Sedra Shorts

Ideas and commentaries on the weekly Torah readings.

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Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

I taught Tanach in Immanuel College, London and in Hartman, Jerusalem. I was also an ATID fellow for 2 years. At present, I work for the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The purpose of this blog is to provide "sedra-shorts", short interesting ideas on the weekly Torah reading. Please feel free to use them and to send me your comments.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Parshat VaYigash

Confrontation and Reconciliation

In this week's parsha, two leaders, Yehuda and Yoseph confront each other and neither are taking no for answer. Yehuda insists that he will not leave without Benyamin and Yoseph insists that Benyamin will remain his slave and that the rest of the brothers should leave. The conflict ends peacefully with a full reconcilliation between the brothers. This reconciliation acts as the paradigm for the future reconciliation of the Jewish people. How?

The conflict between Yoseph and Yehuda ended when they both acknowledged a mutual portion in Benyamin. Benyamin was Yoseph's "brother, the son of his mother" (Bereshit 43:29), while Yehuda had made himself "indemnity for the lad" and offers himself "instead of the boy as a slave" (ibid 44:32-33).

Benyamin is the medium that allows the brothers to unite. The knowledge that they have a joint stake in Benyamin gives them the incentive to reconcile themselves. So too Benyamin's territory was sandwiched between Yoseph's and Yehuda's, the Bet HaMikdash was in Benyamin's territory and the first king of Israel, Sha'ul, came from Benyamin. When the kingdom split between the North and the South, Benyamin also split, with half going with Yoseph and half going with Yehuda.

Benyamin was Yoseph's full natural brother yet grew up under the responsibility of the others. He was also the only brother to be born in the holy land. He was the common denominator, the bridge, between all the brothers.

Today we must seek out Benyamin. We need to find the common ground between the Yoseph of today, the financial and more secular Jew and the Yehuda of today, the spiritual and more religious Jew. We must build that bridge.


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