by Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel – December 28, 2011
In the Torah section of VaYigash, we read of Jacob’s descent with his entire family to Egypt after discovering his beloved son Joseph’s whereabouts.
“So Israel set out with all that he had and he came to B’er Sheva where he slaughtered sacrifices to the G-d of his father Isaac. And G-d spoke to Israel in night visions and He said, ‘Jacob, Jacob’; and he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘I am the G-d, G-d of your father; have no fear of descending to Egypt, for I shall establish you as a great nation there. I shall descend with you to Egypt, and I shall also surely bring you up.” (Bereshit 46:1-4).
In his Bet HaLevi, the great 19th century Torah giant R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik makes an intriguing comment on the aforementioned verse. He suggests that G-d’s aforementioned promise to “descend with you to Egypt and I shall also surely bring you up” is not limited to our forefather Jacob, also known as Israel. This promise reaches much further. It is a promise from G-d to all of the descendants of Israel. G-d’s own prestige and respect in the eyes of humanity at large is closely linked with that of the children of Israel.
“I will descend with you to Egypt.” G-d is telling us that when the descendents of Israel are destined to descend, He, as it were, will descend with them, arm in arm, so to speak. When the honor and prestige of the children of Israel dips to lower levels, G-d joins them, with His honor dipping as well.
However, “I shall also surely bring you up.” G-d will not allow His honor to remain at a low level indefinitely; and, since His honor is linked to that of the children of Israel, He will, perforce raise His chosen nation.
As bleak as the Jewish nation’s situation may seem at times, we can be assured that G-d is with us all the way, and at some point will raise us up again along with Him, alongside His magnificent countenance, to flourish and prosper, as only G-d can do.