Vayigash 5778


ויגש אליו יהודה (בראשית מד:יח)

Then Yehuda approached him (Bereishis 44:18)

The Ramban (Bereishis 42:9) wonders why Yosef did not inform his father during all those years that he was in Mitzrayim. Certainly after he was released from prison and raised to a position of ruler, it was within his power to notify Yaakov. The Ramban explains that Yosef knew that his dreams were a Nevuah and had to be fulfilled. So he waited and acted out his scheme for Binyamin to be brought before him, and all the brothers would then bow to him.
This is why Yosef could not reveal himself immediately. However, after he saw Binyamin, and all the brothers had bowed to him, he still did not reveal himself. He now wanted to see if the brothers had rectified their hatred towards him. Would they, when pressed, step forward to protect Rochel’s children, even at their own risk, or not? Yehuda responded by offering his own life to spare that of Binyamin’s.
The Ramban’s words are illuminated by the Midrash. The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 93:9) says that in response to Yehuda’s petition, Yosef, the brothers, and Binyamin all found appeasement. Yosef’s heart was pacified by seeing how Yehuda gave himself over on behalf of Binyamin. Indeed, the brothers had come full circle.
The Midrash itself bears explanation. Yehuda’s future, his eternity, was on the line. If Binyamin did not make it back to Yaakov, his entire world was forfeited. Wherein then, did Yosef see the selflessness of Yehuda on behalf of Binyamin?
Why was Yehuda willing to put everything on the line in guaranteeing Binyamin’s return? Was it his responsibility to go to such an extent to bring back food? His father, Yaakov Avinu, had the greater responsibility of sustaining his family, so he should go. Why did Yehuda step forward and make such a gigantic sacrifice?
It is very clear throughout the story of the brothers coming to Mitzrayim that they understood the magnitude of their חטא. They saw that all the hardships were clearly Heavenly ordained as a result of their חטא, and were perhaps a Kapparah. In truth, they had decided to kill Yosef the dreamer, the son of Rochel, and get rid of him. This caused a tremendous פירוד, a breach, among the Shevatim, the results of which Klal Yisrael still feels today. Yehuda understood that the only real way to rectify this transgression was by bringing Binyamin close, to the extent that he would be מוסר נפש to save Binyamin. The brothers had wanted to kill the Bnei Rochel; now, in Mitzrayim, they had to be willing to be killed for them.
Yehuda did not need to give everything up by guaranteeing Binyamin’s safety merely to feed Yaakov and his children. He needed to do that to fix the schism he had created. Therefore, he took Binyamin, at the risk of death, and guarded him like a brother.
This is what Yosef saw. When he heard that Yehuda had guaranteed his entire future for the sake of Binyamin, and he knew and understood why Yehuda did this, he was completely moved. Yehuda’s words were truly a comfort to him.
When the silver goblet was discovered in Binyamin’s sack and the brothers were presented before Yosef, Yehuda accepted the punishment of slavery upon all of them. He did not challenge Yosef or deny the charge. Rather, he accepted it as Hashem’s way of punishing them for selling Yosef. Yet, when Yosef stated that they were all free to go, Yehuda stepped forth in challenge. The Midrash says that he was prepared to fight, whatever the cost might be. He also offered to be a slave forever in Binyamin’s stead.
The Nesivos among asks what changed in Yehuda’s reaction. The answer can perhaps be found along the same lines as above. Initially Yehuda recognized that they were being punished for the חטא of the sale of Yosef. When he saw, however, that save for Binyamin they were not to be enslaved, he realized that punishment was not the purpose. The purpose was for him to close the gap that he had made, to right the wrong. Here was his chance to be מוסר נפש for the Bnei Rochel. Thus he approached Yosef with no regard to himself. Thus he pacified Yosef HaTzadik.


הרע (A”H), “the evil eye,” is not some esoteric subject that has no connection to the average person. In fact, this fascinating concept is found in Sefer Bereishis more than ten times!
• Lech Lecha: Hagar miscarried due to the A”H of Sarai. (Rashi 16:5)
• Vayeira: Hagar had to carry her twenty-seven year old son on her shoulders, for Sarah implanted the A”H into Yishmael, causing him to be so ill that he was unable to walk. (Rashi 21:14)
• Vayeira: Avraham sent Yitzchak away after the Akeidah to prevent him from being affected by A”H. (Medrash Rabbah 56:11)
• Vayeitzei: Leah, by declaring that she received more than she deserved, caused an A”H which resulted in her being unable to bear more children. (Rabbeinu Bachaya 30:38)
• Vayishlach: Esav went out to greet Yaakov with an army of four hundred, to put an A”H on Yaakov: עין רע=400. (Rabbeinu Bachaya)
• Vayishlach: When meeting Esav, Yosef went in front of his mother, Rochel, in order to block Esav’s view, so that there should be no A”H on Rochel. (Rashi 33:5; M.R. 78:10)
• Mikeitz: Yaakov did not want his family to give the impression that they had enough food, which would cause an A”H from the jealousy of their neighbors. They should therefore go down to Mitzrayim to buy food. (Rashi 42:1; M.R. 91:2)
• Mikeitz: When the brothers went down to Mitzrayim, Yaakov cautioned them to be as inconspicuous as possible, in order not to cause A”H. (Rashi 45:5)
• Vayigash: When Yaakov met Pharaoh for the first time, he complained about what a difficult life he had suffered (Bereishis 47:9). Harav A.L. Shteinman zt”l explained that although a Tzadik such as Yaakov would ordinarily not complain about his lot in life, Yaakov wanted to prevent A”H.
• Vayechi: Yosef and his progeny received a Brocho from Yaakov that they would not be affected by A”H. (Rashi 48:16; Brachos 20a)
• Why was golus Mitzrayim set at four hundred years? The Gematria of עין רע is 400. Due to the Midas Hadin causing an A”H, the Exile was set at this number. (Rabbeinu Bachaya 15:13)
Before examining the subject of Ayin Hara, an elementary understanding of how it works and what activates it will be helpful.
Rabbeinu Yona (Avos 2:11) explains that when one is not satisfied with what he has and looks at all that his rich friend has, wondering when he will attain such wealth, his thoughts create a power that destroys all that was “infected” with the A”H.
Rav Dessler elaborates. Man was created in the image of Hashem – בצלם אלוקים עשה את האדם . HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s ability is such that his רצון, will, creates. Man in general must first think about what his will is, and then work on bringing his thoughts to fruition. He does, however, have the ability, under certain conditions, to effect damage with his thoughts alone. (שפתי חיים אמונה ובטחון א,שצג)
The power one has with his thoughts is illustrated in an incident mentioned in Pardes Yosef (Vayikra 11:16). A prisoner in Russia who had been sentenced to death was used as a guinea pig to test the power of sight. He was starved for three days straight. His captors then put a loaf of bread in front of him, but he was unable to touch it. He looked at the loaf with such intensity that he got so ill that it caused his demise. The scientists tested the bread and found it full of poison.

(To be continued next week Iy”h)