Have you ever experienced a difficult episode in your life, only to return to the scene where it took place, weeks, months, or years later? How did you feel upon revisiting that spot?
In this week's parsha, Parshat Vayechi, we learn that Yosef does just that. The Torah tells us that after Yaakov, the last of the Jewish patriarchs died, "Yosef went up [from Egypt] to bury his father, and with him went up all of Pharaoh's servants, the elders of the land of Egypt, and all of Yosef's household, and his brothers, and his father's household... and they held a very great and imposing eulogy..." (Bereshit 50:7-10). However, the Midrash Tanchuma teaches us that as the brothers were returning to Egypt after burying their father, Yosef made a quick pit stop. Where did he go?
"The brothers saw when they [were returning] from burying their father, that Yosef went to recite a blessing at the pit that his brothers had cast him into, and he recited a blessing over it, just as a person is obligated to recite a blessing at a place where a miracle happened to him or her, "Blessed is the Omnipresent Who performed a miracle for me at this place."
After the death of his father, Yosef can now see that all of the trauma, all of the evil, all of the pain and hardship he endured over the years was ultimately for the good, as it says, "Although you intended me harm, God intended it for good" (Bereshit 50:20). Now that Yosef has this clarity and peace of mind, he feels the need and the ability to return to the very spot where it all began: The pit. He revisits the scene of the crime, and as a way of making peace with his past, as a way of tying together all of the unresolved, loose threads in his life, he recites a blessing at the pit - his quiet act of gaining closure for himself.
For Yosef, gaining closure not only includes reuniting with his brothers and his father, it also included reuniting with the very place where he felt his life unravel, and by transforming the pit from being a place of curse to a place of blessing, Yosef was able to fully and truly make peace with his troubled past.
This Shabbat, as we conclude the final chapter in the story of Yosef and his brothers, take a moment and ask yourself, "What are the pits in my life that I need to revisit in order to gain closure for myself? Where are those places where I felt tested, where I struggled? How can I transform them into places of blessings?"
May we all find the strength to return to those "pits," and may we all, like Yosef, find the power and the ability to turn those places of anger, shame, fear and despair, into places of peace and hope for a brighter future, so that we all, like Yosef, may one day be able to say, "God intended it for good."