THE JERUSALEM JEWISH VOICE
THE WEEKLY TORAH READING -- A FIRST GLANCE
A PRISONER OF ZION, A PRINCE OF EGYPT
You can also read previous studies on this site.
Our first study sheet, on Miketz, appeared in the early 80's at The Falk NCSY Israel Center, where I taught Parshat Hashavua and served on the board. It's incorporated, developed and expanded in this study. It was written on a primitive writing machine, common in the bad old days, called a typewriter; whenever you wanted to correct, change or move something, you had to retype all the material. God bless IBM (Mac too!).
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One often wonders why God drives the Jews into exile, where so many are assimilated, never to return to their faith and mission. We'll explore this issue in our Vayigash study, next week, the Good Lord Willing. One aspect is that basic universal insights into life, and good ways of doing things, were lost to the Jewish people; they had to be restored via other nations who developed and retained them, before we could rebuild our land; those Jews who do return to their faith and land, besides unwanted defiling Western cultural baggage, often also bring with them, from their lands of exile, valuable knowledge and skills on how to construct a well-functioning modern society-- American pragmatic problem solving and egalitarianism, British refinement, German precision, order and discipline, Italian and French sensual development, etc.
The sponsor of this study, returnee Dr. Yehuda Lave, a U.S. business journalist and psychologist (his 29th birthday is in two weeks), is now seeking a modern religious mate; Yehuda's avocation, back in the old country, the wilds of California, was psychology, specializing in re-birthing and breathing techniques, to restore harmony and self-knowledge to stressed-out Westerners. Dr. Lave who lives in the Jewish 1/4, is now the Director of the two newest Yeshivos here in the Rova. The men's Yeshiva is called the Academy of Jersalem on Mount Zion and the women's is Machon Roni Women's Torah Center. Anybody of any age and background is welcome to drop in at any time. Yehuda is busy doing good deeds wherever he can. The Dean of the Yeshiva is the well known Touro University Lecturer, Rabbi Efraim Sprecher. Call Yehuda to find about the new programs at 654-0135, extension 7173.
P.S.: I'm sometimes original and/or inconsistant in the pronunciation, translation and tranliteration of Hebrew words; there's merit in most views and no reason to stick to any one in particular, as long as the meaning is clear-- should one wear only matching socks and cook chicken the same way every Friday night? American, Swiss and Israeli answers might differ.
A. THE BACKGROUND, AND AN OVERVIEW, OF MIKETZ-- A TIME TO BE REVEALED AND A TIME TO BE HIDDEN
Yosef's brothers seemed to have dashed his hopes and dreams of family leadership-- last week, we left him abandoned in an Egyptian prison for political prisoners. This week, his dreams are suddenly realized; he acquires vast power over Egypt and saves the whole drought-stricken region. His brothers arrive, abject-- at his mercy for their survival. His dreams of power may have been egotistic when he was still a self-centered, tho precocious, adolescent (little Vilna Gaon played kids' games, tho a budding genius-- his explanation: "ich bin fort a kind"-- "Despite it all, I'm still a kid!"). God had to put Yosef through trials of Egyptian servitude to mature him. He still cared too much about trivial superficialities, e.g. his appearance; he enjoyed his relative success in Potiphar's house, forgetting his mourning dad (see Rashi 39:6; cf. "HOW SHALL WE SING GOD'S SONG IN AN ALIEN LAND?", e.g. "Frum" concerts in Boro Park and L.A.-- Ps. 137). God then gives Yosef another dose of loving chastisement-- jail. When he emerges, he's mature; he'll now use his natural gifts of leadership to help the world and save it from ruin, rather than for self-aggrandizement; a good teacher turns a class bully into a class leader-- cf. David, Yiftach, and Begin, who led marginal castoffs, until Israel was ready to appoint them its leaders.
A precursor of Jews in many countries and eras, Yosef uses his talent and hard work to save and build an alien society; its native leaders are absorbed in pleasure orgies and power struggles. Sooner or later there arises a "new Pharoh" (or Farrahan), who forgets Jewish dedication and contributions to Egypt; he reminds the Jews, even those who eat only glatt kosher and drink only chalav yisroel, while wearing regulation black hats, that they really don't belong anywhere but in Israel.
Yosef now enters the historical arena to play his pivotal role in the Biblical drama-- mankind's trek back to Eden and forward to the Messianic Age; a common theme in Jewish lore is "hisgalut", revealing oneself, going public, after long hidden private development (cf. flowers and fruit). Fruit should not be picked long before it is ripe (unless it can ripen off the tree; so unripe children shouldn't marry and procreate). All Yosef's done and experienced until now is a prelude to his life mission-- saving the Middle East (Jews too) from starvation of both body and spirit. So Yaakov quietly develops himself for 98 years, at home and with Lavan; only then is his greatness briefly revealed as he triumphs over Lavan, the spirit of Esav and Esav. Moshe, David and Saul quietly develop kindness and leadership as shepherds, long before they lead God's flock. Elisha's a dedicated farmer, driving his workers and oxen, until he meets Eliyahu-- on the spot he slaughters his oxen, makes a farewell feast for his workers, and goes off to follow his destiny.
So Rav Nachman of Breslav suddenly drops everything, leaves his family to fend for themselves, and risks life, limb and fortune in a spiritual tour of Israel; as soon as he arrives, he feels that he's gotten its message and is ready to return. Would Jewish history have been different had he stayed and sent for his family? Had the Rebbe and Rav J. Soloveichik done so? Would Rav Nachman then have died so young? Read Curt Leviant's hypnotic fable, The Man Who Thought He Was Messiah ($25 from TOP), an imaginative account of the life of Rav Nachman of Breslav-- while Curt clearly states that his novel does NOT correspond to Rav Nachman's life as it really was, it explores one of the myriad paths he, or a similar soul, might have taken under certain circumtances, e.g. a close friendship with Beethoven, a charming passage.
Simple shepherd (later revered rabbi) Akiva develops his soul for 40 years before even entering the world of formal Torah study; but Calba Savua's daughter senses his greatness and abandons her high status to marry him; perhaps the ultra sophisticated J.I.P. girl, tho outwardly yearning for a simpler life, unconsciously marries one even more sophisticated than her parents. Little orphan Rambam and his mother, who died bearing him, were despised by his father-- emotionally deprived, he couldn't learn; once he left home, his precocious genius burst forth (Shalshelet Hakabala). The Besht was known as a kind, but simple teacher of children before his revelation as a spiritual giant; his pupils carried out his Hasidic revolution against the entrenched Ashkenazic religious milieu (unlike Saducee, Karite, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist religious revolutionists, Chasidim accepted the unity, Divinity and authority of both Written and Oral Torah; recent research shows that the Besht was indeed a respectable establishment Polish rabbi).
