November 15, 2018 ~ Shabbat VAYESSE. Maqam AJAM.

Shabbat Vayigash - שבת ויגש

Embarrassing the Brothers

ויקרא הוציא כל איש מעלי - In the Talmud (Baba Messia 58b), Rabbi Nahman son of Isaac quotes: "Those who pale their friend's face in public is as if they spilled blood" (כל המלבין פני חברו ברבים כאילו שופך דמים). In other words, openly embarrassing someone is similar to murdering them. In Genesis 45:1, we see how careful Joseph is to avoid this and to protect the dignity of his brothers. When Joseph is ready to reveal himself to his siblings, he is aware that doing so has the potential to damage their reputations. To avoid creating a spectacle, Joseph orders his entire staff to leave the room. As onlookers, the staff's presence would inevitably cause this private episode to become public knowledge throughout the land. Therefore, Joseph, in an effort to protect their images, insists on confidentiality. We learn from this example of how important it is to preserve the dignity of a fellow person.  Beth Torah Bulletin, December 23, 2017.


ותחי רוח יעקב אביהם ויאמר ישראל - Throughout the Torah, our forefather is referred to as either Jacob or Israel. When the name 'Israel' is applied, it is usually a display of strength, unity and elevation. When Jacob learns that Joseph is still alive, the name 'Israel' suddenly reappears (Genesis 45:27-28) to illustrate Jacob's uplifted spirit. The revival of the name 'Israel' teaches us that only when there was unity of the family did Jacob have hope for the future and experience true happiness. When there were signs of disunity and hatred in the family, such as after the sale of Joseph, hope was diminished, and the term 'Israel' was used less often. When it comes to our people, we may not always agree with each other on every issue or any issue, but what makes us the great nation of 'Israel' is our ability to remain united and respectful despite our differences (Beth Torah, 1/7/17).