Parasha Inspiration – Vayigash

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יוֹסֵ֤ף אֶל־אֶחָיו֙ אֲנִ֣י יוֹסֵ֔ף הַע֥וֹד אָבִ֖י חָ֑י וְלֹא־יָֽכְל֤וּ אֶחָיו֙ לַֽעֲנ֣וֹת אֹת֔וֹ כִּ֥י נִבְהֲל֖וּ מִפָּנָֽיו: וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יוֹסֵ֧ף אֶל־אֶחָ֛יו גְּשׁוּ־נָ֥א אֵלַ֖י וַיִּגָּ֑שׁוּ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֲנִי֙ יוֹסֵ֣ף אֲחִיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־מְכַרְתֶּ֥ם אֹתִ֖י מִצְרָֽיְמָה: וְעַתָּ֣ה | אַל־תֵּעָ֣צְב֗וּ וְאַל־יִ֨חַר֙ בְּעֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם כִּֽי־מְכַרְתֶּ֥ם אֹתִ֖י הֵ֑נָּה כִּ֣י לְמִחְיָ֔ה שְׁלָחַ֥נִי אֱלֹהִ֖ים לִפְנֵיכֶֽם: כִּי־זֶ֛ה שְׁנָתַ֥יִם הָֽרָעָ֖ב בְּקֶ֣רֶב הָאָ֑רֶץ וְעוֹד֙ חָמֵ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵֽין־חָרִ֖ישׁ וְקָצִֽיר: וַיִּשְׁלָחֵ֤נִי אֱלֹהִים֙ לִפְנֵיכֶ֔ם לָשׂ֥וּם לָכֶ֛ם שְׁאֵרִ֖ית בָּאָ֑רֶץ וּלְהַֽחֲי֣וֹת לָכֶ֔ם לִפְלֵיטָ֖ה גְּדֹלָֽה:

And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” but his brothers could not answer him because they were startled by his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me,” and they drew closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that God sent me before you. For already two years of famine [have passed] in the midst of the land, and [for] another five years, there will be neither plowing nor harvest. For already two years of famine [have passed] in the midst of the land, and [for] another five years, there will be neither plowing nor harvest.

Genesis 45:3-6

This week’s parasha contains what sleight-of-hand artists call “the big reveal.” Joseph finally reveals himself to Judah and the children of Israel. The pshat understanding of these verses in Torah is fairly simple. But there is a remez, an allegorical understanding, that has massive implications for us today.

Rav Shapira’s new book, The Besorah According to Covid 19, deals extensively with this allegorical understanding. Please read this book to fully comprehend our place in these current events. This allegory is that Joseph (Mashiakh Ben Yosef) reveals himself to Judah (the children of Israel, the Jewish people).

Prior to “the big reveal”, Joseph is unrecognizable to his brothers. That is, the Messiah is unrecognizable to Israel. Just as Joseph, with his royal appointment, is dressed as a high minister of Egypt and completely absorbed into Egyptian culture, so the Messiah, son of Joseph, is completely absorbed into the culture of the nations, symbolized by Egypt. The Mashiakh Ben Yosef is unrecognizable to the Jewish people because he has been dressed in a foreign culture, the culture of the nations.

And then, in the Messiah’s timing, the trappings of this foreign culture are stripped away, and Israel is able to recognize the Messiah. The Messiah has been hidden from Israel by the dress and culture of the nations. Only now are these trappings beginning to be stripped away.

Messianic Judaism is moving away from Christianity. The dress in the trappings of this foreign culture are being removed, and now, the Jewish people are beginning to be able to recognize Yeshua, the Messiah, son of Joseph. This reveal is happening through the efforts of people. It is Hashem’s doing, and it is people that are doing it. Yeshivat Shuvu plays a very important part in the stripping away of the culture of the nations from the Messiah. As has been the case throughout Scripture, the acts of individual people and groups of people are the method that assures Hashem’s plan takes place. If we do not do it, it will not be done now. It will be done, but later. In this way, we hasten the day of Hashem. As Hillel said, “if not me, then whom? If not now, when? Shabbat shalom.

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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.