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Vayigash: The Guarantor

Updated: Jun 20

כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה

Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh laZeh

“All Israel are Guarantors for One Another” Shevuot 39a

Parashat Vayigash (Genesis 44:18–47:27), opens with Yehudah’s worst fears becoming reality as Binyamin’s fate hung in the balance. After decades of watching his father’s pain and living with guilt and silence, Yehuda refused to see it happen again. He courageously approached Yosef – either for peace or war. comments,

“The 22-year-long contest between Joseph and his brothers is now approaching its climax: Judah approaches Joseph—whom he knows only as Tzaphenath Paaneach, viceroy of Egypt—to plead, argue and threaten for the release of Benjamin. The viceroy’s magic goblet had been discovered in Benjamin’s sack; “He shall be my slave,” declared the Egyptian ruler in the closing verse of last week’s Parshah, “and you go up in peace to your father.” Parsha In-Depth: Vayigash, [1]

The Sages interpreted the words “he approached” (vayigash) with three different meanings, 1) battle, 2) reconciliation 3) entreaty, each supported with a different scripture. The Midrash fuses all of these views into one:

“Rabbi Eleazar combined all these views Judah approached Joseph for all three, saying: If it be war, I approach for war; if it be conciliation, I approach for conciliation; if it be for entreaty, I approach to entreat.” Midrash Rabbah, cited at [2]

No matter what, Yehudah was not leaving without Binyamin alive. Yehudah was willing to give his life to save Binyamin, as he promised Yaakov his father that he would bring Binyamin back safely, saying,

“I’ll be collateral for him.” Genesis 43:9

The Hebrew word for “collateral” in this verse is אֶעֶרְבֶנּוּ (eh’ervenu). The word means to be the guarantor, the surety or the exchange.

All of these events were orchestrated by Yosef to bring the brothers to repentance, to make tikkun (a repair) for the baseless hatred they harbored for him. In seeing this act of self-sacrifice, Joseph, dressed as an Egyptian ruler and concealed from his brothers, revealed the secret,

“I AM YOSEF” Genesis 45:3

The revelation of Yosef to his brothers reveals the pattern for Redemption and is an echo from the future, when Mashiach ben Yosef will reveal himself to his brothers.

Purity of Children

According to the Midrash, when HaShem gave the Torah on Mount Sinai, He required guarantors for the Jewish people to receive the Torah. The Midrash says,

“Rabbi Meir said: When the Jews stood before Sinai to receive the Torah, G‑d said to them: “I swear, I will not give you the Torah unless you provide worthy guarantors who will assure that you will observe its laws.” The Jews responded, “Master of the world, our forefathers will be our guarantors!” “Your guarantors themselves require guarantors!” was G‑d’s reply. “Master of the world,” the Jews exclaimed, “our prophets will guarantee our observance of the Torah.” “I have grievances against them, too. ‘The shepherds have rebelled against Me’ (Jeremiah 2:8),” G‑d replied. “Bring proper guarantors and only then will I give you the Torah.“ “As a last resort, the Jews declared, “our children will serve as our guarantors!” “They truly are worthy guarantors,” G‑d replied. “Because of them I will give the Torah.” Midrash Rabbah, Song of Songs 1:4, cited at [3]

Yeshua says,

“In that hour the disciples came to Yeshua, saying, Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? Yeshua called a little child to himself, and set him in their midst, and said, ‘Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:1-4

Fusion of the Meshichim

Interestingly, the haftarah for this Torah portion comes from the book of Ezekiel, which describes a fusion between the forces of Yehudah and Yosef,

“You, son of man, take one stick, and write on it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: and join them for you one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand.” Ezekiel 37:16-17

The text Kol HaTor, the Voice of the Turtledove, written by R’ Hillel Shklover, a disciple of the Vilna Gaon, comments,

“…at the beginning of the Redemption, when the wood of Yosef and the wood of Judah are “pieces of wood in your hand, ” when they are still divided into two, on the level of the awakening from below. At the time of the complete redemption, however, when the two pieces of wood have become “one in My hand” (the hand of G-d), then the meshichim will be like two inseparable friends; they will have become one, they will have become the King Mashiach who is on the level of the trustworthy friend of the final redeemer, Moshe Rabbeinu, may he rest in peace.” Kol HaTor, Chapter 2, Section 2, translated by R’ Yechiel bar Lev and K. Skaist, pg. 70

The two Messiahs fuse into one. Incredibly, the gematria of the word “stick of Yosef” in Hebrew (Etz Yosef) equals the name “Yeshu” – the name by which Yeshua is known today in Israel!

