Separation of the brothers led to unity

Separated many miles, Yosef and Yehuda each played a role in allowing the tribes to thrive. Religious and secular Jews do the same today.

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Dr. Joseph Frager‏,

Dr. Joseph Frager‏
Dr. Joseph Frager‏
Courtesy of Dr. Frager

Yaakov said to Yosef, "El Shaddai had appeared to me in Luz in the Land of Canaan and He blessed me. He said to me, 'Behold-I will make you fruitful and numerous; I will make you a congregation of nations, and I will give this land to your offspring after you as an eternal possession.'"

Although this verse is applied to giving Ephraim and Manasseh "tribal" status and to the division of the Land of Israel among all the tribes, I would like to use it to highlight a theme that runs through the Parshiot (Torah sections) of Miketz, Vayigash and Vayechi: The brothers are separated and eventually united.

Hence G-d's promise to give the land of Israel to the 12 tribes. Rav Yitzchok Isaac Chover of blessed memory asks why "separation" was needed to establish Klal Yisroel (the Jewish People)? Why was it necessary for Yosef to be separated from his brothers and particularly from his brother Yehuda? Rav Yitzchok isaac Chover OBM seems to be implying that the separation was necessary and vital. It served a significant purpose in strengthening, invigorating, and establishing the Jewish People. Since "maaseh avot siman lebanim" (that which happened to our forefathers will happen to future generations), this has tremendous implications to the modern era.

The separation of Yosef from his brothers was not the only separation that occurred. In Parshat Vayeshev (38:1) Yehuda is separated from his brothers after the sale of Yosef. "It was at that time that Yehuda went down from his brothers and turned away towards an Adullamite man whose name was Hirah."

Rav Yitzchok Isaac Chover, OBM, seems to imply that this separation, too, was essential for the growth and development of Klal Yisroel. What Rav Yitzchok Isaac Chover, OBM, is saying is that what appears to be a negative - the separation of Yosef from his brothers and the lowering of the status of Yehuda are - not really negatives. That is all part of G-d's plan for nation building. When unity would finally prevail, the separation would lead to "hybrid vigor" for the Jewish People. In Parshat Vayigash, Yehuda rises to the occasion and reestablishes unity of all the brothers with Yosef. As hard as separation was, and it was torture, the reunification was profound and monumental.

As the haftorah of Vayigash (Yechezkel 37:15-28) stresses, the Jewish People will ultimately be reunited just as they were in the parsha. The prophet Yechezkel states, "Now you son of man, take yourself one wooden tablet and write upon it," for Yehuda and the Children of Israel, his comrades, "and take another wooden tablet for Ephraim and all the children of Israel, his comrades. And bring close to yourself, one to the other, like a single wooden tablet, and they shall become one in your hand." Yechezkel indeed is highlighting the reunification of Yehudah and Yosef, which is the ultimate and final level, position and outcome.

In contemporary times the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook of blessed memory, in his 1904 eulogy of Theodore Herzl entitled the "great eulogy in Jerusalem" intimates that the secular Zionists led by Herzl were the counterparts of Moshiach Ben Yosef (the precursor to the Messiah).

They brought the State of Israel into being. Moshiach ben David (the Messiah) would infuse spirituality into Zionism and eventually unite all of Klal Yisrael, just as Yehuda united all of the brothers. Rav Zadok Hacohen OBM, who passed away in 1900, believed much as Rav Kook did that Moshiach Ben Yosef had already come. Although the secular Zionists deserve credit for establishing the State of Israel, the Religious Zionists, including the students of the Vilna Gaon, already had established the "Old Yishuv" long before the secularists. Ultimately, the forces would need to unite as Yosef and Yehuda did in order to thrive.

This would be a direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Yechezkel quoted above. I am happy to say we are in that phase now. Just as Yosef established the infrastructure, the economy, and the government in Egypt for the Jewish People, the secular Zionists have done the same in the State of Israel. Yaakov sent Yehuda down to Egypt to make sure yeshivas were established and to guarantee the Jewish People were educated properly and infused with spirituality.

The "yishuv" in the Land of Israel did the same. G-d willing, the reunification process of Yosef and Yehuda shall continue in the Land of Israel until the prophecy of Yechezkel is fully fulfilled speedily in our day.

As Yechezkel states, "I shall seal a covenant of peace with them, an eternal covenant shall it be with them, and I shall place My sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place shall be upon them, and I shall be for a G-d unto them, and they shall be unto Me for a people. Then the nations shall know that I am Hashem, who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is among them forever." (Yechezkel 37:26-28) Shabbat Shalom