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Rabbinical HOMEiletics: Part 4

What’s Behind the Picture?

Sometimes you look at a picture, and although you see it clearly, you know there’s more than meets the eye. You don’t know what it is that’s not right, but you have enough experience to know that there must be more than meets the eye.

We begin reading the Yosef narrative this week in Parshat Vayeshev. When we read the pesukim, they paint a picture of a sibling rivalry of the Shivtei Kah superimposed on what seems to be favoritism shown by our father Yaakov towards Yosef. We then scratch our heads and ask how could this possibly be?

Many of the commentators explain what the jealousy was based on, and why Yaakov gave the Ketones Passim to Yosef and not to the other brothers. However, even after learning all of the Mefarshim, we come away with the feeling that there must be something bigger going on. There must be some Divine orchestration managing and choreographing this upsetting chapter in our history.

The Midrash Yalkut Shimoni Hosea 528 teaches that all that takes place between Yosef and his brothers is so that Yosef could pave the way for Yaakov and his sons who would later descend to Egypt on noble chariots. This in turn would develop into our servitude in Egypt, which would eventually lead to our redemption, the receiving of the Torah and our entry to the land of Israel and the building of the first Beit Hamikdash.

This teaching provides us with an insight and an attitude of how to view world events in real time. Often what takes place in front of our eyes is perplexing and even disturbing. We see the little picture in front of our eyes and are blind to the larger picture behind it that would shed light and hope on the situation.

Just as the travails of Yosef and his brothers caused initial grief and unrest to the family of Israel, yet led eventually to the bigger picture of Yetzias Mitzraim, our Geulah, and entry into Israel, so too may Hashem bless us to see the return of our nation to Eretz Yisrael soon in our days – Amen.

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