Imagine the scene. Yaakov Avinu is at his home in Israel. His beloved wife had died; his favorite child has been missing and presumed dead for twenty-two years. Shimon , his second eldest is being held captive in Egypt and in order to have any hope of redeeming him, his youngest son Benjamin must be sent down to Egypt, something Yaakov is determined to prevent. Who knows what might happen to him? A famine has been raging for two years, is getting worse and starvation is a real possibility. Yehuda in a bid to ease his fathers concerns "guarantees" that he will safeguard Binyamin from harm. Yaakov reluctantly - what choice did he really have? - agrees to send him with his brothers.
Yaakov is thus left at home alone, an elderly man of one hundred and thirty years waiting nervously for the return of his eleven "remaining" sons. Finally they arrive to tell him that not only is Yosef alive but that he is the governor over all the land of Egypt. "Jacob's heart became numb, for he could not believe them (45:26)." Just the mere mention of Yosef was enough for Jacob to break down. "Then they related all the words that Joseph had spoken to them and he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport them. The spirit of their father was then revived (45:27)." Imagine the absolute feeling of joy Yaakov must have had at that moment, a joy so great that considering his age it could actually be quite dangerous. Not surprisingly the first words out of his mouth are "It's too much, my son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him before I die."
As Jacob begins his journey to see his beloved son after twenty- two years of mourning he suddenly stops to offer a sacrifice to G-d. Jacob understood that our first obligation is to G-d and no matter how great our joy it must be subservient to G-d. This notion is reflected in a midrashic comment regarding the actual reconciliation of Yaakov and Yosef. "Joseph harnessed his chariot and he went to greet his father and he appeared unto him and he fell on his neck and he wept on his neck." The problem the commentaries deal with is who is "he"? Was it Yaakov who cried or was it Joseph? Unlike the reconciliation between Eisav and Yaakov where the Torah tells us "and they wept" (33:3) here the Torah explicitly uses the singular "he". Rashi quoting the Midrash claims it was Joseph who was crying whereas Yaakov was busy saying the Shma . What an odd time to say the Shma! Could he not have said it on his way to meet Yosef or after their reunion?
Yaakov realized that absolute love must be reserved for G-d and G-d alone. He was afraid that his love for Yosef was so overpowering that it would supercede his love of G-d. In an act of amazing restraint he chose this moment to accept the yoke of G-d, channeling his natural love for his son to love of the Divine. (It is interesting to note that Jewish law states that one must not kiss another human being in shul. Any overt acts of affection in our miniature temple should be reserved for G-d alone.)
After offering his sacrifice one would expect an excited Yaakov hurrying off to Egypt. Yet the Torah tells us "G-d spoke to Israel in a night vision and said "Jacob, Jacob. Do not be afraid to go to Egypt (46:2-3)." Why was Yaakov afraid? He was finally going to be reunited with his son. Yet the fact that unlike his father, Yaakov had to leave Israel, the focal point of the Divine presence and reside in a land steeped in idolatry worried him. Who knows how Yosef himself was affected by the powerful influences of Egyptian culture? Yes, he would see his son but . religious fidelity was first and foremost and the land of Egypt is no substitute for the land of Israel.
Yaakov devoted every fiber in his body to carrying out G-d's will. Everything else was secondary. This is a difficult model for us to follow but is the model that we as Bnei Yisroel , the children of Israel must aspire to. Shabbat Shalom!