Introduction

This sichah reflects a motif common to many others. The Rebbe begins by focusing on one of Rashi’s commentaries. Heanalyzes it and develops a unique interpretation and then uses that interepretation to point to a spiritual concept of greater scope.

The commentary in question interprets the interaction between Yaakov and Yosef when Yosef tells him his dreams:1

“He told the dream to his father and brothers, and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Will we come – I, your mother, and your brothers – to prostrate ourselves on the ground before you?’ ”

Rashi cites the words, “Will we come,” and explains that Yaakov was asking Yosef:

“Isn’t your mother (Rachel) already dead?” However, Yaakov did not know that the matter referred to Bilhah, who had raised Yosef as if she were his mother.

Our Rabbis explained Yaakov’s words differently, deriving from here that there is no dream without meaningless components. Yaakov was aware of this concept. However, he intended to remove the matter from the hearts of his sons to prevent envy of Yosef. Therefore, he told him, “Will we come…?” He was implying, “Just as it is impossible for your mother to come, so too is the rest of the dream meaningless.”

This translation of Rashi’s words follows the understanding of several supercommentaries on Rashi, who explain that Rashi is offering two different interpretations of the verse:

a) Yaakov “did not know that the matter referred to Bilhah….”

b) The interpretation of “our Rabbis” that “there is no dream without meaningless components.”

On the surface, according to the first interpretation, Yaakov thought the dream was meaningless because it implied that Yosef ’s mother would also bow down to him. By contrast, according to “our Rabbis’ ” interpretation, Yaakov knew that the dream was true and prophetic in nature.

However, this interpretation of Rashi’s words appears forced, for the narrative continues,2 “His father awaited the matter,” which Rashi interprets to mean, “He awaited and looked forward to the dream’s fulfillment.” This cannot apply according to the first interpretation. Therefore, it is possible to say that Rashi is not citing two separate interpretations; rather, his entire statement should be seen as one explanation.

Yaakov “did not know that the matter referred to Bilhah.” Nevertheless, he looked forward to the fulfillment of the dream, because “our Rabbis’ ” teaching that “there is no dream without meaningless components” allowed for the possibility of there being several meaningless components in a prophetic dream.

The Rebbe continues to explain that Yaakov was not awaiting bowing down to Yosef; he was awaiting the time when Yosef would reign in Egypt, for in that way, the covenant bein habesarim3between G‑d and Avraham would be fulfilled. Our Sages commented,4 “It would have been fitting for Yaakov, our Patriarch, to descend to Egypt in iron chains.” Therefore, when Yaakov heard Yosef ’s dream, he awaited and looked forward to its fulfillment so that Yosef would reign. In this way, Yaakov would descend to Egypt in a dignified manner and for many years the Jews’ sojourn in the land of Egypt would be characterized by peace, honor, and tranquility.

A question, nevertheless, remains: Why would Yaakov anticipate the beginning of the exile, even if it would begin with honor?

In resolution, it could be said that Yaakov knew that the coming of the exile was inevitable. He understood that specifically the spiritual motif indicated by Yosef’s dream would be what would endow the Jewish people with the potential to endure the concealment of G‑dliness that would characterize the Egyptian exile.

Nevertheless, this resolution is insufficient. True, the motif reflected in Yosef’s dream would enable the Jews to endure the exile and carry out their Divine service in a far loftier manner than they would have been capable of, had Yosef not have been the ruler. Nevertheless, the dream was refering to an exile. Why would Yaakov look forward to the beginning of exile?

The Rebbe therefore explains that Yaakov was “awaiting and looking forward to” what every Jew awaits and looks forward to – the Ultimate Redemption, the redemption of the Jews from exile for all time. Yaakov “awaited and looked forward to” the reign of the Mashiach from the House of Yosef, who will come as an initial step preparatory to the coming of the Mashiach from the House of David.

This was Yaakov’s hope, and this remains the desire and wish of all his descendants.

Did Yaakov Believe Yosef’s Dream?

“He told the dream to his father and brothers, and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Will we come – I, your mother, and your brothers – to prostrate ourselves on the ground before you?’ ”5

Rashi cites the words,6 “Will we come,” and explains that Yaakov asked Yosef:

“Isn’t your mother (Rachel) already dead?” However, Yaakov did not know that the matter referred to Bilhah, who had raised Yosef as if she were his mother.

Our Rabbis explained Yaakov’s words differently, deriving from here that there is no dream without meaningless components. Yaakov was aware of this concept. However, he intended to remove the matter from the hearts of his sons to prevent envy of Yosef. Therefore, he told him, “Will we come…?” He was implying, “Just as it is impossible for your mother to come, so too is the rest of the dream meaningless.”

א

“וַיְסַפֵּרא אֶל אָבִיו וְאֶל אֶחָיו וַיִּגְעַר בּוֹ אָבִיו וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ מָה הַחֲלוֹם הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר חָלָמְתָּ הֲבוֹא נָבוֹא אֲנִי וְאִמְּךָ וְאַחֶיךָ לְהִשְׁתַּחֲווֹת לְךָ אָרְצָה”, וּבְפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י מַעְתִּיק מִן הַכָּתוּב “הֲבוֹא נָבוֹא” וּמְפָרֵשׁ “וַהֲלֹא אִמְּךָ כְּבָר מֵתָה וְהוּא לֹא הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהַדְּבָרִים מַגִּיעִין לְבִלְהָה שֶׁגִּדְּלַתּוּ כְּאִמּוֹ וְרַבּוֹתֵינוּ לָמְדוּ מִכַּאן שֶׁאֵין חֲלוֹם בְּלֹא דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים וְיַעֲקֹב נִתְכַּוֵּן לְהוֹצִיא הַדָּבָר מִלֵּב בָּנָיו שֶׁלֹּא יְקַנְאוּהוּ לְכָךְ אָמַר לוֹ הֲבוֹא נָבוֹא וגו’ כְּשֶׁם שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר בְּאִמְּךָ כָּךְ הַשְּׁאָר הוּא בָּטֵל”.

This interpretation of Rashi’s words follows the understanding of several supercommentaries7 on Rashi that explain that Rashi is offering two different interpretations of the verse:

a) Yaakov “did not know that the matter referred to Bilhah….” This interpretation is based on the understanding of the verse in Bereishis Rabbah.8

b) The interpretation of “our Rabbis” that “there is no dream without meaningless components,” which is based on the words of the Talmud.9

וּלְפִי דִּבְרֵי כַּמָּה מְפָרְשֵׁי רַשִׁ"יב נִמְצָא, שֶׁרַשִׁ"י כּוֹתֵב כַּאן שְׁנֵי פֵּרוּשִׁים: א) שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב "לֹא הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהַדְּבָרִים מַגִּיעִין לְבִלְהָה" (שֶׁהוּא עַל פִּי בְּרֵאשִׁית רַבָּה עַל אֲתַרג), ב) פֵּרוּשׁ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ דְּ"אֵין חֲלוֹם בְּלֹא דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים" (וְהוּא עַל פִּי דִּבְרֵי הַגְּמָרָאד).

