Vayegash 2006

The Parsha begins with the revelation of Joseph to his brothers. This is the fascinating climax to the story that began with the sale of Joseph by his brothers to be a slave in Egypt, continued with his ascent to the throne, and now ends with his revelation to his brothers. In Chapter 45:3 Joseph shocks the entire world with his announcement “ani Yoseph” – “I am Joseph”. Then, in verse 4 he seems to repeat himself. “I am Joseph your brother who you sold to Egypt…” Why did Joseph have to repeat himself? Didn’t he already tell his brothers who he was?

One of the most striking qualities of Joseph was the way he overlooked wrong done to him. Joseph never took revenge from his brothers for what they had done to him. The strength of character exhibited by Joseph in this regard is truly remarkable. The sterling quality that our sages praise so strongly of being forgoing in ones ways, was clearly exhibited by Joseph in this episode. This trait carries with it amazing potential to help a person merit special blessing. The Talmud recounts how one of the sages, Rav Huna the son of Rav Yehoshua, was on his deathbed. When Rav Pappa came to visit this sage, he told the people there that Rav Huna was destined to die. Shortly thereafter, Rav Huna recovered from his illness. When he met Rav Pappa, he told him, “It is true that I was supposed to die. However, when I approached heaven I heard a voice saying, ‘leave him’. Since he is forgoing with others, we will be forgoing with him.” This is the power of giving in! Being the better person, taking the higher road, is a way to achieve unlimited blessing!

When Joseph saw that his brothers were speechless when he introduced himself, he suspected that the brothers might be worried that Joseph may take revenge from them. After all, they had terribly wronged the man who was now the second most powerful person in the world. Josef proceeded to tell them, “I am Joseph your brother who you sold to Egypt”; that is, I am Joseph who still considers you his brothers even though you sold me to Egypt. This is the example par excellence of a person who takes the higher road; a person who truly feels that whatever happens in life was meant to be from Hashem, and lives with that realization. May we all follow in Joseph’s footsteps.