Parshas Vayigash Sweets and Treats
This week’s Torah portion, Parshas Vayigash, picks up the story right where we left off last week with Yehuda pleading with Yosef on Binyamin’s behalf following the finding of the (planted) cup in his bag. Yehuda offers himself to Yosef as a slave instead of Binyamin, as he took responsibility to return Binyamin. He is concerned about what might befall his father if he loses another son. Yosef is so moved by his gesture that he asks everyone else to leave the room and he cries loudly and exclaims, “I am Yosef, is my father still alive?” His brothers are so shocked that they were unable to answer him. He tells the brothers that Hashem sent him to Egypt to prepare the region to be saved from the famine and asks them to quickly bring Yaakov to him in Egypt. Yosef and Binyamin cry and embrace, afterwards the rest of the brothers and Yosef do the same. Pharaoh hears that Yosef’s brothers are there and he instructs that they be sent back with chariots to bring Yaakov and the rest of their household to Egypt where they will be given land. Yosef gives his brothers changes of clothing, and to Binyamin he also gives silver coins. They go back to Canaan and tell Yaakov the surprising news that Yosef is alive and ruling in Egypt but he is shocked and doesn’t believe them until he sees the wagons that Yosef sent which remind him of the last halacha (Torah law) that he and Yosef learned together (eglah arufah) – something only Yosef could have known.
Yaakov and his family pack up all of their belongings and animals and travel down to Egypt. Hashem tells Yaakov that he should not fear his journey to Egypt as his children will become a large nation there and Hashem will take them out of Egypt in the future. The Torah lists the 70 members of Yaakov’s family who reunite in Egypt. Yaakov sends Yehuda in advance to make ready their new homes for their arrival. Rashi tells us that the Midrash says that Yehuda was sent to establish a yeshiva, as that is always the first priority of any Jewish community. Yosef meets his family in Goshen, their new home in Egypt, and he and his father cry as they see each other for the first time in over 20 years. Goshen becomes their home as it has good grazing land for the cattle they have brought with them. Yaakov meets Pharaoh and blesses him. Yosef acquires all the land of Egypt on Pharaoh’s behalf as he sells food to those who are hungry because of the famine. Supplied with food by Yosef, the family of Yaakov becomes wealthy and multiplies in the land of Goshen.
There are many symbols in this week’s parsha! Cry babies symbolize the many times Yosef cries in this parsha – when he reveals himself to his brothers, when he embraces Binyamin and his brothers (and they cry too), and when he reunites with his father Yaakov. Shock pops symbolize the shock that the brothers and Yaakov experience when Yosef is revealed. The Bubble Monsters symbolize the 70 members of the family of Yaakov who are reunited in Egypt and the Zillions represent the promise of Hashem that Yaakov’s children will become a great nation in Egypt, which the Torah tells us comes to fruition in the last Pasuk in the Parsha. The animal crackers symbolize the animals that were sent to Yaakov with the brothers and then the flocks that Yaakov and his family bring to Egypt. Their occupation as shepherds is what leads them to be settled in the land of Goshen. Silver coins symbolize the money that Yosef gives Binyamin and the wealth that the Jews amass in Goshen. Their round shape remind us of the wagon wheels – those that were sent down to Yaakov as proof that Yosef was indeed still alive (reminiscent of the last Halacha they had learned together). A wagon wheel pasta salad or round cookies could work for this as well.
What ideas do you have? Please share them in the comments section below.