If we look closely at the events surrounding Joseph's revealing himself to his brothers, there is something not so clear. Joseph explains that his arrival in Egypt was directly arranged by G‑d, whose purpose was to make him the ruler. Joseph continues by instructing his brothers to give the same message to their father Jacob: "The Almighty has made me to be the master of Egypt." And then Joseph makes the request, "Come down to me; do not wait". (Ex. 45:9)

Joseph was aware that…the Jewish people had to be in exile in Egypt….

Why should his father move just because Joseph was the ruler of Egypt? Joseph was aware that, by heavenly decree, the Jewish people had to be in exile in Egypt and that his becoming ruler was a necessary stage in the process. Furthermore, in order to fulfill this juncture of the divine plan, Jacob also had to arrive.

This necessity was explained by G‑d to Abraham at the Covenant Between the Parts: "Your seed will be strangers in a strange land…and afterwards leave with great wealth". (Gen.15:13-14) For this reason Joseph had to collect wealth from all over the world, exchanged for the food he had stored for the famine years. Egypt would become the wealthiest of nations in order that the Jews could leave later with great wealth. Even the plague of darkness was arranged so the hiding places of the Egyptians' treasures would be revealed to the Jews, that they could later acquire it. Why is this great wealth so important?

"Great wealth" denotes more than just physical wealth. It also refers to the great spiritual wealth they acquired there. Egypt was a place of extremes. Although the lowest place on Earth morally, it also was a powerful intellectual and spiritual center. The purpose of the Jews being there was to isolate and remove all of the sparks of good that were buried within the 49 "gates" of impurity.

The soul of a convert is a lost spark of G‑dliness….

This is also the inner purpose of exile, whether on a community or on a personal level. The Talmud says, "The reason G‑d exiled the Jewish people among the nations was to gather converts." (Pesachim 87:2) The soul of a convert is a lost spark of G‑dliness. And the general purpose of exile is to isolate and redeem the sparks of holiness that are scattered in the world. This was the true "great wealth" for which the Jewish people descended. And this was the reason they could not leave until it was accumulated.

We are in exactly the same situation now. Our job is to remove all the good and to sanctify all of the physical that we come in contact with. A Jew is not allowed to say, "Forget about the exile! I relinquish my rights to the 'great wealth'. I prefer to just do my thing." We have a mission. G‑d wants the "great wealth", the sparks of the world isolated and elevated by our using them for holy purposes.

The true and ultimate purpose of a Jew in exile is to live in the world, with all of the difficulties that involves, and to imbue it with Torah and the fulfillment of its commandments. And when we will uplift all the hidden sparks that are found in the "great wealth", we will merit immediately the final redemption and the arrival of the Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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