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קחו לכם... עגלות לטפכם ולנשיכם... וירא את העגלות אשר שלח יוסף... ותחי רוח יעקב אביהם

Take for yourselves… wagons for your small children and for your wives… and he (Yaakov) saw the wagons that Yosef had sent… the spirit of their father Yaakov revived. (45:19,27)

Chazal wonder what it was about the agalos, wagons, that assuaged Yaakov Avinu’s fear concerning Yosef’s moral status. [His son had been separated from him and his pristine spiritual environment for over two decades. During this time Yosef had been ensconced in a country whose moral compass was bankrupt, its culture redefining the nadir of moral profligacy. He worried, but when he saw the agalos, he calmed down.] The simple answer is that agalos, wagons, allude to Eglah Arufah (agalah, eglah, same letters), the axed heifer, which was the last topic Yaakov had studied with Yosef prior to his disappearance….

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ויפל אל 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)

Chazal teach that Yosef and Binyamin wept over the Sanctuaries that would be built in their respective portions of Eretz Yisrael and later destroyed. The two Batei Mikdash were in Binyamin’s territory, and the Mishkan Shiloh in Yosef’s (Efraim’s) territory. After years of separation, the love the two brothers had for one another was superseded by their sadness over the future destructions. While the Avos, Patriarchs, and their children were all human beings, the Torah and everything spiritual were uppermost in their minds. Their connection to one another was via the Torah. Horav Yaakov Neiman, zl, relates the well-known incident…

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ויגש אליו יהודה ויאמר בי אדנ-י

Then Yehuda approached him and said, “If you please, my lord.” (44:18)

The Jewish people are called Yehudim, from Yehudah’s name. What is so special about his name that earned this distinction? The goal of a Jew is to realize that everything which occurs in his life emanates from Hashem. Even when he finds himself in the worst predicament of his life, he acknowledges his life force: Hashem. He sees Hashem’s light amid the darkness that engulfs him. The Sefas Emes explains Yehudah’s statement to Yosef, Bee Adonee, literally, “Within me is my Master.” Yehudah’s name contains within it the same letters as Hashem’s Name. When Yehudah expunged whatever personal bias might…

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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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