1/05/2017

Shabbat Vayigash

Candles January 6th 4:24pm
Havdalah 7th 5:20pm

Special Kiddush this week sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. F. Iny.

It is a feature of the Torah to tell one version of events and then to repeat the narrative in a slightly different way. And often in repeating a narrative, new elements are added which weren’t there the first time.

So, in the beginning chapter of the Torah you have creation described in seven days or phases, each one adding new elements. But in the second chapter the Torah talks about one day and relations, weather, rain, human intervention, agriculture and human relations to animals and other humans. Or when Eliezer goes to find a wife for Isaac, the events are recorded. Then Eliezer repeats them adding points that are new, for example implying that Abraham specifically wanted a member of his family for a daughter in law. Some people like to think this shows that there were different records, different scribes. But it need not. It could instead be making a new point or emphasis.

This week Judah pleads for Benjamin who, Joseph is threatening to keep in jail. The way he tells the narrative of what happened to Joseph and what Isaac said to the brothers about past events is very different to the previous record. Clearly Judah is trying to stress the devotion the brothers have to their father, to their other brothers, particularly Benjamin and the degree of anguish their father has experienced. Was he telling lies or just putting a different emphasis? We can often tell the same story in different ways.

He is of course trying to win over Joseph by asserting the values of respect and love for parents, brotherhood and responsibility. All things that were missing earlier. Yes of course he is hoping to change Joseph’s mind by making them out to be good caring people. But now having gone through the agony of the events, the Torah is also showing us how adversity can bring one to change, by looking at one’s life, and changing our values accordingly, the way they did.