In this week’s parshah, Yosef revealed himself to his brothers after not seeing them for 22 years. The pasuk states: “VaYomer Yosef el echav: ‘Ani Yosef. Ha’od avi chai?’ V’lo yachlu echav laanos oso ki nivhalu mi’panav–And Yosef said to his brothers, ‘I am Yosef. Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers could not answer him because they were left disconcerted before him” (B’reishis 45:3).
The Midrash comments on this with words that seem designed to terrify: “Woe to us from the day of judgment, woe to us from the day of rebuke.” The Beis HaLevi tells us that Yosef’s rebuke, “Is my father still alive?” wasn’t meant literally, because Yehudah had already told Yosef that Yaakov was alive. Rather, his rebuke was, “Was my father not alive when you sold me? You were not worried about his health, so why now all of a sudden are you worried about Binyamin?” The brothers had nothing to say to him. The Midrash (B’reishis Rabbah 93:10) states that Yosef was the youngest of the Sh’vatim and the brothers could not withstand his rebuke, so certainly when Hashem will bring a person to justice at the end of days, he will not be able to withstand His rebuke.
The lesson for us is that we often contradict ourselves. We claim we have no time to learn Torah, yet somehow, we find a wealth of time to chat about mundane matters. We claim we have no money for tz’dakah, yet when vacation time comes, we suddenly have all sorts of resources. We should strive to equally match all our energy and resources that we channel to our material existence to the time, energy, and resources in spiritual achievements.