No one knows his ultimate task and destiny, what is being born or destroyed at a seemingly trivial or tragic moment; a butterfly in Singapore flaps its wings, eventually generating a storm in London months later. Yosef in the pit and Moshe fleeing Egypt are on their way to glory; shepherds David and Yaakov are training to become great leaders. The Jewish nation is at the brink of its messianic return to Israel in the Shoah. But Bilaam and Haman's moments of triumph, royal invitations, are but preludes to their downfall (Nobel peace prizes too?). Ours is but to live each moment with the best of our strength and character; only God knows and decides where it will lead, what is our ultimate destination. Seeking power, fun or fame in life, rather than facing each moment with maximum integrity, is ultimately self-defeating.
Life-revolution and revelation occur amidst a background of family and friends, who may or may not be prepared for one's vast changes; Yosef's brothers mocked his dreams, terrified of his power; Moshe eventually had to leave his wife; Rebbe Akiva's wife lost him for long periods to his new fame, scholarship, and politico-religious lobbying for the Jewish people in Rome; there he took a second wife-- converted former jetset Mrs. Turnus-Rufus was undoubtedly both useful and fun, his Nancy Kissenger in Caesar's court; her wealth may have bought Rachel's crown, a Jerusalem diadem of gold. The Besht's wife was apparently together with him in all he did. Little Rambam's "revelation" as a genius solved his problems with his father; he identified his Father in Heaven with his father on earth, and decided that He too only values the occasional true genius who descends to earth; everyone else exists only to take out the garbage and keep the genius company (end of his Introduction to the Mishna-- see our Chanuka study); he got along fine with his spiritual-intellectual abstract son, Avraham, who opposed marriage, but had difficulties with his daughters. Does anyone know anything, even the name, of his mother and wife?-- cf. the nameless mothers of the bride and groom on haredi wedding invitations.
Likewise, throughout Jewish history, we have periods of expansion and contraction, of outreach and inward retrenchment, of exposure and seclusion. Avraham and Sara spend a lifetime as wandering missionaries, building altars and proclaiming God's name. Yitzchak withdraws, seeking depth and discipline, rather than breadth and charisma; he consolidates and organizes his father's expansion. Great creative personalities often lack the time or patience to even set their own thoughts in print, e.g. Rav Nachman and the Besht. Yaakov, after a lifetime limited to tents of home and Torah, emerges with great impact upon the worlds of Lavan and Esav. His son Yosef completes Yaakov's outreach process, as the pious prime minister of ancient Egypt (cf. Chief Rabbi Herzog and his son, President Chayim). Yosef's sons, models for blessing our own, are the first Jews to grow up free of trauma, and (as a result?) the first Biblical Judaic brothers to get along well (cf. East European Jews and their descendants). After Egyptian slavery, the Jews emerge to transform Canaan into a model nation; tho this first effort, and its successor, ultimately fails, thousands of people in the Greek and Roman civilizations abandoned their pagan beliefs, adopting Judaism's basic Noachide moral code for non-Jews (not the Decalogue, which includes Sabbath observance, addressed only to Jews). Some even converted; once the Temple was destroyed and Israel exiled, Judaism's popularity waned. Christianity then combined popular Jewish teachings with Greek and Roman anti-semitism, gaining many adherants (Prof. Irving Agus-- one of my favorite teachers at Y.U., who drove a snazzy 1949 Caddy too).
After the catastrophic destruction of the Temple and exile to Rome, Scarsdale, L.A., etc., Jews focused on survival for 1900 years; amidst constant efforts to destroy their body and soul-- from Crusaders to Cossacks, from the Inquisition to Luther to the Holocaust to PLO, from Hellenism to Woodstock-- they generally forgot about teaching non-Jews. Now we're back in Israel, amidst a much more open and tolerant world; individuals and groups are again teaching the non-Jewish world about Judaism and its message to them (see our Bnei Noach materials and IJ's article on Vendyl Jones-- 12/6/96). As the messianic era approaches, our model may be Yosef (the letters of "Yosef" = 156 = the sum of the letters of "Zion"), the Jew who combines worldly excellence with spiritual outreach, constantly trying to reconnect Man to God and his fellow man; Israel shall not only export agritech and laser scalpels, but: MANY PEOPLE SHALL GO AND SAY: "LET'S GO UP TO THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD, TO THE HOUSE OF YAAKOV'S LORD; HE'LL TEACH US OF HIS WAYS, AND WE'LL WALK IN HIS PATHS. FOR FROM ZION THE TORAH SHALL GO FORTH, AND THE WORD OF GOD FROM JERUSALEM"-- Is. 2:3. Missionaries please note: You're to learn from learned Jews, not teach them. They'll teach you to approach the infinite non-physical God directly-- forget Jesus; he'd probably be shocked and horrified at his deification by pagans, after his death. While Yaakov Emden (printed at the end of Sefer Hashimush) and Rav Riskin (A Jewish View of Jesus-- a top video) view him as a great teacher, Rambam, as most persecuted Jews (in his Letter to the Jews of Yemen), considered him a Torah traitor, who tried to take Jews away from God's Torah.
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We celebrate Purim, our sudden physical salvation, with one day of intense but holy physical celebration-- sharing our food and drink. On Chanuka, we commemorate our escape from spiritual annihilation, from the depths of assimilation to alien values within Israel (cf. Eilat, ITV, and Shulamit Aloni-- she taught Tanach in the Jewish Quarter's secular girl's school in 1948, while defending it with the Hagana; when her opponent Golda's Labor Party refused her a place on its list, she formed her own party, and garnered 30M+ votes, 3 seats; she shares the ultra-haredi passionate view of Israel-- a modern secular state, completely detached from Torah). We slowly but surely increase the number of our soul-candles to 8, a symbol of transcendence, while chanting hallel, songs of praise to God. Yet most of the day is spent like any other, tho Chanuka hovers in the background. Spiritual growth, as physical, CANNOT be an instant process-- it's a slow cumulative culmination of moments of insight, amidst survival routines of everyday life. Hanuka is the festival of winter, when all seems bleak and dead, but is really slowly preparing for a new greater spurt of life (cf. modern chaos theory)--
"`It came to pass, AT THAT TIME, that Yehuda went down from his brothers...' (internal yerida-- 38:1); Rav Shmuel, son of Nachman, commenced thus: `For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says God' (Jer. 29:11). The tribal ancestors were occupied with the sale of Yosef, (other versions add: Yosef with his sackcloth and fasting, Reuven with his-- for trying to control his father's personal life), Yaakov with his sackcloth and fasting, and Yehuda with taking a wife-- while the Holy One, blessed be He, was creating the light of King Messiah (Gen. Raba 85:1)". Rav Y. Hadari explained the Midrash-- AT THAT TIME, as at every moment, each act of repentence, mourning and procreation was a needed note in God's grand symphony of Messianic redemption; no one knows the possible far-reaching impact of his/her every word and deed-- cf. the "butterfly effect". Rav Kook notes that even sinful acts eventually advance God's purposes, howbeit via a detour. Yet we pray each day that we not strive in vain, nor give birth to confusion. How indeed did God begin to bring Messiah in the wake of widower Yehuda's mixed-up marriage?--
Yehuda turned to an unknown wayside prostitute (before AIDS), after being comforted for the death of his wife-- she may have died due to the loss of their first 2 sons-- 38:15f; the prostitute was his twice-widowed double daughter-in-law Tamar, who felt impelled to carry his Messianic seed. First he made sure that she wasn't idolatrous, married or menstruant, per Rav Shmuel bar Nachmani-- Sota 10a; but there were no laws of nida menstruation before Sinai; even after Sinai, they applied only to Jewish women, until subsequent rabbinic legislation. Yehuda left his signet ring, garment (see The Living Torah for possible interpretations of p'tiel) and staff with Tamar, security for her payment (how, indeed, could he trust her with them? Why didn't he just give her some money, rather than promising a young kid of the flocvk? Perhaps sexual passion can distort the judgment of even the greatest of men). Twins-- Paretz, ancestor of David and Moshiah, and Zarach-- were thus conceived by Yehuda and Tamar, who had no more children. Rambam prohibits common law marriage today, unlike Ramban and Rosh; but he sees nothing wrong with single people consorting prior to Sinai-- M. T. Ishut 1:4; Yehuda was apparantly also pro-life in that, unlike his sons, he didn't try to prevent Tamar's pregnancy; we don't read of his remarriage, but some say that he stayed with Tamar.
