This week’s Torah reading, Vayigash, shows us Joseph’s climactic reunion with his brothers. As a leader in Egypt, Joseph is unrecognizable to his brothers, and on hearing of Jacob, his aging father, Joseph breaks down and reveals his identity to his brothers.
The brothers stand dumbfounded as Joseph peppers them with questions about his father. Never once does he ask why no one came to look for him or if his father found out the truth about what happened. Joseph inquires after his father’s health and then demands that the brothers bring Jacob to Egypt.
When we look at Joseph’s instructions to his brothers, we find an interesting comment that seems out of place. Joseph tells his brothers to bring Jacob to Egypt, and then says they should tell him of all the honours Egypt has given Joseph, his high station, and the grandeur they have witnessed. We’re suddenly aware of the human moment that speaks to us all: Joseph is trying to impress Jacob.
With all of Joseph’s accomplishments, it is most important to him that his father be made aware. Every child wants to bring a moment of pride to their parent, to hear the praise of accomplishment, to know they have taken a step forward. Joseph has sustained hundreds of thousands through a famine, but still feels the need to know that his father, Jacob, is proud of him.
It’s these human moments that speak so strongly to us —we have all stood where Joseph stands. As adults, we learn to measure our own accomplishments, to find the moments to feel proud of ourselves. As children, we’ve all watched our parents watching us, and learned to recognize that feeling when we see pride in their eyes. It is the touchstone we all need to build self-confidence –we then learn how to feel proud of ourselves.
Part of us will always indulge the child within who watches our parent for that moment. It is timeless, as we connect with the memories of our parents for that same moment, even long after they’ve gone.
I’d like to wish everyone a sweet and peaceful Shabbat –our Jewish time to regroup, rest, and reinvigorate.