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Vayigash 5768

Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING! My friend, Sunny Goldstein, told me the story of a young man he met who was wearing the head covering and clothing of an Eastern religion. He asked for his name and the young man responded with a 15 letter Sanskrit name.

___Sunny asked if he were married and the young man replied, "No, but they will pick a wife for me soon." Then Sunny asked where he was from and what his parents did and his previous name. The young man was from a small town in Pennsylvania, his parents were tailors and his previous name was obviously Jewish.

___Sunny inquired further, "Why did go away from your own heritage and how did you become involved in your present lifestyle?" The young man replied that, "My father forced me to go synagogue, to wear a yarmulka; my parents were always working and never home; I affiliated with the group while studying at University."

___And then Sunny gave his insight, "If your father told you to marry somebody Jewish you would have objected that he is controlling your life, yet you let them pick a wife for you. You objected to your father telling you to wear a yarmulka, yet you let your new religion choose your head covering and clothing. You're angry at your parents for not being home for you, yet you had no objection that they worked 14 hours a day so that you could go to university - so tell me this! Why didn't you go to your parents' tailor shop after school to help out so that they wouldn't have to work 14 hours a day and could come home earlier?"

___At some point in life we must stop blaming our parents, our teachers, our society and take responsibility for our own lives. It is sad to see a 15 year old blaming his parents, schools and society for his own lack of success; it is pathetic to listen to a 35 year old harping on the same old story.

___Rather, we should set goals, make plans, and work out strategies to do the best we can with our lives. And a good part of the success we will have comes for our embracing the good we have gotten from parents, schools and society and expressing our gratitude. Then we will have a positive outlook which gives the strength and fortitude to succeed. To place an exclamation point on this important idea, I would like to share with you a story from Dr. Howie Liebowitz, an alumnus of our Aish HaTorah College of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

___"I was working in the emergency room when a 'Code' was called in the cafeteria. A woman was visiting her husband at the hospital when she was struck with a massive heart attack. She was 'flatlined' - no heartbeat. We were working frantically on her. Every moment was an eternity.

___"After 15 minutes there was still no heartbeat. My fellow doctors began to move away, having given up hope. I continued to try. A life is precious. Finally, at about a half-hour I got a blip - her heart started to work! We rushed her into the emergency room and managed to stabilize her.

___"Six hours later, at the end of my shift, I decided to check on her. She was sitting up in bed talking with her husband. As I walked into the room, her husband says, 'Dear, this is Dr. Leibowitz. He is the one who saved your life!'

___"The woman looked at me ... and said, 'I don't know what to say. "Thank you" is what you say to someone who holds the door for you. Doctor, I want you to know that every time I hold my grandchild, every time I go for a walk with my husband, every time I see a sunset, I am thanking you.' "

___Dr. Leibowitz told the story to express his gratitude to Rabbi Noah Weinberg and Aish HaTorah for helping him reconnect with his Torah heritage. What lesson should we learn from the story?

___When was the last time you called your mother and father to thank them for bringing you into this world and for loving you? When was the last time you called that special teacher? When was the last time you thanked your friends for being there for you? And if your parents, special teacher or friend aren't still around to express your thanks, remember - every time you hold a child, walk with someone or see a sunset - you should be living your life thanking those who made it possible.

For more on "Gratitude" go to!

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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 members of Jacob's family 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. The first explanation: 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: 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 impact 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?"

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Jerusalem 4:02
Guatemala 5:17 - Hong Kong 5:23 - Honolulu 5:33
J'Burg 6:36 - London 3:33 - Los Angeles 4:27
Melbourne 8:19 - Mexico City 5:41 - Miami 5:15

New York 4:11 - Singapore 6:43 - Toronto 4:23


Unfulfilled expectations lead to
self-imposed frustrations.
-- Shimon Apisorf

With Great Appreciation to
Jerry & Helen Stern


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