It says in the beginning of the portion Vayigash, Vayigash elav Yehuda. Yehuda, the leader of the brothers of Joseph, is going to “stand up” to Joseph, meaning he is going to speak to him, or come towards him. Then, it says it gets to the point where Joseph, after all these years, can no longer hold himself back from revealing who he truly is to his brothers, therefore ending all the pain for them and their father, Jacob.
So, I want to focus on the secret of what it means that Yehuda comes towards Joseph, because it is an important understanding. The Sefat Emet says the best thing to do any time a person has an experience in which the Light of the Creator does not seem to be revealed, any time a person feels pain, challenge, or darkness, is a concept he calls lehitbatel, which means, essentially, "I receive what is happening and subjugate myself completely to it."
What usually occurs when we find ourselves in a situation in which we feel pain from something that has happened, or is happening? We battle it. Even if it is unchangeable in the moment, we do everything we can to not accept it. However, the first thing the Sefat Emet says we have to do is understand that if it is happening, we need to completely accept it, because no matter how bad it seems, it is coming from the Light of the Creator. With this understanding, therefore, we come to see that when it says, "Yehuda comes towards," it does not actually mean that he is coming towards Joseph, but that he is, in his consciousness, coming towards the situation. Vayigash elav Yehuda means that Yehuda is coming towards, and getting close to, the Light of the Creator that is within the situation, and therefore, accepting it.
When Yehuda is standing there, he is saying, “This is a terrible situation. It seems that the worst thing has happened - Benjamin is a slave in Egypt, and my father Jacob, is going to be heartbroken and may die from this terrible situation, but I have to accept this is happening. I have to subjugate myself to this reality, and know that even though it seems crazy, this is the Light of the Creator.” And that is what is happening on Shabbat Vayigash; it is the work of consciousness of Yehuda, and ourselves, that as we come to a negative or dark situation, we bring ourselves close to it.
Vayigash elav Yehuda was not one momentary decision; it was because of all the spiritual work of consciousness that Yehuda had done. Of course, this was a moment of great pain and distress for him, yet he realized the only thing he could do to change the situation was to embrace it and bring himself closer in his consciousness knowing that it was from the Light of the Creator.
At the beginning of the portion, Yehuda is not saying anything new, and is talking to himself, rather than to Joseph, about the reality of the situation that is going to cause his father so much pain. And he accepts it. Repeating the story over and over is not something we usually do when we face something negative. Instead, we try to distance ourselves from it, not just physically, but also in our minds. We do not want to embrace it or accept it. But this is what Yehuda was doing, saying, “I accept this is what is happening. Even though it seems completely dark, even though it seems completely wrong, the Light of the Creator is here.”
And then, as Yehuda does this work to accept the reality facing him, the true essence and Light in the situation can, and does, become revealed. As such, when it says Joseph cannot hold himself back, it means that the Light can no longer be held back. It has to burst forward, and the Light within the situation has to become revealed, until eventually, the internal reality, the Light of the Creator of this situation is revealed, and all the darkness, barriers, and negativity go away.
So, what the Sefat Emet is saying, and this is really important, is that the cure for darkness is through doing this work of consciousness, because then the Light has to become revealed. When we accept the reality, and acknowledge that it is coming from the Light of the Creator, we break down all the walls and see the totality of Light and all the blessings that come from it. This is the way a person can transform every situation, but it is not easy, as it is constant internal work. If we are in a situation that is dark or challenging, the only real way out is to push our consciousness all the time, and accept and embrace the situation, rather than run away from it. Why? Because we know that within the situation, there must be the Light of the Creator. And by breaking down the wall with that consciousness again and again, the Light can no longer be held back.
That is what Shabbat Vayigash is about: the cure for every darkness, the gift of the work of consciousness that gives us the ability to break away the walls of negativity. Yes, we get the power, strength, and ability from the Light of the Creator to do this work on Shabbat Vayigash, but at the end of the day, the only ones who can reveal the barriers of darkness are ourselves . . . and the only way to do that, as we just learned, is by this fight of consciousness.