Vayigash 5777

Was it a good thing that Jacob and his family descended to Egypt to join Joseph? They are saved from famine, reunite the family, and prosper – so yes. Yet this journey also holds seeds of exile and oppression; the Pharaoh saving them will later enslave them. Even so, this slavery enables the redemption from Egypt and the formation of a people – and so on. “Is it good” – a meaningless question, related to the choice of framing rather than content. Speaking of their difficult experiences, Jacob complains “few and bad were the years of my life,” while Joseph attests “it was to save your lives that I came here.” Neither pessimistic nor optimistic readings are false. But they are always decisions.

 

 

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[Inspired by: Genesis 45 and 47; Midrash Agadat Bereshit 61:1; R. Elhanan Cherlow on Vayigash; and Escher’s Magic Mirror.]

 

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