Posted on December 20, 2023 (5784) By Rabbi Yissocher Frand | Series: | Level:

These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly portion: #1274 – Honoring Grandparents Revisited. Good Shabbos!

Parshas Vayigash must be one of the most dramatic parshiyos in the Torah. Yehudah pleads one final time “How can I go back up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest I see the evil that will befall my father!” (Bereshis 44:34). The pasuk then says “And Yosef could not endure in the presence of all who stood before him, so he called out, ‘Remove everyone from before me!’…” (Bereshis 45:1)

Even though throughout all these parshiyos, Yosef has been giving the impression that he is not Yosef and he had been making his brothers really sweat, he can no longer do that. The viceroy of Mitzrayim certainly always had attendants, staff and servants in his presence. He had not been alone with his brothers. He ordered everyone other than his brothers to leave the room. Then the pasuk concludes: “…Thus no man stood with him when Yosef made himself known to his brothers.” (ibid.)

But this conclusion of pasuk 45:1 is redundant! The beginning of that pasuk already says that Yosef ordered everyone out of the room. Why do we need the end of the pasuk to restate the fact that no man stood with Yosef when he made himself known to his brothers?

I saw a beautiful answer given to this question, written in the name of Rabbi Shmuel Brazil. In order to appreciate this answer, I will give you an analogy:

About a year-and-a-half ago (on the first day of bein hazemanim before Pesach), I was working at my desk, and I had some errands to run. I knew I had to go, but I decided that I wanted to finish something first. I stuck around for a couple of minutes longer. I finished what I had to do. I then drove down Mt. Wilson Lane, making a right turn onto Reisterstown Road, as I must have done thousands of times in my life. I was turning by the green light and suddenly, the next thing I knew a car flew into me. I wound up in the corner of that little shopping strip on the corner of Mt. Wilson and Reisterstown Road. I didn’t know what happened. I asked myself “Did I go through a red light? What just happened to me?”

Within several minutes, I found out exactly what had happened: There was a fugitive of justice who was wanted for kidnapping and attempted murder in Washington D.C. He crossed state lines, making it a federal case. The United States Marshall Service was chasing after him. The marshals went up Reisterstown Road and this fugitive went down Reisterstown Road. He must have been going 70 or 80 miles per hour. The cops were in hot pursuit. This fugitive came to the red light on Mt. Wilson Lane and Reisterstown Road. After kidnapping and attempted murder, a red light was not about to stop him. He plowed into one car, plowed into a second car, and then plowed into my car before plowing into a truck which finally stopped him from going any further.

He got out of his car and started running towards the woods. The marshals ran after him and beat him to a pulp. In the meantime, my car was totaled. I am thinking in my mind that I should be suing the United States Government: Frand vs. the United States of America. I was disabused of that notion because a person cannot sue the U.S. Government when they are after somebody. At any rate, Baruch Hashem, I walked away from the incident without a scratch, despite the fact that my car was totaled. The insurance gave me a nice settlement, v’nomar Amen!

But my initial thought was that had I gotten up from my desk when I had originally intended (two or three minutes earlier), this would have never happened to me. It was only because I left my house when I did, and because I was at Reisterstown Road at that specific time, that I was involved in this multiple vehicle traffic incident.

Such a thought is kefira (heresy). For whatever reason, the Ribono shel Olam wanted me to get into that accident. The reason is between me and the Ribono shel Olam. The way to look at what happened is not that because I waited the few extra minutes, I was involved in an accident. Rather, the proper perspective of the matter is that it was decreed in Heaven that I should be involved in that accident, and consequently, I hesitated leaving home for a few extra minutes so that I would be in that place at that time to be involved in that accident. This is the way a person must look at life.

We see this many times with elderly parents. I knew a very elderly gentleman who was living with one of his daughters in New York. He decided to come down to live with his daughter in Baltimore, and not long afterwards, he died. Everyone’s reaction is “If he would have stayed in New York, this would not have happened. The schlepping and the effort of the relocation were too much for him. That is why he died.” No. That is not true. He died then because when he was born, it was decreed upon him exactly when he would die and where he would die.

That is the way a person needs to look at life. We should never engage in “What if?” scenarios. We believe in Hashgocha Pratis (Personal Divine Providence). We wind up in a certain place at a certain time because the Ribono shel Olam wants us there at that time.

Rav Shmuel Brazil says beautifully: “Yosef ordered all the people out of the room “v’lo amad ish ito” (and no man remained with him).” Who was this “v’lo amad ish ito“? Who was this man?

Before answering this question, consider another pasuk all the way back in Parshas Vayeshev. Yaakov tells Yosef to go and check out where his brothers are. Yosef starts wandering and he can’t find his brothers. The pasuk says, “And a man found him, and behold he was blundering in the field; the man asked him ‘What do you seek?'” (Bereshis 37:15) Rashi there says this man was the Angel Gavriel. The Ribono shel Olam put Gavriel over there in order that he should meet Yosef and direct Yosef to Dosan, where he would meet up with his brothers.

That, says Rav Brazil, is the man the pasuk is referring to here in Parshas Vayigash where it says “And there was no man that stood with him.” Yosef did not say “You know what? If I would not have met that man all the way back then, I would have come home to my father and said to him, ‘Guess what? I can’t find my brothers.'” Yosef did not let the thought enter his head that had he not met that man, he would not have met his brothers, and the brothers would not have sold him as a slave, and he would not have gone down to Mitzrayim, and he would not have been in the dungeon, etc., etc., etc.