Experiments on monkeys at Yale established the strong need for maternal physical affection; without it, little monkeys died; even a cloth mother was a bit of compensation-- cf. lonely folks hugging their pillows. When one grows older, his wife replaces his mother as the source of such affection, amidst the trials and tribulations of life; when she dies, as Ms. Yehuda, or cruelly denies him her body, depression, anger, frequenting prostitutes, rape or incest may result. My favorite Reading, Pa. N.E.J.H. teacher always defended us Jewish kids against our anti-semitic history teacher; I lost him mid-term-- he was fired when charged with rape, after his young wife died. Women, created with greater serenity and security, "like His own personality", may also internalize their own hopefully good mothers, giving them greater innate strength and security-- they become their own mothers too; women, especially young, still developing, teen-age girls, also naturally turn to other women, themselves nurturing mother figures, with far more physical affection than is generally found among males. The talmud predicts emotional and spiritual disaster for he who lives w/o a woman, but not v.v. Lonely widows fare far better than lonely widowers. Tho males aren't such great nurturers, as God indicates by their non-functional breasts, they still can feel that they're important indispensable family members if they're the prime providers, defenders, and public activists; thus modern feminist egalitarianism in these realms, tho well intended, can destroy males' self-image, the family, and civilization (Harvard Prof. George Gilder, in Sexual Suicide).
Chanuka commemorates the "days of Matisyahu & Sons"-- as Yosef, they shaped their age and set Israel back on the long slow road of return to Eden. Spiritual redemption is a slow but steady process of education. It takes much longer to get Egypt out of Jews than Jews out of Egypt; one may become an on-fire baal tshuva, finding even the most sacred society not "frum" enough; but his inner self may remain very pagan in its essence; his outward piety may not be a strong enough foundation to found a grounded self-perpetuating religious family. Rav J. Soloveichik noted that "returnees", baalei tshuva, traditionally adopted a somewhat broken, very humble, self-image, constantly aware of where they had been, of their spiritual scars; today, they're often arrogant, accusing those whose families have been religious for generations of not being sufficiently strict and zealous. So Avraham sacrifices Yitzchak's body only symbolically, via the ram; he then slowly "sacrifices", brings near, to God his essence, his mind and soul.
Rav Mattis Weinberg (Patterns In Time, Vol. 8, $20 from TOP) notes that the greatest darkness of Yavan (Hellenistic culture) is the veneer it provides for Esav, merging his power and technology with beauty and cultural conquest. Yosef is the Tzadik, mirror image of Yavan. This beautiful and youthful king of "chan" (total integration of reality) created his empire as an ideal-- to ultimately fuse the nations to serve God. Greek civilization loses its "chan"; its egotistic individualism clashes with total order and peace (cf. the arts, sheker ha'chen, false grace and spirituality, Prov. 31:30). Yosef finds within his own being a holy individual, a tzadik, the source of good for all creation.
Let not the wisdom of the Greeks beguile you-- Which has no fruit, only flowers (Yehuda Halevi, Selected Poems, 16).
B. A SYNOPSIS OF MIKETZ
Salvation is of the Lord (Yona 2:10; cf. Jer. 3:23, Ps. 3:9).
Two years have passed since Yosef the Dreamer correctly interpreted the dreams of Sir Drinking and Sir Baking; he remains in jail, forgotten by Sir Drinking; his own dreams of leadership seem farfetched. Suddenly his troubles end-- Miketz-- in an unpredictable manner (cf. Loto and Toto). Pharoh has two dreams-- seven cows and ears of corn, top quality, are consumed by seven others, which look terrible, as he stands by the Nile. The bad cows didn't even improve! He's upset-- no one can interpret his dreams; Sir Drinking now recalls Yosef's skill. Until now, he probably erased Yosef's name from all records, that his own prison term not be recalled; now it's to his advantage to use Yosef to relieve Pharoh's distress. Yosef is suddenly taken out of jail, cleaned up, dressed up, and brought before Pharoh to hear his dreams; he explains that God is warning Pharoh that, quite soon, 7 years of famine will follow 7 years of plenty; he gives unsolicited advice and tells Pharoh to appoint a wise man to put aside 20% of the abundant forthcoming crops for the bad years.
Pharoh sees God's spirit in Yosef, decides that he's the wisest man for the job, and gives him royal status and power. Yosef Jacobson, now 30, called T.P., Tzafnat Panach, marries Asnot, daughter of Rev. Poti-Phera; he has two sons as he stores food for the coming famine. He calls the first Manasha-- "God made me forget (nashani) all my troubles and ALL my father' house", the second Efrayim-- "God's made me fruitful (hefrani) in the land of my AFFLICTION" (41:51-2; see E. below). Only Egypt had food in the regional famine; Yosef sold it to both Egyptians and foreigners, including his brothers; Benyamin, whom Yaakov feared to send, stayed home. Tho Yosef recognized them, he didn't reveal himself; he spoke roughly to them, after they bowed down to him. Remembering his dreams, he accused them of being spies and imprisoned them for 3 days; they told him that they were all sons of one father, not a spy team; the youngest was home. He released all but Shimon, whom he bound in their presence.
Yosef wept, unseen, when he heard them lament, attributing their troubles to selling him years ago. He demanded they bring down Benyamin to prove they were a family, not a spy network. Yosef sent them back to Canaan with ample food, but secretly put their money back in their sacks. They were frightened when Levi (per Rashi) found his money on the way, even more so when all did so, upon their return. Perhaps only 1 sack was opened to feed all the donkeys, or 1 donkey needed extra food, or only one sack was opened to where the money was secreted (Ramban). Yet they later tell Yosef that all found their money at the dotel (43:21).