On the surface, according to the first interpretation, Yaakov thought the dream was meaningless10 because it implied that Yosef’s mother would also bow down to him. (Yaakov erred in this judgment because he “did not know that the matter referred to Bilhah.”) By contrast, according to “our Rabbis’ ” interpretation, Yaakov knew that the dream was true and prophetic in nature. The fact that it included Yosef’s mother bowing down did not detract from its prophetic import (even though, according to “our Rabbis’ ” interpretation, it is impossible to say that “the matter referred to Bilhah,”) because “there is no dream without meaningless components,” and his mother’s bowing is one such component.

Rashi concludes his commentary in line with this second interpretation, explaining that Yaakov “intended to remove the matter from the hearts of his sons so they would not envy Yosef. Therefore, he said to him, ‘Will we come…?’ He was saying, just as it is impossible for your mother to come, so too is the rest of the dream meaningless;” i.e., although Yaakov knew that the dream was true and prophetic, he made this statement “to remove the matter from the hearts of his sons.”

וְלִכְאוֹרָה מַשְׁמַע, שֶׁלְּפֵרוּשׁ הָא' חָשַׁב יַעֲקֹב שֶׁאֵין מַמָּשׁ בַּחֲלוֹם וְהוּא חֲלוֹם שָׁוְאד*, כֵּיוָן שֶׁגַּם "אִמְּךָ" הָיְתָה מִשְׁתַּחֲוָה (וְטָעָה בְּזֶה, כִּי "לֹא הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהַדְּבָרִים מַגִּיעִין לְבִלְהָה"): וְאִלּוּ לְפֵרוּשׁ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ יָדַע יַעֲקֹב שֶׁהַחֲלוֹם הוּא חֲלוֹם אֲמִתִּי, וְהַפְּרָט דְּ"אִמְּךָ" מִשְׁתַּחֲוָה אֵינוֹ סוֹתֵר לַאֲמִתִּיּוּת הַחֲלוֹם (אַף שֶׁלְּשִׁיטַת רַבּוֹתֵינוּ אִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹמַר שֶׁהַדְּבָרִים מַגִּיעִים לְבִלְהָה), כִּי "אֵין חֲלוֹם בְּלֹא דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים", וּפְרָט זֶה הוּא מֵהַ"דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים" שֶׁבּוֹ. וּמַה שֶּׁמְּסַיֵּם רַשִׁ"י "וְיַעֲקֹב נִתְכַּוֵּן לְהוֹצִיא הַדָּבָר מִלֵּב בָּנָיו שֶׁלֹּא יְקַנְאוּהוּ לְכָךְ אָמַר לוֹ הֲבוֹא נָבוֹא וגו' כְּשֶׁם שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר בְּאִמְּךָ כָּךְ הַשְּׁאָר הוּא בָּטֵל", זֶהוּ סִיּוּם הַפֵּרוּשׁ הַב', דְּאַף שֶׁהוּא יָדַע שֶׁהַחֲלוֹם אֱמֶת, מִכָּל מָקוֹם אָמַר כֵּן "לְהוֹצִיא מִלֵּב בָּנָיו".

However, this interpretation of Rashi’s words appears forced, for the narrative continues,11 “His father awaited the matter,” which Rashi interprets to mean, “He awaited and looked forward12to the dream’s fulfillment.” In contrast to Rashi’s first explanation, according to this understanding,Scripture explicitly states that Yaakov was certain that Yosef’s dream was true and would surely be fulfilled,13 but he did not know when, and so was “awaiting and looking forward to its fulfillment.”14

אֲבָל לִכְאוֹרָה פֵּרוּשׁ זֶה (בְּדִבְרֵי רַשִׁ"י) דָּחוּק הוּא, שֶׁהֲרֵי בַּכָּתוּב מַמְשִׁיךְה "וְאָבִיו שָׁמַר אֶת הַדָּבָר", וּפֵרֵשׁ רַשִׁ"י "הָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא", הֲרֵי מְפֹרָשׁ שֶׁבָּרוּר הָיָה לְיַעֲקֹב שֶׁהוּא חֲלוֹם אֲמִתִּי וּבְוַדַּאי יִתְקַיֵּםו, אֶלָּא שֶׁהָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יִתְקַיֵּםז.

On this basis, it is possible to say that Rashi is not citing two separate interpretations, rather his entire statement should be seen as one explanation.15This is reflected in the precise wording Rashi uses, “Our Rabbis … derive from here.” Such wording does not imply that he is beginning a new interpretation, rather continuing his previous explanation. Rashi does not write – as he does in other instances when he cites two interpretations – “an alternate understanding,” or “and our Rabbis interpreted,” or the like.

Rashi should thus be understood as saying: Since Yaakov did not know that the matter referred to Bilhah, yet was certain that Yosef’s dream would be fulfilled – as the narrative continues, “His father awaited the matter” – our Rabbis derived from here that there is no dream without meaningless components.

This was Yaakov’s conception, that even though the dream as a whole would be fulfilled, this particular point – that Yosef’s mother would bow down to him – was one of its meaningless components.16 In truth, however, this was not a meaningless component because the matter referred to Bilhah.17

Rashi then concludes, explaining that, although Yaakov knew that the dream would be fulfilled as a whole, he still said, “Will we come…?” “to remove the matter from the hearts of his sons.” They did not know that “there is no dream without meaningless components” and therefore it was possible to tell them, “Just as it is impossible for your mother to come and bow down to you, so too is the rest of the dream meaningless.” In this way, the brothers would not envy Yosef.18

וְאוּלַי יֵשׁ לוֹמַר, שֶׁאֵין כַּאן שְׁנֵי פֵּרוּשִׁים בְּרַשִׁ”י, אֶלָּא כָּל דְּבָרָיו הֵם הֶמְשֵׁךְ אֶחָד. וּכְדִיּוּק לְשׁוֹנוֹ “וְרַבּוֹתֵינוּ לָמְדוּ מִכַּאן” [וְלֹא כָתַב, כְּדַרְכּוֹ בְּכָל מָקוֹם כְּשֶׁמֵּבִיא שְׁנֵי פֵּרוּשִׁים, “דָּבָר אַחֵר” אוֹ “וְרַבּוֹתֵינוּ דָרְשׁוּ” וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָזֶה], שֶׁאֵין בְּמַשְׁמָעוּת לָשׁוֹן זוֹ שֶׁזֶּהוּ פֵּרוּשׁ חָדָשׁ, אֶלָּא רַק הוֹסָפַת עִנְיָןח. וְשִׁעוּר לְשׁוֹן רַשִׁ”י כָּךְ הוּא: כֵּיוָן שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב לֹא יָדַע שֶׁהַדְּבָרִים מַגִּיעִים לְבִלְהָה, וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן הָיָה בָּרוּר לוֹ שֶׁהַחֲלוֹם יִתְקַיֵּם (כְּהֶמְשֵׁךְ הַכָּתוּב “וְאָבִיו שָׁמַר אֶת הַדָּבָר”), הִנֵּה מִזֶּה לָמְדוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁאֵין חֲלוֹם בְּלֹא דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים. וְזוֹ הָיְתָה דַעְתּוֹ שֶׁל יַעֲקֹב, שֶׁאַף שֶׁכְּלָלוּת הַחֲלוֹם יִתְקַיֵּם, מִכָּל מָקוֹם פְּרָט זֶה שֶׁבַּחֲלוֹם (שֶׁאִמּוֹ תָּבוֹא לְהִשְׁתַּחֲווֹת לְפָנָיו) הוּא מֵהַדְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים שֶׁבּוֹט. אֲבָל לְפִי הָאֱמֶת לֹא הָיָה זֶה מֵהַדְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים כִּי אָכֵן הָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים מַגִּיעִים לְבִלְהָהי. וְעַל זֶה מְסַיֵּם רַשִׁ”י, דְּאַף שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב יָדַע שֶׁכְּלָלוּת הַחֲלוֹם יִתְקַיֵּם, מִכָּל מָקוֹם אָמַר “הֲבוֹא נָבוֹא גו’”, כְּדֵי “לְהוֹצִיא הַדָּבָר מִלֵּב בָּנָיו”, שֶׁהֵם לֹא יָדְעוּ “שֶׁאֵין חֲלוֹם בְּלֹא דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים”, וּבְמֵילָא אֶפְשָׁר לוֹמַר לָהֶם, שֶׁ”כְּשֶׁם שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר בְּאִמְּךָ כָּךְ הַשְּׁאָר הוּא בָּטֵל”יא.

