Divrei Azriel: Rebuilding with Love

This week's Dvar Torah is by Eilyahu Wittenberg.

YU RIETS Israel Kollel,


Parshas Vayigash is usually read within the week of Asara B’Teves (this Friday), the day on which siege was laid to Jerusalem. This concurrence can be explained by the fact that the idea of Ahavas Yisroel (loving our fellow Jew), which permeates Parshas Vayigash, is crucial in understanding Asara B’Teves.

Parshas Vayigash recounts the story of the reunification of Yosef with his brothers. The Ohr HaChayim HaKadosh points out that Yosef twice told his brothers “Ani Yosef, I am Yosef,” and the second time he added “acheichem, I am your brother” (Bereishes 45:3-4).

The Ohr HaChayim explains that Yosef repeated this phrase twice, because while the brothers were embarrassed at the fact that they had sold Yosef, they did not truly believe that this person was their brother. Therefore, Yosef addressed both concerns by telling them that he is Yosef and despite the fact that they sold him into slavery, he stilled loved them like a loving brother.

It is for this reason that Yosef serves as a role model for all of the Jewish People, Klal Yisroel, of how to be a true ohaiv yisrael. He did not take revenge on his brothers, but instead tried to inspire and create a loving relationship.

The  Jerusalem Talmud (Yerushalmi) writes that in any generation, if the Temple is not rebuilt, it is considered as if it had been destroyed in that generation. The Chassam Sofer writes that every Asara B’Teves, Hashem decides if the Temple will be rebuilt that year, or if the Temple will again be “destroyed.”

Therefore, Asara B’Teves is not just a day mourning the Babylonian siege of Yerushalayim, but is more a day of introspection looking at the possibility of correcting our sins, resulting in the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash.

With this understanding in mind, it is clear why this week's Torah portion of Vayigash corresponds with Asara B’Teves. Parshas Vayigash recounts the story of Yosef, the paradigm of Ahavas Yisroel, love of Israel, whom we should strive to emulate.

If we do this, and learn to love and respect each other on a national level, we will be able to correct the sin that caused the destruction of the holy temple and merit that on this Asara B’Teves we will be judged favorably that the Beit Hamikdash will speedily be rebuilt this coming year.