Parshas Vayigash

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

והגדתם לאבי…כל אשר ראיתם (פרק מה פסוק יג)

After Yosef reveals himself to his brothers, he sends them back to Yaakov with instructions to relay to him Yosef’s prestige and all that they have seen in Egypt. What was Yosef referring to when he told them to repeat everything they saw? What special thing did they see that should be told to Yaakov? The מהרי”ל דיסקין answers based on a גמרא in חולין. The גמרא derives from פסוקים that when Yosef served his brothers a festive meal after they brought Binyomin, he showed them how the meat was from properly slaughtered animals, and he removed the גיד הנשה with them watching. It was this that he requested be repeated to Yaakov. He wanted to prove to his father that he was still faithful to the Mitzvos and even remembered how to properly slaughter and clean an animal from anything forbidden. This would reassure Yaakov that Yosef was the same loyal son as when he had left, his spirituality enduring even through his exile in Egypt.

ויפל על צואריו ויבך על צואריו עוד (פרק מו פסוק כט)

After many long years of mourning his beloved son Yosef, Yaakov finally travels with his family to Egypt to see him. Yosef comes out to greet his father and falls on him in an emotional torrent of tears. The פסוק doesn’t make any mention of Yaakov’s emotion at this powerful moment. Rashi tells us that Yaakov was saying שמע and therefore did not hug or kiss Yosef right then. Many are bothered by the question that if it was the time to be fulfilling the Mitzvah of שמע, then why wasn’t Yosef saying it as well? The מהר”ל in גור אריה explains that truthfully it was not the time of day for the regular Mitzvah of שמע. Rather, this moment was coming after years of Yaakov presuming Yosef to be dead. He now merited to not only find out that Yosef is alive, but even to see him in an honorable position, all while having maintained his status as a holy son of Yaakov. Yaakov was completely overcome with gratitude to Hashem and therefore felt an incredible loving closeness to Him. This resulted in his reciting שמע, the ultimate expression of recognizing Hashem’s Oneness and Master Plan. This is how great men experience emotional moments- it furthers their attachment to Hashem and bubbles over in an expression of gratitude and recognizing Hashem’s ultimate wisdom and organization of all that happens in their lives.

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