Parashas Vayiggash

This week’s parashah describes Yosef and his brothers making peace with each other. This prompts the Midrash in Bereishis Rabbah 95:1 to expound on the end of days, where peace and wholeness will prevail:
It is written (Yeshayah 65:25): “The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion, like the cattle, will eat straw.” Come and see how, in the end of days, the Holy One Blessed He will turn to those whom He smote in this world and heal them. The blind will be healed, as it is written (ibid. 35:5): “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened.” And the lame will be healed, as it is written (ibid. 35:6): “Then the lame will skip like the gazelle and the tongue of the mute will sing forth.” … And even the wild animals will be healed, as it is written: “The wolf and the lamb will graze together.”
The Maggid sets out to explain this Midrash.
His starting point is another prophesy of Yeshayah about the peace that will prevail in the end of days (ibid. 11:6-9):
The wolf will dwell with the sheep, and the leopard will lie down with the kid; the calf, the young lion, and the fatling will [walk] together, and a young child will lead them. The cow and the bear will graze, and their young will lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the cattle. The sucking child shall play by the hole of the viper, and the newly-weaned child will place his hand on the adder’s den. They will neither hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of Hashem, as the waters cover the sea.
Yeshayah is saying that the spread of knowledge of Hashem throughout the world will automatically lead to peace among all creatures. We will explain why this is so. We know that the only reason Hashem created the world was to give us the opportunity to serve Him and to bring us good. Thus it is written (Tehillim 89:3): “The world is built upon kindness.” This being so, we are prompted to ask why creation is so filled with beings that cause distress and injury, from the destroying angels in heaven to the ravaging animals on earth. The answer is that everything Hashem created is for our benefit, including the harmful beings, and the purpose of these beings is to stir us to fear Hashem and keep us from straying. Thus, Hashem warns us that if we stray, He will “send the wild animals of the field against you, and they will leave you bereft of your children, decimate your livestock, and diminish you” (Vayikra 26:22).
Accordingly, Shlomo HaMelech declares (Koheles 3:14): “God made it [all of creation] so that He be feared.” Elsewhere Shlomo declares that “there is benefit to the world in everything, and the Midrash remarks (Koheles Rabbah 5:6): “R. Yehudah says: ‘Even the things within the world that you look upon as superfluous – these very things are among those that maintain the world in existence.’” Every element of creation plays a role in bringing creation as a whole to its perfection, even the beings that bring destruction, as we have explained.
In the world as we know it now, people are prone to sin due to the incitements of their evil inclination, and so the harmful beings are needed to maintain our fear of Hashem and keep us from sinning. But regarding the end of days, it is written (Yechezkel 36:26-27): “I will give you also a new heart, and a new spirit I will place within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from within your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and lead you to walk in My statutes, and You will keep Mine ordinances, and do them.” The evil inclination will be no more. As a result, there will no longer be any need for harmful beings. Accordingly, Hashem will strip these beings of their violent nature and make them docile and peaceful. This is the message of the prophesy of peace and harmony in Yeshayah 11.
The same message is conveyed in the Midrash with which we began. When the Midrash speaks of Hashem’s opening the eyes of the blind, it is speaking of His curing us from the blindness of the mind that results from the evil inclination’s efforts to confuse us and prevent us from seeing what is just and right. And when the Midrash speaks of Hashem’s healing the lame, it is speaking of His curing our legs and keeping them from straying from the proper path. Hashem smote us with the evil inclination, but in the end He will heal us of it. And when He does so, He will also cure the wild animals of their violent nature, for its purpose will have come to an end.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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