Broken Yaakov hasn't been called Yisrael, reflecting his higher essence, after Yosef's seeming death; he berates his sons for losing Shimon and for mentioning Benyamin to T.P.; he refuses to send Benyamin on the next trip, tho impetuous Reuven makes a shocking oath that his own 2 sons, Yaakov's grandsons, should die if he doesn't bring Benjy back! Yaakov later deprives him of leadership for his impetuosity. Yehuda and worse famine finally persuade him, as they'll all starve otherwise. Yehuda takes full responsibility for Benyamin; they leave with handsome gifts for T.P. As grieving Yaakov forces himself to let them go, his name suddenly becomes Yisrael again. When they arrive, Yosef's steward says that he already has their money; together with Shimon, they dine with Yosef, alias T.P. They present their present and bow to him. T.P. has a good cry in his chamber when he sees and blesses Benyamin; they sit and feast apart from the Egyptians, who won't eat with Ivrim, here probably meaning "outsiders" (Rashbam). There are no Jews in the world yet, just Yaakov's family. Onkelos guesses that the Egyptians couldn't take eating with those who ate their animal gods! (so gentle vegetarian ladies, who have no brothers and thus don't understand men, might feel uncomfortable sitting with robust males, while the latter passionately consume steaks and sausages). The brothers are astonished at being placed according to age; Benyamin gets a fivefold portion, as they all get high on drink (a model for farbrengen?).
Again their money is secretly secreted with the food in their sacks; T.P.'s special goblet is placed in Benyamin's sack; all are peacefully sent home. Rav Yehuda Henkin asks why Yosef assumed that they wouldn't immediately check their sacks. He answers: Yosef got them drunk (43:34) and quickly sent them away, with a hangover, the next morning (44:1). His steward pursues and catches them, before they get their wits together; he "finds" the cup, after they say that he who stole it shall die (as Yaakov proclaimed re Lavan's missing terafim), and that they'll all be Yosef's slaves. Yosef's superior intelligence ran rings around his brothers (cf. Rav Yosef Soloveichik, The Viln Gaon, and The Ragochaver Rov, vis-a-vis other "g'dolim"). The brothers tear their clothes and return to T.P.'s house, tho his steward said that Benyamin's brothers could all depart. They fall before Yosef; Yehuda pleads that Yosef take them all as slaves-- God's punished them for their sin. T.P. generously takes only Benyamin as his slave-- his brethren may return. But now they won't abandon Benyamin, tho his capture wasn't their fault.
All Jews are sureties for one another (Sifra 112a, to Lev. 26:37; Shavuot 39a).
C. THE HAFTARA is I KINGS III:15-IV:1
There is no bad mother, and no good death (a foolish Yiddish proverb, quoted by I. Bernstein, Judische Sprichworter, 1908).
Solomon decides to divide by sword a disputed surviving baby between 2 alleged mothers, after one baby died; he then decides the real (or best?) mother is she who'd rather give him up than have him die. Per Abarbanel, she who lay on her baby and smothered it had murderous instincts, reflected in her agreement to divide the other baby. Thus God answered Shlomo's plea for wisdom and Divinity, expressed in his preceding dream; He also gave him honor and wealth, tho he didn't request them. Length of years and succession to his throne, however, were still dependent on his conduct as king. Both Yosef and Shlomo, wise and kind rulers, could also be tough, to insure justice and repentance. Were both emotionally deprived?-- David was probably too busy to devote much time and attention to his children; Yosef lost his mother as a child and suffered so much from his brothers. We might interpret Shlomo's statement-- THE MORE WISDOM, THE MORE PAIN-- as referring to the causes, not just the consequences, of introspection and study; see The Grandmothers' Club, Alan Cheuse, for how I-It family relations and tragic events cast their shadow for generations. So Yehuda's wife has no name, no individuality; he just "saw, took (married?) and consorted with" Canaanite (see ICh2:3) Shua's daughter, possibly a good business connection (cf. Yehuda's descendant David's seeing and taking of Bat Sheva, also called Bat Shua in ICh3:5); cf. his descendant Shlomo's "politically correct" foreign wives.
If Miketz is a Shabbat of Chanukah, we read Zech. 2:14-4:7 (Shabbat I) or I Kings 7:40-52 (Shabbat II). The former is Zecharia's vision of the ultimate Jewish menora, casting Israelight upon the whole world-- HE'LL AGAIN CHOOSE JERUSALEM... NOT BY MILITARY FORCE AND NOT BY PHYSICAL STRENGTH, BUT BY MY SPIRIT, SAYS GOD OF HOSTS (will be the victory-- cf. today). The latter Haftara describes preparation of the menora minyan and other vessels for Temple #1, which didn't live up to its image, symbolized by pure gold.
Mine is the silver, and Mine the gold (Haggai 2:8).
D. SOME ??? TO PONDER
Ask and learn (I Macc. 10:72)
WHY DIDN'T T.P. (NEE YOSEF) EVER DROP A POSTCARD TO YAAKOV (Dear Dad, doing great in Egypt, Don't worry, love, Yossie; when I taught at NCSY, I exhibited such a giant postcard, bearing Egyptian stamps)? WHY DIDN'T HE REVEAL HIMSELF TO HIS BROTHERS RIGHT AWAY? WHY DID HE AFFLICT THEM-- TAKING SHIMON, RETURNING THEIR MONEY, AND ENSLAVING BENYAMIN? HOW DO THE JEWISH PEOPLE REPLICATE YOSEF'S REDEMPTION? WHY IS YAAKOV CALLED YISRAEL AGAIN, WHEN HE SENDS OFF BENYAMIN? WHY NOTE THAT YOSEF'S KIDS ARE BORN "BEFORE THE FAMINE"? WHY DOES YOSEF FORGET HIS FATHER'S HOUSE? DOES T.P. OBSERVE MITZVOS? WHY DOES YOSEF GIVE PHAROH UNSOLICITED ADVICE? WHY DOES GOD SEND THE JEWS TO EGYPT? SHOULD YOSEF HAVE ASKED THE BUTLER TO REMEMBER HIM? WHAT DO MINISTERS OF DRINKING AND BAKING TELL US ABOUT EGYPT? WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF DREAMS AND THEIR INTERPRETATION? DO YOSEF'S DESCENDANTS FULFILL HIS DREAMS FOR THEM? COULD YOU INTERPRET PHAROH'S DREAMS? WHY COULDN'T HIS OWN SAGES?
One fool can ask what a thousand sages can't answer (Contentious Yaakov Emden, Torat HaKanaut, 1752, ch. 9).
E. SOME APPROACHES TO THE ??
A wise man's ? is half the answer (Ibn Gavirol, Mivchar HaPeninim, c. 1050, #3, Lokman).
Ramban: Yosef didn't want to contact the folks back home, for that would prevent his dreams (that they ALL bow to him) from being fulfilled. Abarbanel disagrees-- let God worry about your dreams; you just end your father's suffering! Per some Midrashim, the brothers swore God and everyone else (Yitzchak and Yosef himself too!) to secrecy in the matter. But is such an oath to maintain a deception, breaking Yaakov, valid? Abrabanel first proposes that Yosef felt that he would always bear a grudge against his brothers, unless he could take his revenge and punish them; he patiently awaited the opportunity to do so.
