Rabbi Gideon Weitzman
Former Rosh Kollel in Kansas City (1999-2000)
Head of the English Speaking Section of the “Puah” Institute
Go Home Slowly
This week’s Parshah is laden with heavy emotions. Yosef and Yehudah face each other, first as enemies that attempt to counter each other and destroy their opponent. Then the mood changes as Yosef reveals his true identity to his brothers and twenty years of pent up emotions pour out as they cry for lost years and wasted opportunities. Each of them imagines what could have happened had the brothers not been so hasty and sold him into slavery, what could have been the outcome if Yosef had not shared his dreams with them and insisted on relating their minor misdemeanors to their father. They also immediately plan for a glorious future together, reunited as a family and free from the pain of famine.
But one of the greatest emotionally scenes in the Parshah is the meeting of father and son after decades of separation. Yosef is unable to overcome his emotions and cries uncontrollably. It sounds as though Yosef was waiting for this moment for so long and so it is interesting and unusual the way he instructs his brothers to go and call his father. “And he sent his brothers and they went and he said to them – do not be hasty on the way” (Bereishit 45:24). Surely he would have said the exact opposite; Go with all haste, hurry as fast as you can so that I can be reunited with my father after all these years.
The Kotzker Rebbe has an insightful answer. He explains that God has a time and place for everything to happen. There was an exact moment that Yaakov needed to be told about Yosef and an exact time when Yosef and Yaakov were to meet again. Yosef said to them ‘Do not be mistaken and think that if you rush you will get there quicker. Rather you should go at a good speed but do not rush.’ Everything happens in its appointed time.
This is not only a message for Yosef’s brothers; this is an important message for us and for our superfast and overly stressed generation. How many times have we rushed out of davening in order to beat the traffic only to be stuck behind a slow moving truck or a traffic accident? How many times have we skipped a shiur to run to a meeting only to discover that the meeting was cancelled? How many times did we rush through traffic, weaving in and out of the other cars, endangering them and us, only to make a wrong turn and waste another ten minutes of our journey? How many times did we ignore someone since we did not have time to speak with them only to get delayed with something much less important. And the examples just keep coming. We had lots of good ideas but everything went against us. “Man has many thoughts in his heart but God’s plan will be realized” (Mishlei 19:21).
While it is good to want to achieve things and be constantly active, we have to believe that everything happens in its own time and just rushing and rushing will not always move us forward and we will arrive at the appointed time despite our best efforts and intentions.
The Baal Shem Tov is reported to have explained that the very famous words of the Shema ואבדתם מהרה “and you shall be destroyed quickly” can be read “and you shall destroy haste” you shall erase that push to keep doing and doing quickly. Instead you shall take out time to think and contemplate and consider, and only then move forward. We live in a rushed world, we cannot stop to think and most people are extremely uncomfortable with silence and just being with themselves. We have to destroy that unnecessary haste, that rush and push, and learn to listen and believe that God’s plan will be realized.
When we take out a few moments to think about where we are going and why we become more focused and will be more successful.
Yosef tells his brothers to go but he warns them not to go too fast. Everything will happen in its right time, kill haste and believe that God’s plan will be revealed.