First Aliya - 13 p'sukim (44:18-30)
[sdt] The Baal HaTurim points out that the final letters of the opening words of the sedra are SHIN-VAV- HEI, spelling SHAVEH, equal. Yehuda was facing Yosef as an equal. Despite the humble groveling at the feet of the Egyptian Viceroy, Yehuda now presents himself as a leader, a king. He is not going to be a push-over for the autocratic second-in-command before whom he stands.
By extension, it can be said, that whenever one approaches a confrontational situation, it is best to think in terms of this concept of facing one's adversary on equal footing. Thinking oneself inferior will often be a self- fulfilling disadvantage. One will tend not to fight with sufficient determination because of theexpectation of imminent defeat. Feeling superior to one's adversary will often lead to over-confidence. Remember not to under-estimate your enemy... or yourself.
The Torah notes on the opening words of the sedra parallel the story: KADMA V'AZLA R'VI'I. The 4th (son) went forward (in confrontation with Yosef) - attributed to the GR"A
[SDT] The Alshich asks the following question: At the end of Parshat Miketz, Yehuda is completely resolved to his (and his brother's) fate. The Egyptian viceroy has accused them of stealing his special chalice. Yehuda offers that the one in whose possession the cup is found shall be turned over to be killed and that the others would submit to slavery. When the cup is found (as it was purposely planted) in Binyamin's possession, Yehuda meekly submits. Yosef (as yet unrevealed to his brothers) nobly refuses Yehuda's offer of such drastic punishment and announces that he will take only the "culprit" as a slave - the rest of the brothersare free to return in peace to their father. That is the "cliff-hanger" ending of Miketz.
At the beginning of Vayigash, Yehuda changes from the lamb awaiting slaughter, into the lion which became the hallmark of his tribe, risking his life in his confrontation with the enigmatic Egyptian leader. What caused the change in Yehuda's demeanor?
As long as Yehuda expected all the brothers to be enslaved, he viewed the events as G-d's punishment for the sale of Yosef. This he was prepared to accept. When it turned out that only Binyamin would be enslaved - the only one not to have been involved in Mechirat Yosef, Yehuda realized that this was not punishment for what they had done. Now his protective instincts and his promise and guarantee to Yaakov take over. Yehuda boldly faces this Egyptian ruler and he is prepared to risk all to save Binyamin.
[SDT] Yosef heard his father referred to as "your servant - my father" ten times (5 from Yehuda and another 5 from the interpreter) and he did not object and/or reveal his identity t prevent the humiliation to his father. For this, commentators say, Yosef lost 10 years of life and died at 110.
[SDT] Chassidic masters see a "layer of messages" for us beneath the wording of Yehuda's plea. "...and (if) he leaves his father, he will die." If a person abandons his Father (G-d), forsakes the Torah, and becomes wicked, then he is considered dead.
Second Aliya - 11 p'sukim (44:31-45:7)
[sdt] Torah T'mima brings the Gemara in Chagiga in the name of Rabbi Elazar who makes the following powerful observation: If the children of Israel were not able to respond to Yosef's short statement of reproach, imagine how more so it will be difficult for us to respond to G-d's reproach for the myriad wrong-doings as individuals and as a community.
The sale of Yosef was a monstrous sin. We were slaves to Par'o because of it.
[SDT] When Yosef finally reveals himself to his brothers, he makes the following compound statement: "I am Yosef - Is my father still alive?" Many commentaries ask why Yosef would ask that question at this dramatic moment - especially since he has been hearing about Yaakov from the brothers all along. Some see in it a short but powerful reproach to the brothers, as if to say, "is it possible that my father can still be alive after what you've put him through?" If this is indeed the meaning of his question, then Yosef too must bear some of the burden and shame, since he also caused Yaakov suffering by not having communicated with him thathe was alive during his years as prime minister in Egypt. (Although there are various reasons given in the sources as to why Yosef did not inform Yaakov of his well-being, it is difficult not to throw some criticism in Yosef's direction.)
Another interpretation suggests that Yosef might have assumed that his brothers had been lying to him about their father. They might have told him that Yaakov was alive to elicit sympathy, but he might have been dead. Therefore, now that he has told his brothers who he really is, Yosef asks the most important question on his mind - Is my father really still alive?
[SDT] "For how can I go up to my
father, and the youth is not with me?" The straight forward meaning: Yehuda says, how
can I face my father Yaakov without Binyamin with me. Chassidic school of thought sees
another message- meaning to Yehuda's statement: How can we go up to face G-d (after
120 years) without our youth? Does our behavior when we are/were young serve us well or
embarrass us as we get older? It is easy to dismiss one's youth with a wave and a
"you know how kids are", but it isn't that simple.