Far more appealing is his 2nd view, that Yosef awaited opportune circumstances TO CAUSE THE BROTHERS TO REPENT for hating him, as beloved Rachel's son. Sad tho Yaakov might be, he'd be still sadder were quarrels and possible bloodshed to arise again. Yosef waits, knowing that his father will thus be happier in the end (he indeed was). But he also fears that Yaakov may die in grief, before his sons eventually reconcile. Thus he keeps asking his brothers if Yaakov is still alive, and how he is faring. He may thus also express his uncertainty that his dream of the sun and moon, his father and mother, bowing to him will come true. Indeed it doesn't, unless "bowing down" is interpreted as dependence upon him, and unless his "mother" refers to Bilhah, who raised him. Per Hirsch, Yosef must show his brothers his power, that they see his kindness in not using it; they'll then realize how they misjudged his leadership aims; a weak person's "niceness" may be self-serving, to placate potential enemies. So when a STRONG Israel will use its energies to redeem mankind, its motives and sincerity will be beyond question. So Avraham is praised for being BOTH strong and God-fearing (25:7, Rashi), and Sara for being BOTH beautiful and righteous (23:1, per Rashi). Perhaps Yosef didn't want his family to know that he was enslaved, lest his brothers quarrel, blaming each other; once he ruled Egypt, he didn't tell them, lest they flee, fearing retribution (Responsa Chachmei Tzurfat 141).
Yosef may want to simply forget his family, who so abused him; even Yaakov was responsible for his sale, in sending him to his hate-filled brothers; Yaakov sowed the field of jealousy by promoting Yosef's leadership-- giving him a coat of royalty and exempting him from tending sheep. Yosef names his #1 son Menasha, for "The Lord (of nature and judgement) made me forget all my affliction and all my father's house" (41:50; mistranslated "...even my father's house" in The Living Torah); but he named his #2 son Efrayim (41:51), "...because the Lord has made me fruitful IN THE LAND OF MY AFFLICTION (Anyie, mistranslated as "...of my troubles" in The Living Torah)".
A BIT OF TECHNICAL SCHOLARSHIP: Onkelos translates eretz anyie as "land of my slavery"; this is difficult, as harsh slavery is a separate catagory from "einoi", affliction, in Deut. 26:6, where Onkelos doesn't translate the term at all; the hagada takes "Anyeinu", "our affliction or suffering", in Deut. 26:7, as forced sexual separtion of Jewish couples, tho it takes "...they afflicted us..., Vay'anunu", Deut. 26:6, as referring to heavy tax burdens. Perhaps Onkelos is not translating Anyie here, as in Deut. 26:6, assuming that his reader knows the literal meaning, "affliction"; but he just explains that Joseph's Egyptian "affliction" was, in fact, his slavery.
A BROADER MESSAGE?: While Yosef may refer only to his unfortunate beginnings in Egypt, he may indeed imply that, now too, he's trapped and afflicted in an "alien land", a gilded bird cage, no matter how fruitful, how rich and powerful, he may be; so Yaakov proclaimed: "I was a stranger with Lavan". Later Moshe, who grew up in Pharoh's palace, also realizes that he never truly felt part of Egypt; he names his son born in Midian "Gershom", reminding himself that he was alienated in an alien land (Ex. 22). When Yosef finally sees his family, he realizes that he belongs with them, despite their many problems and obnoxious behavior toward him (cf. Israel today). So R. Akiva concludes that fish (Jews) are better off in the difficult sea (Jewish history and Israel) than on dry land (assimilation and exile)! So American Jews, after at least a subconscious experience of Shabbat, eat lox on Sunday morning, reminding themselves that they too, like the salmon, must return to their homeland, no matter how dangerous, to perpetuate their kind.
Yosef first imprisons Shimon, who tried to kill him, and most needs repentance. Yosef also makes all his brothers suffer, until they attribute their misfortune to their cruelty toward him. Repentant Yehuda, who proposed selling Yosef, now offers to be imprisoned in place of Benyamin, who had replaced Yosef as Yaakov's favorite (i.e. Rachelian) son.
Yosef is a model for the Jewish people, who will first undergo normal physical, economic and political redemption by Yosef's Messiah, before spiritual redemption by David's Messiah of Yehuda's tribe; some thought that Yosef's Material Meshiach was Herzl (see his eulogy by Rav A. Kook), inspired by the Macabees to renew Jewish strength-- see his poem. The courage to risk all and keep going in crisis, as when Benyamin is sent to Egypt, is Yaakov-Yisrael's strength thru history. So Herzl was willing to postpone his own great Zionist dream, to save the lives of Russian Jews in Uganda. The Rabbis teach that one should not procreate during famine, even if well off personally, as Yosef. Authorities differ on the binding quality of this rule; they make exceptions if one hasn't yet fulfilled the command of paternity, and after a period of separation of husband and wife (Taanit 11a and Tos.; Orach Chayim 574:4); some say that Yosef agreed with those much later authorities who hold that male children suffice for the basic commandment of procreation!
But it's unlikely that renowned Yosef kept Jewish law and ritual, then not obligatory (YF vs. Hirsch); had he done so, the P.M.'s odd behavior would be publicized everywhere; his brothers would have identified him-- probably only their family and a few hangers-on, fellow travelers, observed mitzvos. Yosef is indeed deemed the true tzadik (tho, as Shimon Hatzadik, his descendants aren't so good), but in an interprersonal moral sense, rather than ritually. Yosef, as Yaakov berating the lazy shepherds, always tries to improve life and, unasked, advises Pharoh. Judaism doesn't share the modern belief that everyone's life is his own affair, nor the eastern belief that we can't change our horrible world. We're all in the same boat-- a hole in your end will eventually drown me (Rashby)! The traits displayed in the sale of Yosef and his childlike bragging had to be eradicated by exile, before Israel could take over Israel.
Some say it was common sense for Yosef to ask the butler's help; an ordinary person SHOULD indeed do so; but Yosef should rely on his higher pure faith to get out of jail (Bais Halevi); but midrashim state that Yaakov didn't just pray, but also prepared for war and tried to appease Esav (Tanchuma, quoted by Rashi on 32:8). Per R. Bachye (40:14), Yosef sinned in PLEADING with Sir Drink, rather than just telling him what happened. Confiding in such an unreliable character shows lack of faith, desperation, grasping at straws (Chazan Ish). Perhaps righteous Yosef sholdn't benefit from the wicked , lest he attribute his salvation to them. So God warns Lavan not to speak even good re Yaakov.
Rav Yaakov Ariel expertly explored faith in God vs. personal initiative in B'ahava U'b'emuna last year; tho all the articles are fine, reflecting a balanced religious Zionist viewpoint, Machon's Meir's weekly sheet is not a study of parshat hashavua-- his was the only article dealing with the parsha as such.
