PARSHAT VAYIGASH: WE SHOULDN’T MEASURE SUCCESS BY FAME, FORTUNE, OR POWER
For the eternal merit to the soul of my grandfather Yitzchak Aziz Ben Mashallah Hacohen A”H
When Yosef ’s brothers returned home and informed Yaakov that he was still alive and was the viceroy in Egypt, Yaakov’s first response was one of disbelief. However, when he saw the wagons that Yosef sent, Yaakov became convinced that they were telling the truth, which is difficult to understand. His sons surely knew that the subject of Yosef ’s whereabouts and well-being was not a joking matter. Why would Yaakov suspect them of lying to him about such a solemn topic, and if he did not trust them, how did seeing the wagons change his opinion in a way that the clear testimony of his 11 sons could not?
Rav Chaim Zvi Senter suggests that Yaakov never doubted their assertion that Yosef was still physically alive, but he was initially skeptical about Yosef ’s spiritual condition. When Yaakov heard his children report that Yosef was serving as the viceroy of Egypt, a cesspool of immorality, the Yosef that he cherished and longed for was dead in his eyes. He hadn’t invested so much effort to transmit his Torah knowledge to Yosef (Rashi 37:3) for him to become the leader of a country that was estranged from Torah and mitzvot.
Subsequently, when Yaakov saw the wagons that Yosef sent, he understood the hidden message that Yosef was giving him. Rashi explains that the Agalot-wagons symbolized that Yosef still remembered the last subject they studied together -Eglah Arufah (broken-necked heifer, Devarim 21:1-9). When Yaakov realized that Yosef was still a fully religious Torah scholar, living his life in consonance with the values and priorities his father imparted to him, Yaakov’s spirit was revived. Yaakov teaches us that as religious Jews, we should not measure success by fame, fortune, or power. Although the society around us attempts to influence us to determine a person’s worth by his acquisitions and professional achievements, we learn from the Avot (Patriarchs) that this is not the Torah viewpoint and should not be our aspiration in life, for true nachat comes from children who observe Hashem’s mitzvot and establish homes in which spiritual pursuits remain paramount.