VaYigash: Heal the World

Despite the mistreatment of the sons of Yaakov (Jacob) toward Yoseph (Joseph) and all the hardship he had undergone due to their actions — his bondage in Egypt, his persecution at the hands of Potiphar’s wife, his years of imprisonment, his separation from his father and brothers — Yoseph, in this week’s Torah reading, initiates the forgiveness and healing between them. Even after revealing himself to them and making inquiry of them — “I am Yoseph; does my father yet live?” (Genesis 45:3) — his brothers did not respond, but remained in fearful silence, for they recognized their wrongdoing, and the discomfort of confrontation paralyzed them. The guilt of the brothers had been uncovered, and Yoseph certainly held the moral high ground to press them for an apology or worse, yet Yoseph, in the absence of a response from his brothers, initiates an accepting overture, “And now be not saddened, nor angry with yourselves, that you sold me here; for God did send me before you to preserve life… And you shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me… and I will sustain you…” (ibid, v. 5-11), and follows this with a sincere embrace — “And he kissed all his brothers, and wept upon them…” (ibid, v. 15), all before the brothers say a single word. If Yoseph, who had been so wronged by his brothers, could display the sincerity of heart and humility of spirit to wholeheartedly initiate the process of healing and forgiving between himself and those who had hurt him, this must serve as an example for us to also search within ourselves for that strength to forgive others at those times when we feel they have wronged or hurt us. With that may we merit a unity of heart and soul between all men, to find peace within ourselves and to spread that peace throughout our world.

Based on Shla”h, Parshas VaYigash

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