While the biggest event in Parshas Vayigash is Yosef revealing himself to his brothers, when placed in perspective, its impact only reaches a very short time in history. The more far-reaching event is what happens at the end of the Parshah.
After Yosef reveals himself to his brothers, he urges them to bring the entire clan down to Egypt so he can support them until the end of the famine. While the famine ended when Yaakov came down, his family still stayed there and prospered. It is at this time that the nation of Yisrael begins to develop. Hashem promised Avraham that his children would become Hashem’s chosen nation, however, they first would have to go through a long exile with much hardship. This process began when Yaakov came down to Egypt with his family. This led to the slavery in Egypt, which led to the creation of Bnei Yisrael, which led to the Plagues, Krias Yam Suf, the Giving of the Torah, and our eventual return to Eretz Yisrael.
But before all this happened, Yaakov had to go down to Egypt. Before he did, Yaakov was not sure he was doing the right thing. So Hashem came to him in a dream and told him not to worry about going down. “אָנֹכִי אֵרֵד עִמְּךָ מִצְרַיְמָה וְאָנֹכִי אַעַלְךָ גַם עָלֹה” “I (Hashem) will go down with you to Mitzrayim, and I will also bring you up.” (Bereishis 46:4). In this pasuk, Hashem promises Yaakov that He will descend with him to Mitzrayim, and will also bring him (or his children) back to Eretz Yisrael.
An interesting point arises when we examine this pasuk. In the first part of the pasuk, Hashem promises Yaakov that He will go down with him. The pasuk first says that Hashem will be going down, and then mentions that He will be with Yaakov when he goes down. In the second part when Hashem promises to bring Yaakov back, first the pasuk says that Hashem will bring Yaakov up, “אַעַלְך” “I will bring you up”, and then He says that He will come back up as well, “גַם עָלֹה”.
The Kli Yakar explains that this pasuk contains a vital idea. The times we have gone into exile, it has been after a horrific event. It comes at a time when the nation is reeling and Hashem is apparently nowhere to be found. In this pasuk, Hashem sets the standard for Mitzrayim and all future exiles. Before we even leave our homeland, Hashem will have already gone out ahead of us to await our arrival. And when we return, Hashem will stay in exile, until the very last Jew has left and returned to Eretz Yisrael.
This was how Hashem calmed Yaakov, and this is how we too should be comforted while we remain in exile. No matter how dark or desperate times may seem, we only need to return to this promise Hashem made Yaakov; He will always be there no matter where we may end up, and He will be the last to leave, making sure no one is left behind.
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