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ואת יהודה שלח לפניו אל יוסף להורות לפניו גשנה

He sent Yehudah ahead of him to Yosef, to prepare ahead of him in Goshen. (46:28)

Yaakov Avinu sent Yehudah, the leader of the brothers, to make the necessary arrangements for their imminent arrival in Egypt. Yehudah’s mission (according to Rashi, who cites the Midrash) was to establish a makom Torah, a yeshivah from which Torah and its teachings would emanate and radiate to the family. Traditionally, the makom Torah has always been the priority in settling a community. Without Torah as its centerpiece, the community as a spiritually-committed community would be hard-pressed to survive. Upon perusing the pasuk, two questions stand out. First, why Yehudah over Yosef? Yosef HaTzaddik, despite being the Egyptian viceroy, was…

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ויזבח זבחים לאלקי אביו יצחק

And he slaughtered sacrifices to the G-d of his father Yitzchak. (46:1)

Why Yitzchak and not Avraham? Surely, Yaakov Avinu remembered his zayde, grandfather, the Patriarch of the family. Rashi comments that Yaakov underscored the idea that a son owes more to his father than to his grandfather. The other commentators focus on the middah, attribute, of Yitzchak, which Yaakov felt would benefit his descendants most as they were about to commence the bitter Egyptian exile – which would lead to the next exiles, until the Final Redemption at the End of Days. Horav Shlomo Freifeld, zl, explains Yaakov’s actions as a lesson to his descendants about how to live a Torah…

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ויפל על צוארי בנימין אחיו ויבך ובנימין בכה על צואריו

Then he fell upon his brother Binyamin’s neck and wept. And Binyamin wept upon his neck. (45:14)

The Midrash comments that Yosef and Binyamin wept over the destruction of the Sanctuaries that would be built in their respective portions of the Land: the two Batei Mikdash that would be built in Binyamin’s portion, and Mishkan Shiloh that stood in the portion of Yosef’s son, Efraim. Horav David Leibowitz, zl, derives from here the overwhelming pain experienced by our forefathers concerning the churban, destruction of the Batei Mikdash. During the greatest moment of heightened joy, when all that should have occupied their minds was the homecoming/reinstatement of Yosef, their long- lost brother, their thoughts were elsewhere. Binyamin was…

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כי למחיה שלחני אלקים לפניכם

For it was to be a provider that Hashem sent me ahead of you. (45:5)

The above pasuk should be every Jew’s rallying cry upon confronting the various vicissitudes of life. Travail, challenge, obstacles, speed bumps – however one seeks to refer to them – they happen, but we must remember they happen for a reason which only Hashem knows. The mere fact that we accept that everything that takes place is Divinely dispatched and serves a Heavenly purpose, which is inherently good, should be sufficient balm for the pain and anxiety it leaves in its wake. We are, however, only human. As a result, while we are in the midst of the maelstrom of…

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ואת יהודה שלח לפניו ... להורות לפניו גשנה

He sent Yehudah ahead of him… to prepare ahead of him in Goshen. (46:28)

Rashi quotes the well-known Chazal: Yaakov Avinu sent Yehudah to prepare the way for the family. He sent Yehudah to establish a bais Talmud, house of Torah study, a yeshivah, from where Torah would be disseminated. No one questions that Yehudah was a capable leader, a spokesman for the family, but was he appropriate to be a Rosh Yeshivah? Levi and Yissachar were the two brothers who devoted their days and nights to spiritual pursuits. One would have expected that Yaakov would have selected either or both of them to be his emissaries to build a makom Torah. The answer…

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ויפל על צוארי בנימין אחיו ויבך ובנימין בכה על צואריו

Then he fell on Binyamin’s neck and wept; and Binyamin wept upon his neck. (45:14)

When Yosef revealed his identity to his brothers, the Torah writes that he and Binyamin fell on one another’s shoulders and wept profusely. Chazal explain why they wept: Yosef cried over the Batei Mikdash which would be destroyed in Binyamin’s portion of Eretz Yisrael. Binyamin cried over the Mishkan Shiloh that was once situated in Yosef’s portion, which would be destroyed. The obvious question is not why they wept, but rather, why should they not weep? Who would not cry after years of separation with one brother longing for the other, not knowing if he were dead or alive, spiritually…

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אני יוסף אחיכם אשר מכרתם אתי מצרימה

“I am Yosef, your brother, it is me, whom you sold into Egypt.” (45:4)

Abba Kohen Bardela says, “Woe is to us from the Yom HaDin, Day of Judgment; woe is to us from the Yom HaTochacha, Day of Rebuke. Yosef, who was the smallest (youngest) of the tribes, and (when he rebuked his brothers) they were unable to withstand his rebuke. Similarly, what will we say/do when Hashem rebukes each and every one of us in accordance with what he is (or could have been)?” Many commentators have commented on this well-known Midrash throughout the millennia as the paradigm of tochachah, rebuke. After all, what did Yosef actually say to them? Two words:…

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ובני בנימין בלע, ובכר ... חופים וארד

Binyamin’s sons: Bela, Becher…Chuppim and Ard. (46:21)

The names that Binyamin gave his sons were unique in the sense that each name in some way alluded to Yosef and the troubles that he had encountered. Chazal (Sotah 36b) elaborate upon the meaning of each name. It demonstrates to us how overcome with grief Binyamin was over the loss of his only brother (from the same mother, Rachel Imeinu). Of particular interest is the name Chuppim, which he gave “because he (Yosef) did not see my chupah, marriage canopy, and I did not see his chupah.” The lesson to be derived from here, comments the Ponovezher Rav, zl,…

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ויפול על צוארי בנימן אחיו ובנימן בכה על צואריו

Then he fell upon his brother Binyamin’s neck and wept; and Binyamin wept upon his neck. (45:14)

Chazal (quoted by Rashi) comment that Yosef and Binyamin wept over the destruction of the Sanctuaries that would be burnt in their respective territories: the two Batei Mikdash that would stand in Binyamin’s portion of Eretz Yisrael, and Mishkan Shiloh in the portion of Yosef’s son, Ephraim. The question is obvious: Why weep over the destruction of the other’s territory? What about his own personal loss? Yosef should have wept over the Mishkan, and Binyamin should have poured out his emotion over the Batei Mikdash. The question came up during the emotional meeting between two Admorim, Chassidic leaders, who, albeit…

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ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אותו כי נבהלו מפניו

But his brothers could not answer him, because they were left disconcerted before him. (45:3)

Rashi explains that the brothers were overwhelmed with shame. The humiliation of confronting Yosef after all these years, facing the error of their original decision, was too much. It agitated them to know that before them stood Yosef. It brought dread to their minds, and prompted their anxiety: “What is going to happen now?” All of this is understandable. Fear is an acceptable reaction at such a time, but shame? Why should shame take center stage over fear? Indeed, at the end of Parashas Va’yechi (50:15) when the brothers acknowledged that now that Yaakov Avinu had left this world, and…

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