Desert Flowers living (Netzah) in the Dry Harsh Desert (G’vurah)


Adapted from Meta Parshiyot by R David Wolfe-Blank and Living Torah by Aryeh Kaplan


The famine is beyond tough for all impacted. Being hungry with no nourishment available or in sight is soul breaking.


Yaakov and his family were running low on food and the minister in charge of all the provisions (Yoseph, not who had not yet revealed himself) demanded that if they return, the brothers must bring Benyamin to him. Yehudah and his brothers do not dare return to Egypt without complying with these demands. Understandably, Yaakov resists. He does not want to risk losing Benyamin, his beloved Rahel‘s only living son (to his knowledge). Yehudah swears that he will bring Benyamin back to Yaakov safely. Finally Yisrael (Yaakov in expanded awareness) lets Benyamin to go to Egypt.

Before they realize what is going on, Benyamin is being held in an Egyptian prison for allegedly stealing a special silver goblet. It looked like Yehudah could not keep his promise to his father to bring Benyamin back safely. This was a huge mess.

Yehudah, desperate, stepped up to power. He pleaded with Yoseph to take himself in exchange for Benyamin. Going back home without Benyamin was not an option. Losing Benyamin would break his father’s heart. Yaakov and Benyamin‘s souls were bound together, Yehudah explained:

וְנַפְשׁ֖וֹ קְשׁוּרָ֥ה בְנַפְשֽׁוֹ

“And his (Yaakov’s) soul is bound up with (his son, Benyamin’s) soul.”

Genesis 44:30

Yehudah was not willing to put Yaakov or the family through more loss. He offered to serve Yoseph in Benyamin‘s stead – effectively offering to give up his own life – so the youngest brother could return to his father.


Overcome by Yehudah‘s words, Yoseph could not hold back his emotions any longer and revealed his true identity. They all cried and hugged. Yoseph forgave them for trying to kill him/sell him way back when. Next thing we see is Yaakov and the rest of the family reunited with Yoseph in Egypt. They settled in and were able to weather the remainder of the famine in some comfort.


As the famine deepened, more and more people became desperate and sold everything they had for the privilege of buying food to eat. Fortunately for all, Yoseph had been storing up food for a long time. As a result, he transformed and sustained the society by means of fees for the food he doled out: first money, then land, and finally a promise of serfdom. Yoseph distributed seeds for planting with the price tag of 20% taxation.


Netzah, being below Hesed on the Right hand side of the Tree of Life, has a lot of energy and is able to persevere through multiple difficulties. This is a useful intersection of qualities that play out in VaYigash.


1) Yoseph plans and stores food in the bountiful times. When the contraction of famine (G’vurah) hit, he was ready to stay the course and prevails (Netzah). As a result of his ability to sustain though times of lack (Netzah in G’vurah). He becomes the single most powerful man in Egypt.

2) Yoseph tested his brothers (G’vurah), tricking them, making them appear guilty when they were not, causing them great fear and trepidation. The brothers stayed the course (Netzah) through these trials and deceptions (G’vurah). Eventually they effectively succeeded in getting what they needed for the extended family to survive the famine.

3) Yehudah confronts (G’vurah) the most powerful minister in the land and is successful (Neztah) with his entreaty.

Netzah in G’vurah guides us through times of inadequacy and power struggles. Best case, it cultivates trust. It is difficult, if even possible, to move matters from constriction to expansion without a vision that the boundaries will soften and ease will prevail. Surrendering to the circumstance, as the brothers did when they came to Egypt, can not only increase comfort, it supports transformation.

Tmimah Audrey ickovits

1 Comment

  1. Holistic Jew on December 10, 2021 at 4:53 pm

    Shabbat Shalom

Recent Posts