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Vayigash 5765

Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!   A young religious man, Shmuel, lived with his wife and children in an apartment in a poor section of Jerusalem. One day a non-religious brash, bullying hoodlum, Moshe, moved into his building with his wife and family. When Shmuel realized how quick to anger and how violent Moshe was, he called together his kids. "Listen up. If you love your father and don't want to be orphans, then you always play nicely with Moshe's children and NEVER ever ever get into an argument or fight with them!"

Every Shabbat Shmuel would send a pot of chamin (Sefardic cholent - a hot dish with meat, potatoes and beans) to Moshe's family. After six months Moshe asked Shmuel if he could bring his family to eat with Shmuel's family on Shabbat eve. Scared to say no, but quivering at what might happen, Shmuel said, "Sure!" Moshe and his wife came with the children who were clean, dressed nicely for the occasion and well-behaved.

A few weeks later Moshe asks Shmuel, "Would it be ok if I came to synagogue with you? It's been a long time since I was in a synagogue. When they got there Moshe asked Shmuel to show him where they were in the siddur (prayer book) during the service. Shmuel taught Moshe the siddur and soon Moshe and his family were regularly coming to services.

After several more months Moshe koshered his home and started sending his kids to a religious school. Right before Yom Kippur Moshe knocked on Shmuel's door and asked to come in. With tears in his eyes he says, "How can I thank you? Without you I'd still be living the wild and violent life I used to lead. You've saved my life!" And then he threw his arms around Shmuel and gave him a big hug.

Shmuel later told a friend, "Look at what happened! And all I wanted to do was to save MY life!"

When the Jewish people stood at Mt. Sinai and accepted the Torah from the Almighty, part of our covenant is that we are responsible for each other - to help each other with our needs and lackings, to help each other improve, especially with our connection to the Almighty, the Torah and the Jewish people.

No matter what level we are on in our observance of Torah and mitzvot, there are people we meet everyday who are Jewish and have no idea of the beauty, meaning and pleasure they can have for themselves and their families from the 3,500 years of wisdom of our heritage.

Why don't we reach out? Three reasons:

  1. There's not another moment in the day - no time!
  2. What would I say? I have no idea what to say or do.

  3. It's not my personality - I'm more introverted.

My friend, Marc Firestone, an insurance man in Los Angeles, helped develop a seven step program to inspire Jews that anyone at any time can make a small step (or a big step) to help another Jew get more involved. As a matter of fact, he calls his program - Inspire ... and even has a website:

Why does he call it Inspire? Well, it's the goal of what we'd all like
be able to accomplish. Secondly, it's an acronym - to remember the 7

  • Internet - you can always recommend your favorite Torah-friendly internet site!,,

  • Nurture - to nurture is to nourish. Spend time together. Have lunch or a cup of coffee and talk. Listen!

  • Shabbat - invite to share the warmth of your Shabbos table to see the normalcy and sweetness of your family.

  • Publication - give a book or tape. Jewish Matters is a good book. call 877-758-3242 or

  • Israel - a trip to Israel has the power to transform, especially if learning Torah. Check out:

  • Relationships - share wisdom about love and making a happy marriage.

  • Excite - share what excites you about your life - the beauty, meaning, wisdom, happiness that Torah brings you!

I really think "Relationships" should be "Wisdom", but then the acronym would be INSPIWE and that doesn't sell as well... You can go to for all sorts of books filled with Jewish wisdom about life. If you would like a cute little plastic INSPIRE card for your wallet with the 7 steps, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

3150 Sheridan Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33140

(and if you want to enclose a donation to support the Shabbat Shalom Fax/Email, I wouldn't complain).

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 Tzaphnas Pane'ach, the second in command of Egypt (before he revealed that his Hebrew name was Yosef) informed his brothers that he was keeping Benjamin as a slave for stealing his wine cup, the Torah tell us:

"And Yehuda 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)

What communication skills can we learn from Yehuda?

First, Yehuda began by asking Joseph not to become angry. When you think that what you say will be irritating the person to whom you are speaking, you can defuse his potential anger by mentioning right at the start that you hope that what you say will not get the other person angry.

In this one verse, Yehudah called the other person master twice, while referring to himself as "your servant" twice. He had his goal in mind and in order to make the other person more open to listen to what he had to say he spoke with great respect to him while at the same time putting himself down. One loses nothing by this, but gains much. Only pride prevents people from using this approach more often. It is a very powerful tool.

On the words, "for you are like Pharaoh," Rashi comments that Yehuda had four different levels of meaning in his communication. We can learn from the progression of the four levels. The first meaning is that Yehudah said, "In my eyes you as important as a king." Start off with praise. Everyone wants a feeling of importance. If a person sees that you respect him, he will more readily listen to your requests.

The second meaning Rashi cites is that Yehudah said to him, "Just as Pharaoh was smitten by the Almighty when he caused difficulties for Avraham and Sarah, so too He will smite you." On this level, Yehudah was speaking as a friend and giving warning that he should be careful or else he would suffer consequences.

The third meaning Rashi cites is that Yehudah was reprimanding him. He rebuked him for not keeping his word. "Just as Pharaoh is inconsistent, so are you." In this approach Yehudah was making a plea for him to act in an ethical way. Yehudah pointed out that what he was doing was wrong and censured him for it.

The final meaning cited by Rashi is that Yehudah threatened him. If you do not allow Benjamin to go free, I will kill both Pharaoh and you. If nothing else works to influence the other person, in extreme situations one might need to resort to threats. However, even in those situations such an approach must be used only as a last resort. First try to accomplish your goals with diplomacy. Only if lighter strategies are not effective, use the heavier approach.

CANDLE LIGHTING - December 17:
(or go to

Jerusalem  4:03
Guatemala 5:18  Hong Kong 5:25  Honolulu 5:34
J'Burg 6:39  London 3:34  Los Angeles 4:27
Melbourne 7:17  Miami 5:15  Moscow 3:41

New York 4:13  Singapore  6:45


The future is not something that we enter,
it's something we create

In Loving Memory of
Graciela Eskenazi, 101 years old

Heartfelt Condolences to

Monique & Alex Halberstein

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