Torah Weekly

For the week ending 26 December 2009 / 8 Tevet 5770

Parshat Vayigash

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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With the discovery of the goblet in Binyamin's sack, the brothers are confused. Yehuda alone steps forward and eloquently but firmly petitions Yosef for Binyamin's release, offering himself instead. As a result of this act of total selflessness, Yosef finally has irrefutable proof that his brothers are different people from the ones who cast him into the pit, and so he now reveals to them that he is none other than their brother. The brothers shrink from him in shame, but Yosef consoles them, telling them that everything has been part of G-d’s plan. He sends them back to their father Yaakov with a message to come and reside in the land of Goshen. At first, Yaakov cannot accept the news, but when he recognizes hidden signs in the message which positively identify the sender as his son Yosef, his spirit is revived. Yaakov together with all his family and possessions sets out for Goshen. G-d communicates with Yaakov in a vision at night. He tells him not to fear going down to Egypt and its negative spiritual consequences, because it is there that G-d will establish the Children of Israel as a great nation even though they will be dwelling in a land steeped in immorality and corruption. The Torah lists Yaakov's offspring and hints to the birth of Yocheved, who will be the mother of Moshe Rabbeinu. Seventy souls in total descend into Egypt, where Yosef is reunited with his father after 22 years of separation. He embraces his father and weeps, overflowing with joy. Yosef secures the settlement of his family in Goshen. Yosef takes his father Yaakov and five of the least threatening of his brothers to be presented to Pharaoh, and Yaakov blesses Pharaoh. Yosef instructs that, in return for grain, all the people of Egypt must give everything to Pharaoh, including themselves as his slaves. Yosef then redistributes the population, except for the Egyptian priests who are directly supported by a stipend from Pharaoh. The Children of Israel become settled, and their numbers multiply greatly.


The Power Of Love

“And he (Yosef) fell on his brother Binyamin’s neck and wept. And Binyamin wept on Yosef’s neck.” (45:14)

If your memory serves you well, ‘free love’ was a much touted slogan in the nineteen sixties.

Actually, it wasn’t so much about ‘love’ as lust. And ‘free’ meant it didn't cost me anything. Whatever the cost to other people didn't enter the agenda. Which usually meant that someone else wound up picking up the tab emotionally. That kind of ‘free’ is pretty expensive.

However, ‘free love’ does exist.

When someone loves his fellow man not for any reason, but merely and purely because he is a creation of the Master of the World and a reflection of His Majesty, then this Free Love is a love which hastens the final redemption.

The Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was destroyed because of ‘free hate’ — baseless hatred. What will hasten its return is the reverse — ‘free Love’. Love which doesn’t depend on any conditions.

“And he wept” — Yosef wept about the two Batei Mikdash to be built in Binyamin’s portion of the land that would eventually be destroyed. “And Binyamin wept” about the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting) that would be erected in Yosef’s portion of the land and also would eventually be destroyed.

Why were Yosef and Binyamin crying now, at this time of consummate joy at their reuniting, over events that were thousands of years in the future? Furthermore, why were they crying over the other’s loss and not their own?

When the brothers encountered each other after 22 years of separation, they realized that what had kept them apart was ‘free hate’, the hatred of the brothers for Yosef. Immediately, they saw the future destruction of the Temple that would be caused by ‘free hate’. They cried, for just as free hate had separated them all these years, so too it would destroy the Temple in the future.

The cure for free hate is ‘free love’. To feel such empathy that the pain of one’s fellow is as one’s own.

That’s why each cried over the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash of the other. Yosef and Binyamin were showing a path for generations unborn, teaching us the way to cure free hate.

For even though Binyamin’s Beit Hamikdash would not be built until Yosef’s Mishkan would be destroyed — its existence was predicated on the others demise — nevertheless Binyamin cried over the destruction of the Mishkan.

Binyamin would have preferred the Beit Hamikdash never to have been built, and then Yosef’s Mishkan would have stood forever. Such is the power of ‘free love’

  • Source: Based on Rabbi Y. M’Kuzmir in Iturei Torah

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