Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Vayigash

Maintaining Family Unity

The long hoped for reunion of Yaakov and Yosef actually occurs in this week’s parsha. The Torah records for us this poignant and emotional moment. Yet, it tells us that Yaakov remained apparently emotionless while Yosef wept. The rabbis of the Talmud compound the mysterious behavior of Yaakov by stating that Yaakov at that moment recited Shema. What does this mean?

Many commentators interpret this to mean that since in all of the years of Yaakov’s separation from Yosef he was in a depressed mood, the Divine Spirit could not have rested upon him and he was therefore unable to communicate with Heaven – the understanding of Shema being that ability to communicate with Heaven. Now that he saw Yosef in front of his eyes, alive and well, his joy of the moment allowed that Holy Spirit to descend upon him once again and that is what meant by his reciting the Shema.

But this does not really explain why Yaakov was apparently emotionless at that moment. One can recite Shema with great fervor and intensity and still weep. In fact we find it strange that in the entire parsha Yaakov does not ask the brothers how Yosef ended up as the ruler of all Egypt and why did he so torture the brothers on their previous trips to Egypt. One would have thought that all of these questions would be uppermost in Yaakov’s mind and therefore should have been posed on his lips as well. The Torah makes no mention of this. Why?

Well, I am not presumptuous enough to say that I have the answer to these questions regarding the behavior of our holy father Yaakov. However, there is an insight here that I do wish to share with you. Yaakov is well aware of the tensions that existed between Yosef and his brothers. He is also cognizant that his sons misled him when they showed him Yosef’s bloody shirt. He is also aware of the dreams of Yosef for he himself harbored them as well over all of the long painful decades of separation from his beloved son.

And Yaakov, who was able to survive Lavan’s schemes and machinations, is certainly not naïve. As he will say on his deathbed to Yosef, “I know, my son, I know.” He meant that I know everything that has transpired in our family regarding you and your brothers. But Yaakov chooses not to mention it directly. He does not want to display undue emotion to Yosef or to his brothers. He contains his tears for his weeping will only rip open a scab on a wound that has to heal slowly and carefully.

The less said the better is his motto in this instance. Not every family secret need be publicly revealed nor every family dispute constantly rehashed. Yaakov says effectively, “I am aware of all that has transpired between you and your brothers. I prefer to let the matter rest and not pursue it further.” Reuniting the family is his prime goal.

Tears, emotional outbursts and reproaching them for their past errors, which the brothers themselves now recognize as being errors, will not realize his goal of building a united and strong family that will become the Jewish people. Many times, restraint and even silence are the best tools for family unity and tranquility.

Shabat shalom.

Rabbi Berel Wein


Crash course in Jewish history

Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com


 

ARTICLES ON PINCHAS AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Tempered Blessing
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

How We Suffer
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

In the Eye of the Beholder
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Looking for a Chavrusah?

They Can Assure a Cure
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Pinchas & The Three Weeks
Shlomo Katz - 5764

Natural Act or Master of Emotions?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Truly Humane
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

Unbridled Love
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

Forgotten Oaths
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

> Role Model
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

Grandson of Aharon -- The Lover of Peace & Pursuer of Peace
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766

A Lesson About Our Psyche
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

ArtScroll

Mourning on the 9th of Av: The Reasons
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Picture The Scene of The Petition of Tzelofchad's Daughters
- 5767

Be Jealous for Hashem
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Make Your Presence Known
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5767



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information