D’var Torah Vayigash Dec. 14, 2018

It could be said that the story of the migration of our people begins in this week’s parasha.  The entire extended family of Jacob arrives en masse in Egypt, due to a famine in Canaan:  “And Israel journeyed with all that he had… And they took their cattle, and their substance, … and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him.” (Gen 46: 1, 6) Of course, the family already had a sentinel in Egypt, Joseph, who smoothed the way for his family’s arrival. He picked out an area for them to settle (Goshen) where they would be able to work as shepherds, the family business, and Pharaoh agreed. (Gen 46: 32-34).  It would not have been the family’s choice to leave the land God had promised Jacob, but it became necessary, and the family eased into life in Egypt, not knowing the trauma of slavery that would befall their descendants 400 years later.  Indeed, in this week’s parasha, Jacob is moved to bless Pharaoh for welcoming his family to Egypt. (Gen 47:20) How many times have our fortunes changed as our people migrated from one place to another?   In the coming months, I will be offering an adult education course on Tuesday evenings on the history and lessons of Jewish migration.  Look for registration information soon!