Joseph’s Revelation

B”H

parashas Vayigash 5781

“Ani Yoseph (I am Joseph).” – Genesis 45:3

Joseph had devised a test of his brother’s loyalty towards their brother Benjamin, who was Joseph’s full brother; their mother was Rachel, Jacob’s first love. He created circumstances whereof he was able to take Benjamin as a servant, because of his alleged guiltiness in the incident of the goblet. Judah steps up to the plate, so to speak, to defend Benjamin, offering to take his place as a servant to Joseph. When Joseph sees the sincere offer on the part of Judah, the very one who had sold Joseph into slavery, Joseph now realizes that indeed their is a change in character demonstrated by Judah’s noble offer. This was all he needed to know, for the culmination of his plan, in order to uncover the intentions of the brothers, to determine if they had regretted their prior transgressions against him.

The climax of the narrative, pertaining to Joseph and his brothers in Egypt, occurs immediately following Judah’s respectful plea to Joseph, who stands as an Egyptian prince before him. Now, as recorded in the narrative, “Joseph not could refrain himself before all those who stood by him” (Genesis 45:1). He caused all of his Egyptian courtiers to leave his presence, so that he could reveal his true identity to his brothers in private. At first his brothers stood in front of the Egyptian prince in disbelief. Could this really be Joseph? Twenty two years had passed since the brothers conspired against him, and sold him as slave to a caravan of traders passing by Shechem on their way to Egypt. Yet, he spoke in Hebrew, and beckoned them to draw closer to him: “And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt” (Genesis 45:4).

He explains to them that what occurred so many years ago was for a higher purpose: “And G-d sent me before you to give you a remnant on earth, and to save you alive for a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but G-d” (Genesis 45:7-8, JPS). According to the Chafetz Chayim, all of the events that transpired over that duration of time, were brought clearly into perspective when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. Additionally, he explains that in the (near) future, when H’Shem reveals Himself through His presence in Jerusalem, everything that has happened in history will become clear. Perhaps, this holds true for the events in our individual lives, so that while the duration of our journey on earth may sometimes appear similar to a view of the back of a tapestry, with all of the tangled threads, and loose ends, throughout the cloth, the woven pattern on the other side will finally be revealed in all of its beauty and splendour.

parashas Vayigash 5780 Reconciliation

B”H

Shiur for parashas Vayigash 5780

Joseph had arranged a scenario, whereby he was able to take Benjamin captive. He told his servant to place his silver cup in Benjamin’s pack on his donkey. Then, when the brothers were leaving, the servant overtook them, searched their packs, and “found” the cup. “The man in whose hand the cup was found, he shall be my servant” (Genesis 44: 17). Joseph arranged for this “test” to see if the brothers would stand up in defense of Benjamin. Indeed, Judah took the lead in stating his intent to replace Benjamin as a servant to the Egyptian Prince (Joseph). “I beg you, let your servant remain instead of the lad” (Genesis 44:33).

When Judah approached the Egyptian Prince (Joseph) to make an appeal for the sake of Benjamin, he offered himself as a slave unknowingly to the very one whom he had sold as a slave twenty-two years prior to this moment. Joseph was so moved by his Judah’s self-negation on behalf of Benjamin, that he could no longer contain his emotions. Although his brothers had sold him into slavery so long ago, it was clear to him at this point in the test that they had done teshuvah (repentance) over their transgression against him, and harbored no resentment, nor ill will towards Benjamin.

Joseph requested all of his Egyptian servants to leave his presence, so that he would be alone with his brothers, when revealing himself to them, after weeping aloud: “Joseph said to his brothers, I am Joseph” (Genesis 45:3). “G-d sent me before you to give you a remnant on the earth, and to save you alive for a great deliverance ” (Genesis 45:7, JPS 1917 Tanach). Joseph knew that all that had happened to him was ultimately for the good: despite the circumstances of each situation wherein he suffered, he persevered and saw G-d’s hand at work.