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After weeks of “keeping a secret,” Yosef can’t do it anymore! In this week’s parsha, Yosef (finally) reveals himself to his brothers.

After crying in private twice (Genesis 42:24 and 43:30) and trying to just “hold it in” (43:31 – VaYitapak), Yosef finally breaks in 45:1.

What made him cry the two times he did? And how was he ever able to hold in such a secret for so long?? What do you think? Discuss.

Have you ever had a secret that you just couldn’t tell? What does it feel like? Why do you think Yosef just didn’t want to tell his brothers that he was the viceroy of Egypt?!

(Some answers suggested in commentaries are that he wanted to punish them, that he saw G-d had a plan here and was just letting it unfold, that he was testing the brothers to see if they had changed and regretted what they did or that he felt rejected and assumed he was like Yishmael and Esav…)

Have you ever had to “hold in” your emotions or feelings – poor Yosef: he had to look composed and then excused himself and cried! Have you ever had that happen where you had to hide your true feelings? Why? Which feelings are easiest to hide? Which are hardest?

And imagine Yosef’s feelings the morning of his father’s scheduled arrival in Egypt! In 46:29, the Torah tells us that Joseph saddled his horse. Whereas some commentaries explain that he had servants do it, our Sages say that he, the viceroy of Egypt, literally saddled his horses and got the chariot ready himself– because he was so excited and loved his father so much and wanted to do every step necessary for the big reunion with his father. This excitement and then his subsequent crying upon hugging his father for the first time in 22 years show us that Yosef was a very emotional, loving person.

That just makes us feel all the more amazement that he was able to “keep it together” and not fall apart until he decided it was the time to reveal himself to his brothers. This kind of self-control is admirable and might be another attribute that explains our Sages nickname for Yosef – Yosef HaTzadik, i.e. Yosef The Righteous One. Righteous people have admirable self-control and inner strength. (Think of where righteous behavior would demand that.)

Do you?

Bracha Krohn is a mom of three living in Israel. She teaches children, teenagers and adults in schools, Batei Midrash and summer camp. “Table Talk” and “Personal Parsha” are based on the ideas she and her husband, also a Torah educator, discuss with their children around their weekly Shabbat table.