Questioning faith in the parsha
KOSHI: HOW does Goshen help preserve Israel’s history & determine our future? WHERE is Goshen today
REMEZ…Dialogue of the Centuries—Reclaiming Culture/Connection
Gen 45 v.9-10 Now, hurry back to my father and say to him: Thus says your son Joseph, “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me without delay. You will dwell in the region of Goshen, where you will be near me—you and your children & grandchildren…”
RAMBAN…Joseph knew that his father would not consent to reside in the Egyptian capital, a center of pagan idolatry.
PIRKEI D’Rebbe ELIEZER…Without hesitation Joseph was able to assign to his family this province for he knew Pharaoh would agree, since one of the Egyptian ruler’s predecessors had given it to Sarah as a gift in perpetuity after she had been wrongfully abducted.
ABARBANEL… “near to me…” It is as if to say, ‘Though my position in government forces me to live in the metropolis, at least you will be near enough for me to look after you.’
v.11 …so that you do not become destitute, you, your household, and all that is yours…
IBN EZRA… “TiVaReSH…” From the root YaRaSH, to cut off or dispossess, as in “l’horish goyim—to drive from your path nations greater than you, to take you into the land and assign it to you as a heritage.” [Deut 4:38]
Gen 46 v.28-29 Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph, to point the way towards Goshen. So when they came to the region of Goshen
RADAK…“l’horot l’fanav—to prepare ahead,” Asking Joseph to provide a guide to lead them directly to Goshen, avoiding the main cities of Egypt altogether.
RASHI… “l’horot l’fanav—to instruct ahead of him,” This can be understood as the Targum renders “to clear a place for him to settle.” An aggadic midrash alternatively suggests, “to establish for him a house of instruction” from which Torah shall go forth.
v.29-30 He appeared before him, then he fell on his neck, and wept excessively. Then Israel said to Joseph: “Now I can die, after having seen your face, for you are still alive.”
RAMBAN… “He appeared before him…” Israel’s eyes were dim with age, and when Joseph arrived in the carriage of the second in Egypt’s ruling rank, with a mitre on his head and in full dress, his father did not know who he was. When he recognized him, he cried over him as a father who found his son returned from the dead.
RASHI…Here it is Joseph who is weeping excessively, so that he can hardly stop crying. But Jacob did not weep, as our rabbis taught, for he was reciting the Shema. [PARDES YOSEF, as cited by the KOTZKER]
ONKELOS… Not “I will die,” but “If I were to die now, it would be with the comfort that you still live.”
OR HaCHAYIM… Though Jacob’s joy was great his happiness remained incomplete as long as he’d not been assured that Joseph had maintained a high standard of piety. How can one rejoice at rediscovering a son who’d abandoned his faith and his fear of God? But Jacob, after having seen his son’s face, could recognize he’d remained righteous and pious.
v.31-34 Then Joseph said to his brothers & to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell the news to Pharaoh saying, ‘My brothers and my father’s household…have come to me. The men are shepherds; they have always been breeders of livestock, and they have brought with them their flocks and herds…’ So when Pharaoh summons you and asks, “What is your occupation?” you shall answer, “Your servants have been breeders of livestock from our youth till now…’ Thus may you stay in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians.
RASHI…Goshen is a land of pasture, necessary for shepherds. And when you tell Pharaoh that you have no other expertise, he will send you far away from himself and put you there.
“For all shepherds are an abomination…” since they worship sheep.
ARAMA…There is no doubt, had he desired, he could have appointed them to high positions, but he wanted them to say they were shepherds from time immemorial and they could not leave it.
The NETZIV… “It is an abomination…” In this way Joseph contrived matters to achieve his goal. Though degrading his family in the eyes of Pharaoh, it was worth preserving Israel’s future.