Friday 22 December 2023

Shabbos Tzetl: Vayigash & צום קל

7:14pm - Early candle lighting
8:25pm - Candle Lighting, Friday
9:14pm - Fast Ends, Friday
9:30pm - Havdalah, Saturday
(Melbourne Australia)
Eruv Status: KOSHER
Good Shabbos!

Please click here to view the Yeshivah Shule Tzetel for Shabbos Parshas Vayigash. Please click here to view the PDFs of Weekly Publications.
Genesis 44:18–47:27
The name of the Parshah, "Vayigash," means "And he approached" and it is found in Genesis 44:18.

Judah approaches Joseph to plead for the release of Benjamin, offering himself as a slave to the Egyptian ruler in Benjamin's stead. Upon witnessing his brothers' loyalty to one another, Joseph reveals his identity to them."I am Joseph," he declares. "Is my father still alive?"

The brothers are overcome by shame and remorse, but Joseph comforts them. "It was not you who sent me here," he says to them, "but G‑d. It has all been ordained from Above to save us, and the entire region, from famine."

The brothers rush back to Canaan with the news. Jacob comes to Egypt with his sons and their families—seventy souls in all—and is reunited with his beloved son after 22 years. On his way to Egypt he receives the divine promise: "Fear not to go down to Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation. I will go down with you into Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again."

Joseph gathers the wealth of Egypt by selling food and seed during the famine. Pharaoh gives Jacob's family the fertile county of Goshen to settle, and the children of Israel prosper in their Egyptian exile.

Ezekiel 37:15-28.

This week's haftorah mentions the fusion of the kingdoms of Judah and Joseph during the Messianic Era, echoing the beginning of this week's Torah reading: "And Judah approached him [Joseph]."

The prophet Ezekiel shares a prophecy he received, in which G‑d instructs him to take two sticks and to write on one, "For Judah and for the children of Israel his companions" and on the other, "For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions." After doing so he was told to put the two near each other, and G‑d fused them into one stick.

G‑d explains to Ezekiel that these sticks are symbolic of the House of Israel, that was divided into two (often warring) kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom that was established by Jeroboam, a member of the Tribe of Ephraim, and the Southern Kingdom, that remained under the reign of the Davidic (Judean) Dynasty. The fusing of the two sticks represented the merging of the kingdoms that will transpire during the Messianic Era — with the Messiah, a descendant of David, at the helm of this unified empire.

"So says the L-rd G‑d: 'Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side, and I will bring them to their land. And I will make them into one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be to them all as a king...'"

The haftorah ends with G‑d's assurance that "they shall dwell on the land that I have given to My servant, to Jacob, wherein your forefathers lived; and they shall dwell upon it, they and their children and their children's children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever."


Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt in the country of Goshen; they took possession of it (47:27)

The Hebrew word vayei'achazu ("they took possession of it") literally means "they took hold of it," but also translates as "they were held by it." Both interpretations are cited by our sages: Rashi translates vayei'achazu as related to the word achuzah, "landholding" and "homestead"; the Midrash interprets it to imply that "the land held them and grasped them . . . like a man who is forcefully held."

This duality defines the Jew's attitude toward galut (exile). On the one hand, we know that no matter how hospitable our host country may be, and no matter how we may flourish materially and spiritually on foreign soil, galut is a prison in that it dims our spiritual vision, hinders our national mission and compromises our connection with G‑d. For only as a nation dwelling on our land with the Holy Temple as the divine abode in our midst can we perceive the divine presence in the world, fully realize our role as "a light unto the nations," and fully implement all the mitzvot of the Torah-the lifeblood of our relationship with G‑d.

But we also know that we are in galut for a purpose. We know that we have been dispersed throughout the world in order to reach and influence the whole of humanity. We know that it is only through the wanderings and tribulations of galut that we access and redeem the "sparks of holiness"—the pinpoints of divine potential which lie scattered in the most forsaken corners of the globe.

So galut is an achuzah in both senses of the word: a "holding" to develop, and a "holding pen" we must perpetually seek to escape.

Indeed, it can be the one only if it is also the other. If we relate to galut solely as a prison, we will fail to properly utilize the tremendous opportunities it holds. But if we grow comfortable in this alien environment, we risk becoming part of it; and if we become part of the galut reality, G‑d forbid, we could no more succeed in our efforts to develop and elevate it than the person who tries to lift himself up by pulling upwards on the hairs atop his own head.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

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