Now we Jews are getting ready for a journey of a lifetime in our service to G-d. This is where G-d gives us Torah our instruction manual on how to drive G-d’s car.
“Joseph had left instructions for the Jews to take his remains out of Egypt when they would leave. Moses therefore took Joseph’s remains along when the Jews left Egypt. Joseph’s remains were eventually interred in Shechem.
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him. Exodus 13:19
The Hebrew word for “bone” (etzem) also means “essence.” The Jewish people were about to embark on a journey through a desert whose barrenness and perils were a reflection of its spiritual desolation. In order to be able to survive this journey, Moses ensured that the Jewish people were accompanied by the essence and spirit of Joseph.
Joseph’s essence is expressed in his name, which means “May He add,” for when he was born, his mother Rachel prayed, “May G‑d add for me another son.”1
This wish includes the desire to welcome the estranged Jew back into the fold. In a more general sense, it includes the desire to transform all mundane reality into the vehicle for holiness it was originally intended to be.
The odyssey of exile is likened to a journey through a barren, perilous desert.2 In order for us to persevere through periods of spiritual desolation, we must take our cue from Joseph’s essence. We must strive to bring even the most distant and rebellious individuals back to the fold, showing them that they are truly G‑d’s beloved children. When we remain true to this objective, we are assured that in the end, no Jew will be left behind.3 Genesis 30:24. See Ezekiel 20:35; Rabbeinu Bachaye and Or HaChaim on Numbers 33:1 ff. Likutei Sichot, vol. 26, pp. 85–89