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ויפול על צוארי בנימן אחיו ובנימן בכה על צואריו

Then he fell upon his brother Binyamin’s neck and wept; and Binyamin wept upon his neck. (45:14)

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Chazal (quoted by Rashi) comment that Yosef and Binyamin wept over the destruction of the Sanctuaries that would be burnt in their respective territories: the two Batei Mikdash that would stand in Binyamin’s portion of Eretz Yisrael, and Mishkan Shiloh in the portion of Yosef’s son, Ephraim. The question is obvious: Why weep over the destruction of the other’s territory? What about his own personal loss? Yosef should have wept over the Mishkan, and Binyamin should have poured out his emotion over the Batei Mikdash. The question came up during the emotional meeting between two Admorim, Chassidic leaders, who, albeit having survived the Holocaust by escaping from Europe, saw the tragic decimation of their Chassidus with the murder of thousands of their followers. The Belzer Rebbe and the Gerrer Rebbe, the Imrei Emes, met in Eretz Yisrael. These two leaders of the largest Chassidic courts in Poland were devastated by the destruction. The anomaly of Yosef and Binyamin’s “misplaced” fears arose. Their answer was succinct and typical: “One weeps for his friend’s destruction. One does not cry over his own losses. He moves on and rebuilds.”

One takes the pain of loss and replants it as the foundation of his next achievement. The Ponovhezer Rav, zl, lost his yeshivah and most of his family during the Holocaust. He came to Eretz Yisrael physically broken and emotionally distraught. Yet, he did not for one moment defer to his pain. He made up his mind to apply all of his strength to rebuilding. He was asked how he was able to reconcile himself with the pain of the loss of his congregation, his yeshivah and his family. He replied, “Every tear is another brick in the Ponovezh infrastructure. Every krechtz, moan, is another shtender, lectern, in its bais hamedrash. I am applying the pain as a building block, as the muscle, the source of energy, for continuing to build.”

Perhaps we may supplement an alternative thought. When a community sustains a major calamity, its leader experiences a dual misfortune. He feels for the loss of the community; its pain, its deprivation. He also feels a personal and private bereavement. These were “his” community, “his” students, “his” friends, “his” colleagues. A true leader does not allow his personal pain to control him. He moves on. He has to think of others. Another leader, however, can be sensitive to his colleague’s personal pain. Yosef wept for Binyamin’s personal loss, his private pain over the loss of the Batei Mikdash, because he knew that Binyamin would not weep for himself – only for others. Likewise, Binyamin cried for Yosef’s loss, since, after all, someone had to.

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