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RABBI CHAIM LOBEL הרב חיים לובל

This week is Parshat Vayigash
Candle Lighting 12/31/11 NYC EST
Rabbi Chaim Lobel – Young Israel of Aberdeen, NJ
www.yiaberdeen.com


 

 

Our Home – In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z’L)

In Parshat Vayigash, Joseph confronts his brothers, greets his father Jacob after twenty two years, and guarantees his entire family sustenance in the land of Egypt. The Torah concludes this week’s portion with a seemingly happy note: “Israel settles in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen; they took ownership of the land and they were fruitful and multiplied greatly.” (Genesis 47:27)

The Kli Yakar seems to implicitly ask why the Torah concludes the parshah with this verse if we already know that Israel settled in Goshen?

Answering his own question, the Kli Yakar ( explains that Israel reneged on their deal with Pharaoh. Pharaoh had agreed to allow Israel to live in Goshen as “sojourners” (Genesis 47:4), not as permanent residents. Originally, Israel defended its stay reasoning there was a famine and they needed Egyptian straw to feed their flocks of sheep. However, once the Israelites became comfortable with Egypt’s surroundings, their mentality changed and they took possesion of Goshen as owners where they “multiplied greatly”. This dramatic change in outlook, their resistance to leaving Egypt and instead choosing to remain as permanent dwellers, ultimately set the stage for Israel’s next chapter as slaves in Egypt; in the book of Exodus we learn that Israel was enslaved after Egypt became worried over the growing power of its foreigners.

This original “exile of Egypt” seems to parallel all our exiles throughout Jewish history. Each time the Jews find themselves in exile, the second generation of Jewish exiles cannot fathom leaving their “homes” until they absolutely have no choice.

The question “Are you an American Jew or a Jewish American?” points to this exact circumstance. In many ways, the American Jewish community has become “permanent residents”. We feel “at home”. Yet, history teaches us that every time we have gotten too comfortable with our “strange land” and became “permanent dwellers”, the situation drastically changed, whether slowly or quickly, and we were once again forcibly reminded that we are but temporary residents.

We should never minimize the kindness, generosity, and liberties bestowed upon us by the United States. We must be loyal to our adopted country, its people and government, without any reservations. But we must always remember that we are “sojourners” living in exile and we rely solely upon G-d for everything we are blessed to receive.

As the Kli Yakar explains the Torah portion is not ending this chapter of Joseph’s story with a Disney ending. The Torah is reminding us in very direct terms to never forget where lies our true home.

Shabbat Shalom


 
   
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