Why Did Yaakov Want Yosef’s Dream to Come True?

If, in truth, “the matter referred to Bilhah,” additional clarification is necessary: What are the “meaningless components” of Yosef’s dream?19

ב

אֶלָּא שֶׁלְּפִי זֶה צָרִיךְ בֵּאוּר: כֵּיוָן שֶׁלְּפִי הָאֱמֶת “הַדְּבָרִים מַגִּיעִין לְבִלְהָה”, אִם כֵּן מַה הֵם הַדְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים שֶׁבַּחֲלוֹםיב?

The question can be resolved by prefacing the explanation of another puzzling dimension of the overall narrative. Seemingly, Rashi’s interpretation of the verse, “His father awaited the matter” – that Yaakov “awaited and looked forward to its fulfillment” – implies that this is something he cherished, desired, and looked forward to happening as soon as possible. What would a father desire in that his son would reign and he would bow down on the ground in front of him?

True, the adage,20 “A man will be jealous of anyone except his son and his student,” is easily understandable.21However, this merely teaches that a person will not become jealous when his son or his student attains a greater degree of prominence than he. However, it is not logical to assume that a father would anticipate his son ruling over him,22 in addition to his son’s elder brothers, in a manner that they would all23 be the son’s servants and bow on the ground before him.

וְיוּבַן זֶה בְּהַקְדִּים תְּמִיָּה בִּכְלָלוּת הַמְסֻפָּר בַּכָּתוּב כַּאן שֶׁ"וְאָבִיו שָׁמַר אֶת הַדָּבָר", שֶׁ"הָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא", שֶׁמּוֹרֶה עַל דָּבָר הֶחָבִיב עָלָיו, שֶׁרוֹצֶה שֶׁיָּבוֹא וְיִתְקַיֵּם כְּבָר, מַהוּ הָעִלּוּי בְּזֶה שֶׁבְּנוֹ יִמְלוֹךְ וְאָבִיו יִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לוֹ אָרְצָה? דְּאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַכְּלָליג דְּ"בַכֹּל אָדָם מִתְקַנֵּא חוּץ מִבְּנוֹ וְתַלְמִידוֹ" הוּא דָּבָר מוּבָן וּפָשׁוּטיד, הֲרֵי זֶה רַק שֶׁאֵין אָדָם מִתְקַנֵּא בִּבְנוֹ וְתַלְמִידוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר מִתְעַלִּים לְמַדְרֵגָה נַעֲלֵית יוֹתֵר מִמֶּנּוּ, אֲבָל אֵין מָקוֹם שֶׁהָאָב יְצַפֶּה שֶׁבְּנוֹ יִמְלוֹךְ עָלָיוטו, וּבְאֹפֶן שֶׁכָּל אֶחָיו הַמְּבֻגָּרִים וְגַם הָאָבטז יִהְיוּ עֲבָדִים לוֹ וְיִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לוֹ אָרְצָה.

There are commentaries24 who explain Rashi’s intent based on the statements of the Midrash4 that “Yaakov our Patriarch thought that the Resurrection of the Dead would take place in his time;” i.e., Yaakov was awaiting and looking forward to the dream’s fulfillment – not because through it Yosef would reign and all would bow down to him, for in truth that would bring Yaakov much discomfort – but because he thought that the Resurrection of the Dead would take place in his time.25 Accordingly, he was looking forward to the time when Rachel, Yosef’s mother, would be resurrected.

יֵשׁ מְפָרְשִׁיםיז כַּוָּנַת רַשִׁ"י עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בְּמִדְרָשׁ כַּאןג "כָּךְ הָיָה אָבִינוּ יַעֲקֹב סָבוּר שֶׁתְּחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים מַגַּעַת בְּיָמָיו", וְהַיְנוּ דְּזֶה שֶׁהָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי תַּגִּיעַ הָעֵת שֶׁיִּתְקַיֵּם חֲלוֹמוֹ, הוּא (לֹא עַל זֶה שֶׁיּוֹסֵף יִמְלוֹךְ וְכֻלָּם יִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לוֹ שֶׁזֶּה בֶּאֱמֶת הָיָה צַעַר גָּדוֹל לְיַעֲקֹב, אֶלָּא) מִשּׁוּם שֶׁהָיָה סָבוּר שֶׁתְּחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים מַגַּעַת בְּיָמָיויח, וְלָכֵן הָיָה מְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא הָעֵת שֶׁתַּעֲמוֹד רָחֵל אִמּוֹ.

Firstly, it is very difficult to explain Rashi’s words in this manner, for they do not contain any hint to the concept stated in the Midrash, that Yaakov thought the Resurrection of the Dead would take place in his time. Furthermore, the straightforward meaning of “his father awaited the matter” is that he was looking forward to the fulfillment of the general theme of the dream and not for an incidental matter that would occur with the dream’s fulfillment. (In particular, this is true since, according to this understanding, the general import of Yosef’s dream did not contain anything special that Yaakov would anticipate; he would only be looking forward to an incidental element of the dream.26)

Furthermore, based on the explanation given above,27 Rashi’s intent is the direct opposite. Yaakov thought this element of the dream – that Yosef’s mother would bow down to him – was one of its meaningless components.

אֲבָל נוֹסָף עַל עֶצֶם הַדֹּחַק לְפָרֵשׁ כֵּן בְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י, שֶׁאֵין שׁוּם רֶמֶז לְעִנְיָן הַנַּ"ל (שֶׁבְּמִדְרָשׁ) שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב הָיָה סָבוּר שֶׁתְּחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים מַגַּעַת בְּיָמָיו, וְעוֹד זֹאת שֶׁפַּשְׁטוּת הַכַּוָּנָה בְּ"שָׁמַר אֶת הַדָּבָר" קָאֵי עַל כְּלָלוּת תֹּכֶן הַחֲלוֹם וְלֹא עַל עִנְיָן צְדָדִי שֶׁיִּתְקַיֵּם כְּשֶׁיָּבוֹא זְמַן קִיּוּם הַחֲלוֹם [וּבִפְרָט בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁעֶצֶם הַדָּבָר אֵין בּוֹ דָּבָר מְיֻחָד, וְרַק פְּרָט צְדָדִי הוּא דָבָר שֶׁמְּצַפֶּה אֵלָיויט] – הֲרֵי עַל פִּי הַנַּ"ל (סְעִיף א) כַּוָּנַת רַשִׁ"י הִיא לְהֵפֶךְ מַמָּשׁ, שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב חָשַׁב שֶׁפְּרָט זֶה דְּהַחֲלוֹם (שֶׁאִמּוֹ תִּשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לוֹ) הוּא מֵהַדְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים שֶׁבַּחֲלוֹם.

