Rabbi Cliff Maynard
Torah – Genesis 47:28-50:26 Haftarah – 1 Kings 2:1-12 Brit Chadashah – Hebrews 11:3
This parasha (portion) begins with the words “And he lived) (Vayechi). This is the opening to the portion where Yisra’El (Jacob) is now living in the land of Goshen in Egypt. This study will be short and hopefully sweet. There is one particular thing that jumped out at me this week and I want to share it with you.
You will see something peculiar perhaps and I think the explanation of the sages will give some pretty interesting and impressive insight to the situation. Let’s go ahead and look at the verses.
Genesis 48:1-2, “Now it came to pass after these things that Joseph was told, “Indeed your father [is] sick”; and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2 And Jacob was told, “Look, your son Joseph is coming to you”; and Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed.”
These two back-to-back verses seemed a little odd to me at first. They come immediately after the close of the previous chapter where we learn that Yisra’El not only has settled in Goshen within Egypt but he has now lived there for 17 years!
The very next thing we learn is that Yisra’El is very close to death and Yosef (Joseph) has to be told by “someone.”
We then see that “someone” is telling Yisra’El that Joseph is on the way.
We know that these two loved each other dearly, so why then after being separated for more than twenty years are they having to be told that :Yisra’El is about to die? Wouldn’t you think that the past 17 years of being reunited that Yosef would have been intimately familiar with his father’s condition?
There are all sorts of question you might imagine but the answers the sages give is pretty awesome. Without getting too deep into the explanation, simply consider how we remember Yosef today, Yosef Ha Tzadik (Joseph the righteous.)
The sages explain that Joseph never told his father that his brothers threw him in the pit and sold him. The reason he kept his silence on the matter according to the sages is that he did not want to cause his father to suffer by knowing his other sons did such an evil thing. The sages also say that Joseph kept his distance from his father to avoid this conversation coming up and when he did see his father he had people with him at all times so they were not alone.
I don’t know about you, but I think that was an incredibly selfless act. I don’t know that I would be able to keep my silence for so long. Joseph sacrificed the closeness of what his relationship with his father could have been in order to spare him the pain of this revelation.
This concludes the book of Bereshit (Genesis) and we recite the blessing… Chazak Chazak V’nit Chazek (Be strong, be strong and may we be strengthened!