The week of your wedding we read in the Torah about a very happy episode that took place in the household of Yaakov Avinu. After a lapse of 22 years the lost brother Yosef was found and all the brothers were happily united together.

During all these years they all had kept their occupation as shepherds while Yosef climbed the rungs of the ladder of success to the very top. He had become the viceroy of Egypt, and Pharaoh had set the entire country under his control.

After the brothers embraced one another and celebrated, Yosef invited them to move down to Egypt together with their families and also bring their father along.

The question that remained was how to break the good news to Yaakov and to do it in such a way that he would be able to endure and not be overwhelmed with excitement.

While they were contemplating the situation, Yosef spoke up and said “Hurry — and go up to my father and say to him, ‘so said your son Yosef; Hashem has set me as a master of all Egypt. Come down to me—do not delay’ ” (45:9). The brothers quickly returned home and told their father, “Yosef is still alive and that he is the ruler over the entire land of Egypt” (45:26).

Since you, undoubtedly, all know the happy ending of the story, it is unnecessary to elaborate. I must tell you, however, that I read the story for many years and it was quite simple to understand till an experience I once had in the days when I was the Principal at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva.

Most of the students came to yeshivah and also returned home by school bus. One late afternoon, I received a call from a mother. She frantically bellowed at the top of her voice, “Rabbi Bogomilsky, I waited at the bus stop and my son didn’t come off. I searched on the bus and he wasn’t there. Where is my son?”

My efforts to calm her were to no avail. I told her that he probably had gotten off at a previous stop to go to a friend’s house or perhaps he had gotten off near a store to go in and buy something. My words were an effort in futility: she wouldn’t listen and she kept on demanding “Where is my son?”

About a half an hour later the phone rang and the same mother was on the line telling me “Thank G‑d, my son came home.” When I asked “Where was he? Was my guess right?” she replied, “The main thing is that he is home alive and safe; where he was and what he did I’ll discuss with him later.”

Undoubtedly, the blow which disrupted Yaakov’s tranquil life was the notification of the tragedy that befell his most cherished son, Yosef. Thus, we can well imagine the exaltation and pleasure he would now experience upon hearing the words “Od Yosef chai” — “Yosef is still alive.” If so, why did Yosef tell them to mention his success in Egypt and not merely tell them to tell father that he was alive? Moreover, why did the brothers add that “He is ruler over all the land of Egypt”? Surely, for a father who yearned so deeply for his lost son, the best news would be to hear “Od Yosef chai” — “Yosef is still alive.” No position, regardless of its greatness, could be of any bearing in comparison to “Od Yosef chai,” that Yosef was still alive.

Yosef and his brothers well understood their father’s thinking. They realized that to merely say “Yosef is still alive” would not convey much. Many a Yosef who is torn away from Jewish surroundings can be said to live — technically speaking — but not within the Jewish interpretation of that word. Many descendants of Yaakov “live” in the United States and in countries throughout the world, but the price of that living is often death, spiritually speaking. Unfortunately, they have adapted the mores of society and have yielded to it at the expense of Torah observance. O how many of our Jewish boys and girls in an attempt to move up the ladder of success have done so at the cost of compromising their dedication to the religious paths of their parents and mentors!

Therefore, Yosef said to tell their father that “Hashem has set me as a master over all of Egypt. Egypt did not change the values you taught me one iota.” Yosef knew that this is what his father would be eager to hear. Consequently, the brothers too, after informing Yaakov that Yosef was alive hastened to add that “He is ruler over all the land of Egypt” — “Egypt is not ruler over Yosef — Yosef is ruler over the land of Egypt, and he did not permit the environment to influence him.”

Today we can say, thank G‑d, that in America we are seeing not only “Od Yosef Chai” — Yosef is still alive — which would indicate there are Jews who are physically, economically and politically alive and well, but also that “Yosef is the master of the Egypt — American society.” There is a minority of people who have mastered the environment and who have not allowed themselves to succumb to what society proclaims as proper and befitting.