Based on the above, the question remains: What is the great import of this dream that Yaakov was anticipating?

וְעַל פִּי זֶה – מַהוּ גֹּדֶל הָעִנְיָן בַּחֲלוֹם זֶה שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב הָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא?

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

It is possible to say that a resolution can be reached through an analysis of the wording of “our Rabbis,” who “derived from here that there is no dream without meaningless components.” Seemingly, based on the above explanation, there is only one element of the dream that was not true – that Yosef’s mother would bow down to him. If so, the Rabbis should have spoken in the singular, “there is no dream without a meaningless component.” It appears that they were precise in using the plural “components.”

ג

וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר, שֶׁזֶּה מְתֹרָץ עַל פִּי דִּיּוּק לְשׁוֹן רַבּוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁלָּמְדוּ מִכַּאן “שֶׁאֵין חֲלוֹם בְּלֹא דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים”, דְּלִכְאוֹרָה עַל פִּי הַנַּ”ל הָיָה כַּאן רַק דָּבָר אֶחָד בַּחֲלוֹם שֶׁאֵינוֹ אֲמִתִּי (זֶה שֶׁאִמּוֹ תִּשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לוֹ), וַהֲוָה לֵיהּ לְמֵימַר “אֵין חֲלוֹם בְּלֹא דָּבָר בָּטֵל”?

Yaakov thought there were several “meaningless components” in Yosef’s dream.28He thought that, just as the component that Yosef’s mother would bow down to him was meaningless (because Yaakov did not know that the matter referred to Bilhah), so too, he thought the prophecy that he would bow down to the ground before Yosef was meaningless. The true meaning of the dream was only that Yosef would ascend to a lofty position to the extent that he would rule over all his brothers, but not that he would also rule over his father, who would prostrate himself on the ground before Yosef.

וְנִרְאֶה לוֹמַר, שֶׁבְּדִיּוּק אָמְרוּ "אֵין חֲלוֹם בְּלֹא דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים" בִּלְשׁוֹן רַבִּים, שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב חָשַׁב שֶׁיֵּשׁ כַּמָּה "דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים" בַּחֲלוֹםכ, דִּכְשֵׁם שֶׁהַפְּרָט שֶׁאִמּוֹ תִּשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לוֹ הוּא דָּבָר בָּטֵל (שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא יָדַע שֶׁהַדְּבָרִים מַגִּיעִים לְבִלְהָה), כָּךְ חָשַׁב שֶׁגַּם זֶה שֶׁהוּא יָבוֹא לְהִשְׁתַּחֲווֹת לוֹ אַרְצָה הוּא מֵהַדְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים שֶׁבַּחֲלוֹם, דַּאֲמִתִּיּוּת הַחֲלוֹם הִיא רַק בְּזֶה שֶׁיּוֹסֵף יַעֲלֶה לִגְדֻלָּה עַד שֶׁיִּמְלוֹךְ עַל כָּל אֶחָיו, אֲבָל לֹא שֶׁיִּמְלוֹךְ גַּם עַל אָבִיו עַד שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב יִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לוֹ אָרְצָה.

It is possible to say that this was indeed what happened – that Yaakov’s bowing down to Yosef was one of the meaningless components of the dream. For Yaakov did not prostrate himself on the ground before Yosef. All that happened was,29 “Yisrael bowed down at the head of the bed.”30

וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר שֶׁכֵּן הָיָה בְּפֹעַל, שֶׁפְּרָט זֶה שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב יִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לְיוֹסֵף הָיָה מֵהַדְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים שֶׁבַּחֲלוֹם, כִּי יַעֲקֹב לֹא הִשְׁתַּחֲוָה לְיוֹסף "אָרְצָה", אֶלָּא רַק "וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּכא יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל רֹאשׁ הַמִּטָּה"כב.

On this basis, it is also possible to explain the precision of the wording Rashi uses: “Just as it is impossible for your mother to come, so too is the rest of the dream meaningless.” He did not say “the dream is entirely meaningless.”31 The words Yaakov spoke – although chosen “to remove the matter from the hearts of his sons” – also allude to Yaakov’s true conception of the dream; i.e., Yaakov thought that, although the fundamental message of the dream would come true, it contained several points that would not necessarily come true. Indeed, because “there is no dream without meaningless components,” it was necessary that it contain several such components. Therefore, Yaakov used wording32 that would not include any falsehood. (It is obvious that, although Yaakov desired “to remove the matter from the hearts of his sons,” he would not make false statements for that purpose.)

Thus, by saying “so too is the rest of the dream meaningless,” Yaakov was telling the truth. He meant that the dream contained other meaningless components in addition to the particular point that Yosef’s mother would come. Nevertheless, his sons were led to understand from his words that the dream was entirely meaningless.

וְעַל פִּי זֶה יֵשׁ לְבָאֵר גַּם דִּיּוּק לְשׁוֹן רַשִׁ”י “כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר בְּאִמְּךָ כָּךְ הַשְּׁאָר הוּא בָּטֵל”, וְלֹא נָקַט הַלָּשׁוֹן “כֻּלּוֹכג בָּטֵל”, כִּי נָקַט לָשׁוֹן כָּזוֹ, שֶׁבָּהּ נִרְמֶזֶת גַּם סְבָרָתוֹ שֶׁל יַעֲקֹב לְפִי הָאֱמֶת, שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב סָבַר, דְּאַף שֶׁעִקָּרוֹ שֶׁל הַחֲלוֹם צָרִיךְ לְהִתְקַיֵּם, מִכָּל מָקוֹם יֶשְׁנָם כַּמָּה פְּרָטִים שֶׁאֵינָם מֻכְרָחִים לְהִתְקַיֵּם, וִיתֵרָה מִזֶּה, שֶׁעַל פִּי סֵדֶר מֻכְרָחִים לִהְיוֹת פְּרָטִים שֶׁלֹּא יִתְקַיְּמוּ כִּי “אֵין חֲלוֹם בְּלֹא דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים”, וְלָכֵן אָמַרכד יַעֲקֹב לָשׁוֹן כָּזוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה בִּלְשׁוֹנוֹ דְּבַר שֶׁקֶר (דְּפָשׁוּט, דְּאַף שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב רָצָה “לְהוֹצִיא מִלֵּב בָּנָיו”, מִכָּל מָקוֹם לֹא יִתָּכֵן שֶׁמִּשּׁוּם כָּךְ יוֹצִיא יַעֲקֹב שֶׁקֶר מִפִּיו), וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר “כָּךְ הַשְּׁאָר הוּא בָּטֵל”, שֶׁלֹּא רַק פְּרָט זֶה דְּ”אִמְּךָ” הוּא דָּבָר בָּטֵל אֶלָּא יֵשׁ בּוֹ עוֹד פְּרָטִים “בְּטֵלִים”, אֶלָּא שֶׁהַשְּׁבָטִים הֵבִינוּ מִדְּבָרָיו שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ בָּטֵל.

