Parashat Vayigash • Genesis 44:18-47:27


It’s a term we Jews use colloquially to characterize something fated, something meant to be, or even something ordained by God.  Though most of us profess to putting little stock in such literal interpretations, at a deeper level, it is comforting to imagine that “things happen for a reason,” even if we must concede a bit of control over our destinies in the process.  In this week’s parasha, Vayigash, Joseph augments the potency of his “big reveal” to his brothers with an affirmation of faith:

“…God sent me ahead of you…to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. So it was not you who sent me here, but God…”    

On one level, this is an exoneration of his brothers for their harsh treatment of him, while providing for Joseph an easy pathway to grant forgiveness for their behavior.  But on another, it is an acknowledgment that there are forces beyond us and beyond this world, not necessarily causative but contributing to our future and our fate. As the eminent Torah scholar, Nechama Leibowitz, taught:

“Fortunate is he to whom it is granted to detect in the metamorphoses of his daily existence and the vicissitudes of her personal affairs, the workings of Providence—a mission on which he has been sent by God.” 

In many ways, this is the hallmark of faith:  To find in our attitudes and actions the intersection of divine intention and our daily endeavors.   

Rabbi Daniel A. Weiner

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