"And Yosef said to his brothers, I am Yosef. Is my father still alive?.
But his brothers couldn't answer him, because they
were left disconcerted before him."
It is brought down in the Midrash,
"Rebbi Shimon Ben Elazar says, Woe to us on the day of judgment, woe to us on the day of rebuke - for Yosef, even though he was the youngest of the brothers, over-whelmed them, and they could not answer him.
Certainly this will be the case on the day that Hashem
will rebuke each person in accordance with his deeds."
Comes Rav Chaim Shmulevitz z"tl and asks in his Sefer, Sichos Mussar, What rebuke did Yosef give? All he told his brothers was that he was Yosef!
We see from here that the rebuke is not the castigation that we see a lot in our society. That when someone does wrong, we scream at him and make him feel like a fool.
By Yosef telling his brothers that he was Yosef, now a ruler in Egypt, it meant that his dreams came true. The brothers had the opinion that Yosef was wrong, and here they see that all those years it was really that they were wrong, and that Yosef was the one who was right.
If the youngest of the brothers can cause such shame and agony to his brothers simply by revealing the truth, how great will our agony be when we will be shown by Hashem how our lives were so filled with mistakes.
When a person realizes that his perspective was wrong, it automatically means that the entire chain of his deeds and actions was one continuous error. For when the very goals and ideas upon which one bases his actions evaporate, the deeds which one thought were deeds, turn into nothing.
Thus the day of rebuke is actually harder on a person than the day of judgement.
When a person performs an act with the knowledge that something is wrong but nevertheless feels the act is justified by its outcome, by the fact that it is a means to a worthy goal.
However, when one is proven that ones goal was false
or meaningless, then not only is the act without redeeming value
but it stands out in its fullest measure of evil.
The Chofetz Chaim writes that when the world will
hear the words "Ani Hashem...", all the questions and
difficulties that people had about the history and the sufferings
that we have gone through, will be clarified and understood.
Everyone will then see how the hand of Hashem caused everything
for our benefit.
When one comes to realize that all the events that occur during ones lifetime follows the Divine plan and they have a purpose, we then come to understand the meaning behind our hardships and suffering.
Rabbi Pliskin writes that we should not wait for
the day of redemption, but we should start now trying to see a
purpose behind the trials and tribulations that we must go through
during our life. The fact that one knows that there is a meaning
behind what we must go through, this would help us go through
difficult situations, even though it may still be a painful time.
Let us use these hard times to increase our connection to Hashem,
as the Chazon Ish writes, Suffering elevates a person above his
body's natural tendencies and this is the essence of man.
Yosef's great wisdom:
The Midrash Tanchuma brings down the great wisdom that Yosef had, he was able to anticipate the impending defeat before Yehuda, and he surrendered in order to lessen the embarrassment of a loss.
There is a Midrash that quotes a verse in Mishle(16:14) "..and a wise man will appease him" and the Midrash applies this verse to Yosef in the way he acted in our Pasuk.
Comes Rav Henach Leibowitz and asks, why is this considered great wisdom?
Yehudah and the brothers were about to destroy the
whole building, we also saw their great strength that they had
So he answers that the Midrash is making an important point which is often evident to us but rarely acted upon. When we are involved in an argument it is very difficult for one to see that it is time to concede or that perhaps we are wrong.
One must look beyond ones self-centerdness. Whenever we are involved in a disagreement or argument, it is very important to take a step back and to impartially view our position.
It is important to try this in our everyday life,
in order to bring greater peace and harmony between ourselves
and our fellow man.
Wisdom in Motivation:
Rabbi Yisroel Miller brings down that one must be very careful when one is doing a Mitzvah, one must make sure that ones great motivation to do the Mitzvah B'Hidur, is not mixed with misperceived idealism.
Rav Yerucham Levovitz zt"l says that this type of motivation can destroy the entire world.
Idealism is a very powerful thing, and when it is
misguided it can bring enormous harm.
"Chesed V'Emes Nifgashu, Tzedek V'Shalom Nashakuh..."
Kindness and truth have met, justice and peace have kissed.