Impending Exile

Further explanation is nevertheless necessary regarding the fundamental message of the dream – that Yosef would rule over his brothers and they would come and prostrate themselves on the ground before him – when considering the inner dimension of the matter.

True, Yosef was born to Yaakov in his old age and he loved him more than all his sons,33 and therefore it was natural for Yaakov to desire that Yosef rise to prominence and even exceed all his other sons. Nevertheless, why was it important that Yosef rule over his brothers to the extent that they would prostrate themselves on the ground before him? And why was this so significant that Yaakov awaited and looked forward for it to happen?

ג

אֲבָל עֲדַיִן צָרִיךְ לְהָבִין (בִּפְנִימִיּוּת הָעִנְיָנִים) גַּם בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לְעִקַּר הַחֲלוֹם, שֶׁיּוֹסֵף יִמְלוֹךְ עַל שְׁאָר הָאַחִים וְהֵם יָבֹאוּ לְהִשְׁתַּחֲווֹת לוֹ אַרְצָה, דְּלִכְאוֹרָה, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁיּוֹסֵף הָיָה בֶּן זְקוּנָיו שֶׁל יַעֲקֹב אֲשֶׁר אָהַב אוֹתוֹ מִכָּל בָּנָיו לָכֵן הָיָה רוֹצֶה שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה לִגְדֻלָּה, וְעוֹד יוֹתֵר מִשְּׁאָר כָּל בָּנָיו, מִכָּל מָקוֹם, מַהוּ הָעִלּוּי בְּזֶה שֶׁהוּא יִמְלוֹךְ עַל אֶחָיו עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ לוֹ אַרְצָה, וְעַד כְּדֵי כָךְ שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב הָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא הַדָּבָר?

It is possible to resolve these questions based on the later statements made by Rashi on the verse,34 “he sent him from the valley of Chevron,” that Yaakov sent Yosef because of “the deep counsel of the righteous man who is buried in Chevron (i.e., Avraham), to fulfill what was said to Avraham in the covenant bein habesarim,35‘Your descendants will be strangers.’ ” According to this understanding, it is possible to say that the totality of the story that transpired between Yosef and his brothers related in this Torah reading was part of “the deep counsel” that would lead to the fulfillment of the prophecies in the covenant bein habesarim.

וְיֵשׁ לְבָאֵר זֶה עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב רַשִׁ"י לְקַמָּן עַל הַפָּסוּקכה "וַיִּשְׁלָחֵהוּ מֵעֵמֶק חֶבְרוֹן" – "מֵעֵצָה עֲמֻקָּה שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ צַדִּיק הַקָּבוּר בְּחֶבְרוֹן לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַרכו לְאַבְרָהָם בֵּין הַבְּתָרִים כִּי גֵר יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ", הַיְנוּ שֶׁהַשְּׁלִיחוּת שֶׁשָּׁלַח יַעֲקֹב אֶת יוֹסֵף הָיְתָה "לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר לְאַבְרָהָם בֵּין הַבְּתָרִים", דִּלְפִי זֶה יֵשׁ לוֹמַר, שֶׁגַּם כְּלָלוּת הַסִּפּוּר דְּפַרְשָׁתֵנוּ עַל־דְּבַר יוֹסֵף וְאֶחָיו הָיְתָה בּוֹ "עֵצָה עֲמֻקָּה" שֶׁתִּתְקַיֵּם בְּרִית בֵּין הַבְּתָרִים.

This understanding sheds light on Rashi’s intent in the commentary under discussion. What was Yaakov waiting for and anticipating? From an inner perspective, he did not see Yosef’s reign – and his brothers’ prostration before him – as a goal in and of itself but, rather, as a means to an end, that through Yosef’s reign the prophecies of the covenant bein habesarim wouldbe fulfilled.

To explain: There were many possible ways in which the decree, “Your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs” could have been fulfilled. As our Sages commented,36 “It would have been fitting for Yaakov, our Patriarch, to descend to Egypt in iron chains.” Therefore, when Yaakov heard Yosef’s dream, he awaited and looked forward to its fulfillment so that Yosef would reign and, in this manner, Yaakov would descend to Egypt in a dignified manner. Moreover, as a result of Yosef becoming the viceroy – that “aside from him, no one could lift his hand or his foot”37 – for many years the Jews’ sojourn in the land of Egypt would be characterized by peace, honor, and tranquility. Indeed, this became the reality; the Jews dwelt in the land of Goshen, which was “the choicest portion of the land.”38

וְעַל פִּי זֶה יֵשׁ לוֹמַר, שֶׁעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה הוּא בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לְפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י דִּידָן, דְּזֶה שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב הָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא, הֲרֵי בִּפְנִימִיּוּת אֵין הַכַּוָּנָה לְמַלְכוּתוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף כְּשֶׁלְּעַצְמָהּ (שֶׁבְּכָךְ שֶׁאֶחָיו יִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לוֹ אֵין מַעֲלָה), אֶלָּא בְּכָךְ שֶׁגְּזֵרַת בֵּין הַבְּתָרִים תִּתְקַיֵּם עַל יְדֵי מַלְכוּתוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף, שֶׁהֲרֵי גְּזֵרַת "גֵּר יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא לָהֶם" הָיְתָה יְכוֹלָה לְהִתְקַיֵּם בְּכַמָּה אוֹפַנִּים (וּכְמַאֲמַר חַזַ"לכז רָאוּי הָיָה יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ לֵירֵד לְמִצְרַיִם בְּשַׁלְשְׁלָאוֹת שֶׁל בַּרְזֶל), אֶלָּא יַעֲקֹב הָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יִתְקַיֵּם חֲלוֹם יוֹסֵף, שֶׁיּוֹסֵף יִמְלוֹךְ, שֶׁעַל יְדֵי זֶה תִּהְיֶה יְרִידַת יַעֲקֹב לְמִצְרַיִם בְּדֶרֶךְ כָּבוֹד, וְכֵן שְׁהוּתָם שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בְּמֶשֶׁךְ רִבּוּי שָׁנִים תִּהְיֶה בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁל מְנוּחָה וְכָבוֹד וְשַׁלְוָה, לִהְיוֹת שֶׁיּוֹסֵף הָיָה מִשְׁנֶה לְמֶלֶךְ שֶׁבִּלְעָדוֹ לֹא יָרִים אִישׁ אֶת יָדוֹ וְאֶת רַגְלוֹכח, וּכְפִי שֶׁהָיָה בְּפֹעַל שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יָשְׁבוּ בְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן שֶׁהִיא מֵיטַב הָאָרֶץכט.

