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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Vayigash

Every Moment Counts

In this weeks Parshah,Yosef reveals him identity to his brothers, and begins the process of leading Klal Yisrael smoothly down to Mitzrayim. It was Yosef’s intention to fulfill his mission of orchestrating this descent, based on the dreams he had dreamt years earlier. When one looks back at history, it is startling to realize that just a short two hundred and ten years later, Klal Yisrael would find themselves in spiritual upheaval. So great was their impurity then that they reached the forty-ninth level of tumah, causing Hashem to purge the nation by maakas choshech, and redeem only those who could still be saved! We must understand, then, what went wrong here? The Shivtei Ka were extremely holy people, uninterested in the mundane Egyptian society and its depleted moral state, and they specifically chose to settle away form the main cities, in a far-off land of Goshen. How did the yetzer hara manage to creep into their lives? What made Klal Yisroel become vulnerable to Egyptian influence? The answer to this puzzle lies in a closer inspection into Pharaoh’s invitation to Klal Yisrael. Pharaoh was a smart man, and he surmised that if Yosef was so successful and could bring such wealth and power to his land, how great would it be to have more people who were like him! Pharaoh wanted Klal Yisroel in Egypt because he understood that the Jews represented innovations and business acumen he had never seen before. His plan was to invite them to be part of the upper echelon of the citizenry of his kingdom, and immediately get to work boosting Egypt as a world power. When he told Yosef to bring the family, Pharoah said And take your father and your households, and come to me; and I will give you the best of the land of Mitzrayim, and you shall eat the best of the land. He wanted Klal Yisroel inserted into the heart of Egyptian society, surrounded by everything it had to offer. This would no doubt lead to the assimilation he envisioned, and the benefit to his country! He told them to leave everything at home and not to worry about their possessions. The less they brought with them, the more Egypt could give them and provide for them. This would force Klal Yisrael to become reliant on the Egyptians and be influenced by whatever food, goods, and services they offered! But Yosef was also smart. He knew of Pharaoh’s plan, and subtly made mention of the fact that his family would settle on their own, in the suburban area of Goshen. To this, Pharaoh added a caveat that would still leave room for his plan to assimilate Klal Yisroel. They would settle in Goshen, but they would have vacation estates in the bustling metropolis. These alternative houses would pose no threat to their seclusive preferences, he argued. But, deep down Pharoah knew that the option to live even part time among the Egyptians was an allure that would not be ignored. Yosef was forced to agree, and hoped that his teachings and warning would keep Klal Yisrael from falling into the danger of Pharaoh’s scheme. Yet, when they did come down to Mitzrayim, the pasuk states: And Yisroel lived in the land of Mitzrayim, in the land of Goshen. This means that they did indeed physically reside in Goshen; but the influence of Egypt’s culture had infiltrated their lives. We must take a great lesson from this episode in our history. Never is there a place where a person goes that he will not be influenced. Telling oneself that he or she is merely on vacation, or that their presence in a certain place is only temporary, serves only to allow the evil to seep deeper. Every single place a person spends his time leaves its mark upon him, and he must be aware of this truth. We must resist the temptation to be fooled into thinking we are safe from the negative influences around us and that we are smart enough to not become effected. A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Nahar U_Pashtei Pashas Vayigash 5781
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