happened – Joseph still lives.

The way that Jacob deals with the revelation is fascinating. The sons initially tell him that Joseph is alive and, not only that, but he now rules over all Egypt! Jacob’s reaction however is to refuse to believe that Joseph still lives.

A simple reading of the text may indicate that the memory of Joseph still haunts Jacob. The idea that after all these years his son may still be alive is too painful to consider. However if that were the correct reading it is difficult to understand why the next pasuk, in which the sons tell Jacob all that Joseph told them and he saw the wagons, Jacob suddenly believes. His spirit is revived! Why the sudden change from disbelief to embracing the truth?

Rashi explains that when the pasuk says that the brothers told Jacob “all the things which Joseph told them” they were passing on to Jacob a sign. This sign together with the wagons, was a reminder for Jacob of the last part of the Torah, which he had studied with Joseph – עגלה ערופה (the heifer that needs to be beheaded) (the word for wagon and heifer being similar).

Therefore, it was the knowledge that the Torah that Joseph had been taught by his father that, reinvigorated Jacob.

We often prioritise material, worldly gain as a symbol of our success in life. Indeed the brothers first excitedly tell Jacob that Joseph is now a great ruler of Egypt. This however does not interest nor connect with Jacob. It is only when it is clear that Joseph’s Torah has survived, and that Joseph remains spiritually alive and connected with the teachings of Jacob does Jacob dare to begin to believe.

Jacob’s reaction teaches us to prioritise the Torah and spiritual life because it is the Torah and mitzvot, not only material success, which truly makes someone alive in this world and the world to come.

✨ *Shabbat Shalom* ✨