Messianic Torah Portion Vayigash "And came near"
Vayigash "And came near"
B'reisheet (Genesis) 44:18 - 47:27
One of the most commonly translated words for repentance in the Torah is teshuvah. However, the Hebrew word teshuvah can more accurately be translated as return. From a Torah perspective repentance is to return to HaShem. This concept was clearly understood by the apostles. Acts 3:19 of The Complete Jewish Bible translated by David H. Stern states "Therefore, repent, and turn to God, so that your sins may be erased;" In Vayigash we can see the concept of repentance when Yosef's brothers return to him. To understand repentance, we must first understand that repentance is a journey, and that the journey of repentance is supposed to lead us to the goal of salvation. Vayigash exemplifies how in the process of returning to HaShem we are required to sacrifice, forgive, and renewal.
The connection between repentance and sacrifice can be seen in B'reisheet 44:32-34 which states "For your servant became a guarantee for the lad unto my father, saying, If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame to my father forever. Now therefore, I pray you, let thy servant stay instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad not be with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father." Yehudah is willing to take Binyamin's place as Yosef's prisoner. Clearly this is an act of repentance for Yehudah. Yehudah was the brother who wanted to sell Yosef to the Ishmaelites. Yehudah's heart had returned to the will of HaShem. As a result, Yehudah now places the needs of other individuals above his own. Yehudah wants to substitute himself for Binyamin. Yehudah is concerned about the ill effects that leaving Binyamin in Egypt would have on his father. Yehudah is demonstrating his repentance through his works by protecting his father from the grief of losing Binyamin. Yehudah's desire to sacrifice his own needs shows how strong his love has grown. Yochanan 15:13 states "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." As a result of Yehudah's act of love, Yosef was able to reveal himself to his brothers.
Repentance also requires forgiveness. B'reisheet 45:1-5 states, "Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; does my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for HaShem sent me before you to preserve life." Yosef was willing to forgive his brothers for all the hardship they had caused. Yosef's forgiveness of his brothers made it possible to heal the rift, and open an avenue that reunited his family. Healing the rift made it possible for HaShem to return Yosef to his father. As a result, all Yosef's family was able to escape the famine by living in Egypt. Yosef's act of forgiveness was an essential part of HaShem's plan to save the life of Yosef and his brothers. Yosef's forgiveness healed the wounds and allowed HaShem's blessings to flow to his brothers and his father.
Repentance also requires us to become renewed and to become new creations. B'reisheet 45:9-11 states, "Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty." Because Yosef's brothers repented and returned to Yosef, they are able to renew themselves. As renewed individuals Yosef's brothers were given a fresh start, and, provided with new farms and lodgings in the land of Goshen. Yosef also guaranteed that as renewed individuals under his protection his family would never experience poverty.
Repentance is an enduring process that takes our time and energy to complete. This is because heartfelt repentance requires, sacrifice, forgiveness, and renewal. Sacrifice is required to show the world we are willing to lay our lives down for others. Forgiveness is required so that we do not hold grudges against individuals who have wronged us. Forgiveness is also required for our own debts to be forgiven as Mathew 6:14 states "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:" Renewal is also required so that we become the new creation we are intended to be as 2Corinthians 5:17 states; "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." When repentance is built on the aspects of sacrifice, forgiveness, and renewal, it is an enduring witness of the salvation that is freely given by HaShem to the world.
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