Seven Levels of Teshuva: Yosef Part Four
Yosef, Yesod and Speeding the Redemption:
Yosef was the one who laid the foundation, Yesod, for the time that the Jews would be spending in Egypt and for the redemption.1
Yosef patiently took advantage of each thing that happened to him and step by step prepared for the arrival of his family in Egypt and for their eventual salvation. He changed the course of history when he rose to be the second most powerful man in Egypt and collected all the food and money in the area. Yosef Hatzadik, the life giver fed and cared for everyone. It is Yosef who can connect to the entire family despite all their cruelty and hatred. It is Yosef who through the most terrible circumstances, being sold as a slave and then thrown into prison, who prepares for the redemption.
Yom Kippur Service:
When the Cohen Gadol sprinkles the blood of some of the Yom Kippur sacrifices he counts the number of times he has thrown the blood. “One. One and one. One and two. One and three.” Until he finishes with “One and seven.” Why does he count in this way rather than one through eight? Why must he count aloud? He is declaring how everything accumulates and builds on each preceding step. The first step changes because of the steps that follow. This is exactly the idea of the Shem Mishmuel; our prayers and Teshuva build and accumulate efficacy. The Teshuva and prayers of previous years were not wasted, even if they were weak. They will add to the power of the Teshuva and prayers of this year. They may very well develop to the point that a person can bring redemption for everyone.
The Cohen Gadol must do absolutely every part of the service on Yom Kippur. This presents a problem; how can he both slaughter the sacrifice and collect its blood in a holy vessel at the same time? The Mishna describes how he would slaughter the exact minimum that he should and another Cohen would grab the knife from him without stopping the knife even for a moment and finish the job. Two people functioned as one.2 On this day of highest relationship with God the Cohen Gadol functions as one with another human being. This is the Teshuva that has a horizontal impact. It is Teshuva that is for all the people not just himself. That is why it is he, who can connect as one with another person, who confesses for the entire nation3.
There are only two times that the Torah is publicly read in the Beit Hamikdash; the Davidic king on Succot of the year following the Sabbatical year and the Cohen Gadol on Yom Kippur. The latter does not sit in a special chair as does the king. However he is acting out the role of the king, the redeemer. This is Teshuva that can speed the arrival of the Messiah.
1 Bereishit 50:25: (כה) וַיַּשְׁבַּע יוֹסֵף אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד אֱלֹהִים אֶתְכֶם וְהַעֲלִתֶם אֶת עַצְמֹתַי מִזֶּה:2 Yoma 15a3 ibid 35b