“I am Yosef”

The first thing that a Jews needs to search for in his life is: Who is this “tzaddik yesod olam”—the tzaddik in whose merit the world is sustained. He needs to search for the tzaddikim who are upholding the world, the tzaddikim who are protecting us. 

   In each of the three parshiot, VaYeshev, Miketz, and VaYigash, we are looking for the “tzaddik yesod olam—the tzaddik who is upholding the world,” the true tzaddik, Yosef HaTzaddik. This week in the parsha of VaYigash, Yosef shouts, “I am Yosef”—the true tzaddik reveals himself. The brothers were all true tzaddikim, completely holy, but they didn’t believe that Yosef was the “tzaddik yesod olam.” They mistakenly thought that Yosef HaTzaddik was exactly like them, just that he just served Hashem more than they did, learned more, and kept his eyes better. Each one of the brothers was sure that he himself was the true tzaddik. What they didn’t know is that the tzaddik yesod olam is something completely different. He is above comprehension, above any form of human understanding.

   In his perush on the ChumashHeichal HaBracha,” The Kamarna Rebbe says: The light of Yosef HaTzaddik enlightened all the worlds and all the sefiros. It lit up the world from one end of the world to the other. It was as bright as the sun. But the brothers had no idea that he was such a bright light. As is written in the Holy Zohar in parshas VaYeshev, Yosef was everything and was the source of everything. All abundance flowed to the world through him. Yosef was at all times able to hide his light and his power, “Yosef was handsome and lovely to see” has the rashei taivosyatom—orphan.” The true tzaddik is an orphan and he is completely hidden. He is totally concealed, and no one knows anything about him. And this is what Rabbeinu brings in Likutei Moharan, Book 2, Torah 77: “Because there is a tzaddik who is the beauty and the magnificence and the grace of the entire world, in the aspect of, ‘and Yosef was handsome and lovely to look at.’ This is the aspect of ‘Beautiful in its panoramic vista, the joy of all the earth’ because this is the true tzaddik who is the aspect of Yosef who is the elegance and the beauty of the whole world. And when such splendor and magnificence is revealed in the world, meaning when such a tzaddik, who is the majesty of the whole world, becomes known and revered in the world, then the eyes of the world are opened. And anyone who comes close and is attached to this ultimate grace has his eyes opened and he looks at himself and sees where he is holding with all of his character traits, and he can also see the greatness of Hashem.”

   The true tzaddik comes for one reason only: to reveal Hashem. The true tzaddik comes to reveal that Hashem exists in the world. That a person shouldn’t think that he is acting through his own power, that he can walk, that he can do things alone, that he can run alone, that he can act alone without needing Hashem. Because even though here he bangs his hand, and there he knocks his leg, still he thinks, “I walk. I run. I do things.” A person thinks that he is running the world: he walks; he breathes. They can show him in one second that if something small in his body moves a thousandth of a millimeter, then he is finished! Immediately he needs operations, tests, x-rays, only then does he understand that he is not Elokim, that he is not an angel, that he is not running the world.

   Life teaches us very slowly, that a person is built from “openings and hollows. It is revealed and known in the presence of Your glorious throne that if one of them were ruptured or one of the were blocked, it would be impossible to exist and stand in Your presence even for a single moment.” When a person reaches the age of 60, his body starts falling apart: here one of his discs moves out of place and there one of his tendons is displaced. At 60, his legs start drying up, his tendons are drying up. Until the age of 60 a person can fool himself that he is something special, that he can do anything. But at this age, he already sees that he is not something special at all: look, I fell; I can’t even walk. But who will open our eyes for us and show us that at the time when we are healthy and strong and powerful that everything is Hashem? Our health is from Hashem. Our strength is from Hashem. Everything is from Hashem. It is only through the tzaddik who is the aspect of Yosef. He is the only one who can show us that there is a G-d in the world.

   The whole reason that we come to this world is to know that we aren’t doing anything, that Hashem is ruling the world. We only need to see the G-dliness, to see Hashem—in every situation to see Hashem, with every movement to see Hashem, with every thought and word to see Hashem. A person moves his hand or his leg, it is all Hashem. Hashem is moving his arm. Hashem is moving his leg. A person lives in the world; he thinks he is a ‘Chevreman’. He builds buildings. He builds yeshivas. If he doesn’t realize that Hashem is doing it all, then it’s all just a Tower of Bavel . Just as Shlomo HaMelech said, “I built a building, a celestial abode for you.” Immediately Hashem responded, “You built a building? You built it? If so, it is already decreed that the building will be destroyed.” Rather, you must say, “Hashem built it! Hashem did it!” The Maggid of Mezritch told the famous story where it was forbidden to say the word ‘I.’ If a person says the word ‘I,’ he is in big trouble.

