Be a Yehuda, do Vayigash

Friday, 30 December, 2022 - 4:10 am

I was on a video call with a nice Jew who wanted to consult with me and receive my support in matters concerning his shalom bayit – his relationship with his wife. Like any good Jew, he was mainly searching for ways to convey messages, to hint to what he wanted – to cause things to happen in the way that seemed right and good to him. He had many ideas of how to move things along, but the problem was that every idea he had was likely to produce some problem that would prevent him from carrying it out. 

Hashem did a chessed with me, and what came out of my mouth was: “Do a Vayigash!”

In this week’s parasha, there is one central message, expressed by the word Vayigash (“he approached”). 

Yehuda was in a very delicate situation. The saga between his brothers and the king of Egypt was not over; in fact, it was getting more complex. And now it had reached a climax, with the king wanting to take young Binyamin from them, when Yehuda had guaranteed Binyamin’s return, alive, to their father, Yaakov. He was the first Israeli who used that well-known phrase – “Semoch alai” – “Trust me!” And now the moment of truth had come, and like anyone who accepts responsibility upon himself, he was alone there, and had to make a decision. 

Notice that Yehuda didn’t go around looking for friends or lawyers who would approach Yosef in his stead. He didn’t send a letter, and not even a voice mail. He did Vayigash – he himself approached Yosef, looked him in the eye, and said (so-to-speak): “Let’s settle this matter like two adults.” 

A right and honest vayigash leads to unity. Because when people approach each other and have a straight, face-to-face conversation, that brings them closer to each other, and closeness leads to peace and unity. The disagreement can remain; it is perfectly o.k. not to agree with one another, but when it is done through closeness, the result is peace.

This week, thirty three years ago, the Rebbe said thus: Vayigash expresses the great rule in the Torah of “You shall love your fellow like yourself.” Vayigash is a statement of revealed, practical unity, as expressed by Yehuda and Yosef coming closer to each other. 

Be a Yehuda, do Vayigash.

ֿShabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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