Blog Vayigash 28 Kislev 5778 בלוג וַיִּגַּשׁ, כ”ח כסלו תשע”ח
In Vayigash, we come upon the encounter of the two main characters of our saga, Joseph and Judah who point to the two types of Messiah, Mashiach ben Joseph, the suffering Messiah and Mashiach ben David the conqueror Messiah. We will see how the stage is set for the understanding that we have today about these two men. Joseph was not recognized by his brothers for several reasons: he was cleaned shaved like the Gentiles, wore foreign garments, spoke in a foreign language using an interpreter to speak to his brothers and even his name was changed. Pharaoh was considered god and thus Joseph was looked upon as the “son of god”. This idea didn’t begin with the Greeks and Romans. Joseph represented the Gentile world. These two giants were leaders in their own right. Judah demonstrated that he was “responsible” in spite of his many mistakes. The Torah teaches us that our heroes are humans who commit sins yet are called by the Creator for a special role and purpose. These two leaders although they were not equal in power and authority according to human understanding they were equal in the sight of the Creator. He does not make acceptation of people rather He gives us roles.
Joseph approached Judah (who represented Israel, i.e. Jacob) who had not yet revealed himself to his brothers and he was quite harsh with them as a direct result of their treatment of him in the past. Although 22 years had passed and he was now a most powerful figure in Egypt, he still felt the pain. Now he would keep Benjamin behind but Judah had made a promise to his father Jacob that he would be responsible for him at all cost. When Judah offered to give up his own life for Benjamin, this changed Joseph’s mind and he was able to let go his desire to get even, thus healing the pain from the past. Joseph saw that the brothers were united in their repentance. This message is for today. It is a projection of what will happen in the future. Israel can only take her place at the top when the people recognize their wrongdoings and return united to the Creator.
The Haftarah portion, Ezekiel 37:15 – 28 speaks of the two branches which will one day unite, Joseph (Ephraim) and Judah. The idea of the Mashiach has developed slowly over time by our sages. This idea was not plainly written about in the Scriptures but it came about in the apocalyptic writings. A hero would emerge perhaps as a king, or a priest; he could come from any of the tribes but most likely from the tribes of Judah or Joseph. In this portion it seems that Joseph is the conquering Messiah and Judah the suffering servant who bows before Joseph even calling him my lord. The Davidic Messiah in Judah doesn’t recognize the Messiah in Joseph.
When and how does Joseph finally get recognized? He knew who his brothers were but they did not know him. Compare our Messiah Yeshua with Jesus Christ today. They are not the same. One is an historical personality while the other is a theological construct. How can the descendants of Judah recognize Jesus Christ as being their brother when he doesn’t speak their language, he dresses completely different and people worship him as a god? The Jews cling to “Shema Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad” – Hear o Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is ONE. There are not three gods; there is only One. This is our contention and the reason we cannot worship him as a god. Finally Joseph cried out to his brothers – “Ani Yosef”, I am Joseph and then he told them not to worry for what they meant for evil, the Creator used for good, in order to preserve their lives. He understood in that moment what the Creator had done with him.
I believe that we are approaching the day that my people Israel will discover the true Yeshua, both historically and as the messenger of the Creator, chosen to bring them back to written Torah so that we could fulfil our calling of being, “Ohr l’goyim” – light to the nations; to disseminate the Torah to all the nations and to bring them to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This has not yet happened. One day the people of Israel will open their eyes to the true Yeshua, not the concocted, artificial Jesus who has been rejected by our rabbis in their reaction against paganism. Both sides will see their mistakes but only the Bore Olam – the Creator can remove spiritual blindness. He created every living thing in this world. Belief doesn’t change anything. Just because an atheist doesn’t believe in the Creator doesn’t mean that He doesn’t exist. He chose us not for our beliefs but for what is in our heart. That was the case with both Joseph and Judah. With all their short-comings, they were men of integrity. Our prophet Jeremiah told us that only the Creator knows the hearts of men and He tests them. Our religious beliefs and doctrines do not save us; He comes to us, we respond to Him and that makes us have a relationship with Him.
All the Jewish people are part of Israel but not all of Israel is part of the Jewish people. That may sound confusing. Jewish people come from the tribe of Judah, the kingdom of the South. The Northern Kingdom literally disappeared but they remained and assimilated into the South. The Creator will bring His people back from all over the world one day. Being part of Israel has nothing to do with having the bloodline of the ancient people but it has to do with anyone having a true relationship with the God of Israel, both for Jew and Gentile. This is pictured with Joshua and Caleb, the only two men of that first generation who were slaves in Egypt, to enter the Promised Land, one was Israelite and one was Kenazite. Don’t concern yourself with being Jewish; concern yourself with what is in your heart. I pray that our brother Yeshua will be seen for who he is not for who he was made to be, sooner than later!