Skip to content


TorahAnytimes Newsletter Vayigash

Parshat Vayigash

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Vayigash                                                                                         Print Version
7th of Tevet, 5779 | December 15, 2018                                                     Spanish Version                   

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Yigal Haimoff 
Half a Cup

יש לנו אב זקן

We have an elderly father… (Bereishit 44:20)

Years ago, one elderly gentlemen served as the shamash of his local shul. Given the responsibility to overlook the general upkeep and maintenance of the entire building, he devotedly carried out his job. He cleaned the floors, cleared the tables and made the shul look as respectable as it deserved. Yet that was not the entire scope of his work.

Day after day, he took care of one other job. And that was preparing hot coffee and tea for those who would attend the early morning Torah class given by the rabbi. Rising soon after dawn, he would make his way over to the shul to ensure that hot water and tea would be ready for the attendees.

Yet, strangely enough, the shamash without fail always gave each man attending the class only half a cup of tea. He never, without exception, gave anyone a full cup. Although the men would say that they could use a full cup, he politely replied that he could not do so. While no one ever understood why that was so, they respected his decision and appreciated what he nevertheless did for them.

One morning, the shamash was feeling under the weather. Knowing that he would be unable to carry out his daily duty, he asked his son if he could wake up at 4am the next morning and cover for him. After his son agreed to take over for the day, the shamash thanked him and bid him good night.

The following morning, the son arrived at the shul and was met by an anxious group of men. Smiling, as they saw that today they had a substitute, they made their requests for their tea of preference. Yet, knowing that here stood a rookie, they requested that he please fill the cups to the top. “Finally,” they figured, “we will be given a full cup.” And with that, the boy headed back to the kitchen to begin preparing the tea.

Boiling some hot water and locating the necessary tea bags, he soon began to pour. And pour. And then pour some more. Each cup was now filled to the brim. Placing them on a large tray, he straightened himself out and began heading for the door. But then he heard his name being called.

Turning around, he saw his father. “Abba! What are you doing here? I thought you were sick?” “I am,” replied the father; “I have a fever. But I came here because I remembered that I forgot to tell you something very important.” Gently taking hold of the tray, the father placed it back down on the counter.

“The cups are too full,” said the father. “Abba, what do you mean? They are perfect!” “Let me tell you something,” explained the father. “Every day I give each man only half a cup of either coffee or tea. For years, I have been asked why I do so, yet I never told them why. But, the truth is because there are two elderly men who attend the class. And I know, that considering that the tea and coffee are hot, if one of the men shakes, he will accidently spill the hot drink on his hands and burn himself. Besides that, he will become embarrassed. I therefore avoid filling their cups to the top.” Listening to his father’s secret, the boy just stood there surprised.

“But now you are probably wondering,” continued the father, “why I don’t simply give these two men half a cup, and everyone else a full cup. But, just imagine how they would feel if they find out that they are being treated differently because of their age. I cannot be sure, but I don’t want to run the risk of hurting their feelings. And so, every day, I make sure to give each person only half a cup so as to avoid possibly embarrassing any one of these older gentleman.”

That is what it means to think something through. While we may many times look for ways to help others, we can never forget to consider the repercussions of our actions as they affect all parties involved. It only behooves us to examine the entire picture and only then wisely make a decision. It will ensure that everyone remains happy and honored as they deserve. And surely if they would know the reason, they would be quite content with half a cup of tea. It would warm their heart and the hearts of all those around them.

Rabbi Paysach Krohn 
The Cassette Tape

והקל נשמע בית פרעה

And the voice was heard in Pharaoh’s palace… (Bereishit 45:16)

Many boys and girls believe after they respectively become a chassan and kallah that the person they plan on marrying is so alike themselves. I remember being told by one girl, “Rabbi Krohn, you can’t imagine how we are so similar! We both use Crest toothpaste with Tartar Control!” Now, seriously ask yourself, isn’t that a match made in heaven?

But it gets better. I was once told by a Sephardi boy, Yehoshua, who went on to marry an Ashkenazi girl, Devorah, “Rabbi, I knew she was the one for me when she said that she loves Rabbi Krohn’s tapes!” Yet, let me tell you how their marriage materialized.

It was during the days when cassette tapes were popular, before CDs became the norm. As Yehoshua had been seeing Devorah for quite some time, he asked her if she would like to hear one of my tapes while they were driving. With Devorah agreeing, in went the cassette.

