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Am Yisrael Chai

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil
December 16, 2015

On Friday November the 13th, we were all saddened to learn of the murder of Rabbi Yaakov Litman and his 18-year-old son Netanel in front of their family as they left the settlement of Otniel near Chevron. Rabbi Litman’s wife and four children were also in the car at the time.

This case was particularly disturbing in that Rabbi Litman’s daughter was destined to get married within days of this murder.

The family were left distraught but what followed was a sheer show of the strength and stamina of our people.

In this week’s Parsha, Yosef reveals himself to his brothers. They are astounded and shocked; never did they think this would be the outcome of their long ordeal with the ‘Viceroy’ of Egypt.

After calming their concerns Yosef tells them; “Hurry, and go up to my father and say to him, ‘so says your son Yosef: “G-d has placed me as master over all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay.’”” [45:9]

Looking at this closely, we are somewhat perplexed as to why Yosef is relating his position as “Master over Egypt” to his father.

Yaakov was a great sage, a YoshevOhalim. For Yaakov what really mattered were his children’s observance of Torah and Mitzvot and their service of G-d.

Yosef seems to be trying to impress Yaakov with the wrong barter.

Rabbi Yaakov Naiman (DarcheiMussar) explains that the important thing was not the news that Yosef was now the ‘Viceroy’, but rather how Yosef explained it.

When a person is appointed to a position, he or she will normally explain who appointed him or her; “I received my degree from the top Professor”, “I was deputized by the Chief of Police,” “I was elected by the Prime Minister.” The more important the appointment, the more likely a person will identify the significant people who did the appointing.

Yosef, on the other hand said nothing about Pharaoh. He didn’t mention anything about deciphering Pharaoh’s dreams. Yosef simply said: “G-d made me master,” “Hashem gave me this job.”

Only a person who acknowledges that everything comes from Hashem could give G-d the credit for such a tremendous accomplishment without even mentioning what happened and who made the appointment. Of course, Hashem indeed makes everything happen, but only those on a very high spiritual level can see that reality while ignoring the smoke and mirrors of our world. Yosef operated on such a high spiritual level that when he was appointed to a high position, it was not because Pharaoh appointed him, but because G-d made it happen.

Now we understand why this was such wonderful news for Yaakov. After so many years outside Yaakov’s home and after so many different trials and tribulations, Yosef nonetheless remained a true Tzaddik (righteous man) and continued to be the same dedicated scholar of Torah that he would have become had he remained with his father all those years. None of his experiences had a deleterious impact, and he still attributed everything that happened to Hashem. This was the best possible news Yaakov could have received regarding his son.

On Thursday 26th November not long after losing her dear father and brother, Sarah Litman married Ariel Beigel in Jerusalem. To help the bride set aside the mourning on her happiest day and let joy prevail, 800 family and friends were personally invited to the event. Yet there was also a public invitation. All were welcome to come and join in the Simcha!

And guess what? Thousands responded. There were so many people that the hall was packed and there was a massive overflow outside with the singing and dancing resonating throughout Jerusalem.

The couple thanked the public who came to join in the festivities, “Until two weeks ago, nobody knew or was interested in me and Ariel. Then one minute on Friday – at the height of preparations – my father and brother were murdered by a heinous terrorist,” said Sarah Litman. “There is not a moment in which I do not miss the smile of Netanel and the humility and modesty of my father, it will always accompany me. But precisely in the midst of the pain, in the month of bravery before Chanukah, we will spread together with all of the people of Israel, an immense light of happiness, giving and love which was bestowed upon us by the nation of Israel. The main thing is not to fear at all.”

The public wedding invitation begins with the biblical quote “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, for I have fallen but I have gotten up” (Michah 7:8).

Such was the strength of Yosef, to be stuck in the depth of impurity, to be thrown away as a slave, yet to make a comeback and realise that everything emanates from Hashem and he goes on to portray this to his family and the world.

Our sages state that the famous words of Yosef could be read in a different manner – SamaniElokim – “I have placed G-d over all of Egypt.”

Through his actions and strong belief, Yosef placed G-d at the centre stage of his life and thus at the life of all those who were in contact with him.

Winter is here, the nights are long and tough, with the correct outlook and G-d Almighty with us wherever we go, we might be down but we will rise and shine through.

Am Yisrael Chai

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