By Rabbi Nussbaum
VOLUME 93 NUMBER 11
December 25, 2020 2020 TEVES 10, 5780
Candlelighting Time 4:23 PM
When Yosef’s brothers met Pharaoh, they commented that they only intended to remain in Egypt for a short while until the famine ended. However, as the last verse in the parsha states, they actually settled there and put down their roots. Ibn Ezra and Chizkuni explain that they bought land in Goshen. Why did their plans change since they had only planned to stay in Egypt temporarily? Rabbeinu Bachya adds that Goshen was not that distant from mainland Egypt and since his sons were very impressive and dignified people, Yaakov was afraid that they might draft them into serving the government which he did not want. Therefore, he promoted a more permanent community for his family which would keep them local and not roaming around.
However, the question that begs to be asked is since Yehuda was originally sent ahead of the entire family to establish a Yeshiva in Goshen to ensure their ongoing immersion in Torah study, why was Yaakov so concerned?
Perhaps we may suggest that even though there was the availability of a place to study Torah, but, as in every situation, there are also distractions that deter one from entering into the study hall. We all know from our personal lives, that even though we may have classes to attend or Torah study sessions awaiting us and even the availability of online resources, once a person is ensconced in his home it is not necessarily easy to leave and connect with those study sessions or classes. The temptations of Egypt are all too well-known and therefore Yaakov was worried that his family might meander into other areas of Egypt and not avoid the negative influences that were prevalent and extremely dangerous to the spiritual preservation of their family.
However, if they were well settled in Goshen and did not need to wander around the countryside, then it was much more likely that they would avail themselves of the opportunity to study Torah.
Truthfully, the explanation is much deeper and penetrating. The foremost element that maintained the integrity and morality of the family was that they were inundated with a level of kedusha, purity, which shielded them from the outside influence of immorality that was so damaging and rampant in Egyptian society. Alshich points out that when Sara, the Matriarch, was in Egypt, she created an aura of sanctity in Goshen which protected her great-grandchildren from the polluted atmosphere that so demarked Egypt. Therefore, in their isolated and secured community the Torah study hall down the road was more appealing to them than all the glitter and allure that Egyptian culture had to offer.
Our Sages teach us that if we encounter the Evil Inclination, in other words, we are enticed to do something which runs counter to the Torah, drag that troublesome and disruptive force into the Torah study hall and the power of Torah will destroy and terminate that counter force. When the theme of our lives is appropriately fine-tuned, our lives are conducted with the proper approach, the Torah, then we have the opportunity and ability to overcome those obstacles in life that seek to undermine our innate desire and passion to serve Hashem.
A BYTE FOR SHABBOS
The Talmud teaches us that wherever our exiles will take us, the Divine Presence is there as well. And not only on the community level, but each and every individual in his time of need, Hashem is always present and caring for us all.