(Yaakov settled down)
A short summary
(36 Chapters down, 14 to go; life goes so
fast; Only 384 shopping days left to our next happy Chanuka!)
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IT'S TOUGH TO BE A FATHER, ESPECIALLY A PATRIARCH
A synopsis and analysis of the reading by Yaakov Fogelman,
who lectures on Torah and Religious Zionism; sets and disks of
these studies, as well as his audio and video tapes, are
available at TOP. See In the Service of God, by Shalom
Freedman (Jason Aronson), for his views, together with those of
20 other teachers of Torah, on Judaism, Zionism and the Jewish
WHAT'S UP FOR CHANUKA, DOC? - A guide for Jerusalemites, and
an implied suggestion that exiled non-Jerusalemites come here
If, for the sake of a crowded audience, you do wish to hold a
lecture, your ambition is no laudable one, and, at least, avoid
all citations from the poets, for to quote them argues feeble
industry (Hippocrates, one of Rambam's Rebbes). My
response: when a message is really important, it's a crime and
waste to limit it to a small crowd, and not to write, tape and
video it for a much larger and widespread potential audience,
including future generations. Quoting others' wisdom fulfills
our duty to spread knowledge, and demonstrates humility-- Ben
Zoma said: "Who is wise?-- he who learns from everyone". The
more advice, the more wisdom (Avot 4:1, 2:8).
THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE, AND IN JERUSALEM, ARE OFTEN FREE (AND
CO-ED): Rav David Aaron is Dean of Isralight, a leading
religious Zionist Carlbachian spiritually-oriented co-ed
beginner's program; he explores The Art of Spiritual
Growth-- Psychological and mystical insights, Tuesdays 8 PM at
Yad Harav Nissim, 44 Jabotinsky, opposite Van Leer (based upon
his forthcoming Simon & Schuster book, Endless Light; #15
bus). Sample Isralight lectures at 25 Misgav Ladach, Jewish 1/4,
right above the Wall and Aish; call 627-4890 or TOP for their
schedule. Their Chanuka Maleve Malka, 12/7/96, 8 PM, features
Music and Munchies. Rav Mordecai Gafni directs MILA, the
cultural ulpan (6 King George, 623-3164); he delivers my own
favorite class, an exciting spiritual-psychological exploration
of the weekly Torah reading, on Sundays, 8:30 PM, at the Ezrat
Yisroel Synagogue, Hildeshimer 17; it's repeated Monday in
Hebrew-- tell your Israeli friends. Rav Gafni, a trained actor,
is engrossing even to those secular folks, especially
intellectuals, who are usually turned off to Torah (so is Rav
Aaron, especially for spiritual searchers); a number of his
recent insights appear in this study. Every night of Chanuka,
there will be candle lighting and entertainment at the Dan Pearl
Hotel, featuring Cantors Binyamin Munk and Jonathan
Blum, beginning at 6pm. An especially pleasant ambiance for
Shabbat prayers is Cong. Beit Yisroel at the bottom of Yemin
Moshe (Sat. 8:20 AM). Their rabbi, Chanoch Yeres, teaches talmud
in English Tuesdays, 8 PM. They're having a Chanuka Meleve
Malka, Sat. Dec. 7, 8 PM. Rachel Kosofsky will discuss her
experiences in leading Israeli youth groups to Poland.
As in most other synagogues, those prayers sung to the tunes of
Shlomo Carlebach are especially inspiring; his huge
contribution to our relationships with both God and Man should
never be forgotten. Even non-Jews from Germany, Portugal, Texas,
etc. feel something resonate within when they hear his tapes or
watch his videos at TOP. Chief Rabbi Lau noted that such a
soul, "a sweet singer in Israel", descends into this world only
once in a few hundred years-- cf. David and The Besht. Rav Gafni
begins and closes his talks with Carlebach's niggunim, adding
spiritual and emotional depth to his insightful and inspiring
ideas. Most of his large audience (over 200) gladly joins in,
but it takes some spiritually constipated, howbeit highly
intelligent, folks, lone rangers, a while to loosen up and
timidly join in; their tightly clasped arms are crystal clear
body language. Chabad's Chanuka Farbrengen, featuring highly
articulate Rav Uri Kaploun, is Sunday, 12/8, 8:30 PM, at
Chabad House, 31 Chabad, Jewish 1/4, across from TOP (581-2872).
