05 January 2017

Parshas Vayigash – FROM MITZRAIM TO ARAD

Roy S. Neuberger

“Ani Yosef! Ha-od Avi chai?… 
I am Yosef. Is my father still alive?”

To me, these are the most emotional words in all Chumash. I cry whenever I read them. It seems the entire earth shakes when Yosef utters these words. The stunning revelation of truth, the fulfillment of Yosef’s dreams, these are like the shofar blasts at Har Sinai. Who would not tremble at such words?

Nevertheless, this is not the final tikkun. Somehow, even these resounding words seem to fall short of the complete redemption desired by Yosef, and the clear proof is that they are immediately followed by Golus Mitzraim, the prototype of all exiles. What happened?

We are told that, immediately before the revelation, “Yosef could not restrain himself.” (Beraishis 45:1) I heard from our son, Reb Aharon Yaakov, that Rabbi Malkiel Kotler Shlita”h , said in his father’s name that, based on this possuk, it is clear that Yosef desired to restrain himself before revealing his identity but (understandably) was unable to do so. As a result, he revealed himself slightly earlier than he had intended, and therefore the tikkun for the sinas chinom was incomplete.
The result of that microscopic difference in time has been that the deadly plague of sinas chinom has not yet been eradicated from Am Yisroel. 
The effect of this is incalculable, and includes almost two thousand years of our current agonizing Golus, from which, clearly, we have not yet been released. That the entire United Nations is now condemning the tiny state of Israel as if the Jews were the cause of all the world’s evils is only the latest in the seemingly boundless hatred unleashed as a result of this catastrophic situation.

Immediately following Yosef’s revelation, he and Binyomin cry upon each other’s necks (Beraishis 45:14). Rashi, citing Beraishis Rabbah, says on this possuk, that Yosef cried “over the two temples that are destined to be in the portion [of] Binyomin,” and Binyomin wept “over the Mishkan Shiloh, which is destined to be in the portion of Yosef.” Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, revered Rosh Hayeshiva of Sh’or Yoshuv, recalled the commentary of the Sefas Emes.
 Why did the thought of Churban Bais Hamikdosh arise at this very moment? Because the tikkun for the sinas chinom was incomplete, the Batai Mikdosh were destroyed!

Everyone who studies his or her own life will understand how a few seconds can have cosmic consequences. As the saying goes, “timing is everything.” I would like to quote a personal recollection: “How is it that Rebbetzin Jungreis was scheduled to be in Bob Ushman’s synagogue on that day, at the exact time when, after thirty-one years of living on this earth, we were ready to come home to G-d? … I, the endlessly restless soul, had exhausted every option and Leah was exhausted from living with me…. At that very … microsecond, Rebbetzin Jungreis was sent into our life.

“I say ‘sent.’ It didn’t just happen. The Children of Israel left Egypt at precisely the last second. One more instant and assimilation would have swallowed us up forever…. At the exact bottom, G-d scooped us up and we were saved. At precisely the moment in my life when I was willing to say, ‘OK G-d, I give up. I am willing to admit I am a Jew. I am willing to put a yarmulka on my head. I am willing to walk into a synagogue,’ at precisely that moment G-d sent an angel to rescue us.” (From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul)

And now let us return to the present and see the result of sinas chinom. This devastating bitterness has not ended. Look at the tragedy in Arad! The brothers are still fighting! “Ana Hashem Hoshia Na … Please Hashem, save us!” When will we wake up!

My friends, we are standing at the threshold of the Geulah Shelemah. The nations are in turmoil and the entire world is trying to find a way to blame the Children of Israel for all their troubles. How are we going to save ourselves?

I have a non-Jewish acquaintance who works in Borough Park, where he has developed a great respect for Bnai Yisroel. But it wasn’t always like that. Before he moved to New York, he lived in other cities with large Jewish populations and the picture was very different. Let’s just say that he was treated with terrible disrespect by some of our brethren. How are we supposed to act toward all bnai Adam? “They said of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai that no one ever greeted him first, even a gentile in the market.” (Berachos 17a)

Chazal say, “Who is destined for [a share in] the World to Come? One who is modest and humble, who enters bowing and leaves bowing, who learns Torah constantly but doesn’t take credit for himself.” (Sanhedrin 88b) The non-Jewish world would laugh at such a statement, but they also laugh at the idea of the World to Come. These are, however, the words of Chazal; if we desire to live in this world and the next, we must regard them with the greatest seriousness.

Let’s be clear about this: our very lives are at stake. Is it an accident that the nations are encircling Yerushalayim? Is it an accident that Yishmael and Esav are joining hands and pointing all their most choice epithets of hatred at us, as well as their missiles? Nothing is an accident. We do not understand how close we are to the edge of the cliff.

Remember the words from this week’s Parsha, “His brothers … hated him and they could not speak to him peaceably.” (Beraishis 37:4) We do not have to be like this. We can change everything and complete the work of Yosef ha Tzaddik! We can bring the Geulah Shelemah with the coming of Moshiach ben Dovid, may we greet him soon in our days!

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Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at roy@2020vision.co.il.

© Copyright 2017 by Roy S. Neuberger

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