December 10-11, 2021 Shabbat Vayigash
6 Tevet 5782
Our people have not always been honest about identity. Queen Esther did not tell the King that she was Jewish until Haman threatened to kill all the Jews. Jews in Spain before 1492 even converted to Christianity to avoid a death decree but continued to practice their Judaism in secret. And as we read in Torah this week, Joseph did not reveal himself to his brothers. There are many other examples. In all instances, disclosing true identity did not feel safe.
Joseph recognizes his brothers when they come to Egypt, but he is deeply pained when they do not recognize him. When youngest brother Benjamin is about to be punished, Judah offers to take the punishment in Benjamin’s place. This act of brotherly love inspires Joseph. At that moment, Joseph can “no longer control himself” and is finally honest about who he really is. He tells his brothers: “I am Joseph.”
Today, many people feel they have to hide who they truly are. Some conceal their true interests, fearing ridicule from others; some hide their sexual identity, fearing shame, discrimination, or even violence; and some mask their true personalities, fearing critical judgment. Some might even hide an important physical or mental diagnosis, fearing it will bring pain to their loved ones.
Not being true to oneself can create extraordinary anguish. Rabbi Eve Rudin teaches that revealing the truth paves the way for wholeness. Further, acknowledging the truth can deepen personal relationships. When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, he begins a new chapter in his family. The text says that the brothers are “dumbfounded” by Joseph’s admission. Why? The medieval commentator Rashi explains that they are embarrassed because they had mistreated him earlier. But Joseph urges them to come closer, saying: “Do not be distressed or reproach yourselves…” With honesty, truthfulness and forgiveness, the brothers can finally find peace.
Please join in this week’s Shabbat celebrations in the Synagogue or on Channel 1960.
(Masks required in Synagogue; no cell phones please)
Friday at 4:15 PM: Shabbat Evening Service followed by Blessings in Dining Room
Saturday at 10:00 AM: Shabbat Morning Service followed by Blessings in Dining Room
Torah Talk – Shabbat afternoon at 1:30 PM in the Synagogue (Note new location)
Candle lighting time for the city of Mission Viejo: Friday evening at 4:25 PM
Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 5:23 PM
Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Sherman