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Weekly D'rash Vayigash

We like to say that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Our Torah portion for this week demonstrates this in the life of Joseph. This week, Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers and explains that God was involved in all of their decisions even though they did not realize it and had acted out of bad motives. Because of their ill-devised scheme, Joseph ends up in Egypt and saves the day. In like manner, Yeshua is persecuted by his brethren, arrested, wrongly convicted, and executed. The result is judgement of sin and the resurrection.

Throughout Genesis, God has been moving his agenda forward through the decisions of imperfect human beings. The story of Joseph is the culmination of all that has taken place thus far and points us forward to what is about take place in Exodus. It also serves a model for every generation. No one really knows exactly what God is doing in every moment. But, what we do know is that he is involved. We also know that whatever is happening has meaning and purpose, even if we cannot figure it out.

This understanding is helpful at this time of year. The holidays and new year can be quite challenging to most of us on some level. Those challenges come in the form of what I call the three "R"s: Remorse, Regret and Resignation. Remorse is an emotion associated with feelings of guilt, shame, and self-condemnation over past actions. Regret is the feeling of disappointment over past opportunities not taken or wrong choices made. Resignation in this context refers to giving up hope for a better future.

When we realize that there is purpose in everything and that God is always moving history forward, we cannot only endure but thrive—even if we are experiencing the consequences of poor choices. We do not compare the past with the present or future. We live in the present knowing that our hope is always in God. The brothers of Joseph were experiencing the three "R"s. The words of Joseph to them in Genesis 45:4–5 alleviated some of the remorse, regret and resignation, and filled them with hope.

If you are experiencing some of these feelings these days, may God lift the cloud over you as you press on and keep moving forward. God redeems the past with new opportunities! A comforting Scripture in this regard is Lamentations 3:21–26, “This I recall to my mind; Therefore, I have hope. The LORD’S acts of loyal love indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion’, says my soul, therefore I have hope in Him. The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD”.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Howard

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