Parshat Va’yigash ( Genesis 44-47)


Tamar Pelleg

Since then, a lot of water has flowed in the river of my life. Today, apart from my everyday writing in my “Morning  Diary”, I write regularly on topics related to the Hebrew Bible’s portion of the week, from a psycho-spiritual perspective and on topics  related to relationships that I post on  Facebook, blog, digital story collections and recently I am engaged in writing a  book and my  dream begins to come true.


I’d like to give thanks first and foremost to all of my Bibliodrama group members over the years, who helped me dig deeper and deeper into Joseph’s character, as well as to my teacher Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi for his Kabbalistic teachings that always ignite my own creativity and especially for his profound insight on the wordגביע . To Dr. Aviva Zornberg for her psychological teachings on Midrash and for shedding new light on my understanding of  Joseph’s trauma, and last but not least to Rabbi. Avraham Sutten, for his brilliant unfolding of the word אמתחת    .


Goblet = גביע    Gavi’a   (Drash= touch me =   געבי)

Bag =    אמתחת   Amtachat   (Drash= the truth lies underneath = אמת תחת


In the last verses of the previous parsha (Mi’kets – מקץ) we learn that Joseph “planted” a goblet in Benjamin’s bag.

Why is Joseph abusing his brothers and “framing” them?

Is there a symbolic meaning to the use of a goblet?

I would like to state, that Joseph is actually tormented between two forces: one is the rage he feels toward his brothers, an unconscious urge for revenge (all he remembers is that they sold him to Egypt, (as stated in 45:4) most parts of the traumatic memory are lost in void, cannot be remembered, for he is in a post –traumatic state. Trauma survivors detach themselves while experiencing the trauma in order to survive and therefore cannot integrate it in their Self and have no words to remember it nor re-tell it, which is actually needed in needed in the healing process).

On the other hand he feels a deep longing for connection, for intimacy with his brothers, for touch (come on, come on, come on, come on, touch me baby 🙂 for belonging, for uniting.

The goblet is a silver goblet- in Hebrew silver = KESEF כסף= which is the root letter of KISUFIM which means: longings!


A different perspective comes from Gimatria: the word גביעin Gimatria equals 85. So is the word פה == mouth, which is also Sefirat Malchut. The ability to express oneself, to open your mouth, to create a reality with DIBBUR.(speech)   ” עינכן רואות.. כי פי המדבר אליכם” 45:12

Joseph needs connection, communication, words, to fill in the gaps of his own story in order to build the rest of the “puzzle” of his “story” and start the process of healing.

I invite you to think about your associations of the goblets

(Heart? Womb? Container? Other?)

By choosing the goblet, what could be the coded message that Joseph sends to his brothers?

  1. My heart is with Benjamin
  2. I chose to hide my truth in the bottom of Benjamin’s bag, my truth lies underneath, far from the eye but close to the heart… but what is my truth?
  3. I need you to be able to contain my horror
  4. I need you to provide me with words so that I can understand what happened and start the healing.
  5. You lost your feminine side in your relations with me and you need to heal it
  6. You “stole” my feminine side (my ability to be in touch with my feelings and words around the trauma) and I need it back.
  7. other?

So now after framing Benjamin, Judah is approaching Joseph and starts his plea… (Va’yigash)

I invite you to step into the shoes of Joseph.

Joseph, you have built a very strong armor around your heart, you are wearing a mask that prevent others from recognizing who you really are.  When you listen to Judah’s plea (44: 18-34) what are the words/sentences that in his speech that cracks open your mask, that allow you eventually to get behind your mask?? Can you point them out?

“I AM Joseph and what has cracked me open was….”

  1. The use of the word “father” אב.אביו.אבינו.אב) ) touched my heart and melted it like drops of water on a rock…
  2. Getting the information I was missing!  For the first time I have learned that my father thinks I am dead and he mourn for me!
  3. I was thrilled to realize how Judah cares for Benjamin, and is willing to give himself instead, just not to hurt my father’s feelings.
  4. I was excited to realize that Judah is protecting Benjamin! Benjamin is loved and cared for, although he is also Rachel’s son!
  5. I have learned that my father is protecting Benjamin! (Not like in my case, that he sent me all by myself to Shechem.) 

And once Joseph’s mask cracks open, he can hold himself no more, and chooses a very long and emotional speech, highly spiritual and soothing (45:2-13), he actually leaps a very important stage (according to Zornberg) which helps him avoid the horror of getting too close to his trauma:

He is not letting his brothers confess, ask his forgiveness, promise they will never do it again, which is a very necessary stage of Teshuva, He immediately forgives them without letting them ask for his forgiveness, (stays in his arrogant position) and provide them with this beautiful comforting reframing solution (“it was to save life that God sent me ahead of you….God has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival on earth…” 45:7

And this leave us with the question- was there a real Teshuva?

Did Joseph really heal from his trauma? Was the “evil” defeated?

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