Torah Weekly

For the week ending 19 December 2015 / 7 Tevet 5776

Parshat Vayigash

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
Become a Supporter Library Library


With the discovery of the goblet in Binyamin's sack, the brothers are confused. Yehuda alone steps forward and eloquently but firmly petitions Yosef for Binyamin's release, offering himself instead. As a result of this act of total selflessness, Yosef finally has irrefutable proof that his brothers are different people from the ones who cast him into the pit, and so he now reveals to them that he is none other than their brother. The brothers shrink from him in shame, but Yosef consoles them, telling them that everything has been part of G-d’s plan. He sends them back to their father Yaakov with a message to come and reside in the land of Goshen. At first, Yaakov cannot accept the news, but when he recognizes hidden signs in the message which positively identify the sender as his son Yosef, his spirit is revived. Yaakov together with all his family and possessions sets out for Goshen. G-d communicates with Yaakov in a vision at night. He tells him not to fear going down to Egypt and its negative spiritual consequences, because it is there that G-d will establish the Children of Israel as a great nation even though they will be dwelling in a land steeped in immorality and corruption. The Torah lists Yaakov's offspring and hints to the birth of Yocheved, who will be the mother of Moshe Rabbeinu. Seventy souls in total descend into Egypt, where Yosef is reunited with his father after 22 years of separation. He embraces his father and weeps, overflowing with joy. Yosef secures the settlement of his family in Goshen. Yosef takes his father Yaakov and five of the least threatening of his brothers to be presented to Pharaoh, and Yaakov blesses Pharaoh. Yosef instructs that, in return for grain, all the people of Egypt must give everything to Pharaoh, including themselves as his slaves. Yosef then redistributes the population, except for the Egyptian priests who are directly supported by a stipend from Pharaoh. The Children of Israel become settled, and their numbers multiply greatly.


The Sound Of Music

"And they arose from Egypt and they came to the Land of Canaan to Yaakov their father." (45:25)

In the 1960s a new form of advertising was discovered and made illegal almost immediately. Madison Avenue realized that flashing one single frame of an advertisement into a movie playing at 24 frames per second left a subliminal message imprinted in the mind of the viewer; a message of which he was totally unaware. Because of its extreme subtlety, the message managed to sneak under the defenses of the consumer and plant itself into his subconscious. Without knowing it, the next time he was shopping he had this overpowering impulse to buy Fidofeed over his usual brand of dog food.

In fact, Madison Avenue had invented nothing new, for they were merely applying a principle that was over three thousand years old.

In this weeks Torah portion, Yosef’s brothers return to their father Yaakov and have to tell him that Yosef is still alive. Naturally, they are concerned how to break the news. They feared that the shock of hearing that not only was Yosef alive but that he was now the ruler of Egypt might be too much for Yaakov. As they approached Yaakov’s tent, they saw Serach, the daughter of Asher, coming out of the house to greet them. Serach was an extraordinary person, on a higher spiritual level than her contemporaries. She also played the harp beautifully.

They decided that the best way to break the news to Yaakov was for Serach to compose and play a beautiful song whose lyrics would say that Yosef was alive and well and living in Egypt. Then, with her harp, she would slip into her grandfather’s tent and begin to play and sing.

Yaakov had never recovered from the imagined loss of Yosef, and was still in mourning, till that moment when Serach began to sing. Softly she began, "My uncle Yosef is still alive; he is the ruler over Egypt". Serach’s soothing music cocooned those highly-charged words. Yaakov imbibed the words, and the message, and blessed Serach, "Serach! You have revived my soul. May you live forever!" And, measure for measure, Serach’s reward was that she lived until the reign of King David (another master of the harp) and was one of the few people to be taken to Gan Eden alive.

Music has charms to soothe a savage breast. It has the power to work on our emotions, to sneak below the level of the intellect and lodge its message in our subconscious. Before Yaakov could be shocked by the news that Yosef was alive, the message had already entered his consciousness subliminally, through the sound of music.

  • Source: Sefer Hayashar

© 1995-2024 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at [email protected] and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions

« Back to Torah Weekly

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.