Rabbi Sherman’s Weekly Torah Commentary – December 25-26, 2020 (11 Tevet 5781)

December 25-26, 2020                                                                               Parashat Vayigash
11 Tevet 5781

Remaining separate from our loved ones has been heart breaking. This week’s parsha conveys the
powerful impact that family separation can have on us, physically and emotionally.
Judah describes the relationship between his two brothers, Joseph and Benjamin, using the words:
“v’nafsho k’shurah v’nafsho,” meaning that Jacob’s and Benjamin’s souls are bound together.
Rabbi Charles Middlebaugh writes that the phrase also applies to the connection between Joseph
and his father, Jacob. Later in the parsha, we read another phrase about how important news can
weigh on us. The brothers return to their father to tell him Joseph is alive and has invited the
entire family to reunite in Egypt. How does this news affect Jacob? The Torah says: “vayafog libo”
– his heart went numb.
Life-changing news, whether exciting or devastating, can elicit a human response that is both
physical and emotional. This text reminds us how much Jacob and Joseph both must have suffered
when separated from one another. It also emphasizes that the depth of our care and concern for
our own loved ones can be a primary part of our being.

Can you remember a time when your heart “went numb,” either from good news or bad?

Friday is Asarah B’Tevet, the 10th of the Hebrew month of Tevet. This date marks the beginning of
the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzer of Babylonia, which ended 18 months later with the
destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple. Some people observe a fast on this day from dawn
until dark (at least 25 minutes after sunset). Some also observe the day as a Holocaust Memorial
Day. This year the Hebrew date happens to fall on December 25th on the secular calendar, but
there is no connection to the Christian holiday on that date.

Please join in this week’s Shabbat celebrations on Channel 1960:
Friday at 4:30 PM: Kabbalat Shabbat & Ma’ariv (Evening Service) & Blessings
Saturday at 10:00 AM: Shabbat Shacharit (Morning Service) & Blessings

Candle lighting time for the city of Mission Viejo:
Friday evening at 4:31 PM
Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 5:30 PM

Shabbat Shalom!                                              Rabbi Sherman