Rabbi Sherman Weekly Torah Commentary December 30-31, 2022 (7 Tevet 5783)


December 30-31, 2022                                                                                               Parashat Vayigash

7 Tevet 5783                                                                                                              


Jacob’s sons (all but Joseph) are summoned to come before the Pharaoh’s advisor in Egypt. This advisor is actually their brother Joseph, but they don’t know it is him. They are nervous as they enter Pharaoh’s palace, unaware of why this very important man would want to see them.

The Torah describes the beginning of this meeting: “vayigash eilav yehudah…” – and Judah came close to Joseph. The word vayigash (came close; approached) appears a number of times throughout the Torah. Typically, it appears as an introduction to three occurrences: battle, conciliation, or prayer. Our ancient sages wondered whether that might apply in a more general way: “Isn’t it true that any person who approaches an unknown encounter needs to be ready for any of these three occurrences?” (Bereshit Rabbah 93.6)

As the brothers approach this royal advisor (their brother Joseph), they are unsure of what to expect. Joseph, disguised as the advisor, asks them questions to test whether they have changed; after all, they had treated him horribly in the past. Joseph demands that they bring Benjamin, Joseph’s favorite brother, to Egypt. Wanting to protect Benjamin and not wanting to cause any more emotional distress for their father, the brothers refuse the request. This is a sign to Joseph that his brothers have indeed changed.

Once again, Joseph asks his brothers to approach—vayigash. They come close, and finally Joseph reveals his true identity and offers his brothers forgiveness. Rabbi Alexandra Klein notes the power and deep significance of this act: Joseph is willing to draw close, even to those who have hurt him deeply in the past. This is an important step in reuniting the family. Like Joseph, we too can have the courage to draw close when we need to, filling our families and our homes with wholeness and peace.

“Torah Talk” — Saturday Afternoons at 1:30 PM

Join us in a study of The Book of Proverbs: A Social Justice Commentary by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz. In his introduction, Rabbi Yanklowitz writes that the Book of Proverbs is “spiritual but not religious.” Let’s learn how these ancient proverbs can have spiritual meaning in our lives today. Masks required. Previous knowledge of Proverbs or the Hebrew Bible NOT REQUIRED!

Please join our Shabbat celebrations in the Synagogue (Masks Required) or on Channel 1960

Friday at 5:15 PM                 Shabbat Blessings in the Dining Room

Friday at 6:30 PM                 Shabbat Evening Service with Rabbi Sherman

Saturday at 10:00 AM        Shabbat Morning Service followed by Blessings in the Dining Room

Candle lighting time for Shabbat for the city of Mission Viejo: Friday evening at 4:34 PM

Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 5:33 PM

Shabbat Shalom!                                                                                                        

Rabbi Sherman