With Yosef’s brothers accused of theft, Yehuda steps forward to ask Yosef for Binyamin’s release, offering himself instead. As a result, Yosef finally is convinced his brothers are different from when they cast him into the pit & he reveals his true identity. The brothers are ashamed; Yosef consoles them, telling them it was all part of Hashem’s plan. He sends them back to
Yakov with a message to come live in Goshen. When Yakov recognizes the truth, his spirit is revived.
Yakov & his family set out for Goshen. Hashem tells Yakov in a night vision not to fear going down to Egypt, because there G-d will establish Bnei Yisrael as a great nation. The Torah lists Yakov’s offspring: 70 souls descend to Egypt.

Yosef reunites with his father after 22 years separation. He embraces Yakov & cries; Yakov says Shma. Yakov blesses Paro. Yosef instructs the populace that in return for grain, all (except the priests) must give everything to Paro, including themselves as slaves. Bnei Yisrael settles in Goshen & multiplies greatly.

Haftora is Yechezkel 37: “Vayhi D’Var Hashem.”

The Fast of 10 Tevet (this Friday, Dec. 25) marks the start of the siege of Yerushalayim ending in the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash. It is also a general fast for victims of the Shoa whose date of death is unknown. The fast begins (in
Ra’anana) at 5:22 am & ends at 5:02 pm.


The saga of Yosef & his brothers comes to a dramatic denouement in our Parsha. As compelling as this story is in its own right, it also has critical ramifications for the future, as it plays a central role in the Exodus, as well as in the Geula – then as well as in the future.

In the course of his 22 years away from home, Yosef undergoes an amazing transformation – from impetuous dreamer to “Tzadik.” I suggest one key to his growth is his ability to Listen. As a teenager, Yosef loved to talk. He spread negative
rumors about his brothers, he talked about his grandiose plans for the future, he recounted his dreams to anyone & everyone who would listen. His “motor-mouth” led him into disfavor, & then into disaster.

But then he is cast into the pits. There, he takes the time to listen to the dreams of the baker & butler, eventually leading to his freedom from prison. He then listens to Paro’s dream, not just hearing, but perceiving what is so important to Paro – Egypt’s economy & status as a world power. And so Yosef alone rightly “reads” the dreams.

The ability to listen – to take an interest in others & hear their pleas & pain – is a wonderful quality that is essential for leadership. When Yosef’s brothers finally confess their crime, they say, “We sinned when we did not listen to our brother Yosef as he cried out to us from the pit.” And when Shlomo HaMelech (in last week’s Haftora) asks G-d for just one thing, do you know what it is? Not wisdom, as most people think, but rather a “Lev Shomaya, a listening heart! (Look it up in the beginning of Melachim I).

Once, a town invited two Rabbis to interview for the position of Rav. One of the candidates was distinguished, well-trained, polished & erudite; the other pretty much of a shlemeil – shirt not tucked in, unprepared, a make-it -up-as-you-go-along kind of guy. They were each asked to deliver a drasha for Shabbat, & checked into a local inn.

The first Rabbi, though already quite prepared, spent Friday night in his room rehearsing aloud his masterful Drasha, over & over. The other fellow had nothing whatsoever in mind. But, to his good fortune, the inn’s walls were thin, & the shlemeil could hear the sermon from the adjoining room. And so, in the morning, he innocently asked if he could go first in shul. “You always are  profound and witty,”  pleaded. “I’m not in your league. But maybe if I go first, that will help me!”

The rabbi magnanimously agreed, but imagine his shock when he heard the shlepper give the very same drasha he had so carefully prepared the night before! But the rabbi was a quick thinker. As he rose to speak, he told the shul: “You know,
it’s important to  speak well, as my colleague just did. But it’s even MORE important for your Rav to a good listener. So, to prove I know how to listen well, I will now repeat the drasha you just heard – word for word!”

He got the job, of course.


This Friday is the Fast of 10 Tevet, the shortest Fast in our calendar. It commemorates the siege of Yerushalayim by the Babylonians, which led to the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash. It is the only Fast day that is commemorated on a Friday,
rather than pushed off to another day. This is somewhat puzzling, because it is problematic that we enter Shabbat in a state of fasting, rather than invigorated and strong. One sage quotes the pasuk in Yechezkel (24:2), in relation to Asara
B’Tevet’s event, that it occurred “b’etzem haYom hazeh,” exactly on that date, implying that it can’t be changed. While there are those who recommend taking in Shabbat earlier and so eating earlier, the majority opinion is to break the
Fast with Kiddush as soon as the stars come out (which is 5:02 in Ra’anana).

Written by Rabbi Weiss