Friday, December 07, 2012

Vayeishev - The Road to Mitzrayim

I just wrote this:

There's always a reason, more than one reason. Like when I was at my rebbe in Israel's house on a Friday night in the Old City of Yerushalayim years ago and he had over a couple - a childhood friend and his wife - and during Kiddush the man started (seemingly uncharacteristically) crying and his wife apologized self consciously. My rabbi said kindly, wisely, starkly "If he's crying, there's a reason."

I'm up now in the middle 
of the night, awake only three hours after going to sleep. There are physical reasons, and other reasons. There are things I want to do, need to do. Dreams I need to wake up from, dreams I need to stay awake and make real. Me reasons. G-d reasons.

I think about this in relation to this week's parshah (it's not just one of those rabbi lines, though it is one of those rabbi lines). The Jewish People ended up in Egypt because the brothers threw Yosef down into the pit. It was because Yaakov sent him to find them. And wait, well before that G-d told Avraham that his descendants would end up being stuck for years in Mitzrayim. So which of these is the real reason we ended up in Egypt? All of the above.

When Yaakov sends Yosef to check on his brothers the Torah stresses that Yaakov sent him from Eimek Chevron - the valley of Hebron. Chevron is not a valley, so what's the meaning of this phrasing? Chazal say that it means Yosef was being sent out of a deep historic reason, due to the depths of what Hashem said to Avraham - that his children would be strangers in a strange land.

Yosef gets lost kind of lost himself, unable to find the brothers. I'd have asked for directions and if that didn't work I'd have headed home. Yosef keeps walking, searching for his very brothers who don't want him finding them. Then a mysterious man, identified by The Rabbis as the angel Gabriel, approaches Yosef and asks him what he's seeking. Unusual, someone approaches you to offer direction, unsolicited.

The Ramban says that the point here is that it was fateful that Yosef find his brothers (isn't it interesting that in this whole story they're always referred to as Yosef's brothers and not as Yaakov's sons?), it had to happen, and this is how G-d made it happen - the descent into Egypt (Mitzrayim/meitzarim/narrow straits). But it was all mixed together, the foretelling to Avraham, the hiding and seeking between brothers, the father sending out one brother to reconnect with the others, G-d popping in to offer direction, a plot, a pit, a caravan of merchants. People reasons. G-d reasons.

It's now two hours since my Achashveirush-esque wake up, time for my regular wake up call and the start of my normal day. When I got up I had plans of doing The Thing that I had to do, even though I didn't know with any certainty what it was. I didn't think that it was writing this piece. But I'm sure there's a reason I wrote it during this time. G-d reasons. Me reasons.

Wishing everyone a blessed , multi-layered day on the way to Dotan.


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