"At a superficial level, to a bystander not acquainted with the Jewish faith, it could seem that faith opposes any personal initiative. The believer is obliged to have faith in Hashem and to abstain, as much as possible, it would seem, from any activity on his part, as if any human action is liable to ruin the Divine plans (YF: But trying taking $10 out of the pocket of any haredi, who advocates only faith and passivity in the face of Arab threats). It would even seem that we could find an example of such an approach in our parsha. Yosef is punished, according to Chazal, his prison sentence being extended by another two years, because he relied on the butler's assistance, and did not rely on Hashem" (which Chazal and where?-- the lack of exact citations is a major drawback in a study sheet, similar to the lack of an index in a book-- the source is only Rashi on 40:23; he does not cite Chazal, only Psalm 40:5-- "Happy is the man who makes the Lord his trust, and turns not to the arrogant"-- i.e. does not turn to the Egyptians, who are called arrogant; cf. Is. 30:7); Genesis Raba (88:7) claims that God made the butler forget Yosef's plight. Ariel cites Jeremiah (but no chapter and verse): "Cursed be the man who relies on man and puts his strength in flesh... Blessed is the man who relies on Hashem and Hashem is his fortress..." (YF: it's Jer. 17:5-8).
He continues: "The truth, however, is more profound than this... On Chanuka, we find Matityahu and his sons praiseworthy for raising the flag of rebellion against the Hellenists, fighting them courageously, with daring and resourcefulness, and not relying on a miracle. Their faith did not paralyze them and did not make them passive, relying on a miracle that Hashem would fight for them. On the contrary, it was their faith that spurred them on to battle, which gave them strength and courage. There is no other war of the people of Israel, whose motivation was as spiritual as the Hasmonean war. No one can have any doubt about their pure faith and their religious devotion.
The key to this complex ? is in the words of Yosaef to Pharoh: Without me, God will answer Pharoh's peace-- Yosef did not see himself as a dream interpreter. Hashem is the One who does this, and He has many messengers. Yosef is not the only one. So, when Yosef deciphers Pharoh's dream, he suggests: `Pharoh should do the following and set officers... and they should collect all food... and accumulate grain...' (YF-- 41:35), AFTER he had said: `For it is correct from God and God will do it speedily' (YF-- 41:32). If God is doing it speedily, why should Pharoh, a human, be so quick? It is specifically because God is doing it so speedily that Pharoh must fulfill His Will and do it speedily.
If Yosef had spoken to the butler in the same fashion, emphasizing Hashem's Will and suggesting that the butler be Hashem's messenger, without dependinmg entirely on him (YF: Who says he did?), Yosef would not have transgressed at all! However, the butler could have inferred from Yosef's words that the matter was dependent entirely on him, since Yosef said to him: `...and YOU shall take me out of this house...' (YF-- 41:14); it was for this mistaken impression, including desecration of God's Name, that Yosef was punished" (YF: Jeremiah indeed adds: "...who turns his thoughts away from God" (17:5).
Yosef, as most people, has both good (Yehoshua) and bad (Y'ruvum) descendants (see Rashi, 41:55); Efrayim, Northern Israel, was first to be exiled. Pharoh & Co. can't see the obvious meaning of the king's dreams due to an emotional block-- could famine come from their Nile god? This would destroy their basic faith and weltanschauung. So we often ignore signs of corruption in our own children and religious community.
YOSEF VS. DANIEL, IN THE FOODIES' DEN: Yosef wanted to "circumcise Egypt", to increase their I-thou sexual sensitivity, to pull them out of orgiastic life, to transform a society where mere food preparers are "Sir Wine and Sir Bread" (a low life society idolizes sport and cinema heroes and cafes, rather than saints, scholars and shuls). Then their grain will not rot. Human nature is reflected in the condition of the earth, e.g. Noach's flood. So AIDS Day should stress return to normal family life, the only "safe" sex.
Very talented and very treif Daniel Rogov portrays his own chevra, "foodies", people "very, very, very interested in food", people who "would talk about food at any gathering, salivating over restaurants or recipes", convinced that food is an art, on a level with painting or drama (quoting The Official Foodie Handbook, by Ann Barr and Paul Levy, in the JP Magazine, 12/6/96-- perhaps he was trying to justify the Magazine's bumping Book Reviews to Thursday, while devoting 4 full pages to food, including Rogov's well-written, but often treif, recipes and restaurant reviews-- they did tshuva and restored the book reviews to Friday recently). But, thank God, Israel, tho inundated by Western sensual and materialist decadence, also has many "anti-foodies", people who simply cannot understand why Rogov & Co. devote so much time, effort and money to the search for, and enjoyment of, fine food (YF: It winds up either in the toilet, or adding fat to the body, eventually consumed by worms in the grave; Judaism focuses on the eternal and transcendental, while giving the body all it needs, including a bit of pleasure, in this world).
Rogov complains that anti-foodies cannot comprehend that talking about food has become a staple of sophisticated social intercourse; but he confuses sophisticated with decadent and superficial; truly sophisticated folks primarily converse about far more profound matters, e.g. Torah, psychology, philosophy, politics, science, etc. Psychologists show how unnecessary and unhealthful food consumption is a form of self-love for those who feel unworthy, lacking love from others; it is also often suicidal. "He who multiplies flesh, multiplies (and brings on faster?) worms (in the grave-- Avot 2:8). In When Food is Love, Geneen Roth explores the relationship between eating and intimacy, for which eating is a substitute; crucial issues surround compulsive eating: need for control, dependency on melodrama, desire for what is forbidden, and the belief that one wrong move can mean catastrophe.She shows why many people overeat in an attempt to satisfy their emotional hunger, and why weight loss frequently just uncovers a new set of problems. But her welcome message is that the cycle of compulsive behavior can be stopped. This book can help readers break destructive, self-perpetuating patterns and learn to satisfy all the hungers-- physical and emotional-- that make us human (see also her other books, Feeding the Hungry Heart and Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating). Of course, it is not fair to label all "foodies" compulsive eaters, tho many are.
In the Aleynu prayer, we find the eventual tikkun for "foodies", "people of the flesh"-- they will converse with God's name, recognize Him as the source of their food, via kashrut and brachot, transforming their sensual death experience into an eternal one of holiness; one truly aware that God has provided his gourmet dinner, which must be prepared per His rules, will experience it quite differently than a mere secular foodie. His conversations, even about food, will then be truly sophisticated. Indeed, one who consumes just one small Carvel cone not only with gusto, but also with awe, love and gratitude toward He Who constructed His world such that we can make Carvel cones, may have a far higher religious experience, and be a much happier and more loving human being, than he who solves a difficult technical problem in Tosafot, with little spirituality or God awareness. May Grand Rabbi Rogev be revealed soon!
Rogov also mentions, but, unfortunately, does not emulate Celestine Benditte-Strauss, who owned the prestigious and popular trief gourmet Restaurant Cercle in Lyon from 1850-1878. But this daughter of the chief rabbi of Lyon observed kashrut and never tasted the dishes prepared in her own restaurant-- except fresh pineapples. Lyon Jews enjoy her recipe for Pineapple Fritters on Chanuka; but Polish Yiddish writer Y. L. Peretz preferred Dutch coconut fritters. Rogov gives the recipes for both.