   All of the Torah, the Gemara, the Shulchan Aruch, anything that imparts da’as, all our prayers—they’re all only so that we should know that Hashem does everything—that there is a G-d in the world. We don’t do anything— we don’t move a hand, we don’t move a foot, we don’t breathe. “The entire soul will praise G-d, Hallelulah.” Every single breath is from Hashem. All of the work of a person until he is 120 years old is to find out who is the tzaddik in whose merit the whole world exists, in whose merit abundance flows into the world. Similar to Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa about whom the Gemara writes: “The entire world is given sustenance in the merit of Chanina My son, but Chanina is satisfied with a portion of carobs.” The first thing that a Jew needs to know is: in what merit does the world exist? In whose merit is the world sustained? He needs to search and find out who is this tzaddik in whose merit the world exists. He needs to try to find these tzaddikim who are maintaining the world. Who are the tzaddikim who are protecting us?

   “And anyone who comes close to this tzaddik, anyone who is truly attached to this tzaddik, he can tell where he is really holding as regards fixing his character traits (Likutei Tefillos 77). The proof that a person has found such a tzaddik is that he begins to hate all the bad within himself, his evil inclinations and all the materialism that surrounds him. But he only hates the body, the bad things, all his base desires. In the best case scenario, at least he doesn’t make them his ideal—he isn’t proud of them. The moment that a person comes close to the true tzaddik, he starts looking only for the good things, sees only good in each person, and starts to love Am Yisrael. He loves them very much and is ready to make personal sacrifices in order to help anyone. He just wants to break out of all his bad character traits, from all his base desires, and merit to make complete teshuva for Hashem Yisborach.

   “Because this true tzaddik has the power to fix the whole world”—because this tzaddik can bring back the whole world to the good. If people would only draw close to him and believe in him, they would be freed from all their bad traits and would be completely purified, because this tzaddik already has broken away from the four elements. He has purified the four elements, and he is already free from any base desire. He can purify any person from any of their bad desires. This is what the Gaon Rebbe Meir Simcha HaCohen from Dvinsk (author of the “Ohr Same’ach” on the Rambam) said on the Gemara Sota (13a), “And there they held a great and imposing eulogy” (Bereishis 50:10). “It was taught: even horses and even donkeys.” Rebbe Meir Simcha HaCohen says “a great and imposing eulogy”—even the horses eulogized Yaakov Avinu. There was such a great and imposing eulogy that the horses cried, the donkeys cried, everyone cried for the tzaddik. Even the horses knew that the tzaddik had gone. Even the donkeys knew that the tzaddik was gone. “The ox recognizes its owner, the donkey the trough of its master. But the Children of Israel do not recognize [Me], My nation doesn’t consider.” The horses acknowledge the true tzaddik. The donkeys acknowledge the true tzaddik. This is an absolute and total embarrassment, that people don’t recognize the tzaddik. How can people be so blind? They run around the world not even knowing who the true tzaddik is.

   A person, with all his pride and with all his evil inclinations, doesn’t want to believe in the tzaddik. He doesn’t want to know who the tzaddik is. But the horses and the donkeys felt that they were lost without the tzaddik. Who would sustain the world? Who would protect them? Who will watch over the horses? Who would guard the donkeys? Who will protect the world? They know in whose merit they are alive. If the tzaddik isn’t around then there will be a famine. There will be a holocaust in the world. There will be wars. This is what Rabbi Meir Simcha HaCohen says: search for the tzaddikim, follow the tzaddikim, open your eyes and search for the tzaddik in whose merit you are alive.


Biur Pnei Melech Chaim

   Rabbeinu said that “a person will love himself with Hashem, when a person will love himself with the tzaddik.” This is hard to understand. What does it mean “to love himself with the tzaddik”? Why didn’t Rabbeinu just say “he will love the tzaddik”? There is a very deep concept here. A person needs to love those moments when he feels connected to Hashem. When you connect with the tzaddik, connect to these moments. The moment that you suddenly see that you are nothing, you need to remember that there is really so much to love about yourself when you are with Hashem. There is so much to love about yourself, when you are with the tzaddik. In other words, when you love this sweetness that is found in your soul, even when it is hidden, even when you are confused, even when you can’t see a thing and everything is black, remember that there is such a thing as your being with Hashem. Remember this, and love this.

   This recalls the story of the Master of Prayer. In this story, there is a Faithful Friend to the King who had pictures of himself with the King. Wherever he went he would kiss these pictures—pictures of himself together with the King. These were not pictures of the King alone—like when one kisses a sefer Torah, a mezuzah, or a book of Tehillim. No, he wasn’t satisfied with this. He wanted pictures where he was photographed together with the King. This means that we need to attach ourselves to these experiences, to these moments of connection, so that in times of darkness we remain attached to the King. This is what is called a “Faithful Friend.” His faithfulness is his connection with the King, which is represented in the picture that he is always kissing. If a person connects himself to this and sees how sweet it is and how wonderful it is, then even if you did something stupid or you didn’t have much success raising your children or with your marriage, or you’re not praying well, still you can say, “I love Hashem so much. I love kedusha so much! I love the moments of connection so much. This is something which is inside me. It is part of me. So I need to love this, and to hold this up in front of me.” Even though these moments are few and far between, if we love them, we will stop loving other things. Love is singular. It is impossible to be connected to this sweet point and to be attached to other things. If a person really connects himself to these moments when he is connected to the Truth, and he recalls how good he feels in these moments, then when he finds himself lost in the chaos of daily life, he remembers these moments of love. And if he forgets, then he should guard this. For the Faithful Friend it was in his pocket: pictures of himself with the King. And any time he felt a sense of distance, he would take out these pictures and look at them and kiss them. He would kiss the moments that he loved himself with the King.

