When Yosef revealed his identity to his brothers, the Torah writes that he and Binyamin fell on one another’s shoulders and wept profusely. Chazal explain why they wept: Yosef cried over the Batei Mikdash which would be destroyed in Binyamin’s portion of Eretz Yisrael. Binyamin cried over the Mishkan Shiloh that was once situated in Yosef’s portion, which would be destroyed. The obvious question is not why they wept, but rather, why should they not weep? Who would not cry after years of separation with one brother longing for the other, not knowing if he were dead or alive, spiritually connected or not, then discovering how everything was for the good and all was well? Of course they should cry when they met! What is the question? These were tears of joy, for finally seeing that their hopes had been realized.
Horav Eliyahu Svei, zl, cites the Yalkut (V’Zos HaBrachah) which quotes Chazal’s reasons concerning the Shechinah’s reposing in Binyamin’s portion of Eretz Yisrael in the (Batei Mikdash). One reason is that Binyamin was the only brother who had not been involved in the selling of Yosef. Hashem said, “I am instructing the builders of the Bais Hamikdash to erect it as a place for Jews who pray for Heavenly compassion to come to pray. How can it be built in a portion of Eretz Yisrael belonging to one of the brothers who had been involved in selling Yosef? When he pleaded with them to have mercy on him, did they listen? No! I will not have the Bais Hamikdash, the place where one seeks Heavenly mercy, to be erected in a place that does not represent compassion.”
The Yalkut implies that the primary purpose of the Bais Hamikdash was to serve as a center where a Jew could turn to pray to Hashem for mercy. As such, the Bais Hamikdash could not stand in a portion of Eretz Yisrael apportioned to a tribe which earlier had not responded with compassion to their brother’s pleas. Even Yosef could not have the Bais Hamikdash in his portion of Eretz Yisrael, because, he, too, played a role in the mechirah, sale. The only brother who had had no involvement whatsoever in Yosef’s sale was Binyamin. Therefore, he was worthy to have the Bais Hamikdash in his portion.
The Rosh Yeshivah derives from here that in order to be worthy of having the Bais Hamikdash, one must represent the middah, attribute, of achavah, brotherhood/brotherly love, b’shleimus, in complete perfection. Binyamin was worthy. How sad it was that the Second Bais Hamikdash was taken from us as a result of sinaas chinam, unwarranted hatred, between brothers.
Let us now return to the encounter between the two sons of Rachel Imeinu – Yosef and Binyamin. When they fell on each other, they exhibited brotherly love at its apex. Nonetheless, they wept. Why? They saw that the Batei Mikdash and Mishkan Shiloh would ultimately be destroyed. This in and of itself was an indicator that the achvah which should have reigned was deficient. Had the achvah been faultless, had it achieved perfection, the Sanctuaries would not have been destroyed. They wept because they saw that the perfect love that currently existed would eventually deteriorate and no longer retain its perfection. Indeed, when Klal Yisrael was divided, the tribe of Binyamin was no longer “perfect.” This would happen in the End of Days.
Mah tov u’mah na’im sheves achim gam yachad, “How good and how pleasing for brothers to sit together in unity” (Pele Yoetz). Two famous brothers whose relationship with one another was flawless were Horav Zalman and Horav Chaim Volozhiner. They personified holiness and purity from their very entrance into this world. The love and esteem they manifested for one another was exceptional. Their father, Rav Yitzchak, was a parnes, leader and supporter, of the Volozhin community. He had a massive library in his house. In those days, any person who owned a complete Shas, all the folios of the Talmud, was considered wealthy and distinguished. As a result, his home was filled with Torah scholars from all areas, who came to delve in his priceless treasures. Rav Yitzchak and his Rebbetzin, who was a deeply righteous woman, opened their home and enabled these scholars to spend days and nights engrossed in Torah study, with the greatest comfort and ease of mind.
One Torah giant who spent time in Rav Yitzchak’s home was Horav Aryeh Leib Heller, zl, author of the Ketzos Hachoshen. One day, as Rav Aryeh Leib was engrossed in learning, Rav Yitzchak’s Rebbetzin’s labor began in earnest. She called for the midwife who came forthright to assist her in the birthing process. It was a difficult birth which went on for hours, accompanied by serious pain. Never once did the prospective mother utter a sound, for fear that she might disturb Rav Aryeh Leib’s learning. Finally, she gave birth to her first son, Rav Zalman (Zalmele). When Rav Aryeh Leib heard of her sacrifice, he blessed her to have sons who would illuminate the Torah world with their knowledge and leadership. The relationship between these two Torah giants was one of pure, unmitigated love and respect, with each one considering the other the true gadol. They were two different personalities with distinct outlooks on life, but, with regard to the esteem in which they held one another their feelings coincided fully.
When the Chortkover Rebbe, Horav Yisrael, zl, left this world, his chassidim took it for granted that his two sons, Horav Nuchem Mordechai and Horav Dov, would ascend to his position. Rav Nuchem Mordechai, the older brother, had spent his life in total devotion to Hashem, spiritually perfecting himself to the point that he was an undisputed tzaddik. The younger brother, Rav Dov, was greatly respected for his erudition in all areas of Torah. His brilliance shone, not only in his scholarship, but also in his wisdom and ability to give sage advice. Yet, despite their obvious suitability to become Rebbe, neither one felt worthy of “sitting in his holy father’s place.”
After much convincing by the closest chassidim, the brothers finally relented and agreed to sit at the head of the table. Nonetheless, they each adamantly refused to become Rebbe. The issue came to its resolution when their mother decreed that they must accept the position. They relented, and the two brothers together led their chassidim. Their followers were awestruck by the brotherly love and esteem they gave to one another. Neither one acted without prior consent of the other. Even when a chassid entered with a kvittel, written petition, both brothers sat together and, after each one read it, they would take turns giving their individual brachah. A chassid who sought advice had to speak to both brothers, who would then issue a joint response. Any letter sent to them had to be addressed to both, or they would not read its contents. They redefined brotherhood. Chazal establish the barometer for achdus, unity, as k’ish echad b’lev echad, “Like one man with one heart.” The Chortkover Rebbes were not “like” one man. They were one man; each one totally abrogating himself to the other.