21 Dec 2017 Parshas Vayigash – The Master Plan
In this week’s parsha, Parshas Vayigash, we learn of the emotional, tear-filled revelation of the Egyptian viceroy, as the ruler of Ancient Egypt and antiquity, powerfully and stunningly declares (what may arguably be the most famous words in all of Bereishis): אֲנִי יוֹסֵף, הַעוֹד אָבִי חָי – I am Yosef, is my father still alive (Bereishis 45:3). Faced with this unexpected, shocking, painful and stunning truth, the brothers of Yosef are absolutely silent: וְלֹא-יָכְלוּ אֶחָיו לַעֲנוֹת אֹתוֹ כִּי נִבְהֲלוּ מִפָּנָיו – and his brothers could not answer him, for they were shocked before him (v.3).
After a sixteen verse soliloquy eloquently expressed by Yehuda, in defense of their honesty and when faced with the imminent capture of Binyamin, the brothers’ silence is now deafening.
To his stunned brothers, Yosef then says: אֲנִי יוֹסֵף אֲחִיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר-מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי, מִצְרָיְמָה – I am Yosef your brother, that you sold me to Egypt (v.4).
However, Yosef proceeds to reassure his brothers that this was all part of the Divine plan, that they should not be upset or agitated over what has happened, that they should go tell Father that Yosef is still alive – and he is the ruler over Egypt (!), that the family should descend en masse to Egypt, where Yosef will provide for them in the coming years of famine.
The brothers ascend to Canaan and relate to Yaakov, their elderly father, that Yosef, the long-lost son, is very much alive and well, and is the ruler over the land of Egypt. After a momentary overturning of his heart, for Yaakov does not believe them, Yaakov’s spirit is revived. Triumphant and hopeful, Yaakov and his family descend to Egypt, to settle in the territory of Goshen.
If we were to learn nothing else from the story of Yosef (and we learn many, many things), it’s that we have many plans and many thoughts, and yet, we are not in control of the bigger picture called Life. רַבּוֹת מַחֲשָׁבוֹת בְּלֶב-אִישׁ – There are many thoughts in the heart of man, וַעֲצַת ה’ הִיא תָקוּם – and yet, the counsel of Hashem will be upheld (Mishlei 19:21).
The brothers were jealous of and hated Yosef, for his coat, his dreams, and father’s love, and so, they kidnapped Yosef and conveniently disposed of him, “let’s see what will become of his dreams!” they confidently declared;
Yosef finds himself facing one struggle after another: from the death of his beloved mother as she birthed Binyamin, to the animosity of the brothers; from the slave block to Potiphar’s seductress wife; from prison boy to prison warden; from jail to throne; from being in the Promised Land to being in the Land of Exile;
Yaakov is faced with the hatred of his brother, Eisav; the dishonesty of his father-in-law, Lavan; the feelings, longings, prayers and emotions of his wives; the violation of Dina; the too-early death of his beloved wife, Rachel; the disappearance of Yosef, and his years of pain in the aftermath of Yosef’s abduction.
These great personalities face upheaval, confusion, indecision, longing, wondering, regret and hope.
And yet, when Yosef finally reveals his true identity, he reassures his brothers – and us – that their turbulent past was for a reason: Do not be sad and do not be upset, for G-d has sent me before you to be a provider of life (See Bereishis 45:5,7).
We, too, often sojourn through this finite world facing upheaval, confusion, indecision, longing, wondering, regret and hope. We are faced with painful situations that we cannot understand; inexplicable suffering; losses that are staggering; struggles that are many… And sometimes it just all seems to make no sense.
But Yosef, whose last name was tzaddik, never gave up on his hopes and dreams. He never stopped believing that all that they went through was the will of G-d, guiding them along the right path.
For at the end of the day, the truth was revealed to all: וְעַתָּה, לֹא-אַתֶּם שְׁלַחְתֶּם אֹתִי הֵנָּה, כִּי האלקים – And now, it is not you who sent me here, it was G-d (45:8).
It is helpful to remember, when going through turbulent times, that Hashem has a master plan. And though it may take time for that plan to be revealed, we hope, we pray, we trust and we wait… for on that great day, it will all make sense.
R’ Yehoshua Berman was maspid (eulogized) his rebbi, R’ Mosheh Twersky zt’l HY”D (a gaon olam who was murdered in the Har Nof massacre R”L) and said, “Intellectually, we realize that we are like the person looking through the keyhole in a hospital, and all he sees is a hand holding a knife and cutting into someone’s body. We cannot see more than that, so to us it looks like outright murder. Of course, we know that Hashem knows what He is doing and that everything is ultimately for our good, but that awareness is way up in the abstract realm of our rational thinking. Our emotions, though, are heaving and throbbing with pain, and that intense anguish is our reality down here in this world. So what are we to do?
“We need to be able to feel that, despite all the incomprehensible pain and destruction, even in the depths of tragedy, Hashem is with us, that He never leaves go of us. This is perhaps one of the greatest lessons I ever learned from Rebbi (R’ Twersky): Talk to Hashem. Share your pain with Him. As hard as it is, allow yourself to connect with Him even in your most difficult moments, for that is where you will find strength and solace” (Living On, Feldheim, p.96-97).
May we merit the day when the truth will be revealed, when Hashem’s plan will make sense, when we will be a joyful people sharing only joyful tidings.
For on that great day, we will be like dreamers, אָז יִמָּלֵא שְׂחוֹק, פִּינוּ וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה, then our mouths will be filled with laughter and our tongues with song… הָלוֹךְ יֵלֵךְ, וּבָכֹה נֹשֵׂא מֶשֶׁךְ-הַזָּרַע, he who goes weeping, carrying the valuable seeds, בֹּא-יָבֹא בְרִנָּה–נֹשֵׂא, אֲלֻמֹּתָיו, he will come back with song, carrying his sheaves.
May it be immediate and in our days.
בברכת בשורות טובות ושבת שלום,