Parasha Inspiration – Vayigash

וַיָּבֹ֣א יוֹסֵף֘ וַיַּגֵּ֣ד לְפַרְעֹה֒ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אָבִ֨י וְאַחַ֜י וְצֹאנָ֤ם וּבְקָרָם֙ וְכָל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר לָהֶ֔ם בָּ֖אוּ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וְהִנָּ֖ם בְּאֶ֥רֶץ גּֽשֶׁן: וּמִקְצֵ֣ה אֶחָ֔יו לָקַ֖ח חֲמִשָּׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֑ים וַיַּצִּגֵ֖ם לִפְנֵ֥י פַרְעֹֽה: וַיֹּ֧אמֶר פַּרְעֹ֛ה אֶל־אֶחָ֖יו מַה־מַּֽעֲשֵׂיכֶ֑ם וַיֹּֽאמְר֣וּ אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֗ה רֹעֵ֥ה צֹאן֙ עֲבָדֶ֔יךָ גַּם־אֲנַ֖חְנוּ גַּם־אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ: וַיֹּֽאמְר֣וּ אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֗ה לָג֣וּר בָּאָ֘רֶץ֘ בָּ֒אנוּ֒ כִּי־אֵ֣ין מִרְעֶ֗ה לַצֹּאן֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לַֽעֲבָדֶ֔יךָ כִּֽי־כָבֵ֥ד הָֽרָעָ֖ב בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וְעַתָּ֛ה יֵֽשְׁבוּ־נָ֥א עֲבָדֶ֖יךָ בְּאֶ֥רֶץ גּֽשֶׁן.

Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and he said, “My father and my brothers and their flocks and their cattle and all that is theirs, have come from the land of Canaan, and behold, they are in the land of Goshen.” And from among his brothers he took five men, and he presented them before Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, both we and our forefathers.” And they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for your servants’ flocks have no pasture, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.”

Genesis 47:1-4

This week’s Torah portion contains the story of the children of Israel going down into Egypt. After Joseph has revealed himself, the brothers return to Canaan collect their father, and all their belongings, and return to Egypt in order to survive the famine.

To tell their story, and to make their request before Pharaoh, Joseph selects five of his brothers to appear. The text is not telling us here which brothers are brought before Pharaoh.

Rashi explains: the brothers that are selected are the weaker ones. Joseph was concerned that should he present his stronger brothers to Pharaoh, that Pharaoh would require that these brothers serve in the military. So, which of the brothers were the weakest? This question is answered in Deuteronomy 33.

Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Issachar, and Binyamin are the weaker brothers. When Moses blesses the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 33, these are the sons whose names are not spoken twice during the blessing. For instance, in blessing Judah, Moses says, “And this is for Judah…Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah” (Deut. 33:7). The names are doubled for the stronger sons of Israel. Shabbat shalom.

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Receive the latest news, teachings, and events from Yeshivat Shuvu 

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.