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Haftarah Discussions: Vayigash

“Now you, son of man, take yourself one wooden tablet and write upon it, ‘For Judah and the Children of Israel, his comrades.’ Take another wooden tablet and write upon it, ‘For Joseph, the wooden tablet of Ephraim, and all the Children of Israel, his comrades.’ And bring close to yourself, one to the other, like a single wooden tablet, and they shall become one in your hand.” (Ezekiel 37:16-17)

I. Two Complete Individuals
God begins by asking Ezekiel to take two whole and separate pieces of wood. Neither one needed the other to be complete. Despite, in fact, because of their being independently whole, they were able to join in a new single entity. This is much greater than two incomplete beings joining. This is a very great level in Service of God. (Michtam L’David, Vayigash)

We often speak of marriage as a way for two incomplete individuals to become whole. The Michtam L’David is telling us that when two complete and healthy human beings recognize that each will be greater as half of a new entity, and they are willing to join, they will achieve a much greater marriage.

Is there a way that two people, already married, can achieve this higher level of relationship?

II. Strength For The Future

The two wooden tablets represent Mashiach ben David and Mashiach ben Yosef. Why will the two Mashiachs come from these two tribes? Because neither tribe participated in the sin of the spies. (Moharin ben Levi, Ruth)

Yosef and Yehuda, in the story of this week’s portion, developed the ability to confront others and fight for what they believe. They used that strength to confront the other spies and the Children of Israel.

It is that power of confrontation that will empower them to lead Israel to redemption.

Most of us have experienced confrontation as a negative. However, this thought teaches us that there is a positive and constructively empowering way to confront. How can we apply the lessons of the confrontation between Yehuda and Yosef to learning positive confrontation?

III. Different Approaches

Why did God command Ezekiel to take two separate pieces of wood, rather than writing both names on one piece? God wanted to teach us that each person has his or her own individual strengths and a unique path to God. Ezekiel joins the two together to teach us that no one path is better than the other. We can only be complete when we recognize and acknowledge the paths of others. (Beit Yaakov Ishbitz)

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