Monday, December 10, 2007


Three Metaphors, One Lesson

1) A tapestry of knots and loose ends seems a waste of yarn. But turn it over and you find a beautiful picture, realizing in embarrassment you were viewing the wrong side of the picture.

2) Someone never saw bread and then witnessed the baking process from it's earliest stages. He doesn't understand why someone buries a perfect seed, chops down the lovely plant that sprouts, picks out grains to smash, throws a mixture of grain and water to a fiery destruction in a furnace. The baking bread's scent causes the man's mouth to water. And as this fellow enjoys a slice of hot bread with butter, all the preliminary stages finally make sense.

3) Ten brothers travel far during famine to get food for the family. They encounter the Secretary of Agriculture, the most powerful man in a country, and things start spiraling downward. Mishaps escalate into impending tragedy; they are arrested as spies, one is taken hostage, their baby brother is summoned and accused of stealing, and that's just part of it. They wonder why this is happening as they ineffectively spin wheels, helplessly handling the situation. All of this changes with two spoken words. This leader tells them who he is, and the puzzle is solved. Joseph's brothers see with clarity endemic of hindsight the sense in all they endured in Egypt.

The Chafetz Chaim presents the story of Yosef and his brothers as a powerful parable for our lives. Sometimes the details of life can border on unbearable. We look at what we're told is beautiful to see only loose ends and question marks. We witness seemingly senseless cutting down of our precious efforts. One day we will retrospectively understand. And there will be no need for explanatory speeches. We will hear the two words"Ani Hashem" spoken directly to us, and everything will make sense. May we be blessed to hear these words even now to whatever extent possible.

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