Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayigash

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

There is a famous Rashi which most children learn at the age of ten which discusses the significance of the wagons that Yosef sent to bring Ya'akov down to Egypt. In tonight's shiur, Rabbi Frand asked three questions on the Rashi and gave a new insight into the entire story.

In Bereishis 45:17-28, Pharaoh tells Yosef that his brothers should load up their animals and go back to Canaan. But once they go back to Canaan, they are supposed to bring Ya'akov and leave their possessions in Canaan as Pharaoh promises them that he will provide all of the best of Egypt for them. Immediately thereafter, Yosef gave them wagons based on Pharaoh's command. The brothers then went up to Canaan and told Ya'akov that Yosef was still alive. However, Ya'akov was skeptical and did not believe them until he saw the wagons that Yosef sent and his spirit was revived. 

The famous Rashi is found in Bereishis 45:28 as he writes that when Ya'akov saw the wagons that Yosef had sent he was reminded of the last thing that they learned together about the mitzva of Eglah Arufa - breaking the neck of the calf in the barren field. Since the word wagon in Hebrew is Agalah, Ya'akov realized that Yosef was sending him a message and it raised his spirits.

R' Frand asked three questions on this Rashi and related commentaries by Rashi on the same pasuk. Rashi makes a point of saying that Ya'akov saw the wagons that Yosef sent and not the wagons that Pharaoh sent, but clearly the pesukim demonstrate that Pharaoh sent wagons as a few pesukim later the Torah writes in Bereishis 46:5 that Ya'akov and his sons and their young children and wives were transported to Egypt in the wagons that Pharaoh sent.

The second question R' Frand asked is, why did the fact that wagons were sent raise Ya'akov's spirits? These were a necessity as they needed some mechanism to bring Ya'akov and their families down to Egypt.

The final question was related to the use of the words Eglah and Agalah. Although they sound the same, they are not similar in meaning. So why did seeing the Agalah lift his spirits?

R' Frand answered these questions in the name of R' Zev Leff who explained that Pharaoh had wanted Ya'akov to come down and leave his possessions behind, because Pharaoh was going to give him entirely new items. Yosef knew that Ya'akov would be concerned about coming down to Egypt without the possessions which made him...Ya'akov. Yosef knew that Ya'akov was concerned that coming to Egypt and receiving all new material possession would be a fast track to assimilating into Egyptian culture and society. 

This is why Yosef sent additional wagons. The wagons which were sent by Pharaoh specifically were the people - Ya'akov, the children and the women. Yosef sent wagons so that Ya'akov could transport his possession, the seforim, the bookcases, the silver kiddush cups...everything that made Ya'akov...Ya'akov.

The message of the wagons was also in line with this thinking. The Gemara in Sotah relates that the leaders of the city must make a statement that we provided food for the traveler and we also accompanied him out of the city. Why? Because accompanying someone from the city shows that he is a valued part of the city and not being simply told to leave.

R' Frand tied this together by quoting the Maharal who explains that to accompany a visitor one must only walk him 4 amos. This may seem like a short distance, but it is meaningful for the person who is walked beyond the exit of your home or city. Much in the same way that the wagons showed Ya'akov that Yosef recognized that Ya'akov needed to retain his connection with his home, the Eglah Arufa shows that a person is valued and connected with the city.

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