Year’s End or Beginning?

Friday, 30 December, 2022 - 5:59 am

As we wind down the secular/fiscal year, we look back at what transpired. What worked and what didn’t work.

For some people, checking the gains and losses in the stock market or personal businesses is the primary focus. For others, it’s school grades.

Luckily, as time elapses, it also moves forward – with next year to look forward to.

There is one investment, however, that is guaranteed to succeed.

The investment of time we have given to others is an eternal gift – to them and to ourselves.

During the recent blizzard in Buffalo we have heard heroic and tragic stories. The efforts invested to help others will never go to waste.

And, this helps us understand a point in this week’s parsha.


In Vayigash we discover a long-held secret finally revealed.  The viceroy of Egypt is none other than Joseph, the son of Jacob.  Once Joseph divulges his true identity to his brothers (who had previously sold him into slavery), he entreats them to immediately bring their father down to Egypt.  The urgency is palpable in his words, “Hasten and go up to my father, and say to him, 'So said your son, Joseph: "God has made me a lord over all the Egyptians. Come down to me, do not tarry” (Bereishit/Genesis 45:9).

The obvious question raised by many commentaries is: If Joseph was viceroy of Egypt, why didn’t he send word to his father much earlier? It is clear from his statements that he really missed his father and was very concerned about him.  Why wait all these years?


Joseph undoubtedly realized that his “disappearance” had caused his father much agony. And he also must have understood that it was a heavy burden that his brothers carried continuously.

If Joseph simply informed his father of his existence and whereabouts, it would likely produce a great deal of embarrassment to his brothers, perhaps causing a rift between father and sons.  Even if he simply let the information “leak out” he would cause them profound shame.  Joseph took into account not only his own feelings, but also the feelings of others.  He did not seek to gratify only himself and his father (who had assumed he was dead and had hopefully moved on), but – more importantly – to prevent emotional harm to others.

Only after his brothers clearly repented for their misdeed – demonstrated in their dialogue, and more emphatically in their actions of standing by Benjamin – did Joseph realize that the time had come to disclose his identity.  After they had made amends, the revelation would no longer cause such great shame.  It would not be a cloud over their heads, for they were no longer the sinners associated with such a crime.

Now, indeed, Joseph exclaims the urgency of reuniting with their father.


Taking others into account is always a winning strategy.

And, it helps us look forward, instead of backward. 

Comments on: Year’s End or Beginning?

Elizabeth Csillag wrote...

I would would like to expand "Taking others into account"
Before taking action in any situation, one should be cognizant of how our actions or inactions may affect others positively or negatively.
Sometimes it is better to be selfless in the full scheme of our actions!
Joseph considered others and was ok with being selfless for the benefit of others.