Peace without justice is not true Shalom. And truth
without kindness is not the ultimate truth, not the Almighty's
At times we may want to do a Hidur Mitzvah, yet we may harm the Shalom Bayis. One must know, how to do the right thing, with peace.
For if one is only worried about shaking his Lulav,
and he isn't aware that he just poked a guy in his face, he is
lacking the complete Mitzvah.
Yosef was careful when he rebuked his brothers, he made sure to hold on tight to the Shalom.
He understood that even if his brothers did something
wrong, once they realized their mistakes, Yosef tried to build
peace together with justice.
We are commanded to give rebuke to those that go
against the Torah, yet it still must be done in a peaceful manner.
In a way that the rebuked person will listen to our rebuke.
The true giver is a taker:
"And now it was not you who sent me here, rather
it was Hashem who sent me here and placed me as a father to Paroh
and a master over his house and a ruler over the whole land of
Rabbi Yeruchum Levovitz states that the nature of many people is that when they do an act of kindness for someone, they do not want to receive anything in return.
This is not always necessarily because one has a deep desire to do kindness
to others. Rather he may want the other to feel indebted to them forever.
Rather a complete act of kindness requires one to allow the other to give or do something in return, in order to free the other from his debt of gratitude.
The same may be found when someone wrongs another, at times one may want the wrongdoer to fill guilty the rest of his life.
It is therefore important to give the other a feeling that he was forgiven him, after one asks forgiveness.
We find this by Yosef and his brothers, Yosef wanted to make his brothers feel that it was not their fault that he came down to Egypt, rather that Hashem sent him to become a ruler.
Once a person realizes that they have done wrong,
it is very important to give them a good feeling that they were
forgiven, and not make them feel guilty for the rest of their
To end off, I would like to bring something from
Rav Eliyahu Dessler:
That which one person gives to another, it is never lost. For even though one may have less now than he may have had before, what he gave to the other, becomes an extension of ones own being.
One can see a part of himself in the fellow-man that
he has given to.
We must look at acts of kindness as an extension,
and not as a loss. This will then increase the peace between
us and our fellow-man, and will speed up the coming of the Moshiach
speedily in our days.
Three Steps before and After Shmonei Esrei.
Before one starts Shmonei Esrei, he is to take three steps back, than three steps forward.
We learn to take these three steps froward from : Avraham, Yehuda, and Eliyahu - where it is written "Vayigash".
When they wanted to come close, it says "Vayigash". Since it mentions "Vayigash" in three different places, we take three steps forwards before we start our Tefilah, where we are supposed to come closer to Hashem.
Most (The Gra"h, M.B...) Poskim hold to first
take three steps back. However, the Sefer Eshei Yisroel, brings
down from the Sefer Orchos Rabbeinuh (the Kehilos Yakov), where
he seemed not to take three steps back.
The reason for taking three steps back on the conclusion of Shmonei Esrei is brought down in the Beit Yosef(Tur - Shulchan Aruch, Siman 123), that it represents the three "Milin" that Am Yisroel took from Har-Sinai at the time of the giving of the Torah. (This is said in the name of the Orchos Chaim).
We also know that Chazal tell us that when Am Yisroel
took the three steps back, they were brought close again with
the help of Malachim. The Sefer Minhagei Yeshurun writes, that
if one doesn't return to his place, it seems that he is as if
saying that he doesn't agree that the Bnei Yisroel returned 3
Milin at the time of the giving of the Torah (Chas Veh Shalom).
There is also another opinion of Rabbeinu Manoach,
from "Malachim Veragleiheim Regel Yeshara", that from
here we learn 6 steps, when one finishes Shmonei Esrei. Three
steps back, and then three steps forward.(Also brought down in
the Sefer Chut Hashani).
One should also wait preferably till the Sheliach
Tzibur reaches Kedusha, before he takes the remainder three steps
back to his original place.
We start the steps with our left foot first.
The Chazan does not take three steps back on his conclusion, for he will take these steps after he finishes Kaddish. (Otzar Dinim U'Minhagim)