“Ani Yosef … I am Yosef.” The brothers’ mouths drop open.
Utter silence. Who can speak?
Here is where I get choked up every year.
This is what it is going to be like when Moshiach comes. Understanding it now will help us deal with the reality that is unfolding before us.
“Ma’ase avos siman l’bonim … the actions of the fathers are a sign for the children.”
Let’s try to analyze the scene. We have hit rock bottom. The Viceroy of Egypt is about to take Binyamin prisoner, exactly what our Father Jacob feared most. The brothers are powerless; the Viceroy is heartless. There is apparently no way to prevent the tragedy which would destroy the family of Israel forever, G-d forbid. The phrase “rock bottom” presumably refers to when someone has fallen off a cliff and is about to hit the rocks. There is no hope.
And then redemption comes. Suddenly! The world was created “yesh me’ayin … out of nothing,” and redemption seemingly also comes “out of nothing.” Not only have you been saved, but the darkness which enveloped you is revealed to have been light. The murky confusion is revealed as perfect chessed (kindness).
“Min ha maitzar … from the depths I called upon Hashem” (Psalm 118) I was in a vice; I could not breathe. The forces of darkness encircled me. “All the nations surround me.” (ibid)
On January 10, 1966, I was a student at the University of Michigan. This was fifty-four years ago, almost to the day. We were married, but the world was crumbling. I awoke at 2 a.m., crying. It was all over. I had tried everything. And then, a tiny thought entered my mind. Why had I never been willing to admit that G-d might exist? Suddenly, I realized: if your life is falling apart, you need G-d! There is nowhere else to go!
“[When] King David was born … a dark cloud filled the sky in a manner that had never before been seen…. No one – save Hashem Himself – knew where the light was concealed. This veil – the last before the great revelation – was the thickest of all. G-d took the light of Moshiach and concealed it from every living eye. In deep darkness He hid the light …. Indeed, Dovid’s secret was concealed from his father and mother, from all the people who lived in his time and even Shmuel Hanovi (Samuel the Prophet), who did not recognize Dovid’s abilities even after he first saw him, until Hashem told him, ‘Rise! Anoint him, for this the one!’” (Kitov, Book of Our Heritage)
Redemption is directly in front of us, but we don’t see it. We are looking at the false gods of the surrounding culture and missing Reality, just as the brothers were looking at Yosef, but they did not see him!
“Hakol b’chezkas sumin ad she’Hakadosh Boruch Hu poseach es ainaihem … all [human beings] are in the category of blindness until Hashem opens their eyes.” (Midrash Rabbah Beraishis 53:14, on the possuk – Genesis 21:19 – in which the angel opens Hagar’s eyes to the well which is directly in front of her.)
“Baruch Ata … Blessed are You, Hashem … Who gives sight to the blind!”(Morning prayer)