Who Do You Carry With You?
As our ancestors journeyed through the Sinai Desert, they carried with them the coffin of Joseph, who is known in our tradition as a “tzadik yesod Olam” (A tzadik who is akin to a cornerstone upon which the spiritual and moral wellbeing of the world rests). Why did we carry Joseph with us? One reason is that he asked us to do so. On his deathbed, Joseph beseeched his surviving relatives to bring him to eternal rest in the Land of Israel, once the entire nation will make its journey back to its historic homeland.
This historical episode from ancient times brings to mind a similar occurrence in Jewish history, thousands of years later, during the 20th century. Theodore Herzl, founder of political Zionism, also requested in his will to be re-buried when the time comes in the Land of Israel, once we, as a people, return home. This is one striking example of the rabbinic principal of “ma’se’e avoth Siman lebanim”, which means – “that which occurred to our ancestors millennia ago, will reoccur and repeat itself many centuries thereafter, for future generations”.
And there’s also a deeper level to the idea of carrying Joseph throughout our journey in the desert. Not the political-historical journey, but the spiritual one. As we travel through life’s journey, as a nation and as individuals, we find ourselves at times in a social, emotional, or financial desert. But if we are wise and determined enough to carry our spiritual forefathers with us throughout all the twists and turns of life, then we will become so much more tenacious, resilient and strong.
May we be blessed to do so, and dwell in the House of the Almighty for length of days, Amen.