Reading this week's Torah portion (וַיִּגַּ֨שׁ), amongst the various storylines The Israelites moved and dwelt in the land of Goshen. What does the name גֹּשֶׁן‎ mean? Is there a connection between that and the name of this particular Parsha, וַיִּגַּ֨שׁ? Todah Rabbah.

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    There is definitely a connection, Yosef says that by settling down in Goshen, his family will be close to him (Ber25:10). Also, note Ber.25:4 when Yosef ask the brothers to get closer to him. This is the parsha of the reunion
    – Eli83
    Dec 24, 2020 at 20:41
  • @Eli83 Todah for that angle, I never thought to look at it like that. I know I inspected the word used for that was קָרַב and I took that as the connection for the Haftarah (Ezekiel and the two sticks drawing near).
    – יהודה
    Dec 24, 2020 at 22:12
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    Another approach connecting it to the word גוש jewishvirtuallibrary.org/goshen Dec 25, 2020 at 9:13
  • @Kazibácsi todah for that. With that possibility what role does the final Nun play in the meaning?
    – יהודה
    Dec 25, 2020 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


Following on from the comments, the parsha of Vayigash is so-called because the brothers "approached" Yosef. It represented the climax of their interaction with the 'grand reveal' of Yosef's identity.

It says in Bereishis 45:4:

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יוֹסֵ֧ף אֶל־אֶחָ֛יו גְּשׁוּ־נָ֥א אֵלַ֖י וַיִּגָּ֑שׁוּ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֲנִי֙ יוֹסֵ֣ף אֲחִיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־מְכַרְתֶּ֥ם אֹתִ֖י מִצְרָֽיְמָה׃

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come forward to me.” And when they came forward, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, he whom you sold into Egypt.

This approach was a התקרבות, a coming close to Yosef, as they experience an emotional reunion. It is precisely because they are now all back together, and in light of the famine etc. that Yosef seeks to relocate them to Egypt but specifically in their own locale - the land of Goshen.

It says in Bereishis 45:10:

וְיָשַׁבְתָּ֣ בְאֶֽרֶץ־גֹּ֗שֶׁן וְהָיִ֤יתָ קָרוֹב֙ אֵלַ֔י אַתָּ֕ה וּבָנֶ֖יךָ וּבְנֵ֣י בָנֶ֑יךָ וְצֹאנְךָ֥ וּבְקָרְךָ֖ וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר־לָֽךְ׃

You will dwell in the region of Goshen, where you will be near me—you and your children and your grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all that is yours.

It is worth noting the Ishbitzer in Mei HaShiloach on the verse in Bereishis 47:27, which whilst speaking in a different context (i.e. that despite leaving the holiness of Eretz Yisroel behind, they were able to transpose a sense of kedusha to Egypt) he specifically translates the name Goshen as stemming from התקרבות - a drawing near:

וזה פירוש וישב ישראל בארץ מצרים בארץ גושן, היינו שאף בארץ מצרים היה קרוב להש"י והיה מקום מקודש, כי גושן היא לשון התקרבות.

And this is the explanation of "And Israel lived in the land of Egypt in the land of Goshen" - this means that even the land of Egypt was close to Hashem and was a sanctified place, because Goshen is an expression of "drawing near".

Indeed, this reunification of the 12 tribes had to happen and work in the societal structure and segregated land of Goshen. The verse in Bereishis 45:11 writes:

וְכִלְכַּלְתִּ֤י אֹֽתְךָ֙ שָׁ֔ם כִּי־ע֛וֹד חָמֵ֥שׁ שָׁנִ֖ים רָעָ֑ב פֶּן־תִּוָּרֵ֛שׁ אַתָּ֥ה וּבֵֽיתְךָ֖ וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר־לָֽךְ׃

There I will provide for you—for there are yet five years of famine to come—that you and your household and all that is yours may not suffer want.’

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch here notes that the family of Yaakov would never have developed into a nation if they had stayed in Canaan. As the families would have grown and expanded, they would have become more scattered amongst the inhabitants, thereby risking assimilation and inter-marriage. However, by forcing them to living in an almost 'ghetto'-like existence in Goshen, they were spiritually and religiously guarded.

So the land of 'Goshen' not only helps to highlight that they drew close it actually was conceivably, the channel through which the combined nation could collectively and closely rise to fruition.

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    Can someone please clarify how is the word גושן related to התקרבות?
    – user16403
    Jan 3, 2021 at 3:42
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    The word גשו or ויגש which is of a similar construct to the word גושן means to approach. When you approach someone you draw near to them.
    – Dov
    Jan 3, 2021 at 9:16

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