Every Man for Himself

Dec 26th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week, Prayer
“Say the word and I’ll turn you loose

I got mine now you get yours

Just like you I’ve got my price

Sure is nice that someone paid

I’ve got my ticket out of here

But for you, I fear, it’s much too late

It’s nothing you can blame me for

In love and war

It’s every man for himself ‘

– Steppenwolf, *Every Man For Himself*

“Now it’s every man for himself tonight

We’re lookin’ out for number one, tryin’ to get on with our lives

And it’s heart-breakin’ and it’s soul achin’

When you got nobody else

So friends it’s good to have you here tonight

But it’s every man for himself

Neal McCoy, *Every Man For Himself*

With apologies to Steppenwolf and Neal McCoy, I must point out that one of the most significant lessons that Joseph conveyed to his brothers was that they could no longer function, “Every Man for Himself.”

“He then kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; afterwards his brothers conversed with him (Genesis 45:15).” We do not find Joseph focusing on his brothers as individuals, but only as a group. In fact, despite having paid special attention to Benjamin, he quickly moves from Benjamin to them all, as if to convey a message that they were all to him equal to Benjamin.

This does not mean that he stopped treating them as individuals: “To each of them he gave changes of clothing (Verse 22).” Only after insisting that they were all equal in his eyes, did he treat each as an individual.

I believe that this explains why we seem to have a redundancy in the portion: “Now these are the names of the children of Israel who were coming to Egypt (46:8).”

“All the people of Jacob’s household who came to Egypt; seventy (Verse 27).”

The family came as a unified family, and they came as seventy individuals.

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