You Did Not Send Me Here - ויגש

Thursday, 21 December, 2023 - 10:10 pm

You Did Not Send Me Here 

The brothers were startled. It turned out that the all-powerful viceroy of Egypt, who they were standing before, was their brother Joseph, who they sold as a slave to Egypt twenty-two years earlier. After many months of hiding his identity, Joseph could not hold back anymore and declared: "I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?" Understandably, "his brothers could not answer him because they were startled by his presence."

Joseph then sought to reassure them, as the Torah describes: 

Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come closer to me," and they drew closer. And he said, "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. (Genesis 45:4)

But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that God sent me before you. (45:5)

And now, you did not send me here, but God, and He made me a father to Pharaoh, a lord over all his household, and a ruler over the entire land of Egypt. (45:8)

In each of these verses, Joseph says something different. In the first verse, Joseph tells them that they sold him into Egypt ("I am Your brother Joseph whom you sold into Egypt"). In the second verse, Joseph reiterates that they sold him; he, however, requests that they should not be sad or troubled because something good has emerged from his sale ("let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that God sent me"). The thirst verse, however, is the most surprising: Joseph tells them, "You did not send me here, but God". How could Joseph possibly say that they did not send him, which contradicts the facts of the story, as well as his very own statements earlier when he tells them that they sold him to Egypt?  

The word for "sent" implies that there is a purpose, intention, and reason. The Hebrew word "shalach", "sent", is the same word for "mission" or "emissary". Joseph told his brothers that, indeed, they sold him into Egypt, which is a factual statement, yet they did not "send" him to Egypt. They did not define the reason and the meaning of his stay in Egypt. "Only G-d sent me here", he tells them. The reason I am here is to fulfill the Divine plan to save the family as well as save and impact all of Egypt. 

Joseph's words are a lesson to each of us. There is meaning and purpose In any circumstance we find ourselves in. We have a Divine mission to infuse holiness and positivity wherever we may be. Yes, various people and experiences may have caused us to be in a specific space, yet that does not define the meaning of our experience. We were "sent" by G-d with a mission and purpose to bring life and spiritual sustenance to ourselves and our surroundings. 


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