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    He said the Shema – Vayyiggash

    Joseph & Jacob reunite, by Charles Foster

    Joseph & Jacob reunite, by Charles Foster

    Rashi tells us, following the rabbinic sages, that when Joseph and his elderly father Jacob finally met again, the pious old man said the Sh’ma (Gen. 46:29).

    Perhaps it was because his first thought was to thank God that the long-cherished dream of reunion with his son had finally come true.

    Others suggest that it was as a challenge to Joseph, as if to say, “All these years that we have been apart, I had so many vicissitudes, but I let nothing come in the way of my faith in God. But what about you – are you still a believer? Has power weakened your emunah, has life in the palace made you forget to say your prayers and live as a Jew?”

    What did Joseph do? He wept, maybe because of the sheer joy he felt at being with his father again, maybe because his father had suspected him.

    Imagine how many times this scene has repeated itself when parent and child, separated for many years and by life-forming experiences, found one another again.

    You may recall the tragi-comic story of the old father from Poland who meets up with his American son after years apart and hears how life in America is different and people say they can’t keep Shabbat or kashrut any longer, and then the father says, “But tell me, son: are you still circumcised at least?”

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