Rabbi Krakowski On Parshas Vayigash


krakowskiBy Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski

It is in this week’s Sedra that Yosef makes himself known to his brothers. The Torah tells us when Yosef revealed his true identity to them, his brothers couldn’t answer him כי נבהלנו מפניו – because they were shocked. The word “shocked”, however, doesn’t seem to accurately translate the phrase כי נבהלנו מפניו as Rashi (based on Chazal in numerous places) explains that the brothers’ inability to talk was due to their embarrassment or shame.

The Medrash (Rabba, see also Tanna Devei Eliyahu) explains: if the Shivtei Kah could not answer Yosef and found themselves speechless because of their embarrassment in front of Yosef, then all the more so how will we react when we face Hashem at the time of our Final Judgment?

The Gemorah (Brachos and Chazal in various other places) tells us that when we are confronted by Yissurim (suffering, travail) we must engage in introspection and think about our own actions because Yissurim are reminders and punishments for our wrongdoings. Chazal explain that Hashem punishes in a just manner – that the punishment fits the crime. Hence our introspection is made all the more simple since generally our Yissurim will be similar to the wrongdoing committed.

While Chazal tell us that we must harness the difficulties we encounter by identifying what wrongdoing these difficulties might be related to, we so often do not do so. Instead we merely get aggravated or agitated by them.

Yosef’s brothers had already assumed that the calamities that had recently befallen them had to do with their misconduct toward Yosef.  Nonetheless, when Yosef identified himself they were too astonished to talk. They realized that Yosef’s dreams were indeed true and that they had jumped the gun. It was too much for them to bear; they became completely catatonic. The Kal Vechomer to our final day of judgment is just that. While we may choose to ignore the messages imbedded in our every difficulty, one day these will nevertheless all be revealed to us. The revelation will cause catatonia. We will be utterly speechless – for the obvious lessons we ignored.

While it may be impossible for us to get every message and lesson sent to us – we can still try to harness as many as possible. The basic lesson is difficulties = lessons.

A very warm Good Shabbos.

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