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    New ages, new songs – Vayyiggash

    Joseph & Judah, by James Tissot

    The portion begins (Gen. 44:18) with Judah approaching the Egyptian official who had control over the destinies of Jacob’s sons and pleading the case for himself and his brothers. The fact that the “Egyptian official” was actually his brother Joseph becomes clear in due course.

    An interesting feature about Judah’s approach is that new times produce new leaders.

    Father Jacob realised that Judah had leadership qualities, but did Judah himself know?

    One might have thought that without their parents and grandparents Judah’s generation would feel bereft and adrift, but this is not what happened. There was a new day, a new need, a new situation – and a new advocate.

    King David said at the beginning of Psalm 149, “Sing a new song to the Lord!” David however added an extra dimension. A new generation not only speaks up but sings. A new generation finds God. It discovers the beauties of life and the world. Its song is fresh and genuine even if it is not a clone of the song of the previous generation.

    That’s why a Jewish Rip Van Winkle should never want everything to be as it was. The Jewish Rip Van Winkle was Choni HaM’aggel who woke up after 70 years and couldn’t take the changes, so he asked God to let him die.

    King David knew better. “Let the new generation sing their own song,” he said; “Let Israel rejoice in their deeds!”

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