We left off in last week’s reading with Yosef instructing his son Menashe to put the ‘magical’ goblet in Benyamin’s sack, thus framing Benyamin for theft. When Yosef accused one of the brothers of stealing the goblet, they were confused, as they were sure none of them would have taken it (which none had an actually done).

Benyamin was taken and Yosef punished him into a lifetime of slavery. However, the future king of the Jewish people, Yehuda, stepped forward and eloquently but firmly petitioned against Yosef for Benyamin's release, offering himself as a slave instead (Bereishit 44:17/ Shabbat 105a). Yehuda proved his leadership qualities; his actions of leadership teach all of us we are capable of stepping up and attempting to lead in any situation. We learn in Parshat Shemot, when Moshe saw the sight of the ‘Burning Bush,’ Hashem instructed him to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt (Shemot 3:10), despite being the shyest of men and having a speech problem, he nonetheless became arguably the greatest leader of the Jewish people throughout history.

As a result of Yehuda’s act of selflessness, Yosef finally had proof that his brothers were different people from the ones who threw him into the pit, and he realized they had fully repented for their past misdeeds. He decided to reveal to them that he was none other than their brother Yosef (Bereishit 45:4). The brothers, on discovering Yosef’s true identity, felt completely ashamed of the way they treated him in the past; however Yosef consoled them, telling them that everything had been part of G-d’s plan.

From Yosef’s story we learn how a person can come from absolutely nothing and rise to power and fame, we see many cases in the Tanach where people came from ‘nothing’ to total rulership; in the book of Shmuel we learn how the young shepherd David rose to be anointed as the future king, slaying the giant Goliath and thereafter becoming king for forty years. We see in the book of Shoftim (Judges) how Yiftach was bullied by his fellow townsmen, driven out of his town and then later became the main judge of the Jewish people for six years (Shoftim 11:11).

Yosef then sent the brothers back to their father Yaakov, with a message to come and reside in the land of Goshen (a segregated part of Egypt to ensure that the ‘Hebrews would not assimilate into Egyptian culture’) (Bereishit 45:18). At first Yosef’s brothers were concerned for the health of their elderly father, fearing that the news that Yaakov was still alive would be too much for him. They turned to Asher’s daughter, Serach, to break the news. She played in the most gentle manner with her musical instrument a song with the words ‘Yosef is still alive!,’ Yaakov's spirit was then revived (Medrash Hagadol 45:26). As a result, Serach was blessed by Yaakov with eternal life, as the Gemora says that she was one of nine people who went up to Gan Eden alive (Derech Eretz Zuta).

Yaakov left for Goshen together with all his family and possessions. Hashem communicated with Yaakov in a vision at night. He informed Yaakov not to fear going down to Egypt, despite its potential detrimental spiritual consequences, because it is there that G-d will in the future establish the Children of Israel as a great nation, despite the fact that they would dwell temporarily in a land steeped in immorality and corruption.

The Torah then lists Yaakov's offspring and hints at the birth of Yocheved, the future mother of Moshe (Bereishit 46:8). The Torah states that in total, seventy souls descended into Egypt, where Yosef was reunited with his father after 22 years of separation. He embraced his father and wept, overflowing with joy, whereas Yaakov was busy reciting the Shema.

Pharaoh presented Yaakov and his family lavish gifts. The two leaders met, Pharaoh, the international King and Yaakov, the leader of the Hebrews. Yaakov blessed Pharaoh (Bamidbar Rabba 8:4), and almost instantly after the blessing the famine stopped, which shows the power of a blessing from a righteous individual! The Talmud teaches us that the rain publicizes the merit of the righteous and their prayer (Ketubot 5a). The Children of Israel then became settled in their new land, and their numbers multiplied greatly (Bereishit 47:29).

The Haftorah from this week’s reading comes from the book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:15-28). Ezekiel was a priest, prophet and preacher of the exile in Babylonia. When his people had all but lost hope in the continuity of the Jewish covenant, Ezekiel comforted his people with the promise of God's forgiveness and return to Zion.

The Dvar Torah is dedicated to the recovery of Yosef Ben Edna.