“Alma D’Shikra”is a mystical concept that means that the world is full of deception and illusion. The Ishbitzer Rebbe (R. Mordecai Yosef Leiner of Isbitza, 1801-1854) in The Mei Hashiloach, applies the idea of Alma D’Shikra to Vayigash and the dramatic turn of events that takes place when Yehudah confronts Yosef.
Rabbi Tvi Leshem has an excellent drasha explicating this, and, in another article, Rabbi David Fine explains the same concepts from the Ishbitzer Rebbe with a slightly different emphasis. Dixie Yid offers a short vort on this, which give yet another perspective on what the Ishbitzer Rebbe is saying about Vayigash.
The Ishbitzer Rebbe’s insight into Vayigash is that Yehudah’s confrontation of Yosef had an illusion at its foundation. Yehudah thought he was confronting a hostile, powerful Egyptian who posed a threat. He did not realize that he was facing his own brother and was not really ever in danger.
Similarly, the Ishbitzer notes, “when haShem will save us and redeem us, then He will show us that we were never in exile and no nation ever ruled over us, only haShem Himself.” It is an illusion that we are at the mercy of powerful people, whether they be government bureaucrats, despots, or employers. Ultimately, Hashem is in control and we only need worry about answering to a higher authority.
I wanted to do a parsha project that expressed this theme of illusion, so I made a dessert that looks like eggs, feels like eggs, even has the mouthfeel of eggs, but is something entirely different. This parsha dessert demonstrates that we live in a world of illusion, where our perceptions can deceive us.