Mining the Subconscious Before the Redemption
Conversely, there are hidden powerful positive forces that we haven’t mined because they were not necessary for us to fulfill our mission.
Why did Jacob Wait?
Jacob summons his son Joseph to ask him to transport his body in the Me’aras Hamachpeilah (the Cave of Machpelah) in Chevron, to be buried with his parents and grandparents and wife Leah. Jacob explains to Joseph why he buried his wife and Joseph’s mother Rachel, on the road near Bethlehem. Rashi explains that her burial there would bring solace to the Jewish people who were driven into exile by the Babylonians and would stop to pray at her grave.
Why did Jacob wait to explain to Joseph why he did not bury Rachel in the family burial plot and instead buried her on the road to Bethlehem?
If Jacob entertained the thought that Joseph was upset about the less dignified way his mother was interred, Jacob should have allayed Joseph’s irritation at an earlier point in their relationship? It is true that Jacob knew that Joseph’s vexation would be exacerbated at this point when Jacob asks him to take him to Canaan and inter him in the Me’aras Hamachpeilah. However, Jacob should have anticipated that this uncomfortable situation would eventually arise. Why did he not “nip it in the bud” at an earlier time. And even if Joseph’s consternation was minimal until Jacob spoke to him about his own burial, why not dispel even a small amount of resentment on Joseph’s part.
One explanation can be offered that Joseph indeed did not harbor the slightest amount of resentment of the way his mother was buried. Joseph most likely understood that Jacob did not bury her on the road because he harbored some negative feelings to his beloved wife Rachel. Rather, Joseph surmised that Jacob wanted to bury her without delay consistent with Jewish law that requires prompt burial. A funeral may not be delayed unnecessarily.
However, when Jacob asked Joseph to transport his body to Canaan for interment, which would take days if not weeks to reach their destination, Jacob knew that that would provoke the question why did he not accord the same courtesy to Rachel his mother. Jacob was then compelled to explain his reason for burying Rachel on the road, which was to allow Rachel to cry for the plight of her children as they were sent into Babylonian exile.
This explanation however is inconsistent with Rashi’s statement that Jacob stated that Joseph “had it in his heart against him.”
Subconscious Resentment and Asbestos Removal
Perhaps Jacob searched Joseph’s soul and realized that he did not consciously harbor even a miniscule trace of bitterness toward him for failing to give his mother a more dignified burial. However, he might have detected that Joseph did possess a subconscious trace of bitterness. As long as it remained repressed it would not cause any harm. On the contrary, if Jacob would have focused on the subconscious it could have festered and exploded into a very unhealthy measure of separation between himself and Joseph. That separation would have proven to be destructive because Jacob’s very legacy was destined to be channeled primarily through Joseph. To lose that link in the chain could have aborted the Divine plan for the future emergence of the Jewish people and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. For that to happen there needed to be continuity from the Patriarchs to Moses.
This situation can be compared to the removal of the highly carcinogenic substance of asbestos. When left undisturbed it will not cause any harm. However, when we begin to dislodge it in the interest of ridding ourselves of it, it can have the opposite effect. It can become airborne with dreadful consequences.
However, when Jacob was preparing to ask Joseph to transport his body to Canaan, and inter him in the Me’aras Hamachpeilah his fear was that it would awaken his dormant, subconscious feeling of vexation and would create an irreversible breach between him and his beloved son and heir Joseph. Jacob was thus compelled to provide Joseph with an explanation that would allay any of his concerns. Joseph, the great provider of sustenance to everyone, would certainly appreciate knowing that his mother Rachel’s gravesite would bring comfort to her/his children.
Parallel to Our Age
There is a parallel to this situation in our own day and age as we prepare to make the transition from exile into the era of the Final Redemption
The Rebbe revealed that before the coming of Moshiach and the Final Redemption many heretofore subconscious traits, good and bad, are coming to the fore. This is based on the words of the Book of Daniel that in this era all matters will become clarified. This explains, the Rebbe stated, why we see how some very “limited” people will exhibit tremendous talent, way beyond our expectation of them. And, conversely, we find that many otherwise good and decent people will exhibit some reprehensible traits, which are totally out of character with their manifest, conscious personalities. This is because their hidden talents and potential are coming to the fore.
The reason why this is happening now is because we are at the cusp of the Messianic Age and we cannot delay the refinement of these last vestiges of evil. The entire purpose of exile was to bring refinement to every part of society; even to those areas that are alien to G-d. Indeed, exile was intended especially to enable us to reach and refine these spiritually far-flung places. The more spiritually remote a place is the more crucial is the need for us to bring to it the light of Torah.
As we get closer to Moshiach and we will have successfully refined the entire world, we then have to discover the hidden vestiges of negativity to refine them as well. As long as we were preoccupied with refining the revealed forms of negativity we didn’t want to risk unleashing some very powerful negative forces that were latent. However, now that we have completed the general, refinement process, as the Rebbe stated, it behooves us to dig into the subconscious and refine even that hidden form of negativity. To facilitate that goal, G-d in His infinite kindness spared us the need to dig beneath the surface. Instead, He allowed the subconscious to come to the surface, on its own.
Conversely, there are hidden powerful positive forces that we haven’t mined because they were not necessary for us to fulfill our mission. However, as we get closer to the finale, when we must, once and for all, bring an end to the exile, we must “pull out all the stops” and use all of our talents that we have at our disposal. We cannot afford to squander the last vestiges of powerful positive energy we possess. Hence the emergence of incredible positive talents exhibited by otherwise ordinary people.
[P.S. When the Rebbe stated that we have completed the process of refinement, many have explained that the Rebbe was surely not suggesting that there is no more evil in existence. Rather, the Rebbe was asserting that the separation of the good from evil has been accomplished. This sets the stage for the eventual total elimination of evil once it can no longer draw sustenance from the forces of holiness. The last step in this process is to separate the subconscious negativity as well.]