This interpretation as well is nevertheless problematic because the simple meaning of Yosef’s dream did not concern the general concept that he would become a world ruler, only that “the sun, the moon, and eleven stars are bowing down to me,” i.e., that Yaakov and Yosef’s brothers would bow.

Also, according to this understanding, it is not appropriate to say that Yaakov “awaited and looked forward to its fulfillment.” This expression implies that he was looking forward to the dream’s speedy fulfillment, in the near future. However, according to the above interpretation, Yaakov certainly would not look forward to the dream being fulfilled speedily. Why would he anticipate the beginning of the exile, even if it would begin with honor? Thus, it would have been appropriate for Rashi to merely say that Yaakov understood that the dream and its message would be fulfilled, not that he “awaited and looked forward to its fulfillment.”

אַךְ גַּם פֵּרוּשׁ זֶה אֵינוֹ מְחֻוָּר, כִּי פַּשְׁטוּת הַחֲלוֹם הָיְתָה לֹא עַל כְּלָלוּת מַלְכוּתוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף (כְּלַפֵּי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם), אֶלָּא רַק שֶׁהַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְהַיָּרֵחַ וְאַחַד עָשָׂר כּוֹכָבִים מִשְׁתַּחֲוִים לִי, הַיְנוּ רַק הַהִשְׁתַּחֲוָאָה דְּיַעֲקֹב וְאֶחָיו. גַּם פַּשְׁטוּת הַלָּשׁוֹן “הָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא” אֵינוֹ מַתְאִים כָּל כָּךְ לְפִי הַנַּ”ל, דְּלָשׁוֹן זוֹ מוֹרָה שֶׁהָיָה מְצַפֶּה שֶׁהַדָּבָר יָבוֹא בְּקָרוֹב וּבִמְהֵרָה, וְאִלּוּ לְפֵרוּשׁ הַנַּ”ל וַדַּאי לֹא הָיָה מְצַפֶּה שֶׁהַדָּבָר יָבוֹא בִּמְהֵרָה (דְּמַדּוּעַ יְצַפֶּה יַעֲקֹב לְהַתְחָלָה שֶׁל גָּלוּת, וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם יִהְיֶה בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁל כָּבוֹד). וּמַתְאִים רַק לוֹמַר שֶׁהָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁיִּתְקַיֵּם כו’, אֲבָל לֹא שֶׁ”הָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא”.

What Yaakov Was Expecting from Yosef

To explain the above: As is well known, at times, the entire Jewish people are referred to as Yosef, as in the verse,39 “He led Yosef like sheep.” The inner reason for this is not only that, in a simple sense, Yosef “supported and sustained them in the days of famine,”40 but that he conveyed and transmitted his spiritual qualities to every Jew.41

ה

וְהַבֵּאוּר בְּזֶה:

יָדוּעַ הַבֵּאוּר הַפְּנִימִי בְּזֶה שֶׁכָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל נִקְרָאִים בְּשֵׁם יוֹסֵף, "נוֹהֵג כַּצֹּאן יוֹסֵף"ל, שֶׁהוּא לֹא רַק "לְפִי שֶׁהוּא פִּרְנְסָם וְכִלְכְּלָם בִּימֵי הָרָעָב"לא כִּפְשׁוּטוֹ, אֶלָּא לְפִי שֶׁהִמְשִׁיךְ וְהִשְׁפִּיעַ מֵעִנְיָנָיו וּתְכוּנוֹתָיו הָרוּחָנִיִּים לְכָל אֶחָד וְאַחַת מִיִּשְׂרָאֵללב:

The unique dimension of Yosef in comparison to his brothers is reflected in their respective occupations. His brothers were shepherds, an occupation which allows one to remain detached and removed from worldly concerns so they do not disturb his Divine service.

By contrast, Yosef Hatzaddik, lived in exile; he was “captured and forced to live among the nations.”42 Moreover, he was the ruler over Egypt. He was not merely a figurehead, given that position only in relation to others. It constituted his primary occupation; he had to invest his energies in carrying out his responsibilities. At the outset, when he was in Potiphar’s home, Potiphar “appointed him over his household and gave everything he had into his hand.”43 Later, Pharaoh told him,44 “By your command, all my people will be nourished.” This involved “very great and tremendous engrossment.”45 Nevertheless, all his preoccupation did not take him away or even distract him from his Divine service. Even while involved with all these matters, he remained entirely at one with G‑d, to the extent that “he was actually a chariot for G‑dliness.”46

יִחוּדוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף לְגַבֵּי שְׁאָר הַשְּׁבָטִים הָיָה בְּזֶה שֶׁשְּׁאָר הַשְּׁבָטִים הָיוּ רוֹעֵי צֹאן, מֻפְרָשִׁים וּמֻבְדָּלִים מֵעִנְיְנֵי הָעוֹלָם בִּכְדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יְבַלְבְּלוּם מֵעֲבוֹדַת הַשֵּׁם, מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן יוֹסֵף הַצַּדִּיק הָיָה בְּגָלוּת "נִשְׁבָּה לְבֵין הַגּוֹיִם"לג, וִיתֵרָה מִזּוֹ, שֶׁהָיָה שׁוֹלֵט בְּכָל אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, וְלֹא הָיָה זֶה רַק כְּלַפֵּי חוּץ וּבְחִיצוֹנִיּוּת, אֶלָּא שֶׁהָיָה עָסוּק בְּכָל זֶה, תְּחִלָּה בְּבֵית פּוֹטִיפַר, "וַיַּפְקִדֵהוּ עַל בֵּיתוֹ וְכָל יֶשׁ לוֹ נָתַן בְּיָדוֹ"לד, וּלְאַחֲרֵי זֶה "וְעַל פִּיךָ יִשַּׁק כָּל עַמִּי"לה, שֶׁנִּהֵל בְּפֹעַל כָּל עִנְיְנֵי מִצְרַיִם כו', שֶׁזּוֹהִי "טִרְדָּה גְּדוֹלָה וַעֲצוּמָה בְּיוֹתֵר"לו – וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן, הֲרֵי כָּל טִרְדּוֹת אֵלּוּ לֹא נִתְּקוּ אוֹתוֹ וַאֲפִלּוּ לֹא בִלְבְּלוּ אוֹתוֹ מֵעֲבוֹדַת הַשֵּׁם, וְגַם בְּעֵת עָסְקוֹ בָּהֶם נִשְׁאַר בְּתַכְלִית הַדְּבֵקוּת בֵּאלֹקוּת, עַד שֶׁהָיָה "מֶרְכָּבָה מַמָּשׁ לֵאלֹקוּת"לז.

Furthermore, not only didn’t his intense involvement with worldly matters weaken his attachment to G‑d, he was able to exert a positive influence over Egypt. In this vein, our Sages47 interpret the verse,48 “Yosef was brought down into Egypt,” as Yosef “had dominion over them … subdued them,” i.e., Yosef was able to have an effect on the environment in which he was exiled and align it with his Divine service.49

וִיתֵרָה מִזּוֹ, לֹא רַק שֶׁהַטִּרְדָּה בְּעִנְיְנֵי הָעוֹלָם לֹא גָרְמָה אֶצְלוֹ חֲלִישׁוּת בִּדְבֵקוּתוֹ בֵּאלֹקוּת, אֶלָּא שֶׁהוּא פָּעַל בָּהֶם וּבְעִנְיְנֵי מִצְרַיִם, כְּמַאֲמַר רַזַ"ללח עַל הַפָּסוּקלט וְיוֹסֵף הוּרַד מִצְרָיְמָה, "שָׁלַט בְּהוֹן . . כָּבַשׁ בְּהוֹן", שֶׁפָּעַל עַל עִנְיְנֵי הַגָּלוּת שֶׁיִּהְיוּ בְּהֶתְאֵם לַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ דְיוֹסֵף אֶת הַשֵּׁםמ.

