Yosef Hatzaddik, The Asifa, and Yom Yerushalayim
The Asifa for protecting against the negative effects of the Internet is scheduled for this coming Sunday, May 20th, 2012 - Iyar 28, 5772 in Citi Field in New York. Many a critic has what to say about it, but I'm not coming to criticize it. I'm looking at the positive motivation for the Asifa and I understand a lot of it.
The only problem that I will say about it is that it seems to come way too late in the game. It should have been done 18 years ago. The Mahane is already impure, so it's hard to now bring about its purity without some serious effort. The previous years have brought with them decrees which the Tzibbur could not withstand and therefore rebellion of the decrees took place and much time was wasted. Therefore, the current effort to bring about purity and holiness will be enormous. But it is a great start to this effort and whether it is naturally successful or not, it is an unmatched אתעררותא דלתתא that will certainly make waves in Shamayim.
In my humble opinion, it is no coincidence that the Asifa is taking place on Yom Yerushalayim. The Asifa represents being עומד בנסיון - withstanding the temptation of the time - namely, the negative aspects of the Internet. This idea of withstanding temptation is what Yosef Hatzaddik is best known for. The temptation that he withstood with Potiphar's wife has been used throughout the generations as a measuring stick for us to live up to (as they say, he is מחייב את הרשעים - obligates the wicked).
In addition, Yom Yerushalayim represents the return to ציון - Tzion - another name for Yerushalayim. Many Midrashim (including the Tanhuma on Vayigash) compare Yosef and Tzion, and say that everything that happened to Yosef happened to Tzion - both negative and positive events. This is besides the fact (or due to the fact) that their gematrias are the same.
One can add in the fact that the Benei Yissaschar says that since the month of Iyar coincides with Mazal Shor (Taurus) and Yosef is compared to an ox so it is no wonder that his progeny Yehoshua defeated Amalek during this month. In fact, Wikipedia says that the war with Amalek happened on the 28th of Iyar - the same day as Yom Yerushalayim.
And 2 days before Yom Yerushalayim, many people have the custom of going to Kever Yosef for the 41st day of the Sefirat Ha'omer in which Kabbalists call "Yesod ShebeYesod" - the sefira that represents Yosef Hatzaddik.
I also have good reason to believe that the whole episode between Yosef and Potiphar's wife occurred during this time1 (or perhaps only a bit later) even though I couldn't find any sefer discussing when in the year this episode occurred (although according to most authorities, it occurred in the year 2117, when Yosef was 18 years old) .
There is a very interesting connection between the year 5727 (the year of the Six Day War) and this year - 5772. The Tomer Devorah blog already discussed this. However, we can now add another dimension to this. Namely, that the Asifa, which is a united stand against immorality, is a repeat of what happened to Yosef, but will now be enhanced as it will now be for all of Kelal Yisrael. Similarly, this is the case with Tzion. The Six Day War was a victory against our enemies, but alas, it was not complete. We are still missing the most important part - the Beit Hamikdash. To complete Yosef's charge, we waited 3655 years. For Tzion, we pray that in the merit of the Asifa where we stand up for holiness - that the full Redemption will merely be גאולה years later.
1 The verse says that Hashem's blessing was with Yosef בבית ובשדה - in the house and in the field. The Seder Olam says that this proves that Yosef was in Potiphar's house for 12 months - in the house because of the sun and in the field because of the cold. Even though the Gr"a changes the girsa to "in the house because of the cold and in the field because of the sun" and that view is backed up by the Zohar Hadash Parshat Hukkat, there are those like the Yefeh To'ar who keep the Seder Olam's girsa as is and explain that Yosef was placed in the house in the summer because Potiphar was in the field then and he was placed in the field in the winter because Potiphar was in the house then.
(As an aside, I'll add that this would explain the verse וַיָּבֹא הַבַּיְתָה לַעֲשׂוֹת מְלַאכְתּוֹ - and he went to the house to do his work - it is the first day that he went to the house as it was the first day of summer. Of course, this makes perfect sense according to the Gr"a as well.)
We can assume that בבית ובשדה is in order - first the house and then the field. According to the Yefeh To'ar's understanding of the Seder Olam, this would mean: first the summer and then the winter. But when is the winter over and when does summer begin? Would this mean Pesah-time?
Let's look at another Midrash. This one explains why Potiphar's home was empty.
ר' יהודה אומר יום ניבול של נילוס היה והלכו הכל לראות והוא לא הלך - Ribbi Yehuda says that the day was the day that they have [an Avoda Zara holiday with] frivolity because of the Nile and everyone went to see, but Yosef did not go.Various commentators explain it in one of 2 ways: either it was the day that 1) the Nile started to rise or 2) the Nile overfilled its banks. I prefer the first explanation - that it started to rise. Even up to modern times, Egyptians celebrated June 17th as the "Night of the Drop" - an idolatrous idea that an Egyptian god cried and a tear dropped and caused the Nile to rise. This idea, though, has roots in holiness, as sefarim say that HKB"H puts a drop in the Nile and causes it to rise every year during Tekufat Tamuz.
This shows that Tekufat Tamuz is when summer begins and when the Nile starts rising. It is possible that the end of Iyar reached within a couple weeks of Tekufat Tamuz - the summer solstice. If looking further upstream, the river definitely starts rising earlier - even during May. May is called a "transition month".
This timing doesn't work very well according to the Gr"a unless he holds בבית ובשדה is not necessarily in order. Alternatively, he could say that the בבית ובשדה Midrash holds like Ribbi Nehemia against Ribbi Yehuda.
Some may want to prove that it occurred at the end of the summer since הבור רק אין בו מים implies the end of the summer which is when there is no water in the pits. Add 12 months to מכירת יוסף and we're still at the end of the summer. I disagree. If it were the end of the summer, why would anyone have looked in the pits for water like the Midianites did? It appears to me that only this pit had no water, but others around did - this occurs during the beginning of the summer.
If anyone has a clear source as to when in the year this took place, I'd be interested.