Parashas Vayechi

The Torah relates that, after Yaakov’s death, Yosef made an effort to reassure his brothers that he would not harm them. The Midrash elaborates (Yalkut Shimoni I:162):
“And he consoled them and spoke to them reassuringly [literally: spoke to their hearts]” (Bereishis 50:21). This teaches that he said to them words that penetrate the heart. “Just as ten candles could not snuff out one candle, how can one candle snuff out ten candles?” [That is, if the ten of you (not counting Binyamin) could not subdue me, how could I alone subdue the ten of you? The Midrash goes on to quote further arguments that Yosef made.] Yosef reassured his brothers with good words, and consoled them with consoling words. And when HaKadosh Baruch Hu comes to console Yerushalayim – as it is written (Yeshayah 40:2), “Speak reassuringly to Yerushalayim” – it will be all the more so. Thus it is written (ibid. 40:1): “Be consoled, be consoled My people.”
Last week we presented one of the Maggid’s interpretations of this Midrash. Here we present another.
Let us first recall Yosef’s words (Bereishis 50:19–21):
Do not be afraid, for am I in place of God? Although you intended me harm, God intended it for good: in order to make it as it is today, so that a vast nation may be sustained. So now, do not be afraid – I will provide for you and your children.
Yosef was saying that it was necessary for him to be sent to Egypt, in order for him to be able eventually to provide for Yaakov’s entire family. Thus, he argues, there is no reason for him to be angry with his brothers for sending to Egypt. It was all part of God’s plan.
The Midrash tells us that a similar idea applies to our being cast into exile. The Maggid brings out the idea with a moving parable:
A man and woman got married. They loved each other very much, but they were unable to have children. So the husband went to some doctors for advice. The doctors said that the couple must separate for a period of time. Afterward, when the rejoin, they will be able to have children. When the husband returned home, he immediately sent his wife out, and kept her away for the specified time. It is clear that the wife had no reason to feel shame over being sent away. On the contrary, it was out of love that the husband did so, in order that she should be able to bear children with him, and become bound to him forever.
Similarly, when God sent us into exile, it was not out of anger, but out of love. It is necessary for us to endure the afflictions of exile in order to become purified and thereby become a fitting mate for God. And when we do, God will bring us back, to reunite with Him in an eternal bond.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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