This is why the entire Jewish people are called Yosef, for the potential for every Jew to endure the exile – and indeed, transform it to a positive force – is conveyed to them and stems from Yosef Hatzaddik.50

וְזֶהוּ מַה שֶּׁכָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל נִקְרָאִים עַל שֵׁם יוֹסֵף, כִּי הַכֹּחַ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲבוֹר אֶת הַגָּלוּת נִמְשָׁךְ וּבָא מִיּוֹסֵף הַצַּדִּיקמא.

Yaakov was thus “awaiting and looking forward to” the fulfillment of Yosef’s dream, including the fact that his brothers would prostrate themselves on the ground before him. The rationale is that prostration reflects bittul to the king to whom one is bowing. Such bittul enables both a material and spiritual influence to be drawn down from the king to the people.51

וְזֶהוּ מַה שֶּׁיַּעֲקֹב "הָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא" קִיּוּם חֲלוֹמוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף, שֶׁאַחֵי יוֹסֵף יִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לוֹ אַרְצָה, דְּעִנְיַן הַהִשְׁתַּחֲוָאָה מוֹרֶה עַל הַבִּטּוּל כְּלַפֵּי הַמֶּלֶךְ שֶׁאֵלָיו מִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה, שֶׁעַל יְדֵי בִּטּוּל זֶה לְהַמֶּלֶךְ נִמְשָׁכִיםמב אֶל הָעָם הַשְׁפָּעוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ, הֵן הַשְׁפָּעוֹת גַּשְׁמִיּוֹת וְהֵן הַשְׁפָּעוֹת רוּחָנִיּוֹת.

For this reason, Yaakov was looking forward to the fulfillment of Yosef’s dream. He realized that specifically the spiritual motif indicated by the dream that would be what would endow the Jewish people with the potential to endure the concealment of G‑dliness that would characterize the Egyptian exile52 (as well as all subsequent exiles, for “all the ruling nations are referred to as “Egypt”),53because they would be under Yosef’s rule. He would convey the mode of conduct that characterized his Divine service to them and thereby generate the potential for their Divine service of Torah study and mitzvah observance to remain intact and undisturbed while in exile, in a situation of spiritual darkness wherein G‑dliness is concealed. Furthermore, they would be able to rule over all the aspects of the exile.

וְלָכֵן הָיָה יַעֲקֹב מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה לְקִיּוּם חֲלוֹמוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף שֶׁדַּוְקָא בְּאֹפֶן כְּזֶה בְּכֹחָם שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲבוֹר אֶת הַהֶעְלֵם וְהֶסְתֵּר דְּגָלוּת מִצְרַיִםמג (וְגָלוּת בִּכְלָל, דְּכָל הַמַּלְכִיּוֹת נִקְרְאוּ עַל שֵׁם מִצְרַיִםמד), כַּאֲשֶׁר הֵם תַּחַת מַלְכוּתוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף, הַיְנוּ הַנְהָגָה זוֹ שֶׁגַּם בִּהְיוֹתָם בְּגָלוּת שֶׁהוּא מַצָּב שֶׁל חֹשֶׁךְ וְהֶעְלֵם וְהֶסְתֵּר, לֹא יֻטְרְדוּ וְיִתְבַּלְבְּלוּ מֵעֲבוֹדַת הַשֵּׁם, וְנִשְׁאָרִים שְׁלֵמִים בְּמַצָּבָם, בְּלִמּוּד הַתּוֹרָה וְקִיּוּם הַמִּצְוֹת, וְאַדְּרַבָּה, הֵם שׁוֹלְטִים וּמוֹשְׁלִים עַל עִנְיְנֵי הַגָּלוּת.

Awaiting the Light of Mashiach

This explanation is still insufficient. According to the above, Yaakov was looking forward to the Jews being able to endure the exile and carry out their Divine service in a far loftier manner than they would have been capable of should Yosef not have been the ruler. Nevertheless, this refers to an exile. It is not logical to assume that Yaakov would be looking forward to the time that exile would begin.

ו

אֲבָל לְפִי זֶה הֲרֵי מַה שֶּׁיַּעֲקֹב הָיָה מְצַפֶּה לוֹ הוּא רַק מַעֲלָה וְעִלּוּי בְּמַצַּב וַעֲבוֹדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּגָלוּת לְגַבֵּי מַצָּבָם בְּלַאו הָכִי בִּזְמַן הַגָּלוּת, אֲבָל סוֹף־סוֹף הֲרֵי זֶה מַצָּב וּזְמַן שֶׁל גָּלוּת, וְלֹא מִסְתַּבֵּר כָּל כָּךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב יְצַפֶּה לְזֶה מָתַי יָבוֹא.

In resolution, it is possible to explain that Yaakov was “awaiting and looking forward to” what every Jew awaits and looks forward to – the Ultimate Redemption, the redemption of the Jews from exile for all time. This is emphasized in the support for his interpretation that Yaakov was awaiting the fulfillment of Yosef’s dream that Rashi brings54from the phrase,55shomer emunim.Rashi interprets56 this phrase as referring to the Jewish people, “who await G‑d’s faithful fulfillment of His promise … to redeem them” from exile.57

וְלָכֵן יֵשׁ לוֹמַר דְּזֶה שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב "הָיָה מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא" קָאֵי עַל זֶה שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה תָּמִיד – עַל הַגְּאֻלָּה, גְּאֻלַּת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵהַגָּלוּת, וּכְמֻדְגָּשׁ בְּהֶמְשֵׁךְ לְשׁוֹן רַשִׁ"י "וְכֵן שׁוֹמֵר אֱמוּנִים"מה, מַה שֶּׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מְחַכִּים וּמְצַפִּים "לֶאֱמוּנָתוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא . . לְגָאֳלָם"מו, מֵהַגָּלוּתמז.

To elaborate: As explained many times, the narrative related in this Torah reading does not refer only to Yaakov, his sons, and Yosef as individuals, but rather conveys messages for the whole Jewish people over the entire course of their history. This applies to an even greater extent than all the other accounts of the actions of our Patriarchs described in the book of Bereishis, “the Book of the Upright,”58 which serve as signs, empowering their descendants.59Instead, the events related in this Torah reading in particular allude to the Jewish people as a whole.60

וְהַבֵּאוּר בְּזֶה:

נִתְבָּאֵר כַּמָּה פְּעָמִים אֲשֶׁר כְּלָלוּת הָעִנְיָנִים הַמְבֹאָרִים בְּפָרָשָׁה זוֹ קָאֵי לֹא רַק עַל יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ הַשְּׁבָטִים וְיוֹסֵף כַּאֲנָשִׁים פְּרָטִיִּים, אֶלָּא מוֹרִים עַל כְּלָלוּת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁבְּכָל הַדּוֹרוֹת, וְלֹא רַק כְּכָל מַעֲשֵׂה אָבוֹת הַמְבֹאָרִים בְּסֵפֶר הַיָּשָׁר (סֵפֶר בְּרֵאשִׁית) שֶׁהֵם סִימָן וּנְתִינַת כֹּחַ לַבָּנִיםמח, אֶלָּא שֶׁהַדְּבָרִים עַצְמָם מְרַמְּזִים עַל כְּלָלוּת עַם יִשְׂרָאֵלמט.

