Thursday, December 21, 2023

Parshas Vayigash 5784




Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayigash – Asarah b’Teves

10 Teves 5784/ December 22, 2023


One of the great techniques of drama is to use a cliffhanger. When the power of suspense is harnessed, it ensures that the reader/viewer will stay tuned to find out what happens next. All good serials - books, magazines or shows use a cliffhanger to ensure interest in the next segment.

While the holy Torah is not a history book, it does relate stories. Those stories are meant to guide us and teach us about contemporary living.

There is no greater cliffhanger in the Torah than between the parshios of Miketz and Vayigash. At the end of Parshas Miketz, the chalice of the Egyptian vizier has been found in Binyamin’s sack. The vizier tells the brothers that they are all free to go, save for the culprit himself. And then?

We wait a week before we read about the dramatic crescendo of the story wherein Yehuda poignantly addresses the vizier, before Yosef reveals his true identity to his brothers.

Every year when the ba’al korei completes Parshas Miketz by reading the words Yosef says to the brothers, “And you, go up in peace to your father,” I feel like an elementary school child who begs his teacher not to stop reading.

The parshios that detail the saga and journeys of Yosef, provide us with incredible lessons of faith, resilience, reconciliation and patience. We want life to be clear and easy but, more often than not, it’s anything but that.

In the words of my rebbe, Rabbi Berel Wein, “Life is like a piece of chewing gum. There’s a little bit of flavor but most of the time it’s just chew, chew, chew.”

It’s surely not by chance that Parshas Miketz concludes at such a dramatic moment. Much of life is spent in cliffhanger moments: A young man or woman waiting for his/her shidduch, one who is ill and hoping to regain his health, a person looking for a job or waiting for his big break to become successful, a young couple hoping and waiting to have a child, parents struggling with the chinuch of their children, spouses and children who live in broken homes, etc.

At present, the entire Jewish people are collectively in a cliffhanger state. While we mourn the past and current losses, we are also anxious and unsure about the future. Thousands of families are displaced, living for months in hotels far from their homes. Families and friends of soldiers and captives live in a state of constant anxiety.

At times the tension can feel unbearable. Being able to plunge ahead is a mark of true greatness.

Part of the challenge is that such greatness is not recognized by others. Others don’t see it but for those whose lives are at a cliffhanger juncture it can be heroic for them just to get through their day. That’s why it is vital that those in such situations recognize how valuable their own efforts are.

In the Torah, from when they arrive in Egypt to procure food, Yosef’s brothers lives are like a cliffhanger. They do not understand what is happening to them and do not know how things will proceed.

Yosef is given the title of hatzaddik, because he maintained his integrity despite all the travails he endured. If there was ever someone living a ‘cliffhanger life’, it was Yosef.

The test of greatness is how one handles such moments, even more than how he conducts himself when life is smooth sailing.


Easy & Meaningful Fast

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

        R’ Dani and Chani Staum