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A Dvar Torah for Parshat Vayigash

Our Dvar Torah: Through the G-d of Yehuda and Yosef
There is Great Strength

A Dvar Torah for Parshat Vayigash, Genesis 44:18 - 47:27
and Likutey Moharan Book I Lesson # 80
By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman ben Ya'akov © December 24, 2020

Last week we read about Yosef's accusation that Benjamin had stolen his wine cup. We also learned that the accusation was a ruse, that Joseph himself had ordered the wine cup be placed in his brother's sack. The other brother's had sworn to their father Ya'akov that no harm would befall their youngest brother. They could not understand what was happening! Everything had seemingly been turned upsides down. Sound familiar?

As we read Holy Writ we learn of the past, but at least as importantly we learn of the present and, if we pay close attention, we may even catch a glimpse into the future.

As Yosef makes his accusation and decrees his judgment Judah steps forward to challenge the royal decree. With strong emunah and loyalty he takes his life into his hands by challenging the ruling of the second most powerful man in the kingdom. Yehuda does not know that this man is his brother, the brother he and his other brothers had left to die in the wilderness!

Certainly he must have sensed that something was wrong here. He knew that Benyamin would never have done such a thing! He doubtless remembered how the money had incomprehensibly been restored to his sack and that of his brothers on the previous trip to Egypt. He didn't know why but he knew that things just weren't right, not as the appeared! He remembered their brother and what they had done. The guilt weighed on him and he assumed that perhaps the wrongness they were currently experiencing was related to the wrong they had to to Yosef. The odd events must have come from the Hand of HaShem, and so he accepted them. Instead of seeking to justify himself, he offered himself as a sacrifice in place of Benyamin.

We talked about the necessity of self sacrifice in our Sunday afternoon class you will recall as well as in last weeks d'var Torah. On seeing this example of great heartfelt teshuvah, Yosef clears the room of all Egyptians and reveals himself to his brothers with tears. 'I am your brother and G'd's prophesy that you will bow before has come to past! But despite the wrong you did to me, I still love you as my mishpacha, my family. HaShem our G-d has been in control of all these events from the very beginning!'

Upon this discovery the entire family of seventy people, including our father Ya'akov, come and dwelt in Mizraim, Egypt. They settled in the Land of Goshen thereby unknowingly setting the stage for everything that was to come. When the Israelites finally left Egypt in the days of the Exodus they did so as a mighty nation.

Yehuda (Judah) and Yosef (Joseph) teach us in so many ways. Through Yehuda the Israelites survived and came to be known as the Jews or the Yehudim. As Jews the Israelites will continue to survive until the coming of HaMashiach and the revelation of the final Redemption. No power on earth can alter this inevitability no matter desperately they try. And how does the Redemption come? It comes through the two Messiahs: one, a descendant of Judah, and the other, a descendant of Yosef.

As archetypes Yehuda and Yosef are very significant. Yehuda brings rectification to the world through prayer and emunah. Judah's mother Leah was inspired by G-d to say when naming him: “This time I will praise G-d” (Genesis 29:35). Like his descendant King David, who wrote most of the book of Psalms, Judah worshiped G-d with prayers and praises. Through the merit of Yehuda and David haMelech the Jews are empowered to sing the praises of HaShem. In the merit of Yehuda the Jews prepare the world for the coming of Mashiach ben David, Messiah, son of David.

Yosef brings rectification to the world through Torah study and the human will. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains that emunah and hitbodedut, or motivating faith and personal heartfelt prayer, as represented by Yehuda, is essential, however of itself emunah is not enough. We must also have the intellectual knowledge of Torah and the determination of a strong will. The Final Redemption is laid out before all who possess accurate knowledge empowered by emunah in HaShem alone. Without Torah and the will to act on it emunah is simply “blind faith.” With emunah and accurate Torah knowledge Derech HaShem or Derech Noahide will lead anyone Home to Gan Eden, to the Olam Haba or the Messianic World to Come.

As one studies the lives and activities of Ya'akov and Yosef ones eyes are opened. We begin to behold the work of Mashiach ben Yosef and HaMashiach ben David, who is ben Yehuda. If we are determined to attain da'at, or a clear “knowing” of the Beloved such as we will all enjoy once the Torah is inscribed in our consciousness in the Olam Haba, through the blessings of Yehuda and Yosef, the Holy One will surely reveal His Divine Light to us even now in the Olam Hazeh or current world order.

To this end we read that, "The house of Yosef shall be a flame" (Obadiah 1:18). This is the same flame Rebbe Nachman references when he promises that his fire will 'burn until the coming of Mashiach'. This is the Fire of Divine happiness that is kindled in one's heart through the study of Sacred Writ, with strong emunah. Learning Torah is the lighting of a candle, because the Torah is the Light of the Beloved (Proverbs 6:23).

When the Torah, which is understood intellectually, is infused with strong emunah and ahavat (love), its commands, which sometimes seem harsh and difficult to observe, become sweetened and highly desirable. A person who is filled with the sweet love of HaShem and who is motivated by emunah is Torah observant without much effort at all, due to his yearning for complete devekut or attachment to the Beloved (Deuteronomy 33:13-16). For this reason David HaMelech is referred to as "the sweet singer of Israel" at II Samuel 23:1.

To conclude, the Final Redemption and Rectification of all that is wrong with the world will be accomplished through human teshuvah and the revelations that will come through descendants of Yosef and Yehuda: Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David. May they come soon and may those of us now alive experience the sweetest events of human history, the crowing of our King and the building of the Third and Final Beit HaMikdash.

Rabbi Nachman said, "What must a person do in this world? All that is needed to do, is to pray and study and pray.” (Sichos HaRan 287) With this everything will work out for the best.

May we all pray and study and pray and may HaShem be merciful on us as the darkness falls.

Many people we usually deem as righteous will contend with one another. Some will play needless heads games, some prefer the path of holier-than-thou. Some seek self elevation through putting other down. Consider, when Yehuda and Yosef were apart G-d's plan continued to forward but it was only they united in love and peace do we see the Hand of G-d most clearly.

Through the G-d of Yehuda and Yosef there is great strength.

This is the strength of the Jewish People. As written at Tehillim 29:11: “G-d will grant great strength to His people; G-d will bless His people with Shalom.”

What is this Shalom that come with great strength? Let's read a small selection from Rebbe Nachman's Likutey Moharan, Book 1 Lesson 80.

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