Parsha sheet: Vayigash – Kings & Kingdom

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Why frame Binyomin?

In course of the end of last week’s Parsha and the beginning of this week’s Parsha We find that Yosef framed his beloved brother Binyomin with the crime of having stolen his goblet. Why frame Binyomin, his full brother, that he loves so much? One would have thought that he would want to frame Yehuda who was the one that advised to sell him in the first place! Why Binyomin??

10/11 free is Bad?!?

Yehuda himself initially suggested that they should all be slaves to Yosef. Yehuda puts up a fight when Yosef seemingly is making a very kind offer: only Binyomin will be a slave and the rest are free! Why is Yehuda okay with all being slaves to Yosef but when 10 out of 11 are free he puts up a fight?!?

Purim- Now?!?

After Yosef reveals himself to his brothers and they makeup he gives each one a change of clothes and to Binyomin five change of clothes. The gemara says (megilla 16 A-B) that Yosef was dropping a hint to the future that a descendants of Binyomin, Mordechai, will go out before the king with five Royal garments. Why is Yosef doing something to allude to that now?

Suffering for Millennia!

From the time Yosef sees his brothers he is overcome with emotion. The Torah tells us that several times he worked hard to overcome his emotions to keep up the charade of being an Egyptian totally unrelated to them. Why didn’t he just give in to his feelings of love and brotherhood and reveal himself from the beginning? If the objective was to bring the dreams to fruition it would have only happened quicker! As soon as they know it’s Yosef that would gladly bow and quickly bring Binyomin and the rest of the family also to bow to him! What was Yosef’s game? The answer to that question is intertwined with something fundamental that needs to be understood: We have been suffering for the sin of selling Yosef for centuries! Hundreds of years later the Nevi’im rebuke the Jewish people for it and even later during the second Beis Hamikdash and later we had the 10 “Harugei Malchus” who had to be killed to atone for that sin over a thousand years after it happened! We are still paying for it today! Why does the kidnapping and selling of a single Jew affect all the Jewish people for millennia?

The Conspiracy

Rashi (37:33) brings the Chazal that at the time when the brothers sold Yosef they made a pact between them and took an oath that no one will reveal to Yaakov what happened and they “joined Hashem in that pact” and that is the reason why a prophecy was not granted to Yaakov revealing what really happened! What does it mean that theyjoined Hashem in the pact” and Hashem actually “complied”? We may not be able to explain the detailed mechanics, but the conspiracy of the brothers was to permanently exsize Yosef from the Jewish people and create a “new type of Jewish people” with only 11 tribes! “They involved Hashem” means that they wanted to force the way Hashem runs the world to comply with a model of a Jewish people without Yosef! The Jewish people are the nation that the “Divine Presence” dwells amongst and they were seeking a way to cause the “Divine Presence” to be amongst them even without Yosef. The sin was a national sin which will require atonement across Generations! They tried to redefine our nation as a Jewish people without Yosef and all his future descendants. A national crime requires national-level atonement which spans Generations.

Yosef’s Predicament

The conspiracy came to fruition on some real level, the proof being that Hashem “complied” and did not reveal to Yaakov what had really happened. They had managed to oust Yosef from the Jewish Nation and Yosef was now in a terrible predicament: He lost his place amongst his people not just as a king but even as a regular citizen and family member! He couldn’t “just reveal himself”! If anything, revealing himself before the right time and conditions might be a setback that would prevent his reintegration! He had to find a way back in, and the way back in was through Binyomin!


Yaakov ascends to be “the chosen of the forefathers” that from him and onwards can begin a Jewish Nation. That’s why he gets an additional name that is actually our national name: Yisroel! When he defeated the angel of Eisov the angel promises he will get that name. Hashem gives him that name later in  beit e-l,  but the Torah does not call yaakov “Yisroel” until Binyomin is born! Anyone looking at the Torah with an analytical eye will see that Yaakov is only called “Yisroel” not just when he’s in his high spiritual state but also when he has all of his children. In this week’s Parsha when he is informed that Yosef is still alive and “Yaakov’s spirit is revived” immediately afterwards  “and Yisroel said….” because he now had all 12 of his sons who are the 12 tribes of Israel. Binyomin is the tribe that “closes the circuit” and makes the “nation”. The 12 tribes plus Yaakov is equal to 13 numerical value of “Echad” the one nation. Until Binyomin is born its pieces of a puzzle. Binyomin closes the national circuit and hence the name “Yisroel” which is the national name can go into effect.

