This week’s Parsha tells us of the beginning of the exile for our nation, instigated by sibling rivalry, jealousy, sniping and other acts of hatred between brothers.
Whilst telling us the story of how Yosef gets sold into slavery, the Torah does a weird thing. It stops the story of the sale of Yosef somewhere in the middle and puts on pause the story of what unfolds for Yosef in Egypt. During that intermission, the Torah “switches channels” so-to-speak and dials up the story of Yehuda’s marriage, his children, their disastrous marriages and Tamar’s brilliance in ensuring righteous generations are set up for Yehuda by her giving birth to twins. When finished with that whole Yehuda-Tamar shpiel, the Torah then switches back and continues the story of what happened in Mitzrayim to Yosef.
The Midrash explains what is happening. When something bad occurs we see it unfolding and think it is all tragic. However, things in life that happen are just puzzle pieces. If you pick up some random puzzle piece, you might see only black. However, when you put that puzzle piece where it should be it might be the piece that outlines a bright thing. In other words, until all puzzle pieces are put together, you cannot see the full picture. So you see Yosef marching off to Galus [exile]. You see the black piece of the puzzle. Then the Torah tells us this seemingly unrelated story about Yehuda having children. Ah, you don’t see how these puzzle pieces will eventually fit together. We see the beginning of exile, but there, in those puzzle pieces of Yehuda and Tamar is outlined the beginning of the redemption. The Messianic age is dependent on offspring of these two great men. Moshiach ben Yosef will fight our wars and Moshiach ben Dovid from Yehuda will guide us how to live life ideally.
As the Jewish exile begins, the redemption is also already beginning with the birth of Yehuda’s children. It is, therefore, important, to put that story embedded in the story of Yosef being led down to Egypt.
Any time we face challenges, we must remember it is but puzzle pieces in the bigger picture. And, even as those puzzle pieces get put into place, we can be sure, G-d is setting up other pieces of the puzzle that makes for a beautiful end result.