I want to get back into the swing of things on a positive note, so let’s start with a Koznitzer Maggid and then a vort that will make your day. It is no coincidence, explains the Koznitzer Maggid, that Parshas Va’Eschanan always comes out right after 9 Av. After we suffer churban, which we mark by not studying Torah on 9 Av, we must begin rebuilding, we must re-accept the Torah, and we do so by again by hearing aseres hadibros in Va’Eschanan and re-living mattan Torah. He writes that from 10 Av to Rosh Chodesh Tishrei is 50 days – the letter Nun. From Rosh Chodesh Tishrei to Yom Kippur is Aseres Y’mei Tshuvah, 10 days – the letter Yud. From Y”K to Sukkos is 4 more days – the letter Daled. Finally, we reach Sukkos, which the Midrash calls, “Rishon l’cheshbon avonos,” the first day for calculating our sins – the letter Aleph. Aleph – Daled – Nun – Yud: This, explains the Koznitzer Maggid, represents the rebuilding of malchus after churban.
Yesterday I attended the kinos program at Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway and had the privilege of hearing many wonderful speakers, but there was one vort in particular that as soon as I heard it I knew I wanted to share here. R’ Tuvia Lieff said in the name of R’ Shmuel Berenbaum, the R”Y of Mir zt"l, that our generation is one of greatness precisely because of the many challenges we face. The commitment of so many to learning and mitzvos despite the temptations of the material culture in which we live is nothing short of miraculous. And Hashem knows we can succeed, otherwise he would not test us in this way.
When Ya’akov heard that Yosef was alive, he said, “Avo v’erenu b’terem amus,” let me go see him before I die. It would have sufficed for the Torah to say that Ya’akov wanted to see Yosef and leave it at that – why does specifically mention “before death” and a motivation?
Rav Berenbaum explained that Reb Elchanan Wasserman hy”d used to push the students in Baranovich to go visit the Chofetz Chaim. Reb Elchanan would tell them that in this world, for the price of a simple train ticket, they could go and see the gadol hador. But, said Reb Elchahan, who knows whether that will be possible in the next world -- who of us can rest assured that he/she will be zocheh to be able to enter the mechitzah in shamayim, the radiance and aura of holiness which will surround the Chofetz Chaim, that will keep out those not on such an exalted level?
Rav Berenbaum explained that this is what Ya’akov was saying -- he must see Yosef while there is yet time in this world, because who knows whether if after death he will have the merit to enter the mechitza of Yosef haTzadik in the next. Even Ya’akov, the bechir ha’Avos, felt that compared to Yosef, compared to someone who was thrust into an alien culture and faced the challenges and temptations of Mitzrayim and still remained a Yosef haTzadik, his merits paled. Davka our generation, because we are surrounded at every turn by influences foreign and hostile to all that we believe in, can rise to the greatness of Yosef haTzadik, greatness that even Ya’akov Avinu envied.