   If I am with the King then this is my greatness. I can love myself. It is not that I am unworthy. I am not in such a low state. I am not so inferior. I haven’t fallen to such small mindedness. I have expanded consciousness. To be together with the King is expanded consciousness.

   I connect with the point of “Ein od Milvado—there is nothing but Hashem” that is found in me and the point of “Ein od Milvado” that is found in my friend. “Ein od Milvado” means there is nothing. The only thing that exists is the G-dly spark that is connected to “Ein od Milvado.” We need to start loving this G-dly spark, kissing it, hugging it, connecting to it, believing in it. We need to know that it is the source of our being alive. When we are confused, we need to take this picture out of our pockets, to pull out our experiences and reconnect. We exist as long as we are included in the G-dly eternal existence.


Parparos L’Torah

“I am Yosef your brother—whom you sold into Egypt ” (45:4)

   The Kotzker Rebbe said: Is this a fitting way for Yosef HaTzaddik to behave? Do the righteous behave in such a way? His very first meeting where he revealed himself to his brothers, when the tears of emotion were still flowing, is it fitting to remind his brothers of their transgression, of the evil deed that they had committed. Instead, says the Kotzker Rebbe, Yosef really planned to say to his brothers, “I am Yosef your brother.” I am the same Yosef, just as I was when you parted from me at the time that you sold me to the Egyptians. I have not been corrupted by this filthy, depraved country. You have no reason to worry that perhaps you caused me to become defiled. “I am Yosef your brother’’—fitting to be your brother, a son of Yaakov, same as before, at the time “that you sold me to the Egyptians.”


Story on the Parsha

“Tell my father of all my glory in Egypt ” (45:13)

   The tzaddik Rebbe Avraham Yehoshua Heshel from Apta, author of “Ohev Yisrael,” was from the great Admorim of eastern Galitzia and Romania , with thousands of chassidim obeying his every word. The Apta Rav would occasionally wander around the Jewish communities, preaching words of Torah and Chassidus to the masses. Once, the Apta Rav journeyed to a few communities in his area, and at every crossroads that he passed by, hundreds of Jews came out to greet him in admiration and honor. Tired of all the enthusiastic greetings that he was receiving wherever they went, the Apta Rav said embarrassedly to his son, Rebbe Yitzhak Meir, “Why are they giving honor to someone who doesn’t deserve it?” Feeling the great pain of his famous father, Rebbe Yitzhak tried to calm him and answered him, “These people, father, aren’t coming to honor you. Rather they have come to honor me…” Immediately, the Apta Rav calmed down when he heard his son’s words, and continued in silence until they arrived at their destination. But the next day, the elderly tzaddik asked his son, “Tell me my son, why did masses of Jews give you so much honor when they came out towards us yesterday, at each place that we visited?” Rebbe Yitzhak smiled and said, “It’s very simple. I am the son of the Apta Rav!” The tzaddik looked at his son with satisfaction and said, “That was also the intention of Yosef HaTzaddik when he said to his bothers, ‘tell my father of all my glory in Egypt’—tell my father that all the honor that they are giving me here in Egypt is only in the merit of my being your son.”  


Story on the Parsha 2

Unconditional love

   The tzaddik Rebbe Levi Yitzchak from Berdichov was particular, amongst other things, to do the mitzvah of visiting the sick, with all his being. And he did not miss out on visiting a single person in his large community who was sick. Once Rebbe Levi Yitzchak went to visit a sick person that was about to die, and he found him twisting from side to side in worry and restlessness. “What are you worried about at such a time?” Rebbe Levi Yitzchak asked the sick person. “Holy Rebbe!” the man answered in a soft voice because of his weakness, “I feel that my time is coming to an end, and my heart is full of apprehension over how I am coming to the World of Truth, and what will be my portion in the World to Come!” The Berdichover tzaddik got up from his chair, bent over the emotional sick person and cried, “You have no reason to worry. I have decided in my heart to give you a gift of my entire portion of the World to Come!” Immediately the tzaddik made a kinyan to seal his gift to the sick man, and instantly the face of the sick man on his bed looked happy and serene. Within an hour he had closed his eyes and passed away. One of the followers of the tzaddik asked Rebbe Levi Yitzchak, “Rabbeinu, when you entered the sick man’s room, you obviously saw that his time was drawing near and that any encouragement would only help him for a short time. If so, why did you behave towards him in such an overwhelming manner and give him your whole portion of the World to Come?” “Listen my son,” the Berdichover answered him with emotion, “It is worth it to me to give away my whole portion of the World to Come if it means that I can save a sick person from even a single moment of sadness and worry!”


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