Beis HaMikdash & Malchus

With this we understand the depth of why the Beis HaMikdash is in the portion of Binyomin. The Rambam stresses (Hilchos Beis Habechira 1:1, sefer HaMitzvos Aseh 20)) that the Mitzvah of building a Beis HaMikdash is not only to have a place for the Divine service but also a place for all the Jewish people to ascend and gather with the Mitzvah of “Aliyah l’regel”. The Rambam is saying that one of the functions of a Beis HaMikdash  is to be a place for all the Jewish people to unite! With this my Rebbe Maran HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Weinberg ZT”L Rosh Yeshivas Ner Yisroel explained why the book of Shmuel opens up with a prologue of Elkanah doing the Mitzva of “Aliyah l’regel”. Chazal tell us he was a stickler for the Mitzvah and used to take the scenic route there to encourage others to do it! My Rebbe explained that this is not a prologue for literary purposes, this actually has to do with the essence of the book of Shmuel! Shmuel is the book of setting up the kings of the Jewish people. The Jewish people ascending to the Beis HaMikdash Mount three times a year is the unity of the nation. The two go hand-in-hand: the centrality of our people is “Kingdom” and a kingdom needs a king. The theme of everyone ascending together as a unified Nation three times a year is a concept directly linked to the idea of setting up a king to rule the unified Nation. With this we could understand why Dovid Hamelech was the one that desired so badly to build a Beis HaMikdash and it subsequently was built by shlomo Hamelech and the Rambam is of the opinion that Moshiach will build the third Beis HaMikdash. Furthermore, the Rambam opens up the laws of Kings with the famous Chazal that there are three Mitzvahs that the Jewish people are commanded to do upon entry to land of Israel: to appoint a king, to annihilate Amalek, and to build the Beis HaMikdash. These three ideas are intertwined, they all have to do with establishing the Jewish Kingdom. The Beis HaMikdash is the kingdom and a kingdom need a king and our national enemy  Amalek has to be rid of, if this Kingdom will endure. Binyomin is that tribe that closes the circuit and that’s why the Beis HaMikdash which is the centrality of our people has to be in his portion. Since Binyomin is the “kingdom” that’s we can temporarily have a king from Binyomin as was King “Shaul”. The word “Shaul” literally means “borrowed” – he was a king on borrowed time! The tribes to provide  kings to run the Kingdom on a permanent basis is the ongoing competition between Yosef and Yehuda.


Yosef knows his situation. He is outside the Jewish people and he also knows the only one way he can get back in is with Binyomin. This tribe that represents the Jewish Kingdom he has to find his connection to Binyomin to reenter the Jewish Collective. To reveal himself prematurely may cause the bothers to run the other way and ruin his it attempts to get back in. He has to manipulate the situation so Binyomin is brought down to Mitzrayim and after that he has to find a connection to him. The “Beis Yaakov” of Ishbitza  explain that Yosef  putting his vessel in Binyomin’s bag is investing power and influence and indeed with the the discovery of Yosef’s vessel in Binyomin’s possession Yosef wants to claim him as a slave. This is all a “setup” to get connected to Binyomin! The amazing thing is that the brothers initially are okay with Binyomin being Yosef’s slave, provided that they are slaves together with him! Yehuda objects when Yosef says he’s keeping Binyomin only and sets the rest free. Why? They did not want to repeat their mistake of selling Yosef out and establishing  a Jewish people without Binyomin! They knew that had no chance of working! Binyomin is the final link that holds it all together. If they’re all slaves together, then the nation stays together in exile, like we were all slaves in Egypt. If Binyomin is separated from the Jewish people and the tribes go up to Israel without him, that will be the collapse of the Jewish Nation! They were not willing for that to happen! Yosef predicted that that’s how things will play out. He needed the brothers to express their desire to stay together either as free men or as slaves but not tolerate a situation where one tribe is separated from the rest of the collective. With that they were atoning for the sin of selling Yosef out and only then Yosef could find his way back in! When the brothers realize the error of their ways and do not repeat the mistake and will do anything to keep the nation together that’s how Binyomin could serve as the link between Yosef and the Jewish Collective. If Binyomin would have been severed from the Jewish Collective he would have not served the purpose of getting Yosef back in. Binyomin can only get Yosef back in if the brothers are determined to hold things together around Binyomin  only then Binyomin is the passage way back into Jewish Collective.

