[Avodah] Why Didn't The Brothers Tell Yaakov "Yosef is alive"?
Professor L. Levine
llevine at stevens.edu
Tue Nov 27 06:18:44 PST 2018
The following is from RSRH's commentary on Bereishis 37:35
35 All his sons and daughters arose to console him, but he refused to
accept consolation. He said: I shall go to my grave, mourning
for my son. Thus his father wept for him.
(“His daughters” probably refers to his daughters-inlaw.)
All of them “arose” to console him. They did not “go” or “come”;
they “arose” to console him. “To arise” in order to perform an act
implies that the act is born of resolution, an act one must bring oneself
to perform. Until this point, they themselves were immersed in grief.
No one feels so much grief as do those who must console a mourner.
To see one’s aged father inconsolable, viewing every cheerful thought
as a sin, would move even a heartless scoundrel to agonized remorse.
He would be too distraught to offer consolation, because he would be
in need of consolation himself.
But why didn’t any of them attempt to sprinkle soothing balm upon
the wound? Why didn’t they reveal to him: “Yosef is alive!”? The answer:
because that would have been the greatest cruelty of all. In the minds
of parents, a child who was torn by wild beasts is never lost, but a child
who is wicked is worse than lost. Therefore, he who would not aggravate
the father’s grief a thousandfold would have to remain silent until the
day when Yosef would return and the joy of the reunion would mitigate
in the father’s mind even the crime that had been committed by his
other sons. Had they told Ya’akov at that time the truth about what
had been done to Yosef, Ya’akov would have felt as though he had lost
not only one son, but ten sons at one time.
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