Minutes passed by for Yehoshua and Devorah driving down the highway silently sitting and listening to my lecture. But then, suddenly, on came Yehoshua’s voice in the middle of my speech. Devorah had no idea what Yehoshua had done. He had actually erased part of the lecture and inserted his own voice.

So there sat the two of them, when all of a sudden, a voice sounding exactly like my own came on. “Devorah! Are you going to marry Yehoshua? He is the best one for you!” Devorah nearly fell out of the car. She couldn’t believe that “Rabbi Krohn” would be telling her to marry Yehoshua. It was only after Yehoshua told her that he had imitated my voice and wished to propose to her that she understood what had happened. And with that, she responded with a resounding yes.

But guess what happened a few months after they got married? One day, Devorah said to Yehoshua, “I never really told you, but in truth, I like Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s tapes.”

Sometimes we think that we have everything perfectly worked out. He is the one for me, she is the one for me, this or that is meant for me… But then we come to realize that, maybe after all, not everything is as we initially thought. Nothing is so ever perfect or certain that we should lose our sense of direction and risk making a potentially wrong turn. After all, you never know, maybe she really enjoys Rabbi Krohn’s tapes or loves Rabbi Frand.

Rabbi Moshe Bamberger 
Best Friends Forever

ולבנימן נתן שלש מאות כסף וחמש חליפת שמלת

And to Binyamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of clothing (Bereishit 45:22)

After Yosef experiences an emotional reunion with his brothers, he bids them farewell as they head home to retrieve Yaakov Avinu and return to Egypt. In preparing to leave, the Pasuk describes how Yosef gave each of them gifts. However, there was one brother who stood out amongst the others:

לכלם נתן לאיש חליפות שמלת ולבנימן נתן שלש מאות כסף וחמש חליפת שמלת

And to each of them he gave sets of clothing; but to Binyamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of clothing. (Bereishis 45:22)

The Gemara (Megillah 16b), discussing this Pasuk, notes an obvious difficulty. Yosef suffered tremendously at the hands of his brothers due to their jealousy. Considering this, why would he now wish to show Binyamin extra favoritism by giving him additional changes of clothing and causing the brothers to once again become jealous?

The Gemara answers:

אמר רבי בנימין בר יפת רמז רמז לו שעתיד בן לצאת ממנו שיצא מלפני המלך בחמשה לבושי מלכות שנאמר ומרדכי יצא בלבוש מלכות תכלת...

Rav Binyamin bar Yefes said: Yosef wished to hint to Binyamin that a descendent of his [Mordechai in the days of the Purim miracle] would walk forth from before the king wearing five garments of royalty. As the Pasuk says, “And Mordechai left wearing royal garments made of turquoise…”

While this may explain the underlying reason Yosef gave Binyamin specifically five sets of clothing, it still does not answer the initial question. Why wouldn’t the brothers become envious of Binyamin receiving special treatment?

Perhaps examining the characteristic qualities of Binyamin will provide us with the answer. As is known, the Hebrew language is extremely rich in nature. While many words share a common definition, each of them adds in their own way a deeper and different dimension of meaning.

One of the words which describe a friend is chaverChaver, similar to the word chibur, meaning connection, implies a shared relationship between two people. However, there exists yet another word which defines a friend – yedidYedid implies an extremely deep and close relationship between two parties. In fact, this is reflected in the very spelling of the word ידיד. One who is a yedid walks hand in hand (יד-יד) with his friend. He takes his friend’s hand and stands by his side no matter the circumstance. Both during moments of deplorable tragedy and tremendous happiness, a yedid is always there to offer his warmest friendship wholeheartedly.

Of all the brothers, it is Binyamin who is given the appellation of yedid. As Moshe Rabbeinu offers his final blessings to the Jewish nation before his passing, he tells Binyamin:

לבנימין אמר ידיד ד' ישכן לבטח עליו חפף עליו כל היום ובין כתפיו שכן

Of Binyamin he said: May Hashem’s “beloved” dwell safely by Him; He hovers above him all day, and dwells between his shoulders (Devarim 33:12)

The Gemara (Sotah 37a) explains that the tribe of Binyamin showed extreme devotion – yedidus – to Hashem when the Jews faced the churning waters of the Red Sea. As the first tribe to fearlessly enter into the water, the tribe of Binyamin showed unwavering dedication to Hashem by surging forward without delay. It was this trait of selfless devotion to the word of G-d which epitomized Binyamin, a true yedid.

