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Wednesday, March 01, 2023

The Comforter of Jacob

Many have pointed out how in recent terror attacks in which each 2 brothers were tragically murdered by murderous so-called Palestinians, one of the brothers had a "Yaakov" in his name and the other had a "Menahem" in his name.

Rav Fish has his take on this from a Kabbalistic perspective.

I believe there is another hint here.

לה  וַיָּקֻמוּ כָל-בָּנָיו וְכָל-בְּנֹתָיו לְנַחֲמוֹ, וַיְמָאֵן לְהִתְנַחֵם, וַיֹּאמֶר, כִּי-אֵרֵד אֶל-בְּנִי אָבֵל שְׁאֹלָה; וַיֵּבְךְּ אֹתוֹ, אָבִיו.35 And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said: 'Nay, but I will go down to the grave to my son mourning.' And his father wept for him.

Yaakov Avinu refused to be comforted when hearing of Yosef's "demise".  The Tanhuma explains why Yaakov couldn't accept consolation:

בא וראה שהרי אבל התירה לו התורה לעשות מלאכתו ולהתנחם אחר שלשה ימים, ויעקב אבינו לא קבל תנחומים על יוסף דכתיב ויקומו כל בניו וכל בנותיו לנחמו וגו' (בראשית, לז) וכל כך למה שהעלים הקדוש ברוך הוא לקיים גזירת ידוע תדע

Yosef's going down to Egypt was the precursor of the first exile of the Jewish nation.  Yaakov couldn't accept that Yosef was dead.  Hashem had a need to keep Yosef's whereabouts secret from Yaakov in order to bring about his family's arrival in Egypt years later, which was the beginning of the exile.  

Now, we are coming to the end of Final Exile - the latter bookend of our troubles.  Comfort is right around the corner.

In another famous Midrash Tanhuma on Vayigash, comparing all that happened to Yosef and all that happened to Tzion, the Midrash says:

ביוסף, "וימאן להתנחם". ובציון, "אל תאיצו לנחמני" (ישעיה כב, ד)

There was no comfort forthcoming for both Yosef and Tzion.

First, Yaakov refused to be comforted for Yosef.  Now, Yaakov refuses to be comforted for Tzion.  This is why we commemorate Tish'a Be'av every year.

But perhaps, the double tragic sign we received from Heaven - מנחם יעקב - the Comforter of Jacob - shows that this lack of comfort will soon end.  בב"א.


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