Saturday, December 19, 2015

Parashat Vayigash 5776/2015 thoughts: It's not all about Binyamin

Better late than never--we already read Vayigash this morning.  Basics here.

I find it noteworthy that Yehudah (Judah), in speaking to the "Vice Pharaoh" whom he doesn't recognize as Yosef (Joseph) keeps referring to Binyamin (Benjamin) as a na'ar (youth) and a katan (little one) even when Binyamin, already a father of ten who is, no doubt, visibly too old to be so described, is standing in Yosef's presence.

I also find it noteworthy that, as in the case of Dinah, Binyamin is never once given an opportunity to speak for himself and/or to participate in any decision regarding his own part in the "story."  No one ever asks him whether he is willing to go to Egypt, or whether he consents to let Yehudah take his place as a slave.

In my opinion, Rabbi Eliyahu Safran is right on the money:

" . . . why does the passage focus only on Yaakov's [Jacob's] devastation?  Yes, Binyamin is Yaakov's son, but he is also a father in his own right.  The narrative not only ignores Binyamin's feelings but it also completely overlooks the certain emotional devastation of Binyamin's own ten children!  Why is there no concern shown lest Binyamin's children not survive the loss of their father?

Why are these narratives so father-driven?"

I think that this story has less to do with Binyamin and more to do with Yaakov.


Blogger Richardf8 said...

1. Benjamin is the youngest. He will never stop being "the kid."
2. Yes, the story is about Yaakov. This is the arc of Jacob's tragic separation from Joseph and the eventual reunion.

Mon Dec 21, 12:23:00 PM 2015  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

True on both counts, I suppose.

It's too bad that the text does not indicate that there was any resumption of a true family relationship between Yosef and Yaakov and/or between Yosef and his brothers. That appears to have been a missed opportunity.

Mon Dec 21, 05:32:00 PM 2015  

Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>