The Years of Yosef and Bein HaMzarin

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We are now in the period of the Three Weeks, Bein HaMezarim. This is the time between Shiva Asar B’Tamuz which is a remembrance of the sin of the Eigel HaZahav and Tisha B’Av the sin of the Meraglim. As the Pasuk says, “All of our pursuers apprehended us between the Mezarim- the straits.” This is a time when Klal Yisroel is vulnerable to the clutches of our enemies. But this is a result of the major sins, which are the loss of the first Luchos on Shiva Asar B’Tamuz, and the loss of the potential to enter Eretz Yisroel under the leadership of Moshe on Tisha B’Av. These are the two greatest gifts which HaShem desired to give us, Torah and Eretz Yisroel, and we rejected them.

In Chazal and Sifrei Kodesh we find two ways of counting three weeks. In some places they are counted as twenty one days of sadness[1], and in others twenty two. I would venture to say that whether Tisha B’Av is counted or not, is whether we view it as part of the Churban, which in the revealed sense it is, or whether we understand that the end is really the beginning of the Geulah. This is seen when Chazal tell us that on the day of the Churban the Cheruvim were facing each other. The day before they were back to back. We learn that the Cheruvim represent the relationship between HaShem and Klal Yisroel. When they were not face to face that represents a distance between us, and when they faced each other it represented closeness. The Churban is the end of the time of anger and the beginning of the reconciliation. That is why certain customs of mourning end at Mincha of Tisha B’Av. So outside there is destruction, but inside there is love. That is the dichotomy of how to count Tisha B’Av.

The twenty one days are also parallel to the twenty one days of Teshuvah from Rosh HaShanah till Hoshanah Raba. Those are a time of closeness, as opposed to the distance between us and HaShem during these twenty one days of Tamuz and Av.

In many Sefarim the twenty two days are parallel to the twenty two letters of the Aleph Bet. We find that Eichah the book of Churban is also written according to those twenty two letters. Much has been said and written about the destruction of the most basic foundation of the world, the letters by which HaShem created it, and the destruction that Klal Yisroel wrought during these twenty two days to those foundational building blocks.

But there is an intriguing Chazal that gives another view on the twenty two days[2]. It says that this is parallel to the original Galus of Klal Yisroel. Klal Yisroel begins with the Shevatim. Before that there were the Avos, but they were not a Klal but individuals. The first Galus is Yosef going to Mitzrayim, being sold there by his brothers. Yosef remains there disconnected for twenty two years till he is reunited with his family. This is the source for the twenty two days of Churban. Chazal do not write just coincidental numbers, but are trying to teach us what we need to do with them. This idea requires more clarity so we can understand what to do with it.

The connection between Yakov and Yosef was very deep. Yakov went to the house of Lavan to marry Rachel. Yosef is the Bechor of that marriage. Once Yosef is born, Yakov is ready to return to his father’s home. Yakov teaches Yosef all that he learnt in the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever. He gives him a Kesones Pasim as a sign of his unique relationship. All this is the connection that exists between Yakov and Yosef. If one examines the Midos of Yakov and Yosef, Yakov is the one who dwells in the tent, the one who studies Torah. Yosef is the one who provides for Klal Yisroel; he takes what Yakov learnt and transmits it on[3]. Yosef is Gematriya Tzion, the part of Yerushalayim where the Shechina dwells.

If so, a dear friend pointed out, that Shiva Asar B’Tamuz is Yakov, the Torah; but its destruction. Tisha B’Av is Yosef; Tziyon. As Chazal say, Yosef loved Eretz Yisroel. That is the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, Tisha B’Av. We say at the end of Shemoneh Esreh, “May it be Your will that the Bais HaMikdosh should be rebuilt in our days, and You should give us our portion in the Torah, and there we can serve You with awe as in the earlier days.” That is the connection between Yakov and Yosef and that is what we are missing.

To define this slightly more clearly, the sale of Yosef by his brothers was because of Sinas Chinam- baseless hatred. But that creates something even deeper. Torah and Avodas HaShem are meant to be one unit. When they are separated they are lacking balance. My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Chait ZT”L, taught that Torah is a perfect balance. But when any part is overemphasized it becomes imbalanced and can become destructive. When Yakov and Yosef are separated that is Churban.

One could also tie this back to the original twenty two years of lack of connection between Yakov and Yitzchok, which is the cause why Yakov is punished, but that requires more introspection to clarify.

So long as Yakov and Yosef were separated Klal Yisroel was incomplete. Yakov for those twenty two years does not have clarity and Ruach HaKodesh. Only after he is reunited with Yosef does Ruach HaKodseh return. So too, in that period of time, we are lacking in clarity till it returns. Also Chazal teach us that Yakov separated from his wives during that period[4]. Possibly that is a deeper meaning in that we do not get married during this period of time. To get married is to create that balance, and during this period we do not have it.

As we are in this period, let us contemplate these ideas, and try to rectify them, to bring a Geulah.

[1]  מדרש רבה איכה הקדמה פסקה כג – (ירמיה א’) ויאמר אלי מה אתה רואה ואומר מקל שקד אני רואה א”ר אלעזר מה סימנו של שקד זה משעה שהוא מציץ עד שעה שהוא גומר כ”א יום כך מי”ז בתמוז עד ט”ב כ”א יום

[2]  סתרי תורה פרשת וישב – וכדין יתער קב”ה טבוון סגיאין על ישראל, ויתבע עלבונהון, ועלבונא דאורייתא, דאוקדו בנורא. ודמא דאינון דאתקטלו על קדושת שמיה. וכדין יתרעי יוסף לאחוהי, אפרים לא יקנא את יהודה ויהודה לא יצור את אפרים:

ת”ח דהכי הוא, דתנן, בי”ז בתמוז בוטל התמיד. ובט’ באב חרב בית מקדשא. כדא”ר יוסי, מגלגלין זכות ליום זכאי, וחובה ליום חייב. דבההיא ליליא אפיקו דבה רעה על ארעא קדישא, וארימו קלהון בבכיה, ואתקבעת לדרי דרין:

ודוק ותשכח, מדבוטל התמיד, דהוה מכפר על חוביהון, עד דאתחרב בי מקדשא, בין בזמנא קדמאה, בין בזמנא תנינא, כ”ב יומין, לקבל אינון כ”ב שנין, דלא חמא ההוא צדיק אפי יקרא דאבוה, לאחזאה חכמתא עילאה, דהא בהא תליא:

[3] תפארת ויסוד חדא הוי

[4]  זוהר חלק א דף קנג/ב – , אלא כל יומוי דיעקב הוה באבלא דיוסף, לא שמש ערסיה


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