Father Knows Best: Vayigash 2020
by Adam J. Rosenbaum
Pre-Game Chatter: Have you ever felt like you were “becoming your parents”? If so, how did you realize it, and how did it make you feel?
When Judah speaks to Joseph in Egypt, knowing that Benjamin’s freedom hangs in the balance, he channels their father’s deepest concerns:
The Pitch: “‘If I come to your servant my father and the boy is not with us – since his own life is so bound up with his – when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will send the white head of your servant our father down to Sheol in grief.’” – Genesis 44:30-31
Swing #1: “Apparently, the elder sons were not jealous of Jacob’s affection for Benjamin as they had been over Joseph. Perhaps they felt guilty, but their concern and affection for their father is perfectly plain.” – William Graham Cole, Sex & Love in the Bible
Swing #2: “Judah bases his whole argumentation on the legitimacy of [Jacob’s] preference for one son over all others and on the symbiosis of sorts that exists between them both. It is the responsibility of the other sons to protect this intimacy between Jacob and Benjamin.” – Andre LaCocque & Paul Ricoeur, Thinking Biblically: Exegetical & Hermeneutical Studies
Swing #3: “Judah’s words … show how the brothers have changed in their relationship to each other and above all in their relations to their father. Judah now sees the danger completely from his father’s viewpoint and is ready even to surrender his own life in order to protect that of Benjamin.” – Gerhard von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary
Late-Inning Questions: How do Judah’s words show a newfound appreciation for Jacob? Why does it sometimes take extreme circumstances to relate to the people we love most?
On-Deck at Emanu-El: We encourage all of our congregants to vote for the Mercaz (Conservative/Masorti) slate in the upcoming World Zionist Congress elections so that pluralistic voices can be heard loud and clear in Israel. Please visit mercaz2020.org to learn more.
The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of “becoming our parents”, it’s intriguing how many children follow the teams that their parents follow, and how many others follow the chief rivals of their parents’ favorite teams. Sports can be a fascinating examination of how we wish to both emulate and rebel against our parents.