Here in Parashat Vayigash, Joseph stands at a crossroads and the entire history of the Jewish people stands in the balance. What path will he choose? Joseph’s brothers stand before him, the same brothers who had thrown him into a pit and sold him into slavery in Egypt. Many years have passed and despite all odds, Joseph stands now as second only to Pharaoh.
And now his brothers stand before him, not recognizing the brother they had betrayed so many years ago. Joseph could have them killed, or imprisoned, or sold as slaves – just as they had done to him. Or he could provide for them life giving food and a prosperous future under his protection in Egypt. What path will he choose? And then, Vayigash Yehudah, and then Judah draws near and offers his life in exchange for his brother Benjamin.
Joseph sees that his brothers have changed. Joseph sees that he has changed. And Joseph chooses to draw them near and forgive. Joseph chooses the path of repentance and return and we are the heirs of that choice. Seeking and granting forgiveness has been our path for righteous living ever since that day.
Judah pleads with Joseph to free Benjamin and offers himself as a replacement. (44:18-34)
Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and forgives them for selling him into slavery. (45:1-15)
Although the famine still rages, Pharaoh invites Joseph’s family to “live off the fat of the land.” (45:16-24)
Jacob learns that Joseph is still alive and, with God’s blessing, goes to Egypt. (45:25-46:33)
Pharaoh permits Joseph’s family to settle in Goshen. Pharaoh then meets with Jacob. (47:1-12)
With the famine increasing, Joseph designs a plan for the Egyptians to trade their livestock and land for food. The Israelites thrive in Egypt. (47:13-27)