The Tzemach Tzedek then asked his grandfather, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, [the founder of Chabad], how could those years be the best of Jacob's life? Wasn't Egypt the most corrupt and immoral place on earth?
The Midrash relates that before Jacob went down to Egypt he sent Judah to establish a yeshiva there. Throughout the time they spent in Egypt the Tribes devoted themselves to the study of Torah. By learning Torah, a Jew draws near to G-d; it was therefore possible, explained R' Shneur Zalman, for Jacob to live his best years even in Egypt.
When Jacob saw that his son was alive, and had continued to conduct himself in a manner befitting the son of a Patriarch, it brought him great joy.
This joy was even more pronounced as it came after many years during which Jacob did not know if Joseph was still a tzadik, a righteous person. This joy is likened to a light that follows the darkness. The more intense the darkness, the brighter the light.
Egypt was a place of darkness, to which Jacob and his sons brought light. And through their devotion to Torah, they actually caused Egypt to become a source of light.
Thus the years Jacob spent in Egypt were the best of his life. For a light that follows the most intense darkness is the very brightest light of all. Like the light of Moshiach, may it soon illuminate the entire world! Amen!
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