I’m Telling!
By Boruch Merkur

At that moment, when Yosef was about to reveal to his brothers his true identity, he could not bear the presence of the Egyptians standing before him - for he did not want them to witness his brothers shame - so he called out, "Remove everyone from before me!"

No one stood by Yosef when he made himself known to his brothers.

Then his voice welled forth in weeping such that the entire house of Pharaoh heard and all of Egypt heard. And Yosef said to his brothers: "I am Yosef! Is my father still alive?"

But his brothers could not answer, for they were overcome with shame. Yosef said, "Please come close to me. " And his brothers came close. Then he said: "I am Yosef, your brother; it is me whom you sold to Egypt. But now, do not be distressed and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here, for the Alm-ghty has sent me ahead of you to be for you a source of life. Although these two years of famine in the midst of the land have past, there will be yet another five years in which there will be no plowing and no harvest. But the Alm-ghty has sent me before you to insure your survival in the land, and to sustain you for a great deliverance.

"Now, it is not you who sent me here, but the Alm-ghty. He has placed me as a colleague and patron of Pharaoh; I am master of his household, and a ruler of the entire land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him: "Your son, Yosef, said: ‘The Alm-ghty has made me master of all of Egypt! Come down to me! Do not delay!’" [Adapted from Chumash with Rashi]

Twenty-two years after he was sold into slavery by his brothers, Yosef finally sends word to his father, Yaakov. Yaakov had been led to believe that Yosef was dead, mauled by a wild animal. But his mourning never abated, as it is said: "And he mourned for his son many days. All of his sons and all of his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted." For twenty-two years Yaakov suffered.

You would think that Yosef - who knew the extent of his father’s love for him, and, of consequence, the extent of his pain in his absence - would have certainly shown the courtesy to end his father’s misery much earlier! In all this time, in twenty-two years, why didn’t Yosef visit home or at least notify his father that he was still alive?!

True, in the first thirteen years of Yosef’s stay in Egypt, he was not exactly in the best position to send a message home, and certainly he was not able to actually return home in person - for during these years he was either enslaved or imprisoned. But afterwards, when he was promoted to "master of all of Egypt," surely he had the means. Nevertheless, for nine years Yosef kept silent while his father suffered. Why?!

Maybe we could answer that since Yaakov stood to be punished by G-d for the twenty-two years in which he neglected to return or send word to his own father (and mother) - thereby neglecting the mitzva to "honor your father and mother" - Yosef deliberately held himself back from Yaakov to help mete out G-d’s plan to punish him with twenty-two years of his absence.

But this answer fall short, for it was by no means obvious to Yosef that Yaakov was to be punished for these years, especially since Yaakov left home on the instructions of his parents. Moreover, it is not the right of Yosef to decide that he should be the one to punish his father.

The Rebbe approaches the problem of explaining Yosef’s silence from a different angle. How is it possible that not even one of Yosef’s brothers were aroused to repent for selling him to the extent that they would be compelled to confess to Yaakov and tell him that Yosef was still alive, especially since all of the brothers were, in fact, regretful, as it says, "[the brothers] said to one another, ‘indeed, we are guilty with regard to our brother [Yosef]...’"?

The answer can be found in the commentary of Rashi: "[The brothers] placed a ban and a curse on anyone [of them] who would reveal [to Yaakov what they had done]." Although they deeply despised Yosef at the time, they, nevertheless, anticipated a change of heart. The brothers knew that after their zeal had waned, some of them would surely regret what they had done and want to reveal the secret to Yaakov. So to prevent this from happening, they made a pact.

But Rashi’s commentary continues: "and they included with them the Holy One Blessed Be He as a partner." How did G-d act as a "partner" to their pact?

The brothers were concerned that the regretful party would make an attempt to persuade the others to join together and reveal the secret to Yaakov - for the condition of the pact was that the ban could only be lifted if all parties involved were to agree to it. For this reason "they included the Holy One Blessed Be He as a partner," so that the determination of if (and when) they were to reveal the secret to Yaakov would ultimately be dependent upon G-d. That is, they had to wait for a cue from the Alm-ghty signaling His consent and approbation. For only when all parties - all partners, including G-d Himself - together agreed to nullify the ban, could they tell Yaakov.

Now, this pact only applied to the participants. Yosef, of course, was not a participant. Therefore, we still have no explanation why he waited so long before revealing to his father that he was alive.

There was, however, another player who knew about the selling of Yaakov - namely, Yitzchok, Yaakov’s father - who was also not a participant in the pact. There was nothing holding Yitzchok back from telling Yaakov that Yosef was still alive, and thereby comforting him of his misery. So why didn’t he tell?!

Rashi explains: "Yitzchok knew that [Yosef] was alive [nevertheless he did not reveal this to Yaakov, because] he said, ‘how could I reveal [this to Yaakov] when the Holy One Blessed Be He [Himself] does not want to [reveal this to him]!’"

