Parasha With Passion – Torah Reading Cycle – Week #11
How do you know when you have truly healed from an offense – a wound? We will know that we are truly healed, when we are in the same position to harm, but we choose to walk in love instead.
In our previous parashahs we see the young Joseph mature (through trials) into a great leader. We read of the complex nature of Joseph’s relationship with his brothers. We read of Joseph’s righteousness that did not diminish in hardship but shined ever brightly even amongst the decadence of Egypt. We read of God’s orchestration of Joseph’s rise to power. We read that God in His sovereignty used the conflict between these brothers to accomplish His will; which was revealed to His servant Abraham generations prior the posterity of Israel, long before the twelve tribes were even born (Genesis 15:13-16).
In Parashat Vayigash, we watch God’s sovereignty unfold as the twelve tribes of Israel kneel before Joseph in whom Israel’s hope depended. Joseph, now a man of means and in his thirties was not recognized by his brothers.
However, Joseph recognized his brothers immediately. At first glance, perhaps Joseph remembered his brother’s annoyance at his youthful zeal? Perhaps Joseph painfully recalled how his brothers held him down, bound his hands and his feet with rope, and sold him to passing strangers in order to be rid of him — forever?
Perhaps Joseph remembered how unmoved they were by his tears? Now, after all these years, perhaps Joseph could plot his revenge? Perhaps Joseph considered how best to use his advantage when he tested his brothers with a line of questioning that made them jittery and uncomfortable?
To test his brothers, Joseph held his brother Simenon as ransom, forcing the brothers to return to Egypt and bring back Benjamin. The brothers were convinced that this misfortune was repayment for what they had done to Joseph so many years ago.
Reuben admonished them: “Didn’t I say to you, ‘Do not sin against the lad?’ But you wouldn’t listen, and so his blood-payment, see — it has come due.” (Genesis 42:22)
Joseph proceeded to test his brothers and hid a goblet in Benjamin’s sack. Then ordered the boy to become his personal slave as punishment for the theft. However, Judah interceded for Benjamin.
Perhaps Judah recalled when he stood by and watched Joseph be sold into slavery without thought of the effect of this cruelty? Now, faced with the loss of another brother, Judah responded righteously.
This time Judah pleaded to take Benjamin’s place:
“So now, please let your servant remain as my lord’s slave in place of the lad, and let the lad go home with his brothers: for how can I go home to my father without the lad, and thus see the harm my father will suffer?”
When Judah offered himself in the place of Benjamin, it was clear that the brothers had a repentant heart for their sin. As the Prince of Egypt, I believe that Joseph understood the depth of the dream he had many years ago.
Upon hearing Judah’s words, Joseph, was no longer able to hold back the tears. Joseph proclaimed to his brothers:
“I am Joseph — is my father still alive?”
In Parashat Vayigash, we learn that Joseph did not seek revenge. Joseph embraced his brothers. Joseph’s act of forgiveness did not excuse his brother’s actions. Joseph’s act of forgiveness stopped their actions from destroying his heart.
When we have been hurt, we may think that all we desire is to even the score. However, what we really want is to be loved and accepted. Joseph and his brothers had each done a lot of living and a lot of suffering. I believe that each brother had been tormented by this secret. Joseph was not the person that he was many years ago, and neither were his brothers.
God cares about our relationships. God cares that we experience healthy – strengthening relationships with one another. Perhaps you have a difficult relationship that you are struggling with today? Perhaps you too are estranged from someone that you love? Be encouraged. God is in control.
I believe that years prior, Joseph made up in his mind to choose to use what happened to him for God’s glory. When we have been hurt, we must choose to forgive. We must let go of the pain and let God have his way. I believe that Joseph, learned to accept the things that he could not change. I believe that Joseph learned to change the things that he could. I believe that Joseph learned to make a difference despite of the hurt, in spite of the pain: from the pit, to Potiphar’s house, to prison, and ultimately to the PALACE – Joseph chose to THRIVE. When we have been hurt, we too have a choice to either allow that pain to make us or to break us.
Joseph was a forerunner (Psalms 105:17). Joseph endured tribulations. Joseph succeeded in everything he did. Perhaps you too are a forerunner? It is not easy being a forerunner. Perhaps you are the first in your family to walk with Yeshua or accomplish some great purpose?
Like Joseph, you too are anointed to thrive and overcome your difficulties. Do I have any Josephs’ out there? You are anointed to handle those crazy relatives. You are anointed to be in that family. You are anointed to raise those children. You are anointed to stay in that marriage. You are anointed to thrive in that congregation. You are anointed to succeed on that job. You are anointed to lead those people.
Do not allow difficulty to cause you to shrink back! You will thrive in situations that were meant for your captivity! Like Joseph, God has given us the strength to thrive in the face of adversity. The gifts of God will make room for you and cause you to flourish.
In this week’s parashah, we read that Joseph had two sons. Joseph names his sons Manasseh and Ephraim. Their names testify of God’s faithfulness in Joseph’s life.
When we trust God with our pain, like Joseph, God will cause us to “forget all about our troubles” and will “bring fruitful out of our affliction.”
(Psalms 107:2a) declares, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” When we trust God with our pain, He will give us a testimony! Has God been good to you? Has God healed your broken heart? Has God brought peace to your troubled relationship? Then testify of His goodness. Tell others about your Manasseh and your Ephraim experiences. God never ends the story without bringing back His glory!
Torah: Genesis 44:18 – 47:27
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15-28
Next Torah Portion: Vayechi