The 2 Words That Will Bring Moshiach (Soon)

The whole story of the brothers selling Yosef begs one big question – Did Yosef ever forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery?

The answer is no. Yosef said to them, “You intended it for evil, HaShem intended it for good.” But Yosef did not forgive his brothers.

Yosef didn’t forgive them because he couldn’t – until they initiated making shalom by apologizing and asking for forgiveness.

Notably, the brothers, led by Yehuda, never apologized to Yosef. They never said. . .

“We are so sorry Yosef, we were wrong. We made the wrong psak about you and hurt you very, very badly. We got really carried away with ourselves, we were so jealous of you. We wrongfully accused you of wanting to lord over us. We wrongfully accused you of not acting for the sake of heaven.

We mistakenly thought you threatened our status as sons of Jacob. We didn’t talk to father about it, and we didn’t make the first step to making peace as the older brothers should. In the end, we ruthlessly threw you in a pit and sold you to Arabs, where you could have been killed, tortured, or raped.

Please, please, Yosef, we apologize. There is no excuse for what we did. We so sorry. We were so wrong. Please, forgive us.

And I, Yehuda, personally, was the root cause of all this mess. I had no right to participate in a beit din (court) to decide this issue about you. I was nogeah b’dvar (biased) because I have a stake in the matter inasmuch as I believe the crown is mine. I acted contrary to halacha for participating in the impromptu din Torah with my brothers. Halacha required me – at a minimum – to recuse myself because of my self-interest. And we poskened the shiloh without the participation, advice, input, or halachic consideration of our Rabbi and Av Beit Din, Yaakov.

We wrongfully caused you so much pain and suffering.

For everything Yosef, I’m sorry.

These two words – I’m sorry – are the keys to redemption. Ultimately, Yehudah’s and the brothers’ failure to apologize to Yosef prevented Yosef from being able to forgive them. Had Yosef forgiven prior to Yehudah and the brothers doing complete and proper tshuva by admitting their mistake and apologizing for it, all would have been lost. The core lesson of the importance of admitting mistakes and apologizing for them without excuses would’ve remained unlearned forever – and, at the deepest level – the ultimate redemption barred forever.

The brothers failure to apologize to Yosef had far reaching ramifications. Our Sages teach us that the Ten Martyrs were murdered as an atonement for the brothers’ sin of selling Yosef. Had the brothers apologized and Yosef then forgiven, according the laws of tshuva the entire slate would have been wiped clean, and no Ten Martyrs.

This profound failure to apologize still haunts us today, as many Torah leaders are simply incapable of admitting and apologizing for serious mistakes in halachic or interpersonal judgments. These mistakes, and the drastic efforts to rationalize them or cover them up, metastasize into an underlying cultural sinat hinam (baseless hatred) that steamrolls the weak and innocent in our communities, and perpetuates our bitter exile.

If our Torah leaders rectify the sin of the brothers and embrace these two words – “I’m sorry” – I believe Moshiach would come speedily in our days.


After bouncing this vort off the local Orthodox Rabbis, here is an addendum. Its a reply to a friend of mine who asked for clarification off-line. .  .

Rabbenu Bachyah expressly opines that Yosef did not forgive his brothers, and he connects it to the death of the 10 Martyrs.

Rabbenu Bachya states – different than me – that the brothers did ask for forgiveness via the line that “Yaakov says to forgive their sin, etc.”  And Yosef refused.

However, R. Bachyah’s explanation begs a very big question – Why didn’t Yosef forgive? R. Bachyah does not answer this screaming bomba kasha.

I opine, and differ with R. Bachyah (alavi I could speak to him in person!) – the brothers never did apologize sincerely for what they did. Read Vayehi 50:15-17. The Torah clearly states that the brothers were afraid of being “repaid” for all their evil, and thus they concocted a story that Yaakov told Yosef to to forgive them.

This begs the question – if at the time Yaakov was alive, Yosef had lost his power and position, and no longer had the means to “repay” the brothers after Yaakov’s death, would the brothers have made this awkward attempt to seek “forgiveness”? According to the svorah that they were merely seeking to avoid retribution, the answer perforce must be no. Thus, the ersatz apology they did make was insincere.