Accordingly, we can also understand why Yosef did not send word to Yaakov that he was still alive. Since Yosef (also) knew that G-d Himself "did not want to" reveal the secret to Yaakov, he understood that Yaakov did not yet need to know, as it were, that he was alive, and (just like Yitzchok) Yosef (also) said, "how could I reveal [this to Yaakov] when the Holy One Blessed Be He [Himself] does not want to!"

It wasn’t until Yosef was given the signal from G-d - that his brothers had come to search for him at every gate of Egypt, ready to redeem him at any cost - that Yosef knew that the time had come to reveal himself and meet up with his father without delay. [Likkutei Sichos vol. 10 ]



The Previous Rebbe writes:

When my grandfather [the Rebbe Maharash] was eight or nine years old, he was already buying books with his allowance money and with the money he was awarded for learning Torah by heart - specifically, portions of the Tanach, Mishna, and Tanya.

One time, he wanted to buy a couple of books, but since he did not have any money, he went to his father, the Tzemach Tzedek, to request a loan.

His father asked him for what purpose he needed the money. He answered that he wanted to buy some new books from the selection he had seen in the care of Reb Noach Boruch the Bundle-Carrier.

His father told him: "First become well versed with the books you already have, and when you have become thoroughly familiar with these, then you can go ahead and buy new books and become well versed in them, too."

Just then, the Rebbe’s aide, Reb Chaim Dov, came by to announce that the bound volumes that Reb Noach Boruch had brought had been placed in the new bookcase, which Yosef Dovid the Carpenter had delivered, and the unbound volumes had been put aside.

My grandfather [the Rebbe Maharash] described the ensuing scene as follows:

In the room where my father was, there were several bookcases - five open bookcases and two cabinets, all of which were filled with books. And in the adjacent room, whose door was left ajar, were six more open bookcases filled with books.

The bookseller, Reb Noach Boruch, would typically make two trips a year to Lubavitch, on Shavuos and on Chanuka. Each time he would bring my father a list of new titles. This time he also brought a number of books.

When I entered with my father into the adjacent room, and I saw the new open bookcase - the one which Yosef Dovid the Carpenter had just delivered yesterday, the twelfth one - and I saw that it was already full with the books Reb Noach Boruch had delivered, and that besides these, there lay another four bundles of unbound volumes which Father had to give to Avrohom Abba the Bookbinder - seeing all this, I was stricken with heartache...

"Tatte," I said, "you told me that first we must become well versed with the books we already have, and only thereafter may we buy more. Are you well versed in all your books?!"

"Generally speaking," my father answered, "I am well versed in them. Take out a volume and we’ll see."

Without stopping to think, I ran over to one of the bookcases and took the first book that came to hand, and as I removed the volume from the shelf, my father said to me: "That’s Seifer Maslul [a book on Hebrew grammar]. Open it up and tell me the page number, and I will tell you what is written there."

And so he did. [Likkutei Dibburim, pp. 456-8]

* * *

The 5th of Teives is the anniversary of the redeeming of the books and manuscripts of the previous Rebbeim, the day that is celebrated by Lubavitchers with the joyous singing of "Didan Natzach" (Victory is Ours), for it was revealed to the whole world on this day in 5747 (1987), by way of a US Federal Court ruling, that the disputed collection must be returned to its true owner, the Rebbe himself.

In the following segments, the Rebbe shares with us the joy of this occasion and encourages us to cultivate our love for holy books:

The 5th of Teives is connected with the freeing and the redeeming of the captive books and manuscripts of the Rebbeim, our leaders...

There are still, however, books and manuscripts of the Rebbe, my father-in-law, and of his father, the Rebbe Rashab, whose soul rests in Heaven, which still remain in captivity in [Russia] and have still not been returned to their [rightful] place, despite the fact that the government has already ordered...that they should be freed...

What can anyone do to hasten the redemption and the return of these books and manuscripts? The answer is simple: [This can be accomplished] through each and every person, men, women, and children, doing something that resembles [redeeming captive books], through bringing into their homes, into their libraries and the like, new Torah books (and manuscripts), in addition to those books which they already have in their "house full of books."

And now this is an easy task to accomplish. Since every week new Torah books are being published, both those that are reprinted, and especially, brand new ones, of consequence, it is an easy task to acquire new books. We should, therefore, increase more and more in buying books. [Seifer HaSichos 5752, p. 26]

And according to the principle that "doing one mitzva leads to another mitzva," the mitzva of "redeeming the captives" [by bringing new books into the home and, of course, through studying them] also brings about the true and full-fledged "redeeming of the captives" through the Alm-ghty, the redemption of all Jews (and all aspects of Torah and of all things inclusively), from a state of Exile to the true and complete Redemption. [Seifer HaSichos 5752, pp. 210]


You would think that Yosef – who knew the extent of his father’s love for him, and, of consequence, the extent of his pain in his absence – would have certainly shown the courtesy to end his father’s misery much earlier!


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