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Vayigash(Genesis 44:18-47:27)

Vayigash 5759

GOOD MORNING!  My children brought home from the Yeshiva Elementary School on Miami Beach a worksheet on Kiddush HaShem, Sanctifying G-d's name, for discussion at the Shabbat table. I was so impressed, that I decided to share the information with you and expand on the topic. The source of the mitzvah is Leviticus 22:32 "But I will be hallowed among the children of Israel."

When most people hear the word Kiddush they think of the food reception following Saturday morning services. The word kiddush means to sanctify and on Shabbat morning (as well as Friday night before the meal) one sanctifies the Sabbath with words remembering that G-d created the world and took us out of Egypt -- and then says the blessing over a cup of wine. What does it mean to sanctify G-d's name?

There are two aspects of Kiddush HaShem. The first is when one is required to give up his life. The mitzvot (commandments) were given "to live in them, not to die in them." Therefore, to save a life one can violate all of the commandments EXCEPT three:

  1. Not to murder
  2. Not to engage in illicit sexual relationships
  3. Not to worship idols.

The second aspect of Kiddush HaShem is in everyday living. One should live his/her life so that people will bless the parents who gave birth to you, the Torah that you live by and the Almighty. Rambam, Moshe Maimonides, specifies in the Mishneh Torah, Foundations of the Torah, Chapter 5, that if one speaks pleasantly with others, shows honor and concern for others, is honest in business, he creates a Kiddush HaShem. Then "he will be praised and beloved and others will desire to emulate him. This person has sanctified the Almighty." This is how a Jew is to live in his everyday behavior!

The following story illustrates the greatness of our people and how our Torah teaches us to raise our children with values.

Many children travel to school or yeshiva in Jerusalem by bus. Many of them carry a cartisia (a pre-paid bus ticket good for numerous rides), which is hole-punched by the bus driver each ride. One time, Chaim Sholom Kupfer of Los Angeles witnessed a touching Kiddush HaShem on the Number Three bus.

There was an unusually long line of people waiting to board the bus, so the driver opened both the front and the back doors and called out, "tell everyone to get on and let those in the back pass up their money or cartisiot." As the people continued to board the bus, an eight year old boy made his way up to the drive and extended his cartisia to be punched. "I already punched your card," said the driver. "No, you didn't," said the boy softly.

It was hot. The driver had lost his patience a few stops earlier and was in no mood for an argument. "Get inside," he ordered. "You are blocking the people behind you." The little boy looked up at the stern-faced bus driver and said softly, "I can't. That's stealing."

"I told you, I punched your card," repeated the driver. "Get inside." The little boy walked toward the middle of the bus, downcast. The driver looked into the rearview mirror and noticed that the boy was leaning against a pole and crying. He stopped the bus and called the boy up front. "What's the matter, young man? Why are you crying?"

The little boy came forward and said softly, "I can't. I'll be stealing."

The driver took out his puncher, took the cartisia from the child, punched it, and gave it back. He then patted the boy on the head and said in amazement and Jewish pride, "That's beautiful!"

(From Along the Maggid's Journey with permission of Rabbi Pesach Krohn on behalf of Mesorah Publications available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free: 877-758-3242)


Torah Portion of the Week
Vayigash

We left off last week with Joseph's pronouncement that he was keeping Benjamin as a slave for stealing his wine cup. Judah steps forward to challenge the decision and offers himself as a slave instead of Benjamin. Joseph is overcome with emotion, clears the room and reveals his identity to his unsuspecting brothers.

The brothers are shocked! They suspect Joseph's intentions, but accept his offer to bring the extended family to Egypt. Jacob is initially numb and disbelieving of the news, but becomes very excited to see his son.

The Torah recounts the 70 souls of the Jewish people which went down to Egypt. Jacob reunites with Joseph, meets Pharaoh and settles with the family in the Goshen district. As the famine continues, Joseph buys up all of the property and people in Egypt for Pharaoh with the grain stored during the seven good years.

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states, "And Joseph harnessed up his chariot, and went up to Goshen to greet Israel, (Jacob was given the additional name "Israel" which refers to Jacob's spiritual side) his father. And he appeared to him (Joseph appeared to his father) and fell on his neck and wept on his neck continuously." (Genesis 46:29).

Says Rabbi Naftoli Trop: Imagine how anxious Joseph was to see his father after an absence of twenty-two years. Yet, on the momentous occasion of being reunited with his father the Torah tells us that "Joseph appeared to his father." That is, his only thought was to give his father the pleasure of seeing him. Joseph's own pleasure in seeing his father was secondary to his main concern, that his father should derive pleasure from seeing him.

This lesson is so very important for our generation in which many children act as if their parents are obligated to give them pleasure. Take the lesson -- go "appear" to your parents (if it's still possible)!

Published: January 31, 2000

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