Vayigash – Genesis 44:18 – 47:27 – Parshat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, January 4, 2020

Our nation seems to be profoundly divided with little interest in coming together for the good of our country and the needs of our fellow citizens. Politicians, pundits and regular citizens put party and ideology ahead of the common good. LIberals and conservatives find little common ground.
In our own lives too, we find we have friends or family members with whom we were once close but now are estranged. Reconciliation, whether personal or national, seems impossible.
This week’s Torah portion teaches us to never give up hope. Joseph, whom his brothers do not recognize and has now become the most powerful leader in Egypt (after Pharoah), puts his brothers to a test, to see if they will betray Benjamin and sell him out to save their own lives, just as they sold Joseph into slavery many years earlier. But instead of agreeing to let Joseph keep Benjamin as a slave, Judah says, “Therefore, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord instead of the boy, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father unless the boy is with me? Let me not be witness to the woe that would overtake my father!” (Genesis 44:33-34)
Judah has changed from a jealous young man to a caring son and brother through his personal tragedies and the deaths of two of his own sons. Joseph too has changed, from an arrogant and spoiled favorite son into a wise leader who has learned through his personal suffering and resilience. They are not the same people they were many years before, so they can find reconciliation where before there was jealousy, pain, and resentment.
Reconciliation is always possible, if we are willing to grow, change, and see the bigger picture… or the greater good that comes from doing the right thing, just as Joseph and Judah were able to do.