עץ יוסף =  ישו = 318

Etz Yosef = Yeshu = 316 Tree of Yosef = Yeshu = 316

According to Rabbi Natan of Breslov,

“There is one Tzaddik who is a combination of the two Messiahs.” Chayey Moharan, Tzaddik, Reb Nathan of Breslov, Tzaddik, translated by R’ Avraham Greenbaum, pg. 131

Who is this Tzaddik?

The Guarantor

According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah suffers on behalf of the world as a guarantee for mankind. Breslov Chassidut teaches,

“…the main guarantor is the soul of Mashiach, which is the collective soul of all tzaddikim throughout the generations. Mashiach will complete all rectifications (tikkunim) and fix all the damage that was incurred throughout history. This is why Mashiach suffers on behalf of all Israel—because he serves as guarantor for them all. Therefore, Dovid HaMelekh, who was the Mashiach, entreats G-d, “Be surety for Your servant for good…” (Psalms 119:122). That is, [he declares before G-d,] “Behold, I have been made a guarantor on behalf of all [at the beginning of the Divine plan, prior to creation]. And no one can stand up to help me fulfill my obligation but You alone!” Thus, he entreats, “Be surety for Your servant for good…” (ibid.) (L”H, Arev 4:3, 4). Breslov Teachings About Mashiach, Dovid Sears, Breslov Center [4]

R’ Nati of Mystical Paths writes,

“It says in the Holy Zohar, Hashem asked Moshiach ‘should I make the world or not? Because man will rebel against me!’ Moshiach said, “put it all on me I’ll pay the debt”. The Zohar says that all our avodah (divine service) has no substance at all. So this Neshama of Moshiach, this soul – the same exact soul as Moshe rebbenu, Rashbi, the Baal Shem Tov and Rebbenu Nachman, says he’ll take responsibility. When seeing the days before Moshiach, the malachim (angels) asked “who will pay the chov (debt), Mah Yiye? What will be?” Moshiach stood up and said “I will, I’m the Guarantor!“ The Tzadik Emet – Part 3, Rabbi Nati, Mystical Paths [5]

The Ben Ish Chai, R’ Yosef Hayyim of Bagdad, writes,

“…the Messiah is Israel’s guarantor; he has undertaken suffering to atone for Israel’s sins in order to shorten the exile (Yalkut Shimoni 499).” Ben Ish Chai, Aderet Eliyahu, Haftarat Yitro, Days of Peace,Yeshivat Ahavat Shalom Publications, pg. 127

The Midrash tells us of the great suffering the Messiah takes upon himself,

“R. Levi taught in the name of R. Idi: Suffering is divided into three portions: One, the Patriarchs and all the generations of men took; the generation that lived in the time of [Hadrian’s] persecution took; and one, the lord Messiah will take.” Midrash Tehillim, Psalm 16.5, Yale University Press, pg. 198

The Ben Ish Chai comments on Sanhedrin 93b,

“…through afflictions, the Messiah rises to great spiritual heights. In addition, his afflictions atone for Israel so that they can continue to live and perform mitzvot. Since without the Messiah, these mitzvot would not have been done, he is a partner in Israel’s mitzvot. Thus because He loaded him up with afflictions like millstones, He loaded him up with mitzvot as well.” Ben Ish Chai, Benayahu, Days of Peace, Days of Peace,Yeshivat Ahavat Shalom Publications, pg. 117

It is the Mashiach who will restore Adam back to the Garden. In the book Seven Pillars of Faith, R’ Yitzhak Breiter זק״ל says Mashiach is the Guarantor of the world,