The pasuk says “the man was not standing with him” to emphasize that Yosef realized that what happened to him was not at all attributable to the chance appearance of “that man,” but rather, it was all part of a Divine plan. The Ribono shel Olam wanted this entire long and difficult story to occur.

A Simple Pshat in the Wagons Rejuvenating Yaakov

I was recently sitting at the same table as Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer at a wedding. Rabbi Hopfer told me the following vort:

After Yosef revealed his true identity to his brothers, Yosef instructs them to bring their father, Yaakov, down to Mitzrayim. The brothers returned to Canaan and told Yaakov the whole story: “Yosef is still alive and he is the ruler over the entire land of Egypt; but he had a turn of heart, for he did not believe them. And they related to him all the words of Yosef that he had spoken to them, and he saw the wagons that Yoseph had sent to transport him, then the spirit of their father Yaakov was revived.” (Bereshis 45:26-27)

The sight of those wagons rejuvenated Yaakov, causing him to realize that Yosef was still alive.

We spoke in the past of the Medrash quoted by Rashi that the wagons (agalos) were a special sign that Yosef sent to his father, reminding Yaakov that the last Torah section they had studied together before they were separated for so many years was Eglah Arufah (the decapitated calf). The hint was based on the similarity between the word eglah and the word agala.

However, there can also be a p’shuto shel mikra (simple reading of the text): When Yaakov saw the wagons that Yosef sent to transport him and his family to Mitzrayim, his spirit returned to him. Why?

This can be understood with an analogy:

There is a fine pious Jew who lives in Brooklyn. He has a son who is “more modern,” who does not exactly follow in his father’s footsteps. The son goes off to college, which does not do much for his ruchniyus. He is still an Orthodox Jew, but not exactly on the same spiritual level as his father. He meets a girl. The father is not so happy with whom his son married. Then the son and his wife decide to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The father in Brooklyn misses his son. He calls him up and says “Son, it has been so long since I have seen you. I want to come visit you in New Mexico.” The son says, “You will schlep all the way to Santa Fe?” “Yes. I want to see you.” The last thing in the world this son wants is for his father from Brooklyn to come and see how he lives in Santa Fe. The father will see so many things which will displease him: How the house is run, how the wife dresses, how she acts. He will look in the refrigerator and see who knows what.

Seeking any way to avoid his father coming to Santa Fe, the son says to the father, “Dad, it is too big a deal for you to come from Brooklyn to Santa Fe. I will come to see you!” Why does he suggest that? It is because the last thing he wants is for the father to see how he lives in his new location. (I actually was in Santa Fe and saw the Chabad of Santa Fe, but it is far from an established Jewish community.)

Yosef was in Mitzrayim. He was away for so many years. He was cut off from any type of support system. There wasn’t even a Chabad of Mitzrayim! Yaakov could have thought “Who knows what could have happened to Yosef? What does he look like? What does his house look like?”

But what does Yosef do? He sends wagons to Yaakov to bring him to Mitzrayim so he can see how Yosef is living there! Yaakov felt, if Yosef is ready for me to see him and how he lives in his home territory, then I know one thing – he is still Yosef, my son. He is still Yosef haTzadik. Once Yaakov perceives that, his spirit is rejuvenated.

Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]

Edited by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]

This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Vayigash is provided below:

  • # 036 – Taxing the Community
  • # 078 – The Uses of Snow in Halacha
  • # 127 – Baby Naming
  • # 174 – Twins
  • # 220 – Host Mothers in Halacha
  • # 264 – The Bracha for Kings and Presidents
  • # 310 – Honoring Elderly Parents
  • # 354 – Honoring Grandparents
  • # 398 – K’rias Shma: How Early, Interruptions, Misc.
  • # 442 – The Umbrella on Shabbos
  • # 486 – Grandchildren in Halacha
  • # 530 – Performing a Mitzvah Personally
  • # 574 – Being the Bearer of Bad Tidings
  • # 618 – K’rias Shema: Fascinating Insights
  • # 662 – Learning and Davening on the Road
  • # 706 – Z’man K’rias Shema
  • # 750 – Will I Make Z’man K’rias Shema?
  • # 794 – Must I Always Stand For the Rov
  • # 838 – Answering Kedusah in the Middle of K’rias Shema
  • # 882 – Father or Grandfather – Whom Do You Honor?
  • # 926 – It’s The Thought That Counts
  • # 969 – Burial In Eretz Yisroel II — How Important Is It?
  • #1013 – My Chumrah vs Your Hurt Feelings
  • #1057 – Lashon Kodesh: The Uniqueness of the Hebrew Language
  • #1100 – K’rias Shema: What Is The Proper Kavanah?
  • #1143 – Oops! I Forgot today is a Fast Day after I Mad a Bracha on Food
  • #1186 – Facts About K’rias Shema You May Not Know
  • #1230 – Waking Up Early To Eat Before a Taanis
  • #1274 – Honoring Grandparents Revisited
  • #1318 – Ectogenesis: Artificial Wombs – The Coming Era of Motherless Birth?
  • #1362 – Flying East to West-West to East on a Fast Day-When Can You Break Your Fast
  • #1406 – Being an Araiv – Guarantor – Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
  • #1450 – I Came to Shul Late and They Are Saying Krias Shema – What Should I Do?
  • #1494 – Should You or Should You Not Take the Corona Vaccine?
  • #1538 – K’rias Shema: What Should or Should You Not Be Thinking?
  • (2022) – She’Hechiyanu on Seeing a Long Lost Friend

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