Perashat Vayigash 5778
Perashat Vayigash 5778Friday, December 22, 2017
In this week's Perasha, Yosef reveals his identity to his brothers by saying, "Ani Yosef [I am Yosef]. Is my father still alive?" The Midrash comments on this passuk, "R. Elazar declared: Woe unto us on judgment day, woe unto us on the day of rebuke, for if Yosef could cause them to faint by saying, `I am your brother Yosef,' what will happen when Hashem arises to judge us. If a mere human could confound his brothers, how much more so will we be confounded when the Holy One, blessed be He, examines us" (Beresheet Raba 93:11).
When throwing Yosef in the pit, the brothers believed they were acting Leshem Shamayim, for heaven's sake. The Midrash says they made a Bet Din to convict Yosef of mutiny against the kingship of Yehudah. Deep down, their actions were spurred by hatred and jealousy. They convinced themselves that their motives were completely pure and impartial. Upon hearing Yosef declare, "I am Yosef", the brothers suddenly realized the fallacy of their beliefs. This simple declaration was enough to awaken them to the truth. The brothers had challenged the validity of Yosef's dreams, but his prophecies were correct. Indeed he was the chosen leader of the family. In an instant, their insistence on delegitimizing Yosef was revealed as fundamentally mistaken.
This is the great rebuke of which the Midrash warns. After 120 years, we will be shown that so much of our lives are lived on false premises.
The Hafess Hayim highlights this point. He writes that when Yosef's brothers initially arrived in Egypt they were interrogated harshly by Yosef and accused of being spies. They encountered so many strange events that led them all to wonder out loud to one another, "What is this that Hashem has done to us?" (Beresheet 42:28). When the brothers heard those two words, "I am Yosef", all their questions were answered. Suddenly, everything was clear. All the suffering that they endured was a result of having sold Yosef.
The Hafess Hayim concludes by saying that many question Hashem's way of running the world. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do the wicked prosper?
However, after 120 years, when we will hear the words Ani Hashem, I am Hashem, all the doubts we have will vanish.
We don't have to wait until then. Let's make sure that we are living with Emunah and trust in Hashem in the present and make our decisions based on truth and not on misguided assumptions about life.
Nov 13 2019
Heshvan 15 5780