MIKETZ IS READ CLOSE TO CHANUKAH; GOD PUTS AN "END" TO THE "JAIL" OF SECULAR DARKNESS, DAYS GET LONGER, AND LIGHTS EMERGE (Rav Eli Munk, great Lady Jacobovitz's great dad).
ALUFEI YEHUDA (Freind): there's automatic soul connection between people, feelings of one somehow sensed by the other (ESP?). Thus Yaakov's to stay with Lavan until YOUR BROTHER'S ANGER PASSES FROM YOU-- Once you no longer feel negative about him, you'll know that he too no longer hates you! God waits 2 years, so that the butler forget Yosef and Yosef him; then Yosef's soul will not be tied to his, and he'll recommend Yosef only out of self-interest. TWO YEARS, SHNATAYIM, bears a chanuka messsage-- it's the first letters of the Hebrew: LEFTWARD YOU SHALL LIGHT CANDLES AND (place) MEZUZA ON THE RIGHT! In the world of true light, one can approach God also from the left, representing justice, not just from the right, representing mercy. Our contemporary political terminology reverses the symbols.
My salvation depends upon me alone (Eleazer ben Dordia, A.Z. 17a).
A man's dreams are an index to his greatness (Z. Rabinowitz, Pri Tzadik, 1906, re Gen. 28:12).
Visions of the future are Yosef's forte-- BEHOLD THE MASTER OF DREAMS COMES (Gen. 37:19). His great all-encompassing soul blends this world of limits with the Infinite. He's #1 son to Yaakov, himself recipient of 2 Divine dreams. Dreams can be of internal and/or external origins. They may express one's experience of life, but also may act as a conduit for the soul's connection with God; they then transmit visions of things actually transpiring on an ultramundane plane, and His prophetic warnings and assuring revelations (one may not seek such connections via magic). The Zohar (holy to hasidim, profane to Yemenite Rav Yichye Kapach's Dor Deah movement) sees all humans connected to transcendent worlds of good and evil, determining their dreams. There souls aren't bound to bodies, nor are forces and concepts restricted to particular expressions in this world. One's dreams measure his greatness (Pri Tzadik on Gen. 28:12-- Pharoh & Co., foodies, only dream of food).
Genesis focuses upon dreams of Divine origin, e.g. God's warning to Avimelech (20:3): "LOOK, YOU'RE A DEAD MAN, BECAUSE OF THE WOMAN YOU'VE TAKEN" (Sarah); he argues with God (apparently while awake), Who replies in a second dream. He similarly warns Lavan and Bilaam, and tells Nevuchadnetzer of the future in Daniel 2 & 4. Gideon acts on a dream of his victory, by a Midianite soldier (Judges 7:13f)-- but it may reflect only the soldier's own inner weakness and fear. R. Yochanan claims that automatically reciting a verse upon early rising is minor prophecy (Ber. 55a). A dream is an incomplete prophecy (Genesis Raba 17:5).
Dreams can also be of human origin-- their study is scientific; talmudic passages which allude to them don't have the status and authority of Torah tradition (see Avraham b. Maimon, Introd. to Agada, printed as a preface to Ein Yaakov). Freud's discovery of repressed primal Oedipal drives, source of the intellectual gesture, clothed in symbolic dreams, is anticipated by: ONE WHO DREAMS OF INTERCOURSE WITH HIS MOTHER WILL BE WISE and ONE WHO DREAMS OF INTERCOURSE WITH HIS SISTER WILL HAVE DEEP INSIGHT (Ber. 57a). Thus one quickly forgets her dreams once awake (keep a notebook and pen by your bedside, and struggle to write them down immediately upon awakening). Dreams are like a microscope, thru which we look at hidden occurences in our soul (Fromm, The Foreign Language, 167).
Some dreams simply resolve the day's emotional conflicts. If one's REM (Rapid Eye Movement) dream sleep is interrupted, tho he otherwise sleeps a lot, neurotic symptoms soon appear. We may sleep IN ORDER TO dream! Great humans (less inner conflict, more drive) need less sleep. Depressed ones overeat and oversleep. R. Yochanan derives from Daniel that A MAN IS SHOWN (in a dream) ONLY WHAT IS IN HIS OWN THOUGHTS (55b); dreams reflect experience and reality per Rava: KNOW THAT A MAN IS NEVER SHOWN A GOLDEN PALM TREE NOR AN ELEPHANT PASSING THRU THE EYE OF A NEEDLE! (55b-- really?)
A dream not interpreted is like a letter (from God?) not read (Ber. 55a). The understanding of dreams, ONEIROCRITICISM, and divination thru dreams, ONEIROMANCY, often requires unravelling of their symbolic images. Per Ber. 56a, skilled interpretors can DETERMINE the dreamer's fate by any PLAUSIBLE interpretation. A prophetic dream is a FORCE, which can be harnessed for good or evil, not just a message. Rava lost his wife, children, health, fame, and fortune for not paying master interpretor Bar Hedia; Abaye got his money's worth! (Why didn't they go to their equivalent of Baba Salla?). Yosef's dreams' fulfillment took 22 years. All 24 interpretations of R. Banaa's dream came true (56a)! Only certain dreams will be fulfilled-- AM dreams, those dreamt about another, and a dream interpreted within a dream (55b). Dreams are 1/60 of prophecy (57b).
Before Shlomo successfully prays for wisdom in his dream at Givon (IK3:5-15, a prelude to our Haftara), he foolishly marries Ms. Pharoh (would Rav Shach or The Rebbe do such a thing?); he drinks and dances all night and falls fast asleep, not opening the Temple for morning services. Bat Sheva bawls him out in Prov. 31:1-9 (Chief Rabbi Lau knows it by heart)-- his/her response or continuation is Ashet Chayil, Ode to the Woman of Valor. Ulla (Ber. 8a) attributes Shlomo's negligence to the departure of his revered teacher, Shimei b. Gera, whom he killed, per David's advice! Not only a dream interpretor, but even a sage, may be corrupt, deserving death!-- don't automatically assume that talmudic acumen and ritual piety are the sole criteria of Torah leadership, of "g'dolim", of whom your daughter should marry. Also, the sons of saints/rebbes may not be saints/rebbes; Shimon Hatzadek appointed his younger son, Chonion, as the next high priest. Shimon's jealous older son, Shimei II, drove him from Israel and set up an idolatrous temple in Egypt. One of Chacham Bernay's (Hirsch's rebbe) sons became Conservative, another Christian, and his pious granddaughter Martha married pagan Sigmund Freud. Look for personal character, rather than talmudic status, in choosing mates for your kids (but they probably will choose their own these days, as did Rav J. Soloveichik, usually ignoring such irrelevant criteria).
