11 Cheshvan 5782 / Sunday, October 17, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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Vayigash: Gift of Old Wine    

Vayigash: Gift of Old Wine

Bereishit 44:18-47:27 - Chazal teach that, prior to their reunion, Yosef sent Yaakov a gift of old wine. Why?


Parshat Vayigash
Bereishit 44:18-47:27
Chazal teach that, prior to their reunion, Yosef sent Yaakov a gift of old wine. Why? To show Yaakov that: 1) just as old wine remains the same in a new bottle, so too had he remained intrinsically pure despite his new outward appearance; and 2) just as wine improves with age, so too had he improved his personal traits.
Jewish Education
"He sent Yehudah ahead of him to Yosef, to direct him to Goshen, and they came to the land of Goshen” (Bereishit 46:28).
Rashi explains that Yehudah had been sent ahead to establish a house of study. Yaakov was preparing to leave his home and familiar environment to flee a famine that afflicted his land; his long-lost son Yosef was awaiting his arrival. However, he had only one issue on his mind -- to send Yehudah to pave the way to build houses of study. Before his arrival and before homes were to be built, the Torah institutions were to be built, so that the seeds of Jewish education (which is the foundation of Jewish life) could be sown.
Knowing When to Concede
“And Yosef said to his brothers, ‘I am Yoseph! Is my father still alive?'" (Bereishit 45:3).
Yosef sensed that Yehudah, who had the strength to destroy him, had reached the limit of his patience. The Midrash comments that from the fact that Yosef chose that moment to identify himself, we can see his great wisdom. He saw that it was time to retreat, and therefore, he revealed his true identity. But what wisdom is there in Yosef's retreat in the face of imminent defeat?
The Midrash is making an important point that we understand, but rarely act upon it. When we are in the midst of an argument, it is difficult for us to see that it is time for us to concede or that we are wrong. It takes the tremendous wisdom and the foresight of a Yosef to see through the barrier of self-centeredness. Although this self honest is difficult, the Torah is telling us that it is possible
Don’t be a Snob!
"If your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not see my face again!" (Bereishit 44:23)
Rebbe Levi Yitzchak, the Berditchever Rebbe, said that in both the materialistic and spiritual realm, there are well-established individuals who think that since they are well established, they are superior to others. Concerning such people, the Torah says, "If your youngest brother does not come down with you" -- if you are not concerned with your brother, who is not on as high a level or status as you – then, “you will never see My Face again."
Strive to Aspire
"I shall descend with you to Egypt, and I shall also surely bring you up" (Bereishit 46:4).
Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berdithev commented that even when a person reaches a high level in his observance, he must still continue to strive.
Helping Others
"If your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again” (Bereishit 44:23”
There are Torah scholars who isolate themselves and are only concerned with themselves and their own spirituality. The Torah, however, alludes to this when it states, "If your youngest brother comes down with you" - unless you try to bring those smaller (i.e., less educated) than you, to teach and guide them, "you will not see my face anymore” - God is not interested in your righteousness. (Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev)

Educating Our Children
"How will I go up to my father, and the lad is not with me?” (Bereishit 44:30)
While suffering the privations of the Warsaw Ghetto, Rabbi Klonimos Shapira told his Chassidim: "Soon we will all be killed. How can we go up to our Father in Heaven, and our young children are not with us. How could we have stopped teaching them Torah, claiming that the Nazis will kill them?" 

The Unifying Language Of Jews
"His soul is bound up with his soul" (Bereishit 44:30)
How did their souls become so connected? The Hebrew word for "bound" has the numerical value of 611, which is the same numerical value as the word "Torah." Yaakov taught Binyomin Torah, and through their Torah study, their souls became connected. Torah is the unifying language of the Jews. 

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