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Parshas Vayigash 5758 - '98

Outline Vol. 2, # 10

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

Yoseif and the Brothers

The Shem Mishmuel notes: even after the brothers had quietly recognized their guilt, Yoseif continued to treat them harshly. Why? They had expressed their pain and sorrow over their crime of having sold their brother. What else did Yoseif want from them?

There were two aspects of the crime. One, the injustice of the decision to sell their own flesh and blood. Two -- even if they had been correct in their decision -- the lack of any show of mercy to their brother, was in itself horrendous. Yoseif succeeded in bringing out the love that the brothers had for one other.

There are many difficulties in the story of Yoseif and the brothers; the discussion above sheds light on the whole episode. More -- it sheds light on the entire first book of the Torah. The first brothers were Kayin and Hevel (Cain and Able). Just as their relationship ended in tragedy -- the inter-relationships of Bnei Yisrael might have ended in tragedy. Yoseif was bringing out the missing link -- the love of brothers.

There is another lesson here. The brothers reacted to their troubles by recalling their mistakes. Unaware that Yoseif was manipulating events, they nonetheless believed that circumstances were not mere chance, but carefully orchestrated.

The Dream

As a child, I had a recurring nightmare. I was alone in a car... the car was driving by itself! Now, a child knows that a competent adult must drive. What could be more frightening to a child than the realization that the car is moving without direction? Before the journey could proceed, I would awaken in terror...

After some 35 years, I had the dream again. This time, it was a van, and my children were in the car. After the initial shock, I noticed that the car was moving slowly, and taking the turns nicely. I comforted my children, saying: "You see, it's going somewhere."

The difference in my reaction was merely a product of my change in status. A child expects to be comforted, while a father expects to provide consolation. But the father's attitude is accurate. The vehicle is going somewhere... It's our job to watch out for signs, to see if we can chart the course. Perhaps we can find the real driver, and influence the direction of the journey...

The Miracles Around Us

Whatever happens to us has meaning and purpose; only if we pay careful attention, may we pick up the messages and profit.

In the T'hillim (Psalms 116:3-4;13) Dovid Hamelech wrote: "Sadness and sighing I found; I call on the name of Hashem (in praise)." "The cup of salvation I raise, I will call on the name of Hashem (in praise)."

It is understood that one praises Hashem for salvation, but why thank for `sadness and sighing'? In the Talmud (Brochos 60b), these verses are a source of the statement, "A person is obligated to make a brocha on the `bad' just as he is obligated on the `good.' " One of the commentaries notes that the quotes from T'hillim (Psalms 116) are not similar. "Sadness and sighing I found; I call on the name of Hashem..." are two adjacent verses, but "The cup of salvation I raise, I call on the name of Hashem..." is one verse. What is the reason for the difference? When a person is successful, it is easy to be grateful. However, when faced with sadness and sighing, one must pause and regain composure, and only then return to declarations of gratitude. Therefore, there is a break in the text between the sadness and the gratitude, while the person saved needs no such break.

Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
Kollel of Kiryas Radin
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156

Good Shabbos!

Text Copyright © '98 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.



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