But Binyamin was not only a beloved yedid to Hashem; he was as well a yedid to Yosef. Of the seventy people the Torah delineates as having descended with Yaakov to Egypt, the ten children of Binyamin are enumerated. Interestingly enough, all of Binyamin’s ten sons, notes the Gemara (ibid. 36b), were named after Yosef. In particular, his eighth and ninth children – Muppim and Chuppim – whose names stem from the word chuppah, marriage canopy, were named in response to Yosef being unable to attend Binyamin’s wedding and Binyamin being unable to attend Yosef’s wedding.

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz zt”l writes that herein lays a glimpse into Binyamin’s exemplary character. While most people wish for all their family and friends to attend their own wedding and rejoice with them on their special day, how many people think of it in the reverse? Who is the individual who feels equally torn at being unable to be at someone else’s wedding on their special day? Only one who truly cares unconditionally about the other person. That was who Binyamin was.

Rav Avraham Grodzinski, late Mashgiach of the Slabodka yeshiva, was once staying at the home of family relatives in Warsaw. Noticing that he was in a particularly happy mood one evening, his relatives asked him for an explanation. “I have a student who is now getting married in Slabodka. All because I cannot physically be there doesn’t mean I cannot be there in spirit!” Such is the love and care of a yedid. He feels that his friend’s happiness is his own, and will rejoice miles away even if he physically cannot be present.

With this, we can answer our original question. Yosef was confident that giving Binyamin additional articles of clothing would not engender envy on part of the brothers because of who Binyamin was. Living with a mindset of a yedid and always carrying within his heart the burdens and happiness of others, Binyamin was a person who would not cause jealousy. In the words of the Orchos Tzaddikim, one of the great Mussar classics, “וכשהוא נאהב לכל אדם אז לא יקנאוהו ולא יחמדו משלו – When you are someone who is beloved by everybody, no one will be jealous or covet that which you have.” The brothers were not resentful of Binyamin because he was an individual who was beloved by all. They could feel happy for Binyamin because he was the type of person who felt happy for somebody else.

Yosef was thus perfectly able to communicate this portending message to Binyamin regarding his future descendent, Mordechai. No jealousy would be aroused and only love and harmony would continue to exist between them all. And in fact, Mordechai too shared this same quality of yedidus as his great-grandfather, Binyamin, did. As Haman led Mordechai throughout the city of Shushan, the Megillah states, “And the city of Shushan was elated and happy” (Esther 8:15). No one was jealous of Mordechai because, like Binyamin, he too was beloved by all.

This is the lesson of life. The true yedid is the one who carries his friend in his heart under all situations. During the worst and best of times, he stands at his side and never leaves. Such was the case with Binyamin, Mordechai and Rav Avraham Grodzinski. And the same can be true of all of us. We all can develop into yedidim, building and changing lives one small step at a time.

A Short Message From 
Rebbetzin Ivy Kalazan

Can you remember some of your most memorable moments over the last five years of your life? What were some of the times you felt tremendous joy and pleasure? Quite likely, you will not answer, “March 23, 2012; the steak dinner I ate.” The deeply pleasurable experiences that stay with us are not merely those physical moments that tingle our taste buds and senses. They are rather experiences that touch our inner selves.

Along these lines, it is interesting to note that the word in Hebrew for physicality or material is chomer. Examined closely, within the word chomer lies the word chor, meaning hole or empty space. This is because the natural state of earthy material is akin to a hole. After you are done filling it, it reverts to being an empty hole once again. You need not even do anything active for this to happen. You ate breakfast and remain sitting in the same chair. Five hours later, your stomach reminds you that you are hungry. This is true of all earthly needs. It is similar to a hole which undergoes a cycle of being empty, full, empty, full. Yet that is the very point. That which most meaningfully and significantly touches our inner dimension are experiences which transcend physical and ephemeral limitations. They are what bring us to true fulfillment, meaning and joy.

Picture of newsletter
100% free

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

Timely Torah insights, stories, and anecdotes from your favorite TorahAnytime speakers, delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Your email is safe with us. We don't spam.