When Yosef finally reveals himself to his brothers, he expresses his great love for his younger brother Binyamin. The Torah tells us, “he fell upon his brother Binyamin’s neck(s) and wept; and Binyamin wept upon his neck.” (Bereishit 45:14)
Clearly these tears are tears of joy between two brothers who have not seen each other for more than twenty years, but Chazal add another dimension to this encounter. The Midrash in Bereishit Rabbah, based on the plural usage of the word neck in Hebrew, wonders if Binyamin had two necks. Rabbi Elazar ben Pedat says that the significance of the plural is that Yosef saw, through Ruach HaKodesh, that in the future two Temples would be built in the Land of Binyamin and that these Temples would be destroyed. Binyamin, on the other hand, saw the establishment of the altar in Shilo in the area of Eretz Yisrael given to Yosef, and that this too would be destroyed.
This Midrash, explaining the tears of the brothers as tears of mourning over the future destruction of the Temples, seems to detract from the natural way to understand the tears, i.e. as an expression of joy and love between Yosef and Binyamin. Why do Chazal transform these tears from an expression of joy to an expression of mourning?
The answer may be, that while Yosef and Binyamin were certainly happy to see one another, their meeting caused them to reflect upon the reasons that they were separated for so many years. They remembered the hatred that was at the root of this long and painful separation. Yosef and Binyamin understood that this same hatred between brothers would be at the root of all the future tragedies that would befall the Jewish people, including the destruction of the holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Yosef and Binyamin’s tears were both an expression of joy at their reunion and an expression of sadness over the senseless hatred between brothers that would plague the Jewish people in years to come.
The only way to repair the schism that was caused the selling of Yosef and eventually the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem, is an outpouring of love for one another as was so eloquently stated by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook in Orot HaKodesh.
“If we have been destroyed and the world has been destroyed with us because of senseless hatred, we can be rebuilt once again, and the rest of the world along with us, through an outpouring of love.”