To me, there is no more dramatic moment in the Torah than the words in this week’s Parsha, “Ani Yosef … I am Yosef! Is my father still alive?”
I believe this is the way Moshiach ben Dovid will appear. It is likely that he is in this world now, but hidden. There will come a moment when all appears lost, when hope is gone … and suddenly he will arise.
Why does redemption always come at the bottom? Why is it “darkest before the dawn?”
My friends, the mekor for this is right in the Torah! The prototype redemption of Am Yisroel is Yetzias Mitzraim. And when did this take place? When Am Yisroel had reached “mem tes Shaarei tumah … the forty-ninth level of impurity,” the bottom.
Hashem rescued us at the bottom!
This makes sense from a logical viewpoint. When a person is blundering through the darkness, he keeps bumping into things, falling, tripping, losing his way. He doesn’t know where to turn. If he is fortunate and wise, he will realize that he is nowhere and he will cry out to Hashem to save him. As it says about our ancestors in Mitzraim, “The Children of Israel groaned because of the work and they cried. Their outcry … went up to G-d. G-d heard their moaning and G-d remembered His covenant ….” (Shemos 2:23-24)
It’s not arbitrary; if we are fortunate, we realize – hopefully before it’s too late – that we are lost. Listen to the words of King David: “[You, Hashem reduce] man to pulp and [then] You say, ‘Repent O sons of man….” (Tehillim 90) Being “reduced to pulp” is a blessing. That is what saves us!
It’s the classic story of the seed inside the dark earth. It has to break down, to disintegrate … and then the new growth springs upward through the ground to bear beautiful fruit.
“In the evening one lies down weeping, but with dawn – a cry of joy.” (Tehillim 30)
Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz Shlita”h recently said something about Chanukah that startled me. I had assumed that at least half the Children of Israel were with the Maccabees, but Rabbi Breitowitz said that, in fact, 85 to 90 percent of the Jews had become Hellenized and sided with the Greeks!
Contemplate this, my friends! The Maccabees were fighting not only the Greeks but also their own people! They were vastly outnumbered! Yet they fought on, because they were with Hashem! The Children of Israel do not live by opinion polls. We survive l’havdil because we are allied with the King of the Universe.
Am Yisroel arose from one man, Avraham Avinu … one man against the entire world!
This is consistent with what happened in Mitzraim. Moshe Rabbeinu was also alone! Rashi says that one-in-five of the Children of Israel left Egypt with Moshe, but there is an opinion in the Midrash that only one in 5000 left with Moshe!
One in 5000! Can you contemplate that!
My friends, as appalling and frightening as that number is, it is also cause for hope, because it means that – no matter how dark it is, no matter how desperate and deep our Golus, we know that Redemption will come! If Redemption came in Mitzraim, and Redemption came during Chanukah, and we survived the gas chambers, then we can -- and will -- survive anything!
Here is something else I heard recently from Rabbi Breitowitz, a moshul he told over from Rav Schwadron zt”l. Imagine you are sitting in a movie theatre, immersed in an intense drama. Suddenly someone shines a flashlight at the screen! The audience starts screaming: “Turn off the light! Turn off the light!” In this world, we sit in darkness. What we see on the screen is not real, and what is real we cannot see! There could be a bag of diamonds on the next seat, but you cannot see it in the dark.
Suddenly, in the darkness, a voice will cry out: “Ani Yosef … I am Yosef. Is my father still alive?” Moshiach will come when we least expect him.
May Hashem bless us to be among those who not only hear His voice but who listen to His voice! “For on Mount Tzion there shall be a remnant and it shall become holy, and the House of Yaakov will inherit its inheritors.… Then saviors will ascend Har Tzion to judge Esav’s mountain and the kingdom will be Hashem’s.” (Haftaras Vayishlach)
May we see it soon in our day!
Avraham Avinu: Our Father Abraham
L’havdil: By distinction. Not like that but like this!
Mitzraim: Ancient Egypt
Rashi: The great Torah commentator, who lived around 900 years ago.
Yetzias Mitzraim: The Exodus from Biblical Egypt