Vayigash

[Based on an idea from Rav Pinchas Friedman]

After Yosef reveals his true identity to his brothers, the Torah states (Breishis 45: 14): “He fell upon his brother Binyamin’s neck and wept; and Binyamin wept upon his neck.  He then kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and afterwards his brothers spoke with him”.

Rashi explains that Yosef wept over the two Batei HaMikdash that were destined to be built in Binyamin’s territory and would ultimately be destroyed; Binyamin wept over the Mishkan of Shiloh that was destined to be built in Yosef’s (Ephraim’s) territory and would ultimately be destroyed.

These two brothers had not seen each other for 22 years; one would have thought that after such a prolonged separation they would have caught up a bit and reminisced about the good times back in Canaan. Instead, they wept on each other’s necks over the Batei HaMikdash/Mishkan that would be destroyed in their respective lands many years in the future.

The Ksav Sofer explains that Yosef and Binyamin wept because they knew that the hatred that divided the brothers and resulted in the sale of Yosef, would resurface over and over again and ultimately lead to the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash.

Rabbi Yechezkel of Kazmir notes that upon close examination of Rashi’s words, it is clear that neither brother wept over the destruction of the makom kadosh in his own territory, but rather over the makom kadosh located in his brother’s territory.
Yosef wept over the two Batei HaMikdash located in Binyamin’s territory that were destined to be destroyed, while Binyamin wept over the Mishkan in Shiloh located in Yosef’s territory that was destined to be destroyed.  They exemplify brothers who love one another, and who share in each other’s pain and sorrow when darkness befalls, and rejoice in their good fortune and happiness when the sun shines again.

Reb Yechezkel connects the emotions shared by Yosef and Binyamin with something else Yosef imparts. Before the brothers leave to go back to Yaakov, Yosef tells his brothers (Breishis 45:24)
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם אַל תִּרְגְּזוּ בַּדָּרֶךְ

He advises them “not to become agitated on the way”.  The pshat explanation, provided by Rashi, is that Yosef tells his brothers not to fight with each other regarding which of the brothers was responsible for the sale of Yosef — this is certainly a good lesson that we should avoid assigning blame and quarreling with our brothers over sins of the past.Offering a more drash approach, Reb Yechezkel says that there are many different ways and methods of serving Hashem.  If I see that my fellow Jew is not serving Hashem in the same manner that I do, I should not therefore become annoyed with him. It seems that Yosef wisely instructs and warns his brothers and their descendants (us): אל תרגזו בדרך — do not become agitated on the way; if you wish to correct the serious flaw of sin’at chinam and usher in the geula and Bayit Shlishi, do not get consumed by zealotry.  Rather than being bothered by another Jew’s method of serving Hashem, learn to accept him and his Torah lovingly, and continue on your own derech.  We all serve the same Creator and every Jew has his/her own unique way of serving Hashem.

 
 

Perhaps another lesson to be learned from the way Yosef interacts with his brothers, is how to give criticism. Before Yosef tells his brothers who he really is, he first asks them to come close to him (Breishis 45:4):
וַיֹּאמֶר יוֹסֵף אֶל אֶחָיו גְּשׁוּ נָא אֵלַי וַיִּגָּשׁוּ וַיֹּאמֶר אֲנִי יוֹסֵף אֲחִיכֶם אֲשֶׁר מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי מִצְרָיְמָה 

The Ohr HaChaim notes that Yosef didn’t really need to bring them in close, since he had already asked everyone besides his brothers to exit the room, three psukim earlier. Only his brothers were in the room, so why did they need to come closer? Yosef, however, didn’t want to announce this shameful piece of news, that he was the brother they had sold many years before. Instead, he brings them in close, and, in a whisper, according to the Ohr HaChaim, tells them he is Yosef whom they sold to Mitzrayim. Even though nobody else could hear and there was no issue of public embarrassment, nevertheless, in order to dull the sting of the revelation he had to make to his brothers, Yosef tells them in gentle way about their past sins.

As Reb Yechezkel points out, we shouldn’t be consumed by zealotry, but there are times when we need to be told by a Rav/friend/family member that we have done something wrong. If a person does need to be told this, perhaps the most effective way to do so, is to bring that individual in close and explain what wrongs have occurred.

Yosef equips us with the lessons of empathy, true forgiveness, avoidance of overzealousness, and effective methods of giving mussar, so that we may implement them ourselves when interacting with our own brothers and fellow Jews.

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