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Dvar Jan 4 2020: Vayigash

Here we have the reconciliation of the brothers. Joseph finally reveals himself and instead of yelling and being angry, Joseph states that the entire saga was put in place by G-d who knew Joseph’s true destiny. It’s an extremely powerful scene in which they finally recognize one another and Joseph is overcome by deep emotion, so much so that “his cries were heard in Pharoah’s house.” For those of us who have been away from a family member for a very long time, we know the depth of reconciliation and the pure emotion attached.


It never ceases to amaze me how much Torah speaks to me wherever I am in my life, whatever I may be experiencing. This past Monday, the 2nd of Tevet, was my father’s 3rd yahrzeit. It’s a tremendously difficult time for me and my family. My father’s death was sudden and unexpected and difficult decisions had to be made in his last few days. I had visited him the week before his death for a few days and he was well. We had a wonderful time together and had some real heart to heart talks that were a long time in waiting.


When I read the Torah portion for this week I again was struck about the Torah reaching out to me in intense times of my life. In this week’s Parsha we read of family reconciliation with the dramatic reunion between Joseph, his brothers, and finally with his father. It struck me deeply as I read the Parsha because the message in this Parsha is the same message my beloved father gave all of his life.


Family was very important to my father. He had a good childhood but still challenging because his father was a long haul truck driver who was gone for weeks and months on end. My father was the youngest of three boys. His adolescence was riddled with bullying but he dealt with it by diving into sports and becoming very, very good at baseball. He later went on to play one season for the Washington Senators before blowing out his knee.


Growing up, he would recount the stories of his youth, including the bullying, because I received my own fair share of bullying. Throughout all his stories was his emphasis on how he cared for his family and how his family cared for him. No matter the struggle or challenge he went to his family. And so when he had his children (there are four of us) from day one he stressed that we needed to be kind to one another, support one another, and always be there for each other.


Our family went through some very traumatic episodes as I grew up and no matter how difficult, how angry we were with one another, my father always brought us together. I’m not sure how my father would have acted should he have been Joseph or Jacob but I do think he would have held this Parsha up as an example of the damage that occurs when a family turns on one another and the loneliness and challenge of not having the support of your family. I like to think he would have reacted the same way Joseph did, to say this is all part of G-d’s plan, what’s done is done, it turned out how it was meant to.


In next week’s Parsha it begins with the death of Jacob. He calls Joseph to him and makes him swear to bury him with his forefathers, with his family. He dies advocating for family reconciliation and reunion. And this is how my father died as well. The week before my father died he shared difficult information with me that I knew he hadn’t shared with others. Through our talk and my encouragement to tell the family because your family will be there for you no matter what, I found out later that he did so right before he died. And as my father lay in his hospital bed the family pulled all together to be there for him, as a family. Surrounded by his children and wife, my father passed away quietly on December 31st, 2016 the same moment snow began to fall. I am honored that we were able to live out his core value by his side as he took his last breath. I will remember my father for many, many things, but most of all his love and loyalty to family.