10 December 2021

Going Down to Egypt

6 Tevet 5782
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Vayigash 

Excerpted from a longer lesson entitled: Post-Chanukah Miracles by Daniel Pinner.

...on the first Shabbat after Chanukah, Parashat Vayiggash relates the beginning of Israel’s exile – the culmination of G-d’s promise and warning to Abraham in the Covenant between the Parts (Genesis 15:13-16), 220 years earlier, that his descendants would be exiled and persecuted in a foreign land.

Now while the Torah records a few – a very few – instances in which G-d directly intervened in the lives of the Patriarchs to bring the Children of Israel down to Egypt, the overwhelming majority of events were either entirely natural, or else supernatural events whose supernatural characters would have been known only to a tiny group of people.

In the first category are events such as Jacob sending his son Joseph from Hebron to Shechem to check on his brothers’ welfare, and Joseph’s “chance” encounter with a man (an angel in the form of a man?) who told him that his brothers had moved on to Dothan (Genesis 37:12-17).

In the second category are such events as Joseph interpreting the dreams of the royal butler and the royal baker in prison (40:5-22).

However, the overall process of events – sibling rivalry, a slave thrown into prison who is granted a royal pardon 12 years later and who rises to become the second-in-command to the king, a bountiful crop followed by famine – is a natural if remarkable historical sequence.

For sure, as Jacob was travelling on his way southwards and reached Beer Sheva, G-d Himself had to reassure him that he was doing the right thing, and only after that did Jacob continue on his journey to Egypt (46:1-7); but that Divine intervention, like so many others, was not an open miracle – it was known solely to Jacob.

Like Chanukah, the exile to Egypt (which begins in Parashat Vayiggash) and the subsequent redemption from it was all part of G-d’s plan for the nation of Israel, and by extension part of His plan for the world as a whole.

And as with the exile to Egypt, much of the Chanukah sequence played out in seemingly natural events.

And from this, we can deduce that the events in our own lives, from our own private affairs to the great epoch-making global events sweeping the world now, are also under G-d’s guidance, calibrated for the ultimate benefit of Israel.
I regret that I forgot to post something on 5 Tevet in memory of Rav Binyamin and Talia Kahane, Hashem should avenge their blood and make their memories a blessing forever.


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