And now, Be Not Distressed, Do Not Reproach Yourselves for Having Sold Me Here, for It Was to Preserve Life That Hashem Sent Me Ahead of You. (Bereisheet 45:5)
After revealing to his brothers that the viceroy of Egypt was not actually an Egyptian but their long-lost brother whom they had sold into slavery, Yosef sensed the fear that was in their hearts. He surprised them with conciliatory words. “Do not be distressed,” he said, trying to calm them by confirming that what they did over a decade earlier was wrong to do, yet he held no hard feelings against them. He explained that his forgiving attitude was based on his knowledge and belief that Hashem sent him to Egypt ahead of his family to pave the road for their eventual arrival.
What was Yosef’s intention in relating to his siblings that Hashem was the One who sent him to Egypt to prepare the way for their ultimate arrival?
The Maggid from Dubno explains with a parable.
There once was a mighty king who possessed a magnificent and large precious stone. Its value could not be assessed because of its unusually large size and beautiful color. However, much to the king’s chagrin, someone pointed out that there was a visible scratch in the stone that marred its appearance and drastically reduced its value.
The monarch was upset but certain that there must be an expert who could remove the flaw. His royal staff searched his entire kingdom and that of other monarchs to locate the individual who could resolve the issue. Unfortunately, the search was futile because each of the experts confirmed that there was no way to remove the imperfection.
One man came forward, offering to solve the problem. Without even enquiring about the diamond processor’s plan, the king accepted his offer to resolve the problem. A while later he returned to the palace. The king impatiently demanded to see the flaw-free jewel.
“I’m sorry, Your Majesty,” the dealer said. “I, like all the others, know of no way to remove the flaw.”
“If that is true,” said the king, “why did you say you could resolve the problem?”
The merchant took out the stone and proudly handed it to the king. “Your Majesty,” he said, “I could not remove the flaw, but I was able to incorporate it into a beautifully engraved design on your jewel. Look and you’ll see that the stone is more beautiful and the flaw which once ruined the perfection is now at the center of its beauty!”
Yosef’s brothers thought that their deed was a bad act that violated human decency, and because of it, they were suffering the unreasonable charges of the Egyptian viceroy. However, Yosef consoled them, saying that their actions were a small part of Hashem’s big plan. In fact, what they intended to be a bad outcome for Yosef was a plan of Our Creator to prepare for an honorable descent for Yaakov and his family to Egypt.
Some things in our lives are bitter and others are sour. Some cause pain and others grief. When difficulty descends from Above, one must strengthen one’s belief that all that happens is a part of Hashem’s plan for world events. They may be uncomfortable, but they are not bad.
Yosef understood this fact of life and held no grudge against his brethren. In fact, he saw them as Hashem’s tool for good. He had no hard feelings because he knew from where his suffering came and why it happened. Even if we don’t have the spiritual clarity to see it, we must accept that all that happens is from Hashem and that even the bitter is good.