Yosef breaking the illusion
The amazing power of the sitra achra – the other side – is to bring us to believe that we need something that we do not; to have an experience of lack, to feel broken, when in reality we are whole. This is followed by the false belief that we can become whole through whatever it is that the sitra achra wants us to be drawn into. Walking into that illusion brings pain and a deeper sense of lack. We can keep grabbing at what looks like that which will fill the gap.
But it does not work.
Because the gap isn’t real.
Yosef hatzadik recognizes the illusion. Potiphar’s wife proves to him that they are destined to be together, to share progeny. She has every way of showing Yosef that they are meant for each other.
But Yosef just responds simply with the truth. How could I do such a thing? My master trusts me with his house, with everything in it. And you are his. This would be a sin to God.
It’s really an illusion.
And through Yosef’s challenge to the side of evil, his staunch integrity to what is truly real, he finds himself deeper in the bowels of evil – in the depths of the prison of Egypt. He resides with those that even the decadent Egyptians acknowledge as decadent! It seems that his commitment to truth has earned him nothing but more lies!
But there he stays for twelve years, with only the hope that was given him by a dream he had so many years before. A glimmer of the reality of the veracity of his moral and spiritual leadership. And he maintains his love and fidelity toward God, Whose name is constantly on his tongue.
And ultimately, this commitment to the truth paves the way for his salvation, and the salvation of Egypt and the entire world at the time… And the crowning achievement is his leadership for the Jewish people, who join him there, through the twists and turns of the path Hashem would have them walk.
Moshiach ben Yosef’s job is no different than that of his forbear Yosef. He comes into a world that is morally and spiritually decadent, to shine the light of integrity and honor for God’s name. He teaches love and truth. And remarkably, he is the one who brings a new world of prosperity into existence. Just as Yosef channeled the money of the world into the coffers of Egypt, which were under his sole control, so too, Moshiach ben Yosef will teach us how to use the wealth that is becoming more and more apparent in the world in its proper way.
We can see the wealth in Israel – Tzion – which is the gematria of Yosef. Whatever happens to Yosef happens to Tzion. We need but watch the evolution of Israel to see what is going on behind the scenes with Yosef. We can see the hatred of brothers raising a scepter of abuse and misunderstanding to mete out judgment on those who toil in their relationship with Hashem. “That which was, is that which shall be.” The stories repeat themselves. The themes are the same, and even the characters in the stories are the same.
But the focus comes, and will come, from Moshiach ben Yosef. He has a dream that was dreamt so many years ago, for his dream is the same as Yosef himself. That dream is still waiting to be fulfilled. As we move through time, we get ever closer to the promised age of Moshiach. Hashem carries us through a process – for Yosef is about process; and process involves pain. We are to rise up from the ashes, from the bowels of the deepest, darkest spiritual depths. To find the light that was hidden away in the dream of a Yosef. That light inspires us even as we sit in darkness, and recognize that Hashem is our light.
Yosef’s greatness is brought to the fore through the very challenges he faces. He is born in Tammuz, which is the beginning of the months of the summer, the months that Esav and the forces of evil that he represents have power. Yosef is that power that offsets the forces of evil, that ultimately destroys Amalek, who is the embodiment of that evil. And it is here, in Tammuz and Av – in the center of the destruction that was wrought by Esav, that Yosef finds himself. Still clinging to the dream. Watching the process unfold. Recognizing the light of God that begins to shine in the greatest darkness. Looking for love and forgiveness. Letting go of sadness and resentment. Looking past the differences and the hatred and the darkness. Seeing the light of God’s goodness that is hidden within that which seems to be its opposite.