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Sunday, 9 Shevat 5777 / February 5, 2017

Sunday: Joseph’s Bones

Sunday: Joseph’s Bones

First Reading: Exodus 13:17–14:8

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Joseph had left instructions for the Jews to take his remains out of Egypt when they would leave. Moses therefore took Joseph’s remains along when the Jews left Egypt. Joseph’s remains were eventually interred in Shechem.
Joseph's Bones
וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת עַצְמוֹת יוֹסֵף עִמּוֹ וגו': (שמות יג:יט)
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him. Exodus 13:19

The Hebrew word for “bone” (etzem) also means “essence.” The Jewish people were about to embark on a journey through a desert whose barrenness and perils were a reflection of its spiritual desolation. In order to be able to survive this journey, Moses ensured that the Jewish people were accompanied by the essence and spirit of Joseph.

Joseph’s essence is expressed in his name, which means “May He add,” for when he was born, his mother Rachel prayed, “May G‑d add for me another son.”1 This wish includes the desire to welcome the estranged Jew back into the fold. In a more general sense, it includes the desire to transform all mundane reality into the vehicle for holiness it was originally intended to be.

The odyssey of exile is likened to a journey through a barren, perilous desert.2 In order for us to persevere through periods of spiritual desolation, we must take our cue from Joseph’s essence. We must strive to bring even the most distant and rebellious individuals back to the fold, showing them that they are truly G‑d’s beloved children. When we remain true to this objective, we are assured that in the end, no Jew will be left behind.3

Footnotes
2.
See Ezekiel 20:35; Rabbeinu Bachaye and Or HaChaim on Numbers 33:1 ff.
3.
Likutei Sichot, vol. 26, pp. 85–89.
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (11 Nissan 1902–3 Tammuz 1994) became the seventh rebbe of the Chabad dynasty on 10 Shevat 1950. He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century, a dominant scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah, and fluent in many languages and on scientific subjects. The Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet, having sent thousands of emissaries around the globe, dedicated to strengthening Judaism.

Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky is a scholar, author and anthologist, and is editor-in-chief at Chabad House Publications of California. He is the author and translator of Apples from the Orchard, gleanings from the writings of the Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria, 1534–1572) on the Torah, and is the author and editor-in-chief of the Kehot Chumash produced by Chabad House Publications, featuring an interpolated translation of the Torah with commentary adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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sunil subba India February 6, 2017

Wonderful mission to bring back everyone to its original fold.This indeed is a noble vision. Reply

sunil subba India January 18, 2016

The concern for the spiritual and religious development of the other is the most important as we are in the same boat to the same destination. Reply

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