Monday, December 29, 2014

oy lanu m'yon hadin

After Yosef revealed himself and declared, “Ani Yosef – ha’od avi chai?” his brothers were startled and frozen in place.  Yosef then asked them to come close and he repeated himself, telling them, “Ani Yosef achichem asher michartem osi Mitzrayma.” (45:3) What did Yosef hope to accomplish by telling them the same thing again?

The Ohr haChaim answers that when Yosef saw his brothers in shock, he realized that either they did not believe him or were overcome with fear.  His responded to both concerns.  Ani Yosef achichem” – “I am your brother.”  Even when you despised me, even when you sold me into slavery, even despite all the travails I have endured, my brotherly affection did not waiver.  There is no need for fear.  Asher michartem osi” – “…Whom you sold.”  No one – not Ya’akov, not Pharoah, not any other family member or friend – knew that Yosef had been sold into slavery.  Only Yosef himself and his brothers knew that fact. Yosef asked them to come close so as not to reveal the embarrassing truth in public, and then he told them a fact that only he and they could have known to prove that he was telling the truth and he was indeed their long lost brother.
Chazal comment on this parsha that if Yosef’s brothers were so overcome that they could not say anything when Yosef revealed himself, imagine what our reaction will be when we face our Maker and he reveals the truth about what we did with our lives!  The Tolna Rebbe says an amazing vort based on this Ohr haChaim.  What Yosef revealed was that he remained “achichem,” his feeling of achavah remained through think and thin.  When we meet our Maker, what he will reveal is that he remained always by our side as well, through thick and thin, even when we thought he had abandoned us and we ran off to do aveiros or be involved in other things.  It is Hashem’s enduring love which will overcome us.

(I hate to ruin such a nice vort with a pshat question, but aren’t Chazal are commenting on the first half of Yosef’s statement, which seems to have been the cause of the brothers “behalah,” not the second half of the statement, which is the focus of the Ohr haChaim?)   

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