We begin the descent into the Egyptian exile as Yosef’s brothers travel to Egypt to buy food in order to survive the famine which encompasses Canaan. From a peak as the honored and privileged family of Yosef who saved Egypt and ruled as second to Pharaoh, we not only become slaves, but we lower ourselves, step-by-step, into the surrounding moral depravity so deeply it almost removes one from humanity. Had we descended just one additional step, had we adopted a “fiftieth” and final degradation, even God Himself would not have been able to redeem us.
I wonder if self-hate, both blaming and hating one’s Jewishness as the cause of all the oppression, was among the very first steps into depravity–repudiating our own values which, at least to some degree, would have prevented us for journeying farther down. Or, perhaps, it marked the final step, the one from which there is almost no return.
In either event, our ability to recover and to begin again striving to be our best is only a direct gift from The Creator Who was willing, in all our shame, to hold us close.
We need to remember this so we don’t allow ourselves to, once again, adopt the thought patterns and “values” of our enemies.