There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion Vayigash, aliyah by aliyah.
Vayigash Genesis 44:18-47:27
Aliyah 1 – Genesis 44:18-30
Genesis 14:18 Then Y’hudah approached Yosef and said, “Please, my lord! Let your servant say something to you privately; and don’t be angry with your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself.
Here’s a little lesson on how to handle a tyrant: be firm, direct, respectful and ask for patience and peace up front.
Why not finish the chapter? Chapter 44 is only 4 my lines and it would get us to the end of what Judah had approached Joseph to say. I find this especially curious because the division came from chazal, not HaShem. What was the intent, I wonder?
Aliyah 2 – Genesis 44:31 – 45:7
Genesis 45:5 But don’t be sad that you sold me into slavery here or angry at yourselves, because it was G-d who sent me ahead of you to preserve life.
Wow. What love and grace and mercy. As much as this is Joseph speaking here, I think it is the voice of HaShem. What does this mean? What do we do with this admonition? Are all believers to adopt this attitude toward themselves? Are all people? If so will sin and sorrow abound, yet work towards some greater purpose? Perhaps this is only meant for the brothers here for they were divine instruments in the orchestration of salvation worked through Joseph and that it why they can be forgiven. Either way, this idea of self-forgiveness is radical. It does not come until Joseph sees proof of how repentant his brothers are and how much they have changed. That is likely a key element of this passage and principle.
Aliyah 3 – Genesis 45:8-18
Genesis 45:16 The report of this reached Pharaoh’s house: “Yosef’s brothers have come”; and Pharaoh and his servants were pleased.
I believe Rashi makes the comment here that this verse proves that Joseph never spoke ill of his brothers or even told of them throwing him into the pit to sell him. Why would Pharaoh be happy for Joseph that his betrayers had returned to him. My father-in-law taught me to see the parallels between Joseph and Messiah and I find it interesting that Joseph never said anything against his brothers. They suffered and had trials and he tested them, but then he received them with joy and provided a bountiful provision for them and gave them a place to live and prosper. I believe our Messiah will do the same. His Jewish brethren who rejected, denied and refused the Master will weep and rejoice with Him as a brother and He will care for them.
Aliyah 4 – Genesis 45:19-27
Genesis 45:20 Don’t worry about your stuff, because everything good in the land of Egypt is yours.’”
Everything good in Egypt is yours. So the bad in Egypt is not for Israel? It doesn’t belong to them or isn’t intended for them? Can this be spiritualized to mean that there is good in everything and that it needs to be pulled out or focused on?
Aliyah 5 – Genesis 45:28-46:27
Genesis 46:1-4 Isra’el took everything he owned with him on his journey. He arrived at Be’er-Sheva and offered sacrifices to the G-d of his father Yitz’chak. 2 In a vision at night G-d called to Isra’el, “Ya‘akov! Ya‘akov!” He answered, “Here I am.” 3 He said, “I am G-d, the G-d of your father. Don’t be afraid to go down to Egypt. It is there that I will make you into a great nation. 4 Not only will I go down with you to Egypt; but I will also bring you back here again, after Yosef has closed your eyes.”
I wonder if Abraham told Jacob about the enslavement of Israel by another nation that they would suffer before he gave them the promised land as their eternal inheritance. (Gen 15:13) Is that something you tell your kid about? I bet it is. I wonder if that had much bearing on Jacob’s mind over the years? That is a hard destiny to bear now that I think about it more. HaShem doesn’t promise an easy life, He promises to stay with you and help you through it all. Is the knowledge of that suffering why people like Esau turned to idols? They sought gods who wouldn’t foretell such dismal futures.
Aliyah 6 – Genesis 46:28 – 47:10
Genesis 28 Ya‘akov sent Y’hudah ahead of him to Yosef, so that the latter might guide him on the road to Goshen; thus they arrived in the land of Goshen.
Something about this makes me think of the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Jacob longs to go to Joseph and sends Judah ahead of himself to facilitate their reunion. When the split happens Ephraim of Joseph takes primacy and leadership of Israel, while Judah, Benjamin, Levi and a remnant of the other 10 Tribes continue in the South. Jacob loves Joseph so much, Ephraim becomes Israel, distinct from Judah. There is something here.
Aliyah 7 – Genesis 47:11-27
Genesis 47:27 Isra’el lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. They acquired possessions in it and were productive, and their numbers multiplied greatly.
17 years with Joseph at the start of his life and 17 years with Jacob at the end of his life, how interesting. What does that mean?
Or in other words, this is the history of Israel: when Joseph was 17 years old, he was sold as a slave in Egypt where HaShem wrought a great salvation and brought Israel into Egypt to become a strong and prosperous people.
That concludes my journey through Vayigash for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.