Parashat Vayigash – Yaacov’s Vision

After the reconciliation between Yoseph and his brothers, he sent them back to his father with food, gifts and the message that he was still alive and that Yaacov and his family should come down to Egypt to live.Yaacov’s spirit gradually revived after his years of sadness in Yoseph’s absence. He was then able to live by the name of Israel again, his Divine inspiration returned, and he said he would go and see Yoseph before he died.

 

When Yaacov came to Be’er Sheva he offered sacrifices to G-d, and G-d spoke to him,in “night visions”, saying “have no fear in descending to Egypt” as G-d would establish him as “a great nation there”. G-d would descend with him to Egypt and bring them back up, and Yoseph would “place his hand” on Yaacov’s eyes.

 

Yaacov would have been afraid that his family would succumb in Egypt, that the Divine presence would no longer be among them, that he would not be buried with his ancestors and that his children would not be redeemed.R’ Eli Munk wrote that Yaacov went to Be’er Sheva to obtain Divine approval for his journey and in the vision, he was reassured on each of his fears..Onkelos stressed that the Divine presence accompanies Jewry in its wandering among the nations.

 

R’ Munk quoted R’ Chaim ben Attar who wrote about the development of a “great nation” in exile rather than in the Holy Land. Egypt was a land where the people were very impure and the Jews could as a result of austerity and slavery, and inspired by faith in G-d and His moral laws, could really become a great nation.

 

R’ Munk quoted the Rebbe of Belz who explained that the Jews should draw inspiration daily from the spirit of Yaacov, from the expression “were coming to Egypt”. No matter how many years they have already  spent among the nations, they should always consider themselves as new arrivals who remain attached to their country of origin and to their national culture, rather than becoming immersed in the culture of the land.

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