December 8, 2021
This week’s parasha, Vayigash, demonstrates the power of patience and hope. This is the dramatic conclusion of the Joseph story. This text teaches us that it is never too late to repair a relationship--even when hope seems elusive, even when it feels too much time has passed, even when the breach appears irreparable.
Yosef (Joseph) ultimately reveals his identity to his brothers and they heal a traumatic rift. This moment is the climactic end of a twenty-two-year period of separation, that began when Yosef's brothers sold him into slavery.
Part of the drama of this week’s parasha is built into the literary structure. We return to the story this week after a thrilling cliff hanger. Last week’s parasha, Mikeitz ends with Yosef planting a silver goblet in his brother Benjamin’s sack, leading to the arrest of the brothers when it is discovered. Yosef, whose identity is still unknown to his brothers, offers to release the brothers while keeping only Benjamin. The scene ends. We wait for the conclusion.
Rabbi Zev Leff asks, “Why did the previous parasha have to end with such a cliffhanger? Why didn’t the Torah simply extend Parashat Mikeitz a few more verses and include the resolution of this story? Why do we have to wait a whole week to find out what happens?"
Precisely. This often reflects the narrative of our lives. Sometimes, repairing a rift takes time...lots of time. Sometimes we are literally left hanging, not knowing how a situation will turn out. Sometimes, we may have even given up hope.
We have just emerged from hanukkah. The holiday begins with darkness and then we kindle the first candle. For eight days we increase light. This week’s parasha, and the miracle of the hanukkah lights, remind us that within the darkness there is always a spark of light. Further, there is the potential for the light to increase, filling the whole menorah, filling all our windows. What seems hopeless and dark, has the potential to transform into something positive and healing.
Patience. Hope. Light. Miracles. Let’s dwell there together, especially during dark times.