Below is a collection of Parashat Vayigash resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1: If you’re moving to a new country with a different culture and language, how can you best be sure to keep your Jewish identity? What are the most important Jewish institutions to build first? When the Jewish people go down to Egypt, Judah is sent ahead, “L’horot” to show or to teach. The commentator Rashi cites a Midrash which explains that he is sent ahead to set up schools for the study of Torah. Do you agree that a Jewish school should be the most important to set up first in a new place?
Look inside the text (Bereshit 46:28),
וְאֶת יְהוּדָה שָׁלַח לְפָנָיו אֶל יוֹסֵף לְהוֹרֹת לְפָנָיו גּשְׁנָה וַיָּבֹאוּ אַרְצָה גּשֶׁן – They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves; for the Egyptians could not dine with the Hebrews, since that would be abhorrent to the Egyptians.
Question #2: Should certain people receive special privileges above others? What about community leaders who do so much for others? In Parashat Vayigash, Joseph is the leader of the Egyptian economy. He buys the land from the people in exchange for food, but the priests are exempt and can keep their land. In Judaism, priests do not receive an inheritance of the land. Should priests be receiving these special privileges, in your opinion?
Look inside the text (Bereshit 47:22),
רַק אַדְמַת הַכֹּהֲנִים לֹא קָנָה כִּי חֹק לַכֹּהֲנִים מֵאֵת פַּרְעֹה וְאָכְלוּ אֶת חֻקָּם אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָהֶם פַּרְעֹה עַל כֵּן לֹא מָכְרוּ אֶת אַדְמָתָם – Only the land of the priests he did not take over, for the priests had their own land from Pharaoh, and they lived off the land which Pharaoh had made to them; therefore they did not sell their land.
Question #3: In Parashat Vayigash, Joseph supports his family while the Egyptians starve and sell everything they own for the food he provides them. Is it ethical to provide for people of privilege while others are left out? How do we balance our responsibilities to our loved ones with our general responsibilities to all of society? When there are limited resources, how do we decide who gets access to them?
Question #4: Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and presents a grand plan to save the family. He repeatedly states that he bears no grudge against them for their actions. What he does not offer, however, is an apology for the ordeal that he put them through while being harsh, holding Simeon captive, and threatening to imprison Benjamin. Why is an apology important? Can we move beyond the hurt when there is no apology? What kinds of responses to an apology could be beneficial in rebuilding a relationship?