In this week’s parsha, Parshat Vayigash, we read the story of Yosef and his Father and brothers. They are finally reunited after 22 years of being apart and Yaakov thinking Yosef was dead. Yosef brings his entire family to Paroahs household to live in through the duration of the famine. Then there is the encounter of two great individuals, Yaakov and Paroah. Yaakov blesses Paroah and the next pasuk says, ” ויאמר פרעה אל יעקב כמה ימי שני חייך?”-“How many are the days of the years of your life” to which Yaakov answers, ” ויאמר יעקב אל פרעה ימי שני מגורי שלשים ומאת שנה מעט ורעים היו ימי שני חיי ולא השיגו את ימי שני חיי אבתי בימי מגוריהם״ “The days of the years of my sojourns have been a hundred and thirty years; few and bad have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not reached the days of the lives of my forefathers in the days of their sojourns.” Yaakov was supposed to live 180 years but lived till 147 instead. Why did he lose 33 years to his life? HaShem said, “You’re complaining it was bad while I was just setting your life up.” And because of this, Yaakov lost a year per word in his answer to Paroah. But if we count, that only adds up to 25 words so where do the other 8 years/words come from? Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz says Yaakov also lost from Paroahs question, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” But why should Yaakov be punished for a question that was asked by Paroah? It actually was Yaakovs fault/ appearance that Paroah asked that question. Yaakov carried himself in an old way that you could see his age on his face. He looked old. Holocaust survivors walk around with pride in them because they won. They don’t show their צרות to the world and a Jew today is the same. We are in גלות but we still make sure to see the good everyday.
We also see the reconciliation of Yosef and his brothers. It’s a bit hard to understand that they would kill their brother for a coat. This feud started before with Yaakov stealing the Bracha from Eisav. HaShem created this world to bring HaShem and pleasure. Mesillat Yesharim says Olam Haba is the ultimate pleasure. Before the sin, Adam had a spot in Olam Haba right next to HaShem. After he sinned, it required a lot more work for man. So man now had two jobs, “Tzur Me’ra, Asei Tov”- “Leave the bad, do the good”. This was seen in three different places. First with קין and הבל, then with Yaakov and Eisav and finally with Yosef and his brothers. Kain worked the land while Hevel was a shepherd. The ground was cursed and Kain tried fixing the bad ground but instead he got sucked into it and killed his brother. Eisav also worked the ground while Yaakov was a shepherd and Eisav got sucked into the evil as well. So now, Yaakov got both jobs of “Tzur Me’ra, Asei Tov”. He would have two different children from two different wives, Rachel and Leah which were Yosef and Yehuda. We will see this one more time with Mashiach Bezrat HaShem. We will have two Mashiachs, Mashiach ben Yosef who will fight the bad, and Mashiach ben David who will bring the good.
We all have these two traits with in us. We need to find ways in our lives to fight the evil and take the good to inspire ourselves or others around us.
Student studying in Baer Miriam