One of the great things about deep relationships is the development of communication. I am sure that many of us have been sitting around a table with close family and friends and something happens where you just look at one other person, share a glance or a wink, and you know exactly what the other is thinking. This can be particularly powerful after long absences from each other’s company. For example, after years apart, in attending a camp or high school reunion, you see an old friend, say one word, and laughter just bursts out. These are benefits to deep rooted relationships.
In this week’s Parsha, Parshat VaYigash, we get the epic reveal of Joseph’s true identity to his brothers. After an emotional reunion, Joseph sends for his father, Jacob. The other brothers traveled back to the Land of Israel with serious provisions for their journey, including many animals, clothing, silver and wagons to carry it all. When the brothers tell Jacob that Joseph still lives and all that had happened to them, he does not believe them. Then, Jacob sees the wagons and he knows the truth. “…and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived/וַיַּרְא אֶת-הָעֲגָלוֹת אֲשֶׁר-שָׁלַח יוֹסֵף לָשֵׂאת אֹתוֹ; וַתְּחִי רוּחַ יַעֲקֹב אֲבִיהֶם.” Why is Jacob revived at the sight of the wagons?
The Berdichever Rebbe explains that the wagons/agalot/עגלות were a sign from Joseph to Jacob that he should not be afraid from going down to Egypt and the impending exile. The wagons/agalot/עגלות represented a circle/igul/עיגול. Even though things might get rough in Egypt, they would eventually come back around. Going down to Egypt would be what moves the people of Israel to come back up redeemed and ready to become a people of Torah and Mitzvot that eventually return to the Land of Israel to inhabit it. This sign calms Jacob and he knows that everything will be ok.
The Midrash reads the sign slightly differently. According to rabbinic tradition, when Joseph was younger, he and Jacob would sit and study Torah all day. They were very close, and this is how they spent their time. Just before Joseph was sold into slavery, the last thing that he and Jacob studied together were the laws of the “broken necked heifer/eglah arufah/עגלה ערופה.” All these years after Joseph had been taken, they both still, sadly, remembered their time together studying Torah. And they both remembered that the last thing that they studied was the eglah arufah. They were the only two that knew that. So, when Jacob sees the agalot he remembers the eglah and knows that it must be Joseph sending him a sign!
These images depict a relationship that is incredibly close, despite many years spent separately. It teaches us that across countries, oceans and worlds, we can remain in deep connection with those that we love. As we enter the darkest and coldest part of the calendar year, we should remember that we are blessed to be connected to all Jews around the world. All we have to do is reach out and send a sign—then we can begin the journey to our reunion and redemption.
 Gen. 45:27
 Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (1740–1809 in Berdychiv), also known as the Berdichever, was a Hasidic leader. He was the rabbi of Ryczywół, Żelechów, Pinsk and Berdychiv, for which he is best known. He was one of the main disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch, and of his disciple Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg, whom he succeeded as rabbi of Ryczywół…He authored the Hasidic classic Kedushas Levi, which is a commentary on many Jewish religious books and laws, and is arranged according to the weekly Torah portion.
 Deut. 21:1-21
 Gen. Rab. 95:3
Rabbi Ezra Balser has been the rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom since July 1, 2016. He received his “smicha” (ordination) in June 2017 from Hebrew College while also earning a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies. He has also received the iCenter's Certification in Israel Education.