Vayigash 5779

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Careful judgement[1]

ויאמר אליהם אל תרגזו בדרך
…[Yosef] said to [his brothers]: “Do not quarrel on the road”[2]

After Yosef revealed to his brothers that he was now the viceroy of Egypt, he requested they bring their father from the land of Canaan. The seven-year famine was still ongoing, and their family was starving. Yosef had secured enough food to last through the famine, and was offering his family safe haven in Egypt. Before they departed on their journey, Yosef warned them against quarreling on the road. The simple meaning of the verse[3] is that Yosef was concerned that his brothers would discuss their sale of Yosef as a slave. Now that Yosef was in a position of power, and he was their savior, they might argue about whose fault it was that Yosef was sold. This discord could prove dangerous on their long journey home. He therefore cautioned them against discussing such matters.

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Rosh Hashanah 5779

Will you be judged like sheep, steps, or soldiers?[1]

ונתנה תקף קדשת היום כי הוא נורא ואים וכו’ וכל באי עולם יעברון לפניך כבני מרון
Unesaneh Sokef, let us relate the might of the holiness of this day, as it is astonishing and powerful…all of the word’s inhabitants will pass before You like benei maron[2]

Our Sages teach us[3] that on Rosh Hashanah, every individual on Earth passes before Hashem for judgement, like benei maron. What does benei maron mean? The gemarra provides[4] three explanations: like a flock of sheep[5], like the steps of the House of Maron, or like the soldiers of King David. A flock a sheep refers to when a shepherd wants to count his sheep, he counts them one-by-one as they pass through a narrow entrance[6]. The steps of the House of Maron was a narrow path that not even two people could walk up side-by-side[7]. The soldiers of King David’s army would be counted one-by-one as they went out to wage war[8]. These three explanations seem to all be saying the same thing: Hashem judges every individual on Rosh Hashanah one after the other. There are two obvious questions on this teaching: Why does there need to be a parable of benei maron? Just teach simply that Hashem judges each individual one-by-one. Further, why is this even so? Surely, it’s not beyond Hashem’s capabilities to judge every individual simultaneously. Why indeed is it done one after the other?

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