Parallel to false and evil prophets are false dreams (see Jer. 23:25, Zech. 10:2). Rashby, R. Berechia, and R. Hisda note that all dreams have SOME extraneous, superfluous, and unfulfilled material (Ber. 55a-- Yosef's parents never bow down to him!). Yoel 3:1 predicts that all Jews will have prophetic dreams in the world to come. Ben Sira (31:1ff) denounces belief in dreams, which uplift fools. Speaking of Ben Sira, let's depart for
AN INTERESTING DIGRESSION: After the Mishna (San. 11:1 in the Babylonian Talmud, San. 10:1 in the Jerusalem Talmud-- see the Soncino Talmud) proclaims that all Israel have a portion in the world to come (including those executed by the Sanhedrin), it lists exceptions who do not-- he who maintains that resurrection is not a Biblical doctrine, that the Torah was not divinely revealed (cf. The German Documentary Hypothesis, taught at H.U., H.U.C., J.T.S., and R.R.C.), and an epikores, defined in the talmud as one who speaks disparagingly of the Bible and its disciples.
Rebbe Akiva added: "one who reads uncanonical books", sefarim ha-chitzonim, lit. "outside books". Graetz and Weiss claim that this refers to un-Jewish, particularly Gnostic, literature, which impaired pure Jewish monotheism. The Jerusalem Talmud's examples are the Books of Ben Sira and Ben La'anah, while reading Homer and all subsequent books is considered only as the reading of a letter (which doesn't claim Divine origin, eternal relevance; so Esther requests that her "letter" be made into a "book", i.e. canonized, made part of the Tanach, which merges truth and peace-- see Esther 9:29-32). In the Babylonian Talmud (100b), "uncanonical books" are defined by a Tanna as "the books of the Sadducees".
R. Travers Herford, a true friend of Israel and a lover of its Torah, translated and explained Pirke Avot, from a Jewish viewpoint, in 1925; the 6th printing of the 4th edition was published in 1971 by Schocken. He claimed that Sadducees here refers to Judeo-Christians, who propounded the "outside books" of their New Testament. There were no Sadducees after the destruction of the Temple; "Sadducees" is probably a censor's emendation for sectarians or Gentiles; Ms. M. reads minim. Rav Yosef attempted to ban Ben Sira too, except for its good parts, but other rabbis argue with him (San. 100b), showing that Jewish tradition contains the same ideas which he disputes in Ben Sira. Indeed, Yad Ramah and others imply that Ben Sira was once canonized, later removed, by the rabbis (see JQR, 1891, 686 and 700). In fact, Ben Sira's wisdom is frequently quoted in the Talmud. Some say that Rav Yosef prohibits only the public reading of non-canonical works, treating them as Scripture, and expounding them to the community (V. Krochmal, More Nvuchei Hazman, XI, 5).
Rabbi Y'rachmiel Roness, who directs Ulpanot L'giyur, made some interesting comments on this material to me at the beautiful and inspiring religious Zionist wedding of Rom Wahrhaftig and Adina Ben Dov last year; you may call him at 652-7154, to get his full exposition of this ban.
BACK TO JEWISH DREAMS: R. Meir ignored his dream in Hor. 13b, claiming that dreams affect nothing (San. 30a, Git. 52a, Sefer Hasidim 13C, #221)-- THEY SPEAK DREAMS OF VANITY (Zech. 10:2, cf. Ecc. 5:2-6). Cf. "Dreams are real" (Ecc. Rab. 1:1:1). Hanan believed that prayer can annul dreams (Ber. 10b). R. Yosef (Ned. 8a) gave legal effect to a ban in a dream; some encouraged fasting for a bad dream (Shab. 11a).
R. Gamliel's conscience is allayed in a dream (Ber. 28a); Eliyahu often appears in dreams; Marshah uses them to explain Agadot! A sage recommends prayer, during the priestly blessings, for unclear dreams (Ber. 55b). Per Rambam, Biblical encounters with angels are in dreams. As SOME of the above cites, he views dreams as products of one's imagination, the storehouse of PREVIOUS intellectual and sensual impressions, not of the active intellect, senses, and external revelation (Guide, 2:36-8; 8 Ch., I; Yad, Yesodei Hatora, 7:2). Thus fasting for a bad dream doesn't ward off evil, but aids one in examining the direction of her imagination (Yad Taan. 1:12; cf. Freud). Prophets focus upon God by day, then dream of Him at night, with greater clarity, SEEMINGLY attaining new revelation.
S. Almoli's Pitron Chalomot treats dreams rationally. Ravad (Emuna Raba 5:16) grades prophetic dreams; Rambam has 11 levels of prophecy; he grades dreams per the form and type of reception of Revelation (Most of Zecharia is #3, Is. 7-- #7). Anav's Shibolei Haleket (157) criticizes Yaakov of Marvege, et al, who based legal decisions on dreams (cf. Karo's magid). See Otzar Yisroel's bibliography. Experiencing good and bad in dreams precludes their experience in reality (Ber. 55a); so Jews escaped harsh reality by kabbalistic dreams, etc., especially after the Expulsion from Spain, instead of attempting to rebuild Israel. So Rav I. Teichtal (Am Habanim Smacha; $20, english synopsis $5, from TOP) repented from his anti-Zionism amidst the Shoa; he declared that the secular Zionists, who did what was needed to rebuild Israel, despite their profane mentality, were much higher than Hassidic rebbes who did nothing, despite their holy thoughts. In every culture of poverty and oppression, music, damce, cinema, etc. are the dreams to escape temporarily harsh reality; so lonely women read romantic novels and ineffective men cheer on silly sports heroes or right wing desperados. Frustrated bored haredi yeshiva students watch "action" videos (e.g. Entebbe) at TOP, rather than really experiencing action in sports and Tzahal; in choosing films, their motto is: "Make war, not love".
"THE GREAT MAJORITY OF DREAMS ARE FALSE, SILLY, AND MEANINGLESS... EVEN TRUE DREAMS OF PROPHECY AND INTELLECT HAVE SOME DROSS (L'vush Ora, Vayeshev; cf. Y. Emden and the Vilna Gaon's views on selective authenticity of the Zohar); Shadal believed in dreams (letters, Otzar Nachman, 1st year). "When God returned our captivity (NOW!), we were as dreamers" (Ps. 126)-- our age old dreams of world redemption from Zion, seemingly unreal, will prove to be prophetic, our diaspora nightmares turned into sweet Israeli joyous dreams! 12/97; I HOPE THAT YOU ALL ARE HAVING (in others years, HAD or WILL HAVE) A HAPPY CHANUKA!
I will not change one golden dream for all your dreams of gold (P. M. Raskin).
GOD'S A RELIGIOUS ZIONIST-- One who believes all Jews should live in Israel and rule it according to His Torah (The Jewish people cannot live in Israel unless they rule Israel-- cf. Britain's opposition to Zionism, and the subsequent loss of their Empire). See God's many religious Zionist statements in your nearest Bible, e.g. Gen. 12:1, 13:15; Ex. 3:8, 6:4,8; Deut. 1:8, 8:10; Is. 11:12; Jer. 31:7; Amos 9:14.
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