18 December 2015
In this week’s parasha – Vayigash – Joseph is reunited with his brothers after many years apart. Before revealing his identity to them, Joseph tricks them into believing he wants to hold Benjamin hostage in Egypt while his brothers go and get their father Jacob. Unexpectedly, Judah steps forward and offers himself as a slave to the Egyptian ruler instead. Upon witnessing his brothers’ loyalty, Joseph excuses the guards and tearfully reveals his true identity – he cries so loudly that he is heard throughout the palace.
What changes! The same brothers who once deceived their father by claiming Joseph was killed are now unable to hurt him. The same Joseph who had stoically withheld his feelings for so long now releases them in a torrent of emotion. Many commentators discuss the theme of reconciliation in this week’s reading. But perhaps the fundamental motif is willingness to change. There is certainly a long and painful history between these brothers – but their maturity, willingness and ability to change lead them to an extraordinary point of reconciliation.
Change is most certainly on our minds this week as we prepare for the year 2016. The volunteers and professional staff at Federation are winding down the 2015 annual campaign with the desire to make positive changes in our community. We want to help build an even stronger, more vibrant and more welcoming community locally and abroad. We want to help more Holocaust survivors who are living under the poverty line and provide more children with quality Jewish education. We want to help ensure that at-risk populations in Israel and around the world receive the services they need. However – to make the biggest impact – we need your help. If you have not yet made your 2015 gift to the Federation, please click here to do so today.
In this week’s parasha, we learn that willingness to change is a critical prerequisite to positive growth. So before we enter 2016 with promises to begin that new diet and exercise program – or anything else for that matter – let’s first consider our willingness to change. Let’s consider how willing we are to be better, stronger and a part of building a thriving future. Once we’ve declared ourselves ready, anything is possible.