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A Revealing Message

By: Ms. Avichayil Arfe

In this week's parsha, Yosef finally reunites with his father and the entire family goes down to Egypt. After Yosef reveals himself to his brothers, he tells them to go to Yaakov and bring him down to Egypt, and he sends wagons full of fine foods and items to Yaakov. The Torah says that when Yaakov sees the wagons, he "gets a new spirit." (45:27). Why would Yaakov get an uplifted spirit? Rashi answers that the wagons were a coded message from Yosef to Yaakov that he was really alive. The wagons, agalot, symbolized the Eglah Arufah, the last Halachic discussion that Yaakov and Yosef had before they were separated. 

A question one may ask is what is so special about the eglah arufah? Why was this the last thing they were learning? A simple answer is that it is what they were up to in their learning. It could have been anything, but this is where they stopped before Yosef left. 

Rav Zevin explains that the eglah arufah teaches a few messages that Yaakov needed to tell Yosef before he was sent out on his journey to his brothers. One of the messages is that the eglah arufah teaches us that there are different ways to provide for a person. There is the physical food and escort, which protects a person physically, as well as the spiritual food and escort--the spiritual protection of Torah knowledge and dedication to Torah life. A person can be in the most dangerous of spiritual environments, but only with the proper spiritual guidance and protection can he succeed. When Yaakov sent Yosef on his journey to see his brothers, he knew he was sending him into a dangerous environment, one in which he would have to deal with his jealous brothers. However, what Yaakov didn't know was that he was providing Yosef with the tools he would need to survive in Egypt. Yosef was entering the impure capital of the world and he needed the spiritual strength to get through the tribulations of Egypt. 

When it was time to send back a sign of life to his father, Yosef sends back the agalot. He is telling his father that he has used the spiritual protection he received from him, and has not given up his Jewish identity. 

We should take this lesson and learn from it. Before entering a dangerous environment, whether a physical or spiritual sense, we must take the proper precautions to make sure we emerge unscathed. Only a strong devotion to Torah lifestyle can protect us from the spiritual dangers around us, a lesson we learned earlier this week from the miracles of Chanukah.

Shabbat Shalom 





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