PARSHAT VA’YIGASH; DVAR TORAH CAI.12.15.18 (Rabbi Moshe Edelman)

WHEN I WAS PREPARING TO SHARE WORDS OF TORAH THIS MORNING CORRESPONDING TO PARSHAT VA’YIGASH MANY THOUGHTS FLEW IN MY HEAD.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND FIRST IS NECESSARY. YAKOV IS INFORMED AFTER 22 YEARS AND LOTS OF INTERMITENT INTRIGUE THAT HIS BELOVED SON YOSEF IS ALIVE. NOT ONLY ALIVE BUT IN CHARGE OF THE FAMINE PLAGUED MIDDLE EAST, WORKING OUT OF EGYPT. YOU WILL RECALL THAT PHARAOH HAD TWO DREAMS WHICH WERE ACTUALLY ONE AND THE SAME. YOSEF’S BIG CHANCE TO GET OUT OF JAIL WAS WHEN HE WAS CALLED ON TO INTERPRET THE MEANING OF THE DREAM. HE EXPLAINED THAT EGYPT AND THE ENTIRE AREA WOULD EXPERIENCE 7 YEARS OF SUCCESSFUL HARVESTS, ECONOMIC WEALTH AND AGRICULTURAL PLENTY. YOSEF’S CONTINUED EXPLAINING THAT 7 YEARS WOULD FOLLOW FILLED WITH DEVESTATION, DESTRUCTION AND SEVERE HUNGER. IT WAS WITH THIS BACKDROP THAT YAKOV SENT HIS OLDER TEN SONS AS SPIES TO BUY FOOD, NOT ONCE BUT SEVERAL TIMES.

YEHUDA REPRESENTS THE FAMILYIN THIS WEEKS OPENING VERSES.  HE SPEAKS TO THE OVERSEER OF THE LAND. UNBEKNOWNST TO HIM IT IS HIS YOUNGER BROTHER YOSEF. YOSEF WAS NOT ONLY ALIVE BUT HE’S THE MAN!  THE MAN THROUGH WHOM ALL FOOD REQUESTS AND PURCHASES PROCEED FOR THE ENTIRE MIDDLE EAST.

THE MOMENT ARRIVES. YOSEF CAN NO LONGER HIDE BEHIND HIS TITLE, HIS BEARD, HIS CLOTHES HIS FANCY JEWELRY AND HIS EGYPTIAN NAME OF TZAFNAT PA’NEACH. IN CHAPTER 45 VERSE 2, “V’YITAIN ETKOLO B’IVCHEE, HE CRIED ALOUD AND REVEALED HIMSELF TO THE BROTHERS. IN VERSE 3, “YOSEF SPOKE TO HIS BROTHERS, BESEECHING, “HA’OD AVI CHAI?”HE ASKS, “IS MY FATHER STILL ALIVE?”

GO TELL FATHER, THAT YOSEF IS ALIVE AND TO COME TO LIVE IN EGYPT FOR THE DURATION OF THE FAMINE. WHEN THE BROTHERS RETURN WITH YOSEF’S MESSAGE THEY ANNOUNCE, “OD YOSEF CHAI”! YOSEF IS ALIVE! AND THE TORAH OFFERS THAT YISRAEL’S SPIRIT WAS REVIVED AND HE STATED (45:28) “RAV, OD YOSEF CHAI”. WOW.YOSEF IS ALIVE AND I MUST GO TO SEE HIM BEFORE I DIE.

SO, WHO ACCOMPANIED YAKOV TO MITZRAYIM?!IN 46:7 WE ARE TOLD THAT HE DEPARTED WITH “HIS SONS, HIS GRANDSONS, HIS DAUGHTERS AND HIS GRAND-DAUGHTERS. AND ALL OF HIS OFFSPRING TRAVELED TO EGYPT AND ALSO IN ORDER TO MEET BROTHER YOSEF, UNCLE YOSEF, WHO IS NOW AN ABBA HIMSELF, THUS MAKING YAKOV, A ZEYDE.

I WANT TO SUGGESTTHAT WHAT APPEARS TO BE AN INQUIRYBY YOSEF “ANI YOSEF, HA’OD AVI CHAI” “I AM JOSEPH, IS MY DAD STILL ALIVE”, I CHOOSE TO READ AS A DECLARATIVESENTENCE AS FOLLOWS, “ I AM JOSEPH AND WHEN HE HEARS ABOUT ME, MY FATHER WILL ONCE AGAIN BE TRULY ALIVE”.

IT IS THE PRESENCE OF G-D THAT IS CRUCIAL AS WELL. IN CHAPTER 46, YAKOV HAS A “MARAT HA’LAYLA”, A NIGHT VISION, IN WHICH HE IS CALLED AND RESPONDS AS DID HIS FATHER AND GRAND-FATHER WITH THE POWERFUL WORD “HINENI”, HERE I AM!

G-D TALK TO ME AND SHARE WITH ME YOUR DIVINE MESSAGE. JACOB IS TOLD THIS JOURNEY TO EGYPT WILL CONTINUE AS A LONG PERIOD OF TIMEIN EXILE. BUT IT WILL EVENTUALLY RESULT IN A RETURN TO CANAAN, TO ISRAEL, THE LAND PROMISED TO AVRAHAM AND YITZHAK AND TO YOU AND YOUR DESCENDANTS.

EACH TIME THAT I JOURNEY TO ISRAEL IT IS A SPIRITUAL RECONFIRMATION OF THE CENTRALITY OF ISRAEL EVEN AS I RESIDE IN THE DIASPORA.

EACH OF USMUST REMAIN PASSIONATE FOR ISRAEL.BY SENDING FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO VISIT. TO STUDY. TO TOUR. TO SUPPORT ITS ECONOMY. TO SPEAK UP FOR ITS SECURITY.

AND FINALLY, LET ME RETURN TO YOSEF’S QUESTION OR DECLARATION, THE PHRASE “(HA)’OD AVI CHAI?” IF WE TAKE AWAY THE LETTER HEY” IT EMERGES AS A SONG WITH ITS LYRICS “AM YISRAEL CHAI” BUT WITH ITS OWN RE-INTERPRETATION “OD AVINU CHAI”.

THEN WE CAN READ IT AS “ISRAEL’S NATION IS ALIVE”. OUR FATHER JACOB’S NATION IS ALIVE.

AM YISRAEL CHAI, OD AVINU CHAI.

MY MESSAGEFRIENDS AND PRAYER THAT I OFFER TO YOU AND TO MY CHILDREN AND MY GRAND-CHILDREN IS TO GUARANTEE THAT THE STATE OF ISRAEL, THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND THE LAND OF ISRAEL BE A VITAL PART OF OUR HEART AND SOUL.

AMEN

Moshe Edelman

12.15.18  edited/revised

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