Parashas Vayiggash

The Torah says that when Yaakov saw the wagons Yosef sent at Pharaoh’s direction to bring him and his family to Egypt, his spirit was revived. What was it about these wagons that heartened Yaakov so much? The Midrash explains that the wagons (agalos) were a hint to the topic of eglah arufah, the last Torah topic Yaakov and Yosef learned together before Yosef was taken to Egypt. The Maggid discusses this explanation, and then offers an alternate one, relating to the actual wagons rather than what they alluded to.
The Maggid builds his second explanation on a parable. A certain Sephardic community hired an Ashekenazi Torah scholar as their community rabbi. They would have preferred as Sephardi rabbi, but they had no choice, because the Ashkenazi scholar was, among the available candidates, by far the most qualified in terms of piety, wisdom, and scholarship. They agreed to send him a coach to assist him in the move, but, due to the tension between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, they did not want him to bring his entire family. Instead, he told the teacher he should bring his wife and younger children, but leave his older children behind. Accordingly, the coach they sent him was a small one, with room only for a few people.
Now, when Pharaoh told Yosef to bring his father to Egypt, it could have been for either of two reasons. He might have been simply trying to accommodate Yosef. Or, perhaps, out of admiration for Yosef’s fine character, Pharaoh himself wanted Yosef’s father to come. Yaakov initially was not sure which was the actual reason, but the wagons provided the answer. Had Pharaoh been simply making a grudging accommodation to Yosef, he would have sent just one small wagon. But, instead, Pharaoh sent a grand caravan of wagons for Yaakov’s entire extended family, and made sure these wagons would be delivered in his name. Upon seeing this grand caravan, Yaakov knew that Pharaoh must have been impressed with Yosef’s character.  This realization is what revived Yaakov’s spirit.
The Maggid goes on to relate this idea to how Hashem will act toward us at the time of the final redemption in the end of days. The final redemption is certain to come, but the way it will come depends on circumstances. The two possible scenarios are reflected in two prophecies about the redemption. Yeshayah 66:20 describes Hashem bringing all of us back “with horses, chariots, covered wagons, and mules.” On the other hand, in Zechariah 9:9, Moshiach is described as “a humble man riding on a donkey.” These two scenarios correspond to the two possible reasons for which the redemption can be launched: either in our own merit, or for the sake of Hashem’s glory. If we Jews act on the whole in a manner that is pleasing to Hashem, devoting ourselves to Torah and mitzvos, then the redemption will come in our own merit. In this case, Hashem will redeem all of us in the grand style that Yeshayah describes. But, if, on the whole we are wayward, with only a small segment among us cleaving to Torah and mitzvos, then the redemption will be a humbler one, limited to this small segment alone.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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