Thursday, January 05, 2006

Yosef Reveals Himself (II)

The Midrash comments on the pasuk "Mayim amukim eitzah b'lev ish, v'ish tevonah yidlenah" (Like deep waters is the counsel in man's heart, and a wise man can draw it out): to what can Yehudah's encounter with Yosef be compared? To a deep well with fresh clean water on its bottom that was unreachable. Along came one who combined thread with thread and rope with rope and finally drew up the water so all were able to drink. So too, Yehudah added argument to argument until he moved Yosef's heart. The Midrash is difficult on two levels: firstly, as we noted, Yehudah offered no argument to Yosef other than a recapitulation of the story that was already known; secondly, it should be obvious without the mashal to the well that Yehudah's words made an impact on Yosef causing him to relent - what does the analogy add to our understanding? Perhaps we can interpret the message in light of the Ishbitzer's teaching. Had this parsha been an old western, we would expect the cavalry to ride in at this point and rescue the brothers. However, the Torah's lesson is that there is no cavalry waiting out there to come to the rescue. The answer was buried within the well, it was in the very circumstances that stood before them, but it required looking at things in a different light. It was not a change in fortune from outside that brought help, but a change in attitude on the inside which revealed that everything before them was b'hashgachas Hashem. (See the Sefas Emes's comments on this Midrash.)

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