My berachah to you, dear Chatan and Kallah, is that you merit to join the ranks of the Yosefs who are spiritually well and alive. Do not be followers of societal trends, but leaders. May your Torah permeated home and Yiddish lifestyle be a source of inspiration to others to follow suit and master the influence of society. As such, just as Yosef gave much nachas to his father, you too will be a source of infinite nachas and pride to Hashem — our Father in Heaven, your families, and the Jewish community at large.


The Torah testified that Yaakov’s love for his son Yosef was more than his love for any of his other children. It also tells us that he sorely missed him. All the efforts of his children to comfort and console were to no avail.

One can well imagine that he would jump on the first opportunity to be reunited with his beloved Yosef. No distance, regardless of its length or travel conditions, would stop him from going to see him.

While all this is indisputable, a strange phenomenon occurred when Yaakov learned that Yosef was still alive.

We are told that Yaakov’s sons informed him the thrilling news that “Od Yosef chai” — “Yosef is yet alive.” Then they continued to tell him the glorious position he held in the Egyptian government, adding that he eagerly wanted Yaakov to come to Egypt. One would think that Yaakov would jump from joy and scream “I will go and see him before I die.” But he did not.

It was only after that “Vayar et ha’agalot” — “He saw the wagons” — that his spirit revived and he expressed the wish to go see him (45:27-28). Why? What was his hesitancy when he heard the good news and how was it relieved by seeing the wagons?

The Rabbis say (see Rashi) that the Torah’s reference to agalot is an allegory. The agalot were a metaphor for the subject of eglah arufah — the decapitated calf — which was the Torah portion Yaakov and Yosef had studied twenty-two years ago, immediately prior to their parting.

But I have some difficulty with this;

Firstly, if this was the message Yosef was conveying, would it not have been better for him to send a actual eglah — calf — together with all the other items he sent him?

Moreover, why did Yosef’s demonstration of his good memory have such an impact on Yaakov? I come across many people who quote me things they learned in cheder in their youth — 60-70 years ago. In fact, the Gemara (Shabbat 21b) already said that girsa d’yankusa — what one studies in his youth—is more enduring.

I don’t want to G‑d forbid minimize in anyway the interpretation of our great Sages. These insights are Torah from Sinai, which they acquired through their supreme holiness and Ruach Hakodesh — Divine inspiration. But I would like to share with you a novel thought which fits very well with peshuto shel mikra —the simple literal meaning — of the text.

Yaakov, of course, yearned for his beloved son and definitely would run to see him at the first opportunity. However, as many a parent today, he wondered “How do I know that my son really wants me to come?” Once an elderly individual who raised a family of ten children, each of whom became affluent and successful in their respective field, came to my office and lamented bitterly, “In my small home there was place for ten children and in my ten children’s large mansions there isn’t space for one old parent.” So the fact that Yosef was alive, and that he was successful and invited him was no real proof that he really wanted his old father’s company. “Perhaps his invitation was just to save face and not wholehearted,” Yaakov thought to himself.

However, when vayar et ha’agolot — when he saw the wagons — Yaakov sensed that the invitation “Father, come to live with me and my family” was not only verbal. The fact that Yosef also sent means of transportation convinced Yaakov that Yosef sincerely wanted him to come. Only then did the spirit of Yaakov revive and he said, “I will go and see him before I die.”

My dear Chatan and Kallah, the message to you is not to suffice with lip service. Show your appreciation and admiration for each other with action. Don’t suffice with talking about what you would do for each other, but demonstrate it in a tangible way. Let you actions and way of treating each other depict that you mean what you say.

For example, there is a popular saying that folding the tallit on Motza’ei Shabbat is a segulah for sholom bayit — it demonstrates the husband’s appreciation for the wife’s gift. A wise man once said, “While I don’t question this adage, I am sure that helping the wife wash dishes after Shabbat is even a greater segulah.”

A marriage in which the partners join in efforts and not just in words is a blessed and long-lasting one. May you, dear Chatan and Kallah, be a living example of such a blissful marriage.