In that vein, the Midrash relates:61

The ancestors of the tribes were busy with the sale of Yosef. Yosef was busy… Reuven was busy… Yaakov was busy… Yehudah was busy… and the Holy One, blessed be He, was busy creating the light of Mashiach.

The inner meaning of the words of the Midrash is not that the ancestors of the tribes – Yosef, Reuven, Yaakov, and Yehudah – were busy with their individual concerns while the Holy One, blessed be He, was busy (with something else) creating the light of Mashiach, but that the true, inner dimension of the activities with which each of the individuals mentioned was busy was creating the light of Mashiach.62

וְכִמְרֻמָּז בְּמִדְרָשׁ בְּפַרְשָׁתֵנוּנ "שְׁבָטִים הָיוּ עֲסוּקִין בִּמְכִירָתוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף וְיוֹסֵף הָיָה עָסוּק כו' רְאוּבֵן הָיָה עָסוּק כו' וְיַעֲקֹב הָיָה עָסוּק כו' וִיהוּדָה הָיָה עָסוּק כו' וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הָיָה עוֹסֵק בּוֹרֵא אוֹרוֹ שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ", שֶׁפְּנִימִיּוּת הַפֵּרוּשׁ בְּדִבְרֵי הַמִּדְרָשׁ הוּא לֹא שֶׁהַשְּׁבָטִים יוֹסֵף רְאוּבֵן יַעֲקֹב וִיהוּדָה הָיָה כָּל אֶחָד עוֹסֵק בְּעִנְיָנָיו הַפְּרָטִיִּים וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הָיָה עוֹסֵק בְּעִנְיָן אַחֵר, "בּוֹרֵא אוֹרוֹ שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ", אֶלָּא שֶׁזֶּהוּ אֲמִתִּית תֹּכְנוֹ שֶׁל הָעֵסֶק שֶׁל כָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶם בִּפְרָטנ*.

Just as the true, inner dimension of the story of Yehudah and Tamar63 related later in the Torah reading is that the Holy One, blessed be He, was busy creating the light of Mashiach, so too, Yosef’s dream (related at the beginning of the Torah reading), which was the starting point leading to all the subsequent events, was directed toward that purpose. Similarly, Yaakov’s “awaiting and looking forward to” Yosef reigning refers to the coming of the Mashiach64from the House of Yosef, who will come as an initial step preparatory to the coming of the Mashiach from the House of David,65 as mentioned in a number of sources by our Sages.66

Awaiting and looking forward to the coming of an event or individual indicates a closeness and relationship with that event or individual.52 Yaakov’s awaiting the fulfillment of Yosef’s dream empowers every Jew over the course of the exile to await and anticipate the coming of Mashiach and his redemption of the Jews from exile.

וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁבְּהֶמְשֵׁךְ הַפָּרָשָׁה בְּמַעֲשֵׂה יְהוּדָה וְתָמָרנא הֲרֵי אֲמִתִּית תֹּכְנוֹ הוּא מַה שֶּׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הָיָה עוֹסֵק וּבוֹרֵא אוֹרוֹ שֶׁל מָשִׁיחַ, עַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה הוּא בִּתְחִלַּת הַפָּרָשָׁה, בַּחֲלוֹמוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף, שֶׁהָיְתָה הַקְדָּמָה וַהֲכָנָה לְכָל זֶה, שֶׁיַּעֲקֹב הָיָה "מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא" מַלְכוּתוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף, הַיְנוּ מָשִׁיחַנב בֶּן יוֹסֵף, שֶׁבָּא כְּהַקְדָּמָה וַהֲכָנָה לְמָשִׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִדנב*, כְּמוּבָא בְּכַמָּה מְקוֹמוֹת בְּרַזַ"לנג.

וְהִנֵּה הַתֹּכֶן דְּמַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא מוֹרֶה עַל הַקֵּרוּב וְהַשַּׁיָּכוּת לְהַדָּבָר שֶׁאֵלָיו מְצַפִּיםנד, וּמִזֶּה גוּפָא הוּא הַנְּתִינַת כֹּחַ לְכָל אֶחָד וְאַחַת מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל מֶשֶׁךְ זְמַן הַגָּלוּת לִהְיוֹת מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא מָשִׁיחַ צִדְקֵנוּ לִגְאוֹל אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

How much more so does the above apply in the era of ikvesa diMeshicha, when Mashiach’s approaching footsteps can be heard, and we are on the threshold of the Redemption. This is the true time to “be awaiting and looking forward to its fulfillment,” for “I will await his coming every day.”67The intent is not only that each day we await Mashiach’s coming that day, but that every day the expectation is constant, each and every hour, as we say three times a day in our weekday Shemoneh Esreh prayers, “We hope for Your deliverance the entire day.”68

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן וְקַל וָחֹמֶר בִּזְמַן דְּעִקְבְתָא דִמְשִׁיחָא, כְּשֶׁעוֹמְדִים עַל סַף הַגְּאֻלָּה, דְּאָז הוּא אֲמִתִּית הַמַּצָּב דְּ"מַמְתִּין וּמְצַפֶּה מָתַי יָבוֹא", שֶׁהֲרֵי אֲחַכֶּה לוֹ בְּכָל יוֹם שֶׁיָּבוֹאנה, וְלֹא רַק בְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם, שֶׁמְּחַכִּים שֶׁיָּבוֹא בְּיוֹם זֶה, אֶלָּא בְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם גּוּפָא – בְּכָל שָׁעָה וְשָׁעָה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁאוֹמְרִים ג' פְּעָמִים בַּיּוֹם (בִּימוֹת הַחֹל) "לִישׁוּעָתְךָ קִוִּינוּ כָּל הַיּוֹם"נו,

May the light of Mashiach be revealed speedily, in the immediate future, in such a manner that everyone will be able to see it. And may he bring each and every Jew – men, women, and children – to our holy land speedily, in the immediate future.

וְתֵכֶף וּמִיָּד מִתְגַּלֶּה “אוֹרוֹ שֶׁל מָשִׁיחַ”, בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד וְאַחַת רוֹאֶה אוֹתוֹ וּמֵבִיא אֶת כָּל אֶחָד וְאַחַת מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲנָשִׁים נָשִׁים וְטַף, לְאַרְצֵנוּ הַקְּדוֹשָׁה, וְתֵכֶף וּמִיָּד מַמָּשׁ.

Likkutei Sichos, Volume 35, P. 156ff. (Adapted from a sichah delivered on Shabbos Parshas Vayeishev, 5727 [1966])

(משיחת ש״פ וישב תשכ״ז)