Yaakov has been separated from his son Yosef for twenty two years, after revealing himself to his brothers as the king of Egypt Yaakov descends to Egypt and is reunited with Yosef. Yaakov’s life apart from Yosef was one of pain and sadness, and he knew no rest. The divine presence was not present with him; he did not attain prophesy. In Egypt where Yaakov lives for seventeen years he was full of joy and tranquility; the divine presence was with him, and he was (according to a hidden Zohar text) in a state of the highest levels of prophesy.
Yet, the Midrash Rabah teaches that Yaakov was not able to teach his children of the vision he saw of the end of days, and the life of Yaakov in Egypt represented the beginning of the exile, which truly took more shape when he died. Surrounding Yaakov at this time was not tranquility, but uncertainty. Not brighter days, but dark clouds of forewarning. The Midrash Rabah teaches that Yaakov was in such bliss because the troubles of the world were hidden to him. How are we to understand the Tzaddik Yaakov being in such a removed state from the reality of the world around him? How can Yaakov allow himself to be blind to the pain of the creation? It seems as if Yaakov is only bothered by his pain; when Yosef is lost from him for twenty two years he suffers tremendously, although the world is not in calamity, but when the world is heading for darkness he is tranquil and blissful, because he has Yosef. Is the Tzaddik we want to emulate one who only feels for his personal issues?
Of course we must understand that we cannot judge Yaakov, but rather learn from him. I am reminded of the story of Rabbi Akiva who upon witnessing a fox on the site of the recently destroyed temple in Jerusalem laughs. He laughs because this is the fulfillment of an ancient prophesy and he realizes that just as this prophesy of utter destruction is playing out fully, so too the prophesies of redemption will be in their time. Yaakov reconnecting to Yosef was the guarantee of redemption, and therefore all the pain of the thousands of years of exiles and sufferings were somehow not worth being sad for, or even became sweet. There is a secret that even the most painful, horrible tragedies will all be for the good.
Yaakov wanted to teach his children how it will be good, when will it finally be good. He wanted to write it down so that I could look and say to my children “don’t worry mashiach is coming very soon”, but he was seemingly forbidden to do so. I would also like to tell my clients sometimes the perspective that would open up their stories of suffering to redemptive light, but to do so would be unproductive. We cannot be shown the answer until we are ready, we need to do the work of exile, and development of Tikkun Olam ourselves. We can only imagine God longing and yearning to tell us “it’s OK, I love you, it’s goin to be alright”, but he holds himself back so that we might be adult enough to take responsibility and rectify our world. This is the secret of all the pain of the world.
The sweetness of redemption was never totally hidden, the righteous Tzadikim are here to whisper God’s comforting messages to us. The Torah tells us to wait just a little longer, and even in our Parsha the first words are Vayechi Yaakov Bieretz Mitzrayim – And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt, Yaakov lived! He lived joyfully, he lived in bliss, because he saw the redemption, and it so good.
Dating & Marriage 101
– When an issue comes up during dating or during marriage ask can I accept the other even through this. Is this something we can grow together through working it out. Block out the pain of the moment by recognizing the sweetness that comes from overcoming together.
Once my wife and were in a painful disagreement and called up or Rebbe, he brought salve and salvation with the words: “You are arguing, because you love each other so much”.