Immanuel Bernstein teaches Parshat Hashavua, continuing his
famous father's tradition in his own unique fashion, 8:30 PM
Mondays at HaTzvi Yisroel Synagogue, Chovvei Tziyon 14 (in back
of the Laromme Hotel); the synagogue's own lecture series is on
Wednesdays, 9:30 AM; South African Rav Harris Gedaliah is
currently teaching Samuel.
BUT SOME THINGS COST LOTS OF MONEY TO PRODUCE-- THOSE WHO
BENEFIT SHOULD SHARE THE BURDEN, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT HELPS GOOD
CAUSES: The JP Toy Fund presents the 2nd annual evening of
Jewish music, featuring The Ramatayim Men's Choir, The Zamir
Chorale and Pirchei Efrat-- Monday, 12/9, 8 PM, at The Israel
Museum; donation 40 Sh. The Shlomo Carlebach Center,
firebombed out of the Jewish 1/4, apparently by haredi thugs,
invites all good folks (also those not yet such good folks) to a
grand Chanukah celebration, featuring Yitzchak Miller and his
band-- Thursday, 12/12/96, 8 PM, in the Jewish 1/4's Sephardic
Educational Center; 30Sh, 20Sh for students and soldiers. For
info, call 643-6771 or 641-8291. Nishmat, a high level
women's yeshiva, directed by Rabit, Rabbanit and great mom
Chana Henkin, has monthly study evenings for married
couples, led by Nishmat teachers; Sat. 12/14, 8 PM, Rav
Yehoshua Berman will discuss Making Korbonot Relevant
Today, at the home of Jo and Dr. David Morrison. Suggested
Donation: 15Sh per person; call 642-1051 if you're coming.
Every people has its own melody.... But Israel sings all of
them, in order to bring them all to God (Avraham Yaakov, q M.
Buber, Tales of the Hassidim, ii.71).
A. THE BACKGROUND OF VAYESHEV.
B. WHAT'S IN A NAME?
C. A SYNOPSIS OF VAYESHEV, WITH MANY CITES, INSIGHTS & DIGRESSIONS-- cf. Talmud.
D. THE HAFTARA.
E. SIBLING SITUATIONS.
F. A REAL EGYPTIAN.
G. YOSEF'S FLAME, A CHANUKA CANDLE.
Men do not understand books until they have had a certain
amount of life, or, at any rate, no man understands a deep book,
until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents
(A, B, C of Reading, by anti-semitic Ezra Pound, p. 88; cf.
traditional yeshivot, studying intricite laws of farming and
business, without getting anywhere near either)
A. THE BACKGROUND OF VAYESHEV
DIPLOMACY is to do and say-- The nastiest thing, in the nicest
way (The Reflex, Isaac Goldberg, 1887-1938)
Ch. 36 ended with a cursory review of Esav's kings and
chiefs, Dallas & Dynasty, whose noisy activity masks shallow
souls. The quiet deep family devotion of Yaakov and those who
will join his seed, e.g. Tamar I and Ruth, is contrasted with
the incest and adultery laden line of Esav (Ramban). Esav, who
mocked and threatened Yaakov 20 years earlier, now leaves the
holy land to the new Yaakov, renamed Yisrael-- Yaakov now blends
this world with that beyond; only in Israel can he fully
experience "days of heaven upon earth", foreseen in his dream of
a Divine ladder. The Torah now records the internal threat to
his mission in Israel, possibly a spinoff of his wives'
rivalry-- internecine warfare among his sons; their slow
maturation toward unity amidst diversity, in Egypt, is the final
theme of Genesis. In Exodus, the reunited family slowly
evolves into a potential model nation, to redeem all of fallen
mankind. This week, we relive the "GOINGS OUT" into life, and
the leadership struggles, of Yaakov's 12 sons.
A little hurt from a kin is worse than a big hurt from a
stranger (Zohar, Gen. 151b)
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B. WHAT'S IN A NAME?, an attempt to extract messages from
the names of the readings in Genesis, will be postponed for a
forthcoming issue, due to space limitations-- there's a limit to
how much even I can squeeze into one study.
C. A SYNOPSIS OF VAYESHEV
Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it
be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations,
in the same worn-out soil (N. Hawthorne, The Scarlet
Letter, The Custom-House).
