This week we present a letter in which the Rebbe writes about Yosef in Mitzrayim. In it the Rebbe explains its relevance to us today and its message for all mankind. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s trusted secretary Rabbi Nissan Mindel.
RABBI MENACHEM MENDEL SCHNEERSON
770 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn 13, N.Y.
By the Grace of G-d
5th of Tevet, 5712
Students Study Group
New York City
In reply to your request for a message in connection with Chanukah, in view of your recent visit, I trust I may regard our conversation on that occasion as having, in part at least, satisfied your request.
However, inasmuch as Chanukah extends to the beginning of this week, belonging to the weekly sidrah of Vayigash, I take this opportunity to convey to you a thought apropos to this sidrah, which may serve as a message not only for the festival of “Dedication”, but which is also of fundamental significance in our daily life.
The sidrah of Vayigash contains the climax of the story of Joseph and his brothers.
Joseph, as you no doubt recall, had been torn from his happy home in the Holy Land and delivered into slavery in Egypt. However, he overcomes all trials and temptations, being guided by the high moral code which he brought along with him from his home. Eventually, he emerges as the Grand Vizier and ruler of all Egypt, who saves not only his brothers from famine but also all Egypt and the world around. When finally his identity is revealed to his brothers, he tells them- and herein lies the key to the great and mysterious drama – not to feel sorry for all that had befallen him, “For G-d has sent me as a sustenance to you.”
There is a profound message in these words for all humanity and for Jews in particular. The whole episode may serve as an illustration and answer to the mystery of our life on earth.
It is man’s soul that represents the essential part of his existence. The soul, which is a “part of G-d above”, is torn from its heavenly abode, its real “Holy Land” and sent down to the earthly and corporial world (its “Egypt”), where it becomes largely enslaved by the physical body.
Needless to say, the purpose of it is not to torture the soul.
The soul is sent to be a “Joseph” who both in slavery and glory remains loyal to his fatherly home in the “Hoy Land.” It should never acquiesce or despair in slavery, but should rmember its mission: to become the ruler of “Egypt” and the giver of sustenance – Divine Food – to his own body and to all with who it comes in contact.
The way to achieve this is to be constantly conscious of one’s “origin” and “home” and always remain receptive to the vibration influences emanating from the parental home in the “Holy Land”, until the moment when the shackles of slavery are completely broken, the soul – Joseph becomes Ruler of “Egypt” – body – the material world and the divine goal is thus fully attained.
I trust that each one of you will try to be “Joseph” in this sense.