17 Dec 2015 A Tearful Revelation
In a sefer full of drama, Parshas Vayigash is perhaps one of the most dramatic parshios in the book of Bereishis. We are told of the famous and fateful encounter between Yosef and Yehudah over the fate of Binyamin. We read of the dramatic revelation of the viceroy of Egypt to his stunned brothers, “I am Yosef; is my father still alive?” We cry at the emotional moment when Yaakov is informed that his long-lost, beloved son, Yosef the dreamer, is indeed alive and well, and he is the ruler over the entire land of Egypt! And then we shudder when we learn of the voluntary exile, wherein Yaakov and his family pack up their belongings – do not worry about your possessions, Yosef reassures them – and they descend en masse (all 70 souls) to their new land; the land of their exile and soon-to-be-servitude: the land of Egypt.
As Yosef reveals himself to his brothers, the Torah tells us that he can no longer hold himself back before all those who stand around him. He orders every Egyptian out of the room, to spare his brothers what would certainly be terrible shame when they hear the words, “I am Yosef your brother, whom you sold to Egypt.” And before he speaks, Yosef gives forth his voice and he cries – וַיִּתֵּן אֶת-קֹלוֹ, בִּבְכִי. His cries are so fervent, so heart-wrenchingly painful and emotional, and so loud, that וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ מִצְרַיִם, וַיִּשְׁמַע בֵּית פַּרְעֹה, even the land of Egypt and the house of Pharaoh hear the cries.
It is important to note that this is not the first time that Yosef cries. Yosef is a man of many emotions, many talents, much wisdom and tremendous emunah. Why, here, before the grand reveal, does he cry? Sure, this is an emotional moment for any person, but he gives forth his voice and weeps. Why?
Perhaps we need to understand what Yosef understood: that from this moment on, once he had revealed himself, the national galus would begin. Though this was a time of reunion and reconciliation, though this was a time of brotherhood and love, the future years did not bode well for the Israelites. Until this time, Yosef was alone in his exile. From this moment on, the entire Kneses Yisrael would join him in exile. It was time for the patriarch, Yaakov, and his family, to pack up their belongings and leave the Holy Land. Over this, indeed, there is what to weep.
עַל-אֵלֶּה אֲנִי בוֹכִיָּה, עֵינִי עֵינִי יֹרְדָה מַּיִם – Over these I cry, my eye, my eye runs with tears…
As good as exile may seem to be, and in Goshen for Yaakov and his family it was very good, it is still exile in a foreign land. Yaakov sent Yehudah ahead to set up a yeshiva in Egypt, the family was able to live together and in comfort, and Yosef provided for their every need. And yet! It was the beginning of shibud Mitzrayim, the terrible years of the Egyptian enslavement.
וַיִּתֵּן אֶת-קֹלוֹ, בִּבְכִי – Not for naught did Yosef cry before he revealed his true identity.
Yosef was a wise and discerning man, and with great foresight for what the future had in store, Yosef cried for the Bnei Yisrael. For their having to leave the Promised Land, for the suffering they would endure, for being foreigners in a land not theirs, and for all the trials and tribulations that come along with galus. And perhaps too, he cried over what got them into this situation in the first place: hatred between brothers, jealousy of one another, and the inability for brothers to speak to each other in peace.
קוֹל בְּרָמָה נִשְׁמָע נְהִי בְּכִי תַמְרוּרִים–רָחֵל, מְבַכָּה עַל-בָּנֶיהָ; מֵאֲנָה לְהִנָּחֵם עַל-בָּנֶיהָ, כִּי אֵינֶנּוּ – A voice is heard on high, lamentations and bitter weeping, Rachel cries for her children; she refuses to be comforted, for they are not.
Over galus, over the pain of exile, over the shame and oppression we have faced and continue to face, over all our trials and tribulations, there is indeed what to cry. However, Hashem promises us that the day will come when our tears will be turned into laughter and our mouths will be filled with song, יֵשׁ-תִּקְוָה לְאַחֲרִיתֵךְ – there is hope for the end, says Hashem, וְשָׁבוּ בָנִים, לִגְבוּלָם, and sons will return to their borders.
Yosef’s dying wish and final words reflected his hope and belief in the end: פקד יפקד אלקים אתכם – Hashem will surely redeem you, Yosef declared. His ancient words foreshadowed the sentiments of Jews from time immemorial: I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may tarry, nevertheless I wait for him. And when you get out of this place, Yosef made the Children of Israel swear, והעלתם את עצמתי מזה, make sure to take me with you. For if I cannot live and die in the Holy Land, then let my eternal rest be in the Holy Land.
For all of this, he cried.
And when that long awaited day of redemption arrives, ומחה ה׳ דמעה מעל כל פנים, Hashem will wipe the tears from upon every face. And then Yosef will cease from crying, his mother Rachel will stop her lamenting and weeping and Jerusalem will finally be consoled.
May it be immediate and in our days.
בברכת בשורות טובות ושבת שלום,