June 15, 2024
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One Day It Will All Make Sense

From the moment the brothers came face to face with the ruler of Egypt, Yosef—whom they hadn’t yet realized was their very own brother—they experienced one setback after another. They came to Egypt simply to buy some food, and the next thing they know their innocent endeavor turns into a series of obstacles and perplexing events, bringing forth a rollercoaster of thoughts, questions and emotions.

Right off the bat, the ruler began persecuting and prosecuting them! He immediately “spoke with them harshly” (42:7) and accused them—an accusation that could have led to their execution: “From where do you come!? (Ibid) … You are spies!” (v. 9). They, of course, denied this, but the ruler persisted to accuse them, saying, “No! (V. 12) … It is just as I have declared to you: ‘You are spies!’” (v. 14).

The brothers came to Egypt as per their fathers request that they acquire food from there. They were obeying their father. Moreover, they also intended to search the land to see if they could hopefully find their long lost brother Yosef. They came with such noble intentions and then they are treated so harshly and suffer accusations! Anyone in their shoes might have been beyond shocked and terrified, wondering and questioning how all of this is suddenly happening to them.

The ruler then offers a way to “prove their innocence” and says, “By this shall you be tested: … You will not leave here unless your youngest brother (Binyamin) comes here. Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother while you shall remain imprisoned” (v. 15-16). The brothers are given an ultimatum to either fetch Binyamin, who was Yaakov’s cherished child, or possibly be killed instead. Additionally, they are incarcerated for three days, and on the third day the ruler keeps just one of them while allowing the rest to go bring Binyamin (v. 17-20).

The next couple of pesukim (see 21-22) show the brothers’ attempts to understand why these events had befallen them. Indeed, the Chafetz Chaim (al HaTorah, Vayigash) says that from this encounter with Yosef, the brothers were left with a myriad of questions—what is happening? For what reason is all this occurring? They tried to understand, but they simply could not comprehend what was going on.

During their departure, one of the brothers opens his sack and realizes he was set up for a misdeed that could have denounced all of them as thieves and as a result be sold as slaves. The brothers’ “hearts sank, and they turned trembling one to another, saying (v. 28), ‘What is this that God has done to us?’” Indeed they were frightened, and mystified. Here too, says the Chafetz Chaim, the brothers were questioning, grasping for an understanding of why they were experiencing such perplexing events.

Trying to bring Binyamin was a massive struggle, and only after much bargaining did Yaakov acquiesce. When they finally produce the ruler’s request—which should have proven their innocence and put an end to this difficult and dramatic process—they are brought into the ruler’s private quarters and are frightened that he may harm them (see 43:17-18).

Even more horrifying, just when one might have thought this wild escapade was finally over, they are met with yet another, and perhaps the most intense, experience of pain and agony (see 44:1-13): As they depart Egypt to return home, they are accused of stealing the ruler’s silver goblet, and if found they would incur the punishment of being a slave. To their utmost shock, the goblet is found in none other than Binyamin’s sack! Grief stricken, and greatly distressed over the thought of what might happen to their father Yaakov when he found out that Binyamin was to be a slave, the brothers rent their garments. Yehuda tries to bargain with the ruler to take him as a slave instead of Binyamin, but the ruler doesn’t budge.

Could we even imagine the confusion and questions the brothers with which the brothers were dealing? Finally, after Yehuda’s impassioned plea (described in the beginning of our parsha), Yosef emphatically reveals his true identity: “Ani Yosef, I am Yosef.” And now, everything made sense. As the Chafetz Chaim comments, that once the brothers merely heard just these two words—“ani Yosef,” all their questions and doubts, immediately disappeared. It all became clear and understood. They now had perspective.

So too, continues the Chafetz Chaim, when the world hears Hashem announce just the two words of “Ani Hashem,” all the questions and bewilderment people may have regarding the various events and happenings that occur in the world—which have seemed perplexing until then—will be resolved. Everything will be understood, and everyone will see how Hashem was orchestrating everything for our benefit.

There may be a myriad of perplexing events and difficult experiences—whether they pertain to us on a national level or on an individual level—that might leave us bewildered and with many questions; with an inability to understand their meaning. Yet, we can perhaps learn from the Chafetz Chaim that one day, the veil will be lifted, and there will come a time when there will be such a stark contrast between the vision we have today versus the vision and perspective we will achieve in the future. When Hashem will finally reveal Himself, it will be clearly understood and everything will make perfect sense. In this vision-limited world we might experience a blurriness, but we can remain hopeful that one day it will be revealed how Hashem orchestrated all the challenges for our good, for our betterment and success, both individually and collectively as a nation.


Binyamin is a graduate of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchanan.

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