Epilogue to Bereishis

The Maggid teaches many times that the afflictions we suffer are a necessary means toward bringing about the final redemption, just as one must plow and sow in order to reap. As it is written (Tehillim 126:5, quoted in last week’s d’var Torah): “Those who sowed with tears will reap with joyous song.” The episode of Yosef and his brothers is a case in point. I present here a brief selection from the epilogue to Sefer Bereishis in Ohel Yaakov that elaborates on this theme. It is written (Yeshayah 35:10 and 51:11): “Those redeemed by Hashem shall return and come to Zion with exuberant song, with eternal joy upon their heads. They shall attain gladness and joy, and anguish and groaning shall flee.” What does it mean to say that “anguish and groaning shall flee”?
Consider what Balak said to Bilaam after Bilaam’s unsuccessful attempt to curse the Jewish People (Bamidbar 24:10-11): “I called you to curse my enemies, but, behold, you have repeatedly blessed them these three times! So, now, flee to your place. I said I would surely honor you, but, behold, Hashem has kept you back from honor.” We can explain this statement with an analogy. Suppose a doctor is called in to heal a sick person, and he does not succeed. Still, it is fitting to send the doctor back home in an honorable manner, without blame, for we understand that the doctor is not God. But now suppose it becomes known that the doctor had no idea of the nature of his patient’s sickness, and the medications he gave him actually made him worse. In this case, when the doctor heads home, people will say: “He is fleeing in disgrace.”
Similarly, at present we groan profusely over the hardships that come upon us, but in the end of days we will see, detail by detail, how each hardship produced a blessing. We will thus see, in retrospect, that there was no place for groaning. In expounding on the verse in Yeshayah, the Midrash in Shocher Tov 87 renders “eternal joy” (שמחת עולם) as “the joy of former times” (שמחה שמעולם). That is, we will rejoice in hindsight over the hardships we went through. We will attain gladness and joy, and anguish and groaning will flee, just as in the episode of Balak and Bilaam and the analogy of the doctor. In this vein, Hashem promises (Yirmiyah 31:12): “I shall transform their mourning into joy, and I shall comfort them and gladden them from their grief.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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