A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter
Genesis 46:29 has the most tear-jerking scene of all time, the reunion of Jacob and Joseph. We all remember the story. Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to meet his father, and when they met he threw himself upon his father’s neck. The verse says that Joseph wept very, very much, but it seems that Jacob remained dry-eyed. Why didn’t Jacob weep as well?
Rabbi S. R. Hirsch reminds us that Jacob had grieved and mourned for Joseph for many years while not doing anything else. He was all cried out. He had spent the last 22 years focused on the loss of Joseph – there weren’t other emotions that distracted him. All he had been doing was living with the loss of his son each and every day and he had processed that loss fully. From the day that he was sold into slavery, Joseph, on the other hand, had been living a busy and vibrant life. He had gone from being a servant to being second to the king—each day had been eventful and interesting and he really hadn’t had the time or space to feel the pain of separation from his father or to grieve it. Now, when he saw and hugged his father again, all those hidden emotions of 22 years came to the surface and overwhelmed him in a flood of tears. We see that in this verse, Jacob is called Israel. His personal pain had already been subsumed in his national role of Israel, but not Joseph’s. Joseph cries and cries as, for the first time, he deeply feels the grief of 22 years.