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Haggadah-Random Thoughts & Ideas II

I found these ideas in a notebook. They are not mine, and I have no idea whose they are; but they are wonderful: Why was Pharaoh so excited at learning the news of the brothers? It is understandable that he might want the young people, but why did he say first, “Bring your father?” Certainly, he did not have in mind the creation of a moshav z’kaynim (a home for the elderly). It almost seems to indicate, “If Jacob comes you are welcome; if not then you are not welcome.”


Joseph must have spoken much to Pharaoh many times about his father, about life at home, and Pharaoh was enchanted and enlightened. Pharaoh had great understanding of spirituality, and he understood that Joseph’s greatness was rooted in his father. Pharaoh felt that the “fertile soil” must be in Egypt or he would lose all the talent.

Later, the mourning for Jacob was not merely ceremonial, but they felt they had lost a truly great man. They felt that something very great had been lost, and it was called the “Mourning of Egypt.” Also, with Joseph and Jacob there was a movement in Egypt towards morality and high ideals in addition to strength and might.

Later in history with “vayakam melech chadash” the arising of a new king, there was a revolution against the teachings and principles.

Why did Pharaoh instruct that the wagons were for the wives and children (other articles), but for Jacob the Torah states “unsosem” (and you shall carry him). This statement makes a great spiritual person of Pharaoh. Later, in the desert during the wanderings of the Israelites, we find that the children of Gershon and Merrari used animals or wagons to carry various parts of the Ohel Moed (the Tabernacle). The Holy Ark was carried on the shoulders! The connection is that if an ark had to be carried, a great human must also be carried!

Rashi tells us that when Jacob saw the agaloth (wagons), his heart revived because Joseph left his home to visit the brothers, they were studying the section of the Torah from the conclusion of Sedra Shoftim which states that if a slain person is found without city limits and the murderer is unknown, the elders of the nearby cities come out and measure the proximity of the slain to the nearest city. Then the elders of that city bring a heifer (never used for work) into that rough terrain, break its neck and wash their hands over the heifer declaring, “Our hands have not shed the blood.” Do we not know that the elders, the most highly respected, did not kill the stranger?

It means, however, that a stranger, an unknown poor man came into the city and was sent away without lodging, without food, almost without regard. Had he been regarded and provided for, then perhaps he would not have been slain. If such a man was refused shelter, the heads (roshim) of the city were responsible. They did shed blood indirectly. (Joseph, when he sent his brothers to inform Jacob that he, Joseph was alive, informed them to use the word agaloth as a key word and Jacob would remember what they studied together and would believe.)

The parsha deals with Jewish responsibility. It is almost frightening how the Torah demands responsibility from a leader. It demands not only direct action, but indirect action as well. Jacob knew by holy spirit (ruach hakodesh) that Joseph would be a leader of unlimited power, and that is why he studied with him this section. It taught him how to be great, and in turn, Joseph informed his father, “I have never misused my power.” 

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