Parashat Vayigash: The Job of Mashiach ben Yosef

[Tal Chermon p. 98]

Yosef himself had no equal in his ability to build the material world. This talent of the Mashiach ben Yosef has continued to unfold throughout history. It did not begin with Yosef and it did not cease with his passing. Avraham Avinu had already displayed this ability in his victorious war against the four kings (Bereshit, chap. 14), in his successful discovery of fresh water in a well he had dug (Bereshit 21:25) and in his great economic prosperity with his flock, silver and gold (ibid. 13:2). This talent also became apparent in Yitzchak when he dug wells, and was blessed with an unexpectedly prolific crop, a hundred-fold more than others (ibid. 26:12). It reached its peak with Yosef as the viceroy of Egypt. Yosef's descendants demonstrated the same expertise. Two hundred thousand of his resourceful offspring from the tribe of Efraim broke out of slavery and left Egypt earlier than the rest of the Nation (Shemot Rabbah 20:11). Later, Hashem chose Yehoshua of the tribe of Efraim to perform the miracle of halting the sun in its tracks (Yehoshua 10:12). Yehoshua became famous for this act. Shaul established both the army and the kingdom as a forerunner of the permanent kingdom of the Davidic line (Shmuel 1 14:47-52). Yoravam, an offspring of Yosef, was appointed as chief tax-collector of all the House of Yosef during King Shlomo's rule and finally became the King of Israel after the splitting of the Kingdom (Melachim 1 11:28-31). Maran Ha-Rav Kook wrote that in these times of our national re-awakening, Herzl was a spark of the Mashiach ben Yosef and he was therefore a driving force for the rebuilding of our national entity (In his eulogy for Herzl called "The Eulogy in Yerushalayim," published in Ma'amrei Ha-Re'eiyah, p. 98).