“The seventh fundamental is attachment to the True Tzaddik:  1. The soul of Mashiach preceded the world. It is the root of the souls of Israel, and the entire Creation, for “The entire universe was only created to attend him (Berakhot 6b) and “The Tzaddik is the foundation of the world” (Proverbs 10:25). 2. The Holy One, blessed-be-He, took counsel with this soul in the creation of His Universe, as it is written: “With whom did He take counsel, who gave Him understanding and guided Him in the way of judgment?” (Isaiah 40:14). 3. He gave G-d a guarantee that he will repair the Universe. . . 6. He is the Heavenly Court…8. He reveals prayer, as it is written: “And I am prayer” (Psalm 109:4). 9. He is the Chariot of the Shechinah. 10. He is the Holiness. 11. He is the vitality of the whole universe. 12. Through him all devotions rise up to Heaven. 13. All arousal to Teshuvah is through him…” Rabbi Yitzhak Breiter, Seven Pillars of Faith, Breslov Research Institute, pgs. 37-38 [6]

He has suffered for Israel and the entire world, that he may take away the punishment we deserve, as the Zohar says,

“When the Messiah hears of the great suffering of Israel in their dispersion, and of the wicked amongst them who seek not to know their Master, he weeps aloud on account of those wicked ones amongst them, as it is written: But he was wounded because of our transgression, he was crushed because of our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). The souls then return to their place. The Messiah, on his part, enters a certain Hall in the Garden of Eden, called the Hall of the Afflicted. There he calls for all the diseases and pains and sufferings of Israel, bidding them settle on himself, which they do. And were it not that he thus eases the burden from Israel, taking it on himself, no one could endure the sufferings meted out to Israel in expiation on account of their neglect of the Torah. So Scripture says, “Surely our diseases he did bear, etc. (Isaiah 53:4). A similar function was performed by R. Eleazar here on earth. For, indeed, beyond number are the chastisements awaiting every man daily for the neglect of the Torah, all of which descended into the world at the time when the Torah was given. As long as Israel were in the Holy Land, by means of the Temple service and sacrifices they averted all evil diseases and afflictions from the world. Now it is the Messiah who is the means of averting them from mankind until the time when a man quits this world and receives his punishment, as already said.” Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 212a, Soncino Press Edition

Hinei Mah Tov

The Lubavitcher Rebbe says,

“The Hebrew word for guarantor has the same root as the word for sweetness and pleasantness. Every Jew must look upon his brother and fellow guarantor with a kindly eye and seek what is good and worthy in his neighbor. The same Hebrew root also implies intermingling one with the other. Every Jew is part of the greater whole of the Jewish nation.” The Lubavitcher Rebbe [7]

This is the antidote, the reversal or tikkun for sinat chinam, baseless hatred. Baseless love. Yeshua taught that self-sacrificial Love is the Soul of the Torah. Today, there is one Jew who has been hated unjustly. He has been blamed – unfairly – for the sins of Rome and lawlessness in the world. He is Yeshua of Nazareth. Even though he has been hated, he has sweetened the Torah by taking away the sting of death by his suffering and death on our behalf. Even though he was exiled, he is part of the Jewish nation, and at the same time, the Totality, the Yechida, the Universal Soul of Israel. He is the Guarantor. He is the Messiah. He is Yeshua. 

והערב נא יי אלקינו את דברי תורתך בפינו ובפי עמך בית ישראל

V’ha’arev na HaShem Elokeinu et divrei Toratecha b’finu u’vefi amecha Beit Yisrael Please make sweet, HaShem our G-d, the words of your Torah in our mouths and in the mouth of your people the House of Israel



  1. Parsha In-Depth: Vayigash,

  2. Ibid.

  3. Midrash Rabbah, Song of Songs 1:4, cited in A Childish Understanding of the Torah, R’ Naftali Silberberg,

  4. Breslov Teachings About the Mashiach, Translated by Dovid Sears

  5. The Tzadik Emet – Part 3, Rabbi Nati, Mystical Paths

  6. Rabbi Yitzhak Breiter, Seven Pillars of Faith, Breslov Research Institute, pg. 37-38

  7. The Lubavitcher Rebbe cited in L’Chaim, Issue 770


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