YAAKOV SETTLED DOWN IN THAT AREA (Sporno; or LAND) OF HIS
FATHER'S SOJOURNINGS, IN THE LAND OF CANAAN (37:1). Yaakov
SETTLED DOWN in Chevron, undisturbed; but Yitzchak had to wander
thru Philistia, underdog to Avimelech. Perhaps only Yaakov,
whose family will eventually (tho slowly & painfully) develop
into 12 tribes of Israel, can really settle down, at rest,
in Canaan; Yitzchak, with an unredeemed son, Esav, who leaves
dad's tradition, as Avraham, Yishmael's dad, hasn't really
"settled" Israel as Israel (cf. Dizengoff & Eilat). Esav
realizes that Seir's easy fast lifestyle suits him better than
sacrificial Israel; the holy land expels inhabitants who profane
it. Once his father dies, Esav no longer even maintains an
Israeli home. Test your spiritual state-- which do you enjoy
most?-- fast-paced NYC, quiet deep Jerusalem, or sensuous Paris
and Rome?-- early secular Zionist leaders couldn't stand old
Jewish Jerusalem (and Judaism!; they were turned off by the old
Yishuv's poor, primitive, weak, and unworldly broken males).
Yaakov's descendants prove that he's a successful master
educator, continuing grandpa Avraham's vocation-- "For I know
him (Avraham), that he'll command his children and his household
after him, and they'll keep God's way, doing charity and
justice..." (Gen. 18:19, per Rav M. Lowy). Yet, just as
Rashi's grandsons, e.g. Rashbam, they may spend lots of their
time disagreeing with many of their ancestors' particular
conclusions, WITHIN their shared mission-- Rav M. Gafni.
Ease destroys bravery, trouble... creates strength (Rambam,
Guide for the Perplexed, 1190, 3:24).
Yaakov may have sinned in wanting to settle down in peace &
quiet back home, after all his troubles. The righteous must look
forward to new developmental challenges and continued
accomplishment, until their very last day in this temporary
world of achievement (cf. the Calvinist and Lion King work
ethics); far higher peace will be theirs in the future world.
Thus God's response to Yaakov's retirement plan is Yosef's
tragic disappearance, a sad, but necessary, prelude to Israel's
purifying exile, predicted to Avraham (Mid. Agada, Rashi). So
Hirschian Dayan and lawyer Isadore Grunfeld, z"l, quite ill
for over 20 years, was committed to use every moment God would
give him to expound His Torah. He finished his final work, on
Jewish Laws of Inheritance (including the saga of his life),
just a week before his death on Rosh Hashana; his grandson,
circumcised the next day, was named after him. Yaakov's troubles
flow from his actions, per Or Hachayim and Rav Gafni; does
Avraham's awesome Sacrifice of Yitzchak too? In Gen. Raba 84,
however, it's not God, but Satan, who opposes the tranquility of
the righteous! (cf. Job, whose troubles are instigated by Satan;
so he stirs David to sinfully count the people-- ICh21, but see
2S24 and Rashi on Ex. 30:12).
Yosef's sale pulls Yaakov out of his Israeli over-absorption in
Torah! The tzadik must be part of this painful world; then he
feels others' pain even more than they do, and successfully
prays for them (R. Elimelech, per Rav C. Brovender). Even the
best man may be subject to all the cruelties of a non-redeemed
world, if ANY person is still under INNER Satanic or id (vs.
Yid) influence. Yaakov won't have true peace until his
descendants bring the whole world back to Eden from Zion-- AFTER
they straighten themselves out! They must develop even Esav's
latent potential for peace (Esav = 376 = Shalom).
Only the righteous have such tough Divine standards-- cf. Ecc.
7:16: "Be not overly righteous or excessively wise-- why
become desolate?"; one shouldn't impose upon himself more than
God's Torah demands (Sporno; see M.T. Daot 3:1). Excessive
piety alienates one from his friends, leaving him desolate
(Mtzudot Dovid); when did ashkenazic haredim begin to limit
themselves to uniform black clothing, rather than emulating God
Himself, who makes almost everything in his world colorful and
beautiful?-- perhaps they emulate His darkest nights, with which
they equate our era. Black's only for mourning in the talmud,
whose sages otherwise wore white (Shabbat 114a, Hagiga 16a,
Midot 5:4, B.M. 59b, Kidd. 30a, M.K. 17a); Kitzur Shulchan
Aruch Ch. 3 associates black with humility and modesty, and
refers to Jews who wear black shoelaces. Danzger (supra, pp.
133-4) sums up: "When one considers that there is less talmudic
authority for wearing a head covering, universally accepted
among Orthodox Jews, then there is for wearing white, and
avoiding black, clothing, then the peculiarity of wearing black
is all the more striking