3rd Aliya - 20 p'sukim (45:8-27)
Comment... The fact that G-d has His plans and sometimes we unwittingly (to us) "play into His hands" does not remove the responsibility from ourselves for our actions. The brothers sold Yosef into slavery rather than kill him. Their motives were not pure.
There are commentators who try to explain that they thought they were justified in judging Yosef as they did. If doesn't wash their hands clean. Neither does the fact that G-d intended to have the family end up in Egypt. There is a Midrash P'li'ah, simple but eloquent, that says G-d said to the people of Israel, you sold Yosef into slavery; I swear by your lives that you will say every year, AVADIM HAYINU L'FAR'O B'MITZRAYIM. Let's go back a generation. Yaakov deceived Yitzchak and received the bracha, let's say, that he was supposed to receive. Yet Yaakov is judged for what he did and punished with the terrible events of the sale of Yosef.
Even if Yaakov was commanded by his mother, and even if she was guided by Ru'ach HaKodesh, it doesn't excuse Yaakov for what he did (or was done) to his father.
Meanwhile, Par'o becomes aware of the reunion and offers his generous hospitality to the family.
Yosef gives his brothers clothing, but gives Binyamin even more.
When a child misuses a book, we don't forbid him to ever touch a book again. The opposite is so: teach the child how to properly treat books, and as soon as possible give him another. In this way, you will see if the lesson was learned. So too, the "solution" to the problem among the brothers is not reached by avoiding the difficult situations. If there is true repentance, then the brothers are to be given the exact circumstances to show their change of heart. Seeing things in a proper perspective, the extra gifts to Binyamin do not evoke the jealousy of the brothers; they have repented.
This same idea can be seen in next week's sedra, Vay'chi. Yaakov favors Ephraim over Menashe when blessing them. Yosef gets very nervous about it. But again we can say that the idea is not to avoid anything that would make one brother jealous, the other arrogant. Menashe & Ephraim showed praiseworthy characteristics inthe way they handled their different statuses. This is one of the reasons that we bless our sons "may G-d make you like Ephraim and like Menashe..."
Yosef sends his brothers back to Yaakov
with wagons (which is a personal coded message between son & father based on the
topic they were studying at the time of the Sale of Yosef) and gifts. The brothers tell
Yaakov all that has happened. He refuses to believe that Yosef is really alive, until he
sees the wagons. Yaakov's spirit is revived.
4th Aliya - 8 p'sukim (45:28-46:7)
G-d appears to him and assures him that He will protect him and accompany him on his sojourn. The family continues its trip and arrives in Goshen.
Rashi also points out that G-d promised
that Yaakov would be brought back to E. Yisrael for burial. The promise of becoming a
great nation was not enough to calm Yaakov. The pasuk says that Yaakov took all his
possession that he amassed in Eretz Yisrael. Rashi explains that the wealth he amassed on
Padan Aram he gave to Eisav in exchange for Eisav's claim to be buried in Me'arot
HaMachpeila. Wealth from Chutz LaAretz was insignificant to Yaakov; what he valued was the
Land of Israel.
5th Aliya - 20 p'sukim (46:8-27)
Notice the label of B'CHOR (firstborn) for Reuven, here and in other places in the Torah. Although Levi, Yehuda, and Yosef each ended up with a "feature" that we would identify with the true firstborn, these roles being taken away from Reuven because of his shortcomings, he nonetheless is repeatedly identified as Yaakov's B'CHOR.
Note the inclusion of Chetzron and Chamul, sons of Peretz, grandsons of Yehuda, great- grandchildren of Yaakov (and two grandsons of Asher, as well) in the list of his children and grandchildren. The term "grandchildren" is inclusive of further descendants.
The Seventy Souls...
Remember that the "whole
world" that came from No'ach was 70. We now find the same number in Yaakov's
descendants. Their 70 became the Nations of the World. Our 70 became the Jewish
People. Think about it. Suggestion: Count Yaakov among the 70 souls and not
Yocheved? Total is still 70 with all the names actually mentioned in the text.
6th Aliya - 17 p'sukim (46:28-47:10)
B'MEITAV HA'ARETZ. Numeric value of that phrase is 359, same as GOSHEN. Baal HaTurim
7th Aliya - 17 p'sukim (47:11-27)
14 p'sukim - Yechezkel 37:15-28