Thursday, January 05, 2006

FOR FRIDAY NIGHT: The Promise (Vayigash)


Tevet 5, 5766 * January 5, 2006


Parshat Vayigash

The Promise
- - - - - -

The Parsha [1] describes the beginning of a new stage in the history of the Jewish people. Jacob and all his children and grandchildren, numbering altogether seventy people, had been living in the land which was going to be the Land of Israel. Due to the harsh famine, and in response to the invitation of the long-lost Joseph, the entire family was now moving to Egypt.

Jacob had good reason to be worried about what might happen there. Would his unique family be able to maintain its identity, or would it simply disappear, swamped by the sophisticated culture of a major power? Further, how would the Egyptians relate to the Hebrews, worshippers of a G-d they could not see? As we ourselves know, the Egyptian ruler later enslaved the Jews and did his best to destroy them.

During the journey to Egypt, one night G-d appeared to Jacob in a vision. "Do not be afraid of going down to Egypt", said G-d. "I will go down with you". Together with this came a promise that eventually the Jewish people would return to the Holy Land.

This promise from G-d gave the family of Jacob a sense of direction. They did not forget who they were and where they were going. After two hundred years of slavery, when G-d sent a great leader to them to set them free, they recognized him as a man of G-d and responded to his leadership. Eventually, the promise was fulfilled: they left Egypt, returned to the Holy Land, took possession of it and built the Temple.

We too, thousands of years later, find ourselves in a situation in which it is very easy to lose one's way. But we too have been given a promise by G-d: by following the path of the Torah we will make a dwelling for G-d in our hearts, our homes and our lives. This will affect not only the entire Jewish people, but all humanity. The promise of Jewish teaching is that in the most positive way imaginable, we will transform the world.

This is the Divine promise. We can rely on it. The rest is up to us!

Division and Unity

Next Tuesday, January 10th, will be the Tenth of Tevet, a fast day commemorating the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem which led to the destruction of the First Temple. It is therefore the first of the four fasts [2] relating directly to the destruction of the Temple and Exile. The Rambam (Maimonides) tells us that in the future, when the Temple is rebuilt, all these fasts will become times of festivity [3].

The fast of the Tenth of Tevet is always close to our Parsha. We can see a relationship between the fast and the events in the Parsha.


1. Genesis 44:18-47:27.
2. The other three are 17 Tammuz, 9 Av and 3 Tishrei (the Fast of Gedaliah).
3. Yad, end of Laws of Fasts.
4. Based freely on the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Likkutei Sichot, vol. 15, p.412.


Featured Audio Class on

Vayigash - Joseph's Leadership Role
By Moshe New

The lesson from Joseph: the strength and ability to be a leader and sustain society not just physically but spiritually as well.

More Audio/Video


By Dr. Tali Loewenthal, Director of Chabad Research Unit, London

Brought to you by

For more Parshah study, please visit:


** Enjoyed this email? Please help us continue sharing the
study of Torah and Jewish traditions:

Dedicate or sponsor an email to mark your special occasion!
Please click here:

Please click here to make a donation to

** To subscribe to more email lists please click here:

** To be removed from this email list please click here:,8,261645,0,217
If you would just like your email suspended and resumed at a later
date, please let us know here:

** You are subscribed as: If your e-mail address is changing
please send us your new email address here:

Part of the Chabad Online Network

A division of Chabad Lubavitch Media Center
770 Eastern Parkway * Brooklyn, NY * 11213


No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails