Every year, during the reading of this week’s Torah portion, VaYigash, I get a lump in my throat and my eyes get all watery. The manner in which Judah pleads with the Prince of Egypt not only demonstrates obedience and respect for his father, Jacob, but also shows that he’s deeply caring, as he protects his youngest brother Benjamin. That, in itself is moving. The response that Judah’s words elicit in the Prince of Egypt however, takes my breath away. The Prince can no longer control himself. He sends all the Egyptians out of the room and he breaks down crying as he reveals himself as Joseph to his brothers. He sobs, Benjamin weeps, and the brothers are in a state of shock. After a long 22 years, Joseph and his family are reunited.
There I am sitting in the synagogue, empathizing with Joseph, losing control and crying right along side him. I’m not totally alone in that. For the past few years, I’ve had my friend Ruth sitting next to me sharing my tissues.
Ruth and I have actually had a better opportunity to identify with these particular Bible characters, as we landed the parts of Joseph and Benjamin some years back in Gush Etzion’s Womens’ production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. Here’s a picture of the coat from that show.
But I digress. I was marveling at the reunification of Joseph’s family after 22 years.
Exactly 22 years ago, I had the unique privilege to give birth to the firstborn of our family’s “next generation”. My siblings all followed suit and as it happens, the “next generation” from my siblings adds up to, you guessed it-22! (Bli ayin hara). Here they are.
The only other significant “22” I have from my life’s experiences is from when we used to visit my grandparents in Florida. On shabbat, when we’d walk to the synagogue, sometimes we had to walk in the street because there were no sidewalks. My Grandma Sarah, may she rest in peace, used to call out “22!!” whenever a car was coming in order to warn us to be careful and stay clear. If I understood it correctly, in Floridian Golf Language, “22!” is a code for “Watch out for that golf cart (or other vehicle) as the driver might not see you! At his age, his eyes are not what they used to be.” Here’s a picture of Grandma Sarah a”h and Grandpa Syd a”h.
Hey! I just remembered: I got married at 22 too!
Please comment below if you have any associations with the number 22.
May we all learn from Judah and Joseph, and thus hasten the coming of the Messiah in our days!!!