Come and see: The avenging sword was aroused [i.e. our enemies attacked] when the Jewish People did not guard the Covenant in three ways:

1) by selling the righteous one [Joseph], whose attribute was the covenant [the sefira of yesod] which he guarded, and by virtue of which he is called "tzaddik";
2) as it is written, "the sacred flesh is removed from you" (Jeremiah 11:15)
[referring to the covenant of circumcision];
3) by desecrating the Shabbat.

For these three transgressions it was decreed that the Jewish People would be banished from the Land of Israel.


[Because they did not keep Shabbat properly they were exiled to Babylon with the destruction of the First Temple] for seventy years - ten years [corresponding to the ten sefirot] for each day [of the week, since "all six days of the week are blessed by Shabbat" (Zohar II 63b)].

But when 420 years had passed, the sin of baseless hatred had its effect….

After seventy years the Holy One, blessed be He, brought them out of Babylon, and they returned to the Land of Israel. The Second Temple was built, and it stood for 420 years in the merit of the Torah with which they occupied themselves, and [in the merit of] the holy mitzvot [commandments] that they observed fully.

Selling Joseph

But when 420 years had passed, the sin of baseless hatred had its effect. The original hatred [that Joseph's brothers felt towards him, that led them to sell him into slavery in Egypt], as it is written, "…and they hated him" (Gen. 37:4) was aroused once again [the Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred (Yoma 9b)]. And so G‑d placed them in the hands of those who also hate for no reason [the descendents of Edom, the Romans]. And so it is written regarding Edom, "because of your eternal hatred, you let the blood of the Israelites by the sword". (Ezekiel 35:5)

...the Redemption of Israel will start to be aroused, like the morning which slowly begins to dawn….

Thus the Israelites had to atone for this sin sevenfold the number of years that were missing [when Joseph was enslaved and was unable to see his father, as the Zohar will explain shortly]. Come and see: When you multiply the 22 years [that Joseph did not see his father] by 7 ["sevenfold your sin" (Lev. 26:18,24,28.)] for each of the ten tribes that bore responsibility for selling him, this comes to 1,540. After this length of time, the Redemption of Israel will start to be aroused, like the morning which slowly begins to dawn. This continues for seventeen years, [the age of] Joseph who was seventeen years old when he shepherded the flocks with his brothers (Gen. 37:2) [making the sum total of 1,557]. Then [Joseph] is worthy to stand in the breach against the attribute of severity, because the sins of the world will have been cleansed…

We have learned that the korban tamid [the sacrifice that was offered twice daily morning and evening, every day, to atone for our sins] ceased on the seventeenth of Tammuz, and that the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the Ninth of Av (Taanit 28b-29a). Rabbi Yose declared: Meritorious events transpire on days of honor, and degrading events take place on days of disgrace. For it was on that dark day [the 9th of Av] that [the spies Moses had sent into the Land of Israel] made disparaging remarks about the Holy Land (See Num. chaps 13-14), and the Israelites raised their voices in weeping. [Weeping] was thus established for many generations.

From that day [the 17th of Tammuz] that the korban tamid offering which atoned for our sins ceased, until the Temple was destroyed [on the 9th of Av], there are twenty-two days. These correspond to the twenty-two years that the righteous Joseph did not see the revered face of his father, Jacob. Joseph was thus unable to gaze upon the supernal chochma [chochma of Atzilut], for one depends upon the other. [The destruction of the Temple was due to selling Joseph into slavery].

[Interestingly, the Zohar does not go on to explain the third Covenant - circumcision. It is possible that since Jews were always careful to keep this covenant, even under the most adverse circumstances, the Zohar had no need to mention it as a factor in the destruction. On the contrary, may the self-sacrifice of those who kept this commandment despite persecution and danger to their lives bring about the redemption speedily on our days].

[Adapted by Moshe Miller from Zohar Chadash, Sitrei Torah, parashat Vayeshev.]