Rabbi Label Lam
Before the Picture is Complete
And Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in
Goshen. He appeared before him and he fell on his neck, and he wept
excessively. (Breishis 46:29)
But Jacob did not fall on the neck of Joseph and he did not kiss him. Our
sages say he was reciting "Shema". (Rashi)
It seems rather cool and aloof for Jacob to engaged in a religious ritual
rather than embrace his estranged son after twenty-two years of forced
Jacob, who had been the bearer of the great promises of building a holy
nation, had heard with his own ears the dreams told by Joseph. Although he
rebuffed him at the time in front of the brothers the verse testifies, "And
his father guarded the matter" meaning as Rashi explains, "He was waiting
and anticipating when they would be fulfilled." (Breishis 37:11) Now,
imagine how many events beyond human control had to be orchestrated with
precision and sequence before those dreams could come to fruition.
1-Joseph would have to incur the jealousy and suspicion of his brothers, in
an otherwise unified and functional family, to the degree that they would
be willing to sell him into slavery.
2-Joseph would have to find his way to a prison that would put him in close
contact with people close to Pharaoh.
3-Those men would have to have dreamt troubling dreams to invite Joseph to
display his "talent" for interpreting dreams.
4-Pharaoh would also have to have his pair of problematic dreams that call
Joseph's specialty into play on a grander scale.
5-Pharaoh would have to be convinced that not only is Joseph's
understanding of the dreams true, but he would have to be inspired to trust
Joseph with executing the plan that would save his country.
6-A world famine would have to descend over the whole world making Egypt
the only place to go to for food thanks to Joseph's insightfulness and
7-The brothers who had pursued him so zealously would have to be brought to
a point of truth and reconciliation.
8-Joseph would have to be able to relocate every citizen in Egypt in order
that their father Jacob could be convinced of the safety and wisdom of
bringing the entire family to Egypt.
9-That step would be in perfect concert with the Divine decree that was
told to Avraham 190 years earlier: "Know with certainty that your offspring
will be strangers in a land of strangers."
No person would so capable of manipulating nature, the minds of men, and
monarchs to have created such a result. Jacob and Joseph and all the other
players were as much confounded by the circumstances in which they found
themselves as anybody else. Still the drama was led to conclude exactly as
foretold in those dreams
By the time Jacob and Joseph were ready to greet each other, it was
abundantly evident that the fingerprints of Divinity were all over those
chapters of their lives. Like someone who traveling around a long
circuitous mountain road comes to a lookout vista, Jacob was able to see
from there the whole trail of Jewish history with perfect hindsight.
This meeting was much more than the reunification of a father and his son.
It was a rare moment of reaffirmation and confirmation of The Almighty's
absolute unity and mastery over the universe, history and the affairs of
man. It was not less than the final touches on a seamless vision of reality
the likes of which we anticipate daily but may need to wait a lifetime,
like Jacob, before the picture is complete
Text Copyright © 2003 Rabbi Label Lam and