In Parashat Vayigash, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt to ask for help in a time of famine. However, they do not recognize that the ruler they’ve approached is Joseph, since they thought he was dead, but actually he is now ruling alongside the Pharaoh in Egypt. Joseph demands that they leave their youngest brother, Benjamin, as a slave. Another brother, Judah, asks that Joseph take him instead, protecting his youngest brother. It is then that Joseph reveals his true identity and asks if their father, Jacob, is still alive. The brothers bring Jacob to Egypt where he reunites with his long lost son. Joseph asks for a piece of land for his family to settle on—which they are granted—and they prosper in wealth, fertile land, and family togetherness.
This portion, which highlights the importance of family looking out for one another, comes at an apt time where many students are heading home to see their own families. The emphasis placed on family in this passage is an important thing for us all to remember. The campus Jewish community often serves as a family-like group for Jewish students who are away from their homes. Anything we can do to be present, encourage, support, and look out for one another, the way that Joseph’s family did, is a worthwhile and important part of building our campus community to be a home away from home.
Susan Becker is the Jewish Life Director at Hillel at Temple University.