In this week’s Parsha, Yosef becomes the ruler of Egypt and a severe famine descends on the land. Back in Canaan, Jacob tells his sons, “What are you showing off? I heard that there is food in Egypt.”
At that point, they still had enough provisions to survive. However, Jacob didn’t want his neighbors to be jealous of his wealth, so he asked his sons to go to Egypt to purchase food like everyone else.
Then the Torah says an interesting verse: “And the brothers of Yosef—ten of them—went to acquire food in Egypt.”
Commentators make two points.
First of all, the Torah calls them “Yosef’s brothers.” Normally, they are called Yaakov’s sons, but here they are associated with Yosef. The reason, Rashi explains, is that they deeply regretted selling Yosef seventeen years earlier and planned to use their trip to find him and bring him home. They were finally acting like “Yosef’s brothers.”
Secondly, the verse says that there were ten of them. Why is that important information? We know that Binyamin remained home; we could reach the number ten on our own. What was it important to mention the number?
The Midrash answers that ten is a lucky number. A minyan of people have the power to nullify spiritual decrees. Avraham asked G-d to spare the people of Sodom—if there were ten righteous people in the city. The brothers understood that they had special powers as a group of ten, and they hoped that it would assist them in their search for Yosef.
Indeed, when they arrived in Egypt, they chose to enter through ten separate gates. Why? To search for Yosef! The official reason for their trip was to purchase food, but their real intent was to find Yosef.
In last week’s Parsha, Yaakov sent his son Yosef to search for his brothers. He wandered in Shechem, saying, “I’m looking for my brothers, has anyone seen them?” Now, twenty-two years later, it was they who searched for him.
This week’s Parshah teaches us the mission of our generation as the Rebbe taught us. We must search for our missing brother, the long-lost Jew who may just be a priest in Siberia. Just as the brothers ultimately found Yosef, and Yaakov was reunited with his entire family, we can be sure that if we search out our long-lost brothers, we will be united as well, with the coming of Moshiach.
May it be very soon.