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Vayigash: 22 years in 2 words

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It took just two words to explain everything that had transpired in 22 years.

In Parshat Vayigash we read about the epic moment when Yosef revealed his true identity to his brothers and he did so by saying two words (Bereishit 45:3):

“Ani Yosef.” – “I am Joseph.”

And the response of his brothers:

“Ki nivhalu mipanav.” – “They were stunned into silence.”

These two words explained everything that had happened since the moment that Joseph had left their presence, the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations, the hardships and the tragedies. Now suddenly, there was an explanation for it all.

The Chofetz Chaim teaches us that at the time of reckoning, when we reach the world of truth, so too in a very simple and powerful way Hashem will suddenly reveal to us the truth of everything that has transpired to us throughout our lives. But that’s not the only lesson.

You see, Yosef actually added three more words. He said, “Ani Yosef,” – “I am Joseph,” and then he said,

“Ha’od avi chai?” – “Is my father still alive?”

The Gemarah in Chagigah 4b tells us that Rabbi Elazar taught that from here we realise the power of rebuke. You see, Joseph here was rebuking his brothers by saying, “Is my father still alive?” Really, it was aimed at his brother Yehuda. Yehuda had made these noble protestations about Benjamin. “If you take Benjamin away our father Jacob will die,” he said. Joseph was asking where Yehuda’s voice had been 22 years before when his other brother Yosef was to be taken from his father, to probably his certain death. Was he concerned about his father then?

“Ha’od avi chai?” – “Is my father still alive?”

Joseph was saying, “Can I really rely on a single word of yours?” What a rebuke to his brothers.

And therefore Rabbi Elazar teaches us that in a time to come when we reach the World of Truth, Hashem will rebuke us, and we will be ashamed of all our misdemeanours in life. So therefore, from these powerful words of Joseph, when he revealed his identity to his brothers, the Chofetz Chaim teaches us that just as Yosef was able to explain everything that had transpired in just two words, so too in the world of Truth Hashem will explain to us, in a very simple fashion, why we have had so many extraordinary and sometimes tragic experiences on earth.

It will all just be explained in an instant.

Shabbat shalom.