Torah Thoughts for Today
Shabbat Vayigash 5772
Rabbi Mark Mallach
Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael, Springfield, NJ
MINYAN ASSURANCE NEEDED
Bob Modlinger has a Yahrzeit, your help to assure a minyan on Tuesday, December 27th, at 7:45 PM is GREATLY NEEDED.
HOME CAREGIVER AVAILABLE
We have a member who uses a home caregiver on a part-time basis; the caregiver is looking for additional hours, either live-in or commuting. If interested, please let me know
Morning Minyan time for Hanukkah: 6:45 AM on 12/28
IMPORTANT NOTES FOLLOW BELOW
December 31, 2011 – 5 Tevet 5772
Annual: Genesis 44:18-47:27 (Etz Hayim p. 274; Hertz p. 169)
Triennial: Genesis 45:28-46:27 (Etz Hayim p. 279; Hertz p. 172)
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15–28 (Etz Hayim p. 291; Hertz p. 178)
Prepared by Rabbi Joseph Prouser
Judah delivers an impassioned appeal to Joseph on behalf of Benjamin, offering to submit to slavery personally in his youngest brother’s stead. He does so, he says, to spare both Benjamin, for whom he has pledged personal responsibility, and his father. Joseph is moved to tears by his brother’s selfless and eloquent appeal. Dismissing everyone but his brothers from his presence, Joseph finally reveals his identity, immediately inquiring about his father’s well being. He attributes his sale into slavery at his brothers’ hands to Providence. Embracing his brothers, he instructs them to return to Canaan and then to come back, with Jacob, to settle in Egypt.
News of Joseph’s reunion with his brothers spreads to Pharaoh and his court. The brothers, supplied with wagons and provisions, return home and tell Jacob that his beloved son is still alive and has risen to high office in Egypt. On the return trip to Egypt God appears to Jacob in a vision, assuring him that going back down to Egypt is the proper course, while not mentioning the enslavement that is his nation’s destiny. The 70 Israelites taking up residence in Egypt are listed, and Joseph is tearfully reunited with Jacob. He reports his family’s arrival to Pharaoh, to whom he introduces them. Jacob has a private audience with Pharaoh and details for him the personal adversity he has long endured.
Against his express instructions, Joseph’s brothers tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds. Joseph settles his families in Goshen, setting the stage for future events. Despite his generous treatment of his family, Joseph is ruthless in his economic administration of Egypt. After depleting the financial resources of Pharaoh’s subjects through the sale of the grain and food under his control, next he takes their livestock in exchange for supplies, and finally he usurps their only remaining material resource, their land. The only land Joseph allows to remain in private ownership belongs to the priests.
Once he has secured a royal monopoly on both Egypt’s land and its livestock for Pharaoh, Joseph imposes further economic duties on the populace: they owe Pharaoh one fifth of each harvest. Deprived of private land and livestock, and impoverished through the sale of grain over which Joseph had exercised such visionary but shrewd control, the Egyptians nevertheless are thankful for surviving the famine: “You have saved our lives! We are grateful to our lord, and we shall be serfs to Pharaoh.”
The parashah concludes by contrasting the impoverished Egyptian populace under a despotic regime with Israel’s growing prosperity: “They acquired holdings in [Goshen], and were fertile and increased greatly.” This description anticipates the opening of the Book of Exodus, and the ethnic tensions that led to the Israelites’ enslavement.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein wrote that “if a holiday is based on religious belief, such celebrations are prohibited to Jews.” In reference to celebrating the Gregorian new year, Rabbi Feinstein ruled: “The first day of the non-Jewish year, January 1, and American Thanksgiving are not prohibited according to halachah because today they no longer have any religious significance, but those who are particular should be strict in respect of them” (Responsa Igrot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer 2:13). Despite Rabbi Feinstein’s welcome and permissive conclusion, we note with interest that New Years Day is also marked as “The Feast of the Circumcision” because it marks the eighth day after December 25, celebrated by Christian faithful as the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth. The feast day is still in currency among Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. While Rabbi Feinstein finds that this fact presents no obstacle to celebrating the secular new year, Rabbi Raymond Apple, rabbi emeritus of the Great Synagogue of Sydney, Australia, cautions: “the halachah is far from happy with the hedonism and overindulgence in eating and drinking which are common on New Year’s Eve.” [Best wishes for a happy and healthy, worthy and studious 2012 – JHP]
Parashat Vayigash, describing Joseph’s continued (and alas, somewhat despotic) program of providing food to an Egypt – and surrounding nations – impoverished by seven lean years, is read on December 31, 2011. U.S. Secretary of State (and former Army Chief of Staff) General George C. Marshall was born on December 31, 1880. The general is remembered as the architect of the post-World War II Marshall Plan, officially known as the European Recovery Program. After the ravages of the war, which had disrupted agricultural production for years, much of Europe was on the brink of famine. Under the Marshall Plan, European nations received nearly $13 billion in aid, which initially resulted in shipments of food, staples, fuel and machinery from the United States. As a result, from 1948 through 1952 European economies grew at an unprecedented rate.
Your thoughts as always are welcome…
A. Sunday, January 1, 2012:
1. 9 AM:
a. NO Religious School
b. Morning Minyan
2. 7:45 PM: evening minyan
C. Morning Minyan times for Hanukkah: 6:45 AM on 12/21, 12/22, 12/23, 12/27 & 12/28
D. NOTE: MONDAY, December 26TH = FEDERAL HOLIDAY – MORNING MINYAN WILL START AT 9 AM
E. January 2, 2012: NOTE morning minyan will be at 9 AM on this day
F. Thursday January 5, 2012 @ 8PM: Coffee & Clergy Corner at Barnes & Noble session
G. Friday, January 6 @ 6:30 PM: ShabbatTis4U – Services led by Nitzanim & Kohavim, January Birthday blessing, Yahrzeit list is read, dinner by prior RSVP to follow services – NO LATE SERVICE
H. Monday, January 16th, 10 – 11 AM: Springfield Interfaith Clergy Association Martin Luther King Day Commemoration, Townhall, 2nd Floor Sunday,
I. January 15th, 7 PM: Step Up for Israel concluding film & discussion
J. Thursday, January 19th @ 7:45 PM: Torah on Tap
K. Sunday, February 5th @ 9 AM: World Wide Wrap – Come RAP with us with Tefillin, Talit, special breakfast & guest speaker – all sponsored by your Men’s Club – open to all, male & FEMALE, Teffilin help and practice pairs are available
L. Sunday, February 19th, 8 PM: TBAY Annual Comedy Night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
NEXT CONGREGATIONAL ISRAEL TOUR
1. Depart EWR: December 18, 2012
2. Return to EWR: January 1, 2013
3. The itinerary & application is available: www.israeltours.com/rmallach2012.php
For updated information go to: http://www.tbaynj.org/
You can also visit my website at http://ridinrebbe.com/