Shabbat VaYigash

Marc Chagall

December 15, 2018: Parashah VaYigash
Torah: (Bereishit) Genesis 44:18 – 47:27
Halftorah Shabbat Hanukkah: Ezekiel 37:15-28

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— Parashat VaYigash — “And approached”

Torah: (Bereishit) Genesis 44:18 – 47:27
Haftarah Shabbat Hanukkah: Ezekiel 37:15-28


"You search the Scriptures because you think in them you have eternal life. It is these that bear witness of Me [Yeshua]"  John 5:39

"All things work for good for those who love Him"

Parashah VaYigash reveals the meaning of Yosef's troubles: it was part of God's plan in forming the Jewish nation. Torah not only reveals to us a bit of God's character, but also, is a guide and a tutor for our lives, especially in times of trouble. There are times in our lives of disturbing events which we may never understand. Other times, when we look back after many years and after God opens our eyes, we get a glimpse of God’s plan for our lives, just as it has happened with Yosef. God could have stopped the famine and saved the forming Jewish nation the trouble of going down to Egypt. But God had to shape the soul of this nation to learn humility, to know what slavery means, and to learn what it means to be at the lowest point in one's life, for they were to be the moral compass for all other nations. And in doing so, God would teach us that, in the end, all things will work for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). It may not be what we expect, which is usually a material thing, but a spiritual good, a spiritual growth.

Yosef looked back at all that had happened to him and understood. Even though he was entitled to be mad at his brothers because they sold him into slavery, with a voice full of compassion he said to them: “God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Genesis 45:7.

Yosef at a very young age was receptive to the things of God and he learned from his father about the spiritual things passed down from his great grandfather Avraham. He knew about the covenant God made with Avraham and what God told him about the future of the Jewish nation: “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Avram; and, lo, a fear of great darkness fell upon him. And He said to Avram, 'Know for a certainty that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.'” Genesis 15:12-13.

Their going down to Egypt was necessary because God wanted the Jewish nation not only to multiply in a land that was secure from the surrounding nomadic tribes, but also to prepare them for receiving the Torah. God put them in situations in which everything they accomplished was above their powers so they could understand that God is in control, that He is with them and that He is the One doing all these things in their lives.

When we call the visible things nature, most of the times we do not consider it to be the manifestation of God's controlling hand because God created a universe that functions within a set of rules that we may understand. We read in the Brit Chadashah Yeshua's admonishing words toward the Pharisees and Sadducees which could understand nature, but could not understand God's plan manifested in Yeshua's work: “When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening. Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?'" Mattityahu 16:2-3. God may or may not choose to alter nature — we will later see in the parting of the Red Sea that He chose to do so — but He will use nature to manifest Himself to us, as He beautifully manifested Himself to the prophet Eliyahu in 1 Kings 19:11-12: “So He said, 'Go forth and stand on the mountain before Yehovah.' And behold, Yehovah was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before Yehovah; but Yehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but Yehovah was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but Yehovah was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.”

The awesome powerful God was not in the manifestations that we have expected Him to be, the strong wind or the earthquake, but He was in the gentle breeze — He spoke to Eliyahu with a gentle voice — God manifested Himself in the smallest thing, just as His Son, Yeshua, came not as a king but as a lowly carpenter's son. And this is exactly the message of the life of Yosef and also the message we have learned from the Holiday of Hanukkah. We must begin to serve God in the small things, in the mundane things of the daily life and not wait for the “big events.” We must begin serving Him taking small steps, beginning with our four cubits where God placed us in this world, and, as our spiritual strength grows, so, too, our service will increase.

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