By: Herschel Karp (11th Grade)
In this week’s Parsha, Vagiyash, Yakov and his family prepare to go down to Mitzrayim (Egypt), to finally see Yosef. Before departing, he instructed Yehuda to go ahead of him so that he could show the way, “לְהוֹרֹ֥ת לְפָנָ֖יו.” The Midrash comments that based on the word used in this expression, “לְהוֹרֹ֥ת,” meaning to teach or instruct. Yehuda’s real purpose was to establish a house of learning for Torah.
There is something strange about this explanation. Yosef was already in Egypt, and we know that he remained knowledgeable and committed to a Torah life. Furthermore, he surely had the means and power to establish a magnificent Yeshiva, whereas Yehuda was a penniless immigrant. Why then would Yakov ask Yehuda instead of Yosef to carry out this task?
Yosef was obviously very different from the rest of his family. Avraham, Yitzchak, Yakov, and all the other tribes lived a secluded life as shepherds where they were free to serve Hashem without distractions from the outside world. Yosef, however, was a man of the world, and he was able to spiritually thrive in the heart of Egypt, the most immoral of places. He even became second to Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the nation. His dedication to Torah and Mitzvot did not at all diminish, and from this we learn that even while leading a worldly existence, one can remain connected to Hashem.
However, it was Yehuda, not Yosef who was tasked with the founding of the Yeshiva. Even though a Jew lives in a material world, where one must act like a Yosef, their roots must be connected to a completely pure and untouched spirituality. Therefore, even when one must act like a Yosef, a Jew’s education should be provided by a Yehuda.