And by putting the works in Yaakov’s mouth, rather than their own, this further shows the apology was insincere, and at best motivated by fear not love. Last time I checked, on Yom Kippur we don’t say, “HaShem, my Rabbi gave me orders to say to you, please, forgive the deed of that man for he has done evil.”  We say, I erred, I sinned, I rebelled. And according to many poskim, l’hathila we then admit our sin in detail.

We don’t see that here, at all.

And that’s why Yosef could not forgive them. If he forgave them here, they never would have learned the lesson that there is no excuse for selling your brother to the Arabs because you suspect them of heresy (which is what the essence of the brothers tyyna).

Believe me, I’ve been bouncing my vort off some of the local Rabbis – you’d be amazed at how convoluted folks will get to make excuses for and justify the brothers’ conduct. Look, I’m no big shot, but my goodness people – they sold him to Arabs!!  And for this sin the 10 Martyrs suffered terrible deaths!! What they did was wrong, wrong, wrong!

And so long as folks continue to make excuses for throwing innocent Jews under the bus, we’ll continue to be stuck in this bitter exile.


9 Responses to The 2 Words That Will Bring Moshiach (Soon)

  1. Joshua Richman says:

    I really like this. But I’m curious—is there a source for what you’re saying about the lack of apology (have you seen it anywhere?), or is it your take? I had never before heard that the brothers didn’t apologize or do full teshuvah.



    • JJ says:

      I have yet to see a source that states they DID apologize. And, certainly insofar as the Ten Martyrs were atoning for this sin, it means that they had not done adequate tshuva. Of course, if somebody brings a Hazal that they did apologize, I would stand corrected. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Shiloh says:

    ROFL, such hypocrisy right from the horses mouth. Maybe its you that has caused and will cause the messiah to use his free will and simple say that the Jewish people are not worth it. Cant wait for the coming messiah to tell you were to go, because its going to happen. One must be very careful because God will use whom He wishes and has already decided and that you can take to the bank. Stupid people.

    • JJ says:

      Shiloh, not sure what your beef is. Are you still angry because I stated that you are not halachically Jewish? BTW, a gentile who does the big 7 mitzvot gets the same place as a Jew who does his 613, as defined by Hazal.

  3. Yehoshua says:

    Why still grope in the dark? Here is the link:
    The blog has 2 books titled “Book of Secrets of Creation / Sefer Sod Bereshit”. It is the stone with 7 eyes in front of Joshua. It contains the secrets of the 7 days of creation. It will give light to the world.

  4. Moshe says:

    Look, you take the words out of my mouth. I’ve been thinking exactly the same, and there have been examples in history where the sin of selling Yosef was repeated. Perhaps the most recent was Gush Katif. Other examples come to mind, where the Torah leaders need to come out and ask Jews for forgiveness.
    The question is what do we simple Jews do about it? It’s very unlikely that Torah leaders will initiate asking for forgiveness, but perhaps we can nudge them about it. I recall the halacha that that if one was offended or wronged by someone, he should not bear the grudge in silence but rather approach the wrongdoer and ask him to ask for forgiveness. (Boy it’s not simple business, as the Torah leaders would have to say sorry for so much damage that happened as a result of their mistakes… Enough to make anyone want to resign…)
    I’ve read most of your blog posts and I connect very much with what you write and with your desire to rectify the world by tackling the roots of the problem. I very much would want to contact you, I know about your agricultural endeavors, and I myself have idea and actual plans how to start rectifying the world through getting back to the earth and using it for what it’s meant to be – a place to live and grow food, and not “nadlan” to be bought and sold for profit while the land itself lies frozen until “hafshara” (guess where I’m living now). I would love to contact you and share ideas and experience. Could you contact me by email (I didn’t find a way to contact you through your blog)?
    Be well.

    • JJ says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Moshe. Yes, tackling the root is the critical thing. The rest is just a distraction.

      In any event, my message is the message of SHALOM. Like it or not, we’ll have to get to the place without baseless hatred on our own – Eliyahu may some day offer his help – but we have to get there before Moshiach can come.

      The kids need to stop fighting or no Baskin Robins.

  5. Shalom, ahi.

    This was quite insightful as I never really caught that the brothers withheld an apology from Yosef. But it makes total sense when seen in the entire context of the Torah in Bereshith.

    As for the parallel(s) drawn to many [so-called] rabbaniym today, a truer mashal could not have been crafted. It’s like hand in glove. And I would love to hear the sound of the “bounce” that this post had off the heads of the “local Orthodox rabbis” who read it.

    Kol tuv.

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