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More Than Meets the Eye

By Rabbi Aharon Gabbay

We continue with the famous story where Yaacov’s sons head down to Egypt to collect food, leaving their youngest brother, Binyamin behind with Yaacov. They reveal to the viceroy (who little do they know is their very own brother, Yosef) that their youngest brother is with their father. The viceroy accuses them of being spies and takes one brother, Shimon, captive and demands that they bring their last remaining brother. They return to their father and tell him of all the happenings. Yaacov exclaims “Yosef is gone, Shimon is gone and you want to take Binyamin…why have you done this bad thing to me, by telling the man that you have another brother”. It would seem that Yaacov has a very reasonable claim.

Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz ztz”l explains that all living things in this world follow the same rule. They begin with a seed where all potential is contained, followed by the production of that potential. The common example of this is an apple seed that contains every leaf, branch and fruit it will ever produce. There is nothing present in the tree which is not contained in the seed. This same process continues essentially for eternity. Rabbi Yerucham continues: if such a phenomena can be understood, we can then bring ourselves to a conclusion that all things work in steps where one thing leads to another in an endless cycle. Because it is just part of a large picture, there is no possible way that you could judge if a situation is good or bad, without the ability to see the full picture.

Rabbi Yerucham brings a Medrash: Yaacov says to his sons “why have you done this bad thing to me, by telling the man that you have another brother”. Hakadosh Baruch Hu says “I am bringing his (Yaacov’s) son to royalty and he says “why have you done this bad thing to me!””. Rabbi Yerucham explains that Yaacov cannot possibly know what a bad thing is to claim that this is a bad event. On the contrary, Yosef has taken a very high position in one of the greatest kingdoms ever.

We can illustrate the same idea with a common daily occurrence. If one were to examine a foetus while in its mother’s womb, it’s features are astonishing: the heart is plastered with holes, the lungs are scrunched like wastepaper, and the entire body is immersed in water. All of these are vital for its survival in the womb however and if any of them were to reverse it would have disastrous consequences. When it comes to the birth, the child is about to be exposed to a world which should kill him instantly. Anyone observing from the inside would be mourning for a tragedy waiting to happen. But by the wonders of Hashem, as the baby is born the heart seals itself, the lungs inflate and the second the air hits the nose of the newborn, he is functioning like a normal human being.

There are countless times in our day to day lives where we encounter challenges which test our faith, may we use these lessons to strengthen ourselves in Emunah and connection with Hashem.

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