Revealing Something Deeper

Parashat Vayigash

Redemption, divine mediation, and messianic hope. These are just a few of the themes gleaned from this week’s Torah portion. However, there are two particularly profound incidents that are worth exploring in greater depth – the emotional telling of Judah’s willingness to substitute himself for his brother, and of Joseph’s later revelation of himself to his brothers.

The rabbis teach us that everything in the Torah reveals Mashiach. This week’s parasha reveals Mashiach in two primary ways: through the life of Yosef, who the rabbis identify as a ‘type’ of Messiah (i.e. Mashiach ben Yosef – b. Sukkah 52b) and through the actions of Judah (through whom we later learn that the lineage of Messiah is passed through his tribe –see Gen. 49:10).

Yosef personifies Mashiach as one who was despised by his brothers, rejected, and left for dead. Yet despite his trials, was elevated to a position of authority and became the savior of a generation. In revealing himself to his brothers, Joseph states:

“Don’t be sad that you sold me into slavery here or angry at yourselves, because it was G-d who sent me ahead of you to preserve life (Gen. 45:5).”

Like Joseph, Mashiach was also despised by those around him, treated with contempt and left for dead. Yet, his elevation through his resurrection has also brought many people into ultimate redemption. And one day, Yeshua will reveal himself in all his glory to his people, and proclaim himself Mashiach.

This week’s parasha also reveals Mashiach through the substitutionary actions of Judah. In our portion, Judah pleads with Joseph to take himself prisoner instead of Benjamin. It was originally Judah who sold Joseph into slavery. As such, Judah’s sincere willingness to give up his life for his brother Benjamin’s proved his change of heart and caused Joseph to no longer be able to hide who he truly was. Because of Judah’s sincere willingness to be a substitute for his brother, we learn that he merited inclusion in the lineage of Messiah.

The book of Hebrews reiterates, “Everyone knows that our Lord arose out of Judah … (Heb. 7:14).” We have the assurance that our hope in Messiah is based on solid understanding, embedded within a Jewish context.

Our Messiah, who descended through Judah, will reveal himself once again, as Joseph did to his brothers, and declare himself Mashiach. And it is through him that we all have assurance of our ultimate redemption!

About Rabbi Joshua

I’m a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband … not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I’m just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Ahavat Zion Synagogue in Santa Monica, CA, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin’ hot human rights attorney… and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.

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7 Responses to Revealing Something Deeper

  1. thinkhebrew says:

    Rabbi,

    Excellent post! I find it especially intriguing the parallel between how Joseph appeared to his brothers but they did not recognize him until he revealed himself to them. To me this symbolizes how a majority of the Jewish people do not recognize the Messiah, but they will gladly rejoice when he reveals himself to them.

    Shalom,

    James

  2. vladislav1968 says:

    Yes, it is a very important parshat shavua.Too we read in Gen. 45:7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God… deliverance – Hebrew: phleyta – this Hebrew word we see in Joel 2:32: 32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. Obad. 1:17:17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. What do you think what is difference between these 2 words: pleyta and yeshua?

  3. Rik says:

    Yes, another good post Rabbi Joshua. And good observation James and commentary.

  4. Lisa W says:

    I have been increasingly intrigued with the prototypes of Messiah in Joseph and Judah over the years. Thank you for your post.

    I wanted to mention also that our family traveled to Israel this fall to serve the farmers in Judea & Samaria (Isaiah 61:4-5). We were technically in the territory of Benjamin this fall, nestled between Judah and Ephraim, where we met a man at a wedding who was so excited about what we were doing in Israel. He was rapidly explaining how the restoration of Israel is indeed taking place as Hashem promised in the Scriptures and how it’s seemingly centered, currently, in the territory of Benjamin. He said Benjamin was the key to Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers and he only came to Joseph in Egypt when Judah took full responsibility for him. There was much more, of course, but I thought I’d mention this bit and see what your thoughts might be.

    There is much to glean from these readings about the life of Joseph and it’s getting more and more exciting every year as we learn and experience more.

  5. James says:

    I hadn’t considered Judah’s symbolic or metaphorical role as a sort of Messiah in offering himself for his brother. Thanks for pointing that out.

  6. Pingback: Revealing Mashiach | Yinon Blog

  7. James says:

    All of the weeping at Yoseph’s revelation of himself to his brothers is the perfect parallel of Zechariah’s prophecy of when Mashiach will reveal Himself to Israel.
    Has it ever occurred to anyone to ask those anti-messianics WHY the Jews will “MOURN” for Him when He reveals Himself??? If He were not Y’shua, then WHY all the MOURNING??? Would they not be REJOICING at His coming if it were the FIRST time for Mashiach to come??? NO! They will be mourning for the SAME REASON Yoseph’s brothers were, because they will realize that Y’shua truly WAS and IS their BROTHER, and that all He prophesied was true- though they didn’t want to accept it, and because of their own culpability for all that happened to Him. THIS is WHY they will be MOURNING instead of rejoicing! Every anti-messianic needs to be confronted on this level regarding this prophecy in Zechariah and be made to give an answer as to WHY the mourning when he appears!

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