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Vayigash 5763

Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!  If the comedian, Jackie Mason, wrote a book entitled The Jewish Theory For Everything - would you be intrigued to buy it? And what if Jackie Mason didn't write it, but the book had that same Jewish New York humor, would you still buy it? Well, Jackie Mason didn't write it; Max Anteby did - and you'll get a lot more out of his book than just laughs.

The book is directed primarily to those of us with little background
in our heritage who would like help discovering the existence of a
loving, caring, benevolent God Who manifests Himself continually in
our daily lives.

It is based on a classic work of Jewish philosophy, Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart) and the teachings of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, of blessed memory (who spoke and wrote about the scientific intricacies of creation and how they demonstrate a divine Designer). Using a light-hearted, rational approach, it demonstrates that finding out about God can be a rewarding, even amusing, experience that does not require a leap of faith. Covering such topics as Darwin ("The Survival of a Theory"), the Big Bang, nature, the soul and the afterlife, as well as the daily wonders of the world, this easy to read book provides the reader with an approach on how to discover and feel closer to God.

While there are many fascinating chapters about the complexities of things that we take for granted - the eye and vision, the thickness of an eggshell, how people think and understand the world - I decided to share with you an excerpt from a section on:


"The path to finding meaning in life can begin in your own
living room. It is a multi-step process. The first step is one that
people think about doing, but usually never do. It is, simply, to
write out a list of things that are important to you in life. It
should be things like:

  1. A good marriage.

  2. Success in business (to be defined by you either as making a lot of money, getting a lot of honor, offering the best product, doing business honestly, etc.).

  3. A close circle of trusted friends.

  4. The nicest house on the block.

  5. Helping the underprivileged.

  6. Saving whales.

  7. Becoming famous.

  8. Looking good, always.

  9. Raising a good family (once again to be defined by you as loving, caring, attractive, value-based, outgoing, fun-loving, religious, etc.).

  10. Protecting the world from the spread of communism, fundamentalism, Democrats/Republicans, disease, poverty and hunger.

"Once you've taken the first step, the second step is even more critical. Review your list objectively and decide which of the above items you are willing to die for. Would you be willing to risk a heart attack to get that next order from Walmart? Would you dive into the ocean to save a whale? What about saving your child? Would you join the army to fight an evil enemy?

"Chances are, when you get through crossing out, you will have two major items left on your list: family and values. Whether these values relate to how you conduct your life in business, in society, or in the privacy of your own home, some of them are truly worth dying for.

"Now that you have a focus, the most important step is to live for what is important. Finding meaning in life is important, but taking action and accomplishing your goal is what gives meaning to life, giving you unparalleled power and pleasure. Even the mundane tasks of this everyday world become enriching.

"If you are a housewife raising young children, then every time you do the laundry, cook a meal or help with homework, you are fulfilling your life's goal.

"If your goal is to teach values, then every time you return the extra change to the cashier, or admit when you are wrong, or refrain from gossiping about another person, you are setting an example for others to follow.

"If your goal is to help others, then every time you use your
particular talents you are making the world a better place!"

The Jewish Theory For Everything is available at your local Jewish book store or call toll-free 877-758-3242

Torah Portion of the Week

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 of all Egyptians and then 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.

During the famine, Joseph buys up all of the property and people in Egypt for Pharaoh with the grain stored during the seven good years. 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.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

When Judah decides to argue with the Egyptian viceroy (who was really his brother Joseph) to not take Benjamin as a slave, the Torah states:

"And Yehuda (Judah) approached (Joseph) and he said, please
my master, allow your servant to speak in the ears of my master and
do not become angry at your servant for you are like Pharaoh."
(Genesis 44:18)

Judah was under the impression that this Egyptian leader who was really Joseph did not understand Hebrew since he used an interpreter. Why then did Judah ask to speak in his ears?

The late Rosh HaYeshiva of Brisk in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soleveichik, explained this in two ways. One, even though Judah thought Joseph did not understand the language he was speaking, he wanted him to hear the depth of feeling behind his words. Even if one does not speak the language, sincerity will come through. "Words that come from a person's heart enter the heart of the listener."

This happened to the Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, while speaking to a high government official in Russia to remove a harmful decree against the Jewish people. Even before the interpreter translated the Chofetz Chaim's words from Yiddish, the listener said that no translation was necessary. He understood the language of feeling that permeated each word that came from a pure heart.

Rabbi Soloveichik's second insight is that when you try to influence someone, it is imperative that he be open to what you have to say. If a person is close-minded and has made up his mind not to pay attention to you, nothing you say will influence him. You can give all kinds of rational arguments for your position, but the person will be as if deaf. Therefore, Judah asked Joseph to at least give him a fair hearing. "Keep your ears open to the possibility that what I will say has merit."

These two ideas are important to keep in mind when trying to influence someone. Speak with sincerity. When you speak from the bottom of your heart, your words have tremendous force and power. Secondly, make certain that the other person is open to hearing what you have to say. For instance, you might start by saying, "If what I say makes sense, are you willing to change your mind?"


"When you pray, do not make your prayer a fixed duty, but a plea for mercy and entreaty before God."
    -- Rabbi Shimon

CANDLE LIGHTING - December 13:
(or go to

Jerusalem  4:00
Guatemala 5:16  Hong Kong 5:23  Honolulu 5:32
J'Burg 6:35  London 3:33  Los Angeles 4:25
Melbourne 7:14  Miami 5:13  Moscow 3:41

New York 4:11  Singapore  6:43


The first step to finding something
is knowing what you want to find.
-- Jerry Hahn

With Special Thanks to
Norbert Lempert
for dedicating this edition


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