Running for King

Yosef was going for the gold! He didn’t just want to get himself reinstated as another Jew, he wants  to be reinstated as king! The tug-of-war between Yehuda and Yosef over Binyomin is who actually gets to be king! The tug-of-war over Binyomin who represents the Beis HaMikdash remains the point of contention between these two kings of ours. Centuries in the future the kingdom split between the kingdom of Yehuda led by Rechavam son of Shlomo and the Kingdom of Israel  led by Yeravam who was a descendant of Yosef. What caused the rift to be final and irreconcilable was the contention over the Beis HaMikdash. Yeravan could not suffer the fact that Rechavam would be the only King allowed to sit in the “Azarah”. Seemingly the tug of war was won by Yehuda as when the kingdom split Binyomin stuck with Yehuda and these are the two tribes that we know today, aside from Levi. However, there was indeed a time when Yosef controlled Binyomin and ran the kingdom – Purim!

Purim- Kingdom in Exile

The Jewish people were in exile, which is a national crisis as we are no longer a sovereign nation. Our national enemy Haman, descended from Amalek, tells Achashveirosh openly: “there is one nation that is scattered and divided…” which is the opposite of being a United Nation. Hashem has His Ways and Mordechai and Esther who were descended from the tribe of Binyomin actually found their way into an Achashveirosh’s palace. Esther is called throughout the megillah “Esther HaMalka Esther the Queen and she indeed knew how to ‘twist and turn’ Achashveirosh in favor of the Jewish people. This is the secret of how the “Shechina” which used to dwell in the Beis HaMikdash is with us in exile and from within exile manipulates the sovereign Kings to do Hashem’s bidding. There was a process for Esther to get that power of “Kingdom within exile”. When she hears of the decree she commands Mordechai to gather all the Jews in shushan”. The Maharal explains that with the “gathering” she reawaken our national unity by gathering us together in communal prayer. After 3 days of this: “on the third day Esther adorned herself with “Malchus” – Kingdom”.  The Gemara says that means Ruach haKodesh as this was the real Divine attribute of “Malchus”-Kingdom from which comes Ruach HaKodesh. She managed to awaken the attribute of “Malchus” of the Jewish people and with that she goes to the king and starts manipulating him to bring about Haman’s downfall. This gets completed months later in the month of Adar when the Jewish people allowed to take control as if they are The sovereign Nation! The verb that’s used constantly is “Nikhalu”-the Jews “banded together” – because it was the power of our national unity that was awakened within the exile caused us to triumph as if we were to sovereign Nation at the time! and

Yosef & Adar

This is the power of the Majesty of Yosef that he invested in Binyomin – The power to set up a kingdom in exile! Yosef is our “King of foreign affairs”. He goes out to Egypt and sanctifies Hashem’s Name there and paves the way for the Jewish people to survive in exile. The future role of Moshiach ben Yosef is to lead us out of the exile and take us through the Messianic wars against the outside Nations. The story of Purim is setting up our sovereignty within exile and that is the power of Yosef invested in Binyomin. Yosef finds his way back into the Jewish people through his connection to Binyomin and he gets a role as king that gave us the power to have Kingdom within exile! That’s what’s represented by the “King” adorning Mordechai with royal garments and this is what is precedented in this week’s Parsha: Yosef adorns Binyomin with those five garments – setting up the precedent of having Kingdom even within exile. This was fully actualized in the month of Adar which has “Mazal Dagim (pices)” and Yosef is blessed by Yaakov to multiply like “fish” and just like Yosef subdivides into two tribes of Menashe and Ephraim, so also Adar subdivides into Adar Rishon and Adar Sheini – that’s when the power of king Yosef comes out and rules Binyomin- the Kingdom of Yisroel.

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