True Consolation

When Yaakov’s sons brought back Yosef’s coat covered in blood, Yaakov’s reaction was (Vayeshev 37:33): “An evil beast devoured him, Yosef has been torn to pieces.”

Yaakov then proceeded to mourn for Yosef- he tore his clothing, wore sackcloth and mourned for his son for “yamim rabim”, “many days”. In 37:35 we read: “All his sons and all his daughters rose to console him, but he refused to be consoled (vayimaen lehitnachem). He said ‘I will go down to the grave mourning for my son’.”


It turns out that those “yamim rabim”, “many days” ended up being 22 years.


How could Yaakov mourn for so much longer than the traditional shiva (first seven days), shloshim (first 30 days) and year?


Rashi explains that Yaakov refused to be consoled since a person cannot accept consolation for one who is alive, but is thought to be dead.


The Sfat Emet points out that when someone dies the consolation is that they are now with God. However, if you think that someone is dead and they are really alive, they are still in this world and there is no consolation.


This is especially felt when one is told that a person is dead yet there is no body and no burial. Without that closure, there is always a feeling that maybe the person is still alive and the family will have a difficulty being consoled and moving on.


We especially felt this last summer before we knew the fate of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Although we all knew that there was a chance that they were no longer alive, the families and indeed the entire State of Israel needed to have their bodies returned in order to move on.


We must work quickly to bring back Gilad Shalit who is known to be alive and reunite him with his family in the same way that Yaakov and Yosef were reunited so many years of being apart.