“Whose turn is it to read from the HaYom Yom?” Mrs. Gold asked her children at the supper table.

“Mine,” called Chaim as he reached over for the sefer which was on a small shelf nearby.

Mr. Gold smiled as he watched Chaim leaf through the book. “What a good idea it is to have the children read from the HaYom Yom at supper,” he thought to himself. “Instead of the usual fussing at the table, we have good discussions. And best of all, the kids listen to each other.”

Chaim began reading: “When the Tzemach Tzedek was a young boy, his cheder teacher taught him the pasuk: ‘And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt for 17 years.’ Based on the commentary of the Baal HaTurim, the teacher explained that these were the best years of Yaakov’s life.

“When the Tzemach Tzedek came home from cheder, he asked his grandfather, the Alter Rebbe: ‘How is it possible that the best years of Yaakov Avinu’s life were in Mitzrayim, the lowest of all lands?’

“The Alter Rebbe answered: ‘It is written: “And he sent Yehudah before him to Yosef lehoros lifonav Goshnah.”’

Rashi quotes the Midrash: Rabbi Nechemiah says — ‘to establish a house of study,’... that the tribes should study the Torah.

“‘Lehoros’ shares the same root as the word, Torah. And the root of Goshen is gash — come close. When a Jew studies Torah, he comes close to HaShem. This closeness gives him a very good and fulfilling life — even in Mitzrayim.’

Chaim closed the sefer and put it back on its shelf. “Is that all it says?” asked Mendy.

Chaim nodded.

“But there is still a question,” Mendy insisted. “The Tzemach Tzedek asked why Yaakov’s best years were in Mitzrayim, but the Alter Rebbe only explained that even in Mitzrayim a Jew can have good years. Well, couldn’t HaShem have arranged it so that Yaakov would be learning Torah with his children in Eretz Yisrael? What is so good about learning Torah in Mitzrayim?”

“That’s a very good question, Mendy,” said Mr. Gold. “You see, there is an advantage to learning Torah in Mitzrayim. In Chassidus, it is called yisron ha’or min ha’choshech — the advantage of light which comes from the darkness.

“Learning Torah in Mitzrayim — in the lowest of all lands, in a spiritual darkness — brings very bright light from HaShem into this world. This light has the advantage of having come from the depth of darkness. Its brightness and power made Yaakov’s life in Mitzrayim his best years.”

* * *

The same is true for us. Through studying the Torah and keeping mitzvos in exile, we make the galus shine, and this helps make the world ready for the light of the geulah.

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. X, p. 160ff)