Finding the "Opening of the House" - מקץ

Friday, 18 December, 2020 - 12:51 pm

Finding the "Opening of the House"

The brothers were frightened. 

The viceroy of Egypt, who unbeknownst to them was their brother Joseph whom they sold into slavery, accused them of being spies. When they returned home from purchasing grain to sustain their families during the terrible famine, they found that the money they spent was mysteriously returned to their bags. When they returned to Egypt with Benjamin to purchase additional garin they were immediately brought to the house of Joseph. 

They were afraid to enter Joseph's house. 

The Torah describes that they approached the steward of Joseph’s house, trying to convince him of their innocence. As the Torah describes: 

so they went up to Joseph’s house steward and spoke to him at the entrance of the house.

And they said, "Please, my lord, we came down at first to purchase food.

And it came to pass when we came to the lodging place that we opened our sacks, and behold! each man's money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight; and we returned it in our hands.

And we brought down other money in our hand[s] to purchase food. We do not know who put our money into our sacks." (Genesis 43:19-22)

The Torah describes how they were reassured: 

He replied, “All is well with you; do not be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, must have put treasure in your bags for you. I got your payment.” And he brought out Simeon to them. 43-23

Every detail in the Torah is precise. Why does the Torah emphasize that the exchange happened “at the entrance of the house“?

The Chasidic Masters explain the mystical meaning of the story and its relevance to each of our lives. The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything that happens in this world happens by Divine providence. When a person experiences fear caused by physical concerns, it is in order to help the person reach a higher state of fear, the awe of G-d. The spiritual fear then causes all other fears, which are debilitating and paralyzing, to dissipate. This, in fact, is what happened to Joseph’s brothers. When they were accused of being spies (and later, when Benjamin was accused of stealing Joseph’s goblet), they were frightened. Yet the fear of the viceroy led them to a deeper awe, it led them to realize the severity of their terrible sin of selling their brother. The “external fear”, the fear of the human king, led them to “an inner fear”, the fear of their creator, which led to their ultimate repentance and transformation. 

This is the mystical significance of the “opening of the house”. Every challenge is, in reality, an opening to a deeper and more elevated space. When the brothers were faced with a profound fear, they realized that it was an “opening of a house”, an opportunity to get to a deeper awe. They were able to use the external fear as an opportunity to introspect and reach a deeper level of awe.    

The same is true for each of us. Every experience in our life could become “an opening of the house”, an opportunity for spiritual growth, deeper awareness. Next time you face a challenge, or encounter an obstacle, ask yourself: how do I use this challenge as an opening to a new “house”, to a space of deeper meaning and spiritual connection? 

Based on the Degel Machane Ephrayim.

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