Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Dael Cohen sent me the following simple yet wonderful thought: “Many times in life everything seems stuck. In our Torah portion, too, parashat VaYigash, it seems that there’s no way out. The brothers find themselves opposite an all-powerful, unbending Egyptian ruler who demands to keep one of the brothers. The matter becomes increasingly complex and it is unclear if there is any hope. In our own lives, we often find ourselves in difficult and enervating negotiations. It could involve someone trying to get a particular job, a soldier asking to be admitted to a squad commander training course, or even someone who has been judged guilty standing before a judge. You feel blocked, surrounded by walls of rigid procedures, laws, and constraints. What should you do? Yehuda teaches that your heart is the key. ‘VaYigash Yehuda’, meaning ‘And Yehuda approached’. He simply approaches Yosef, the Egyptian ruler, and lays out his whole story in complete detail, including his own perceptions and intricate feelings. He pulls off the veil so nothing remains hidden, speaks with fluid sincerity, shares his feelings, and is not ashamed to shout and display his distress. And then, the unbelievable happens: Yosef cannot restrain himself and reveals that the unbending Egyptian ruler is, in fact, their lost brother. The brothers reunite and everything changes for the better. When people begin to speak the truth, with sincerity – heart meets heart and they emerge from an atmosphere of harsh judgement into an atmosphere of kindness. Suddenly, walls melt and fall, with flexibility and possibility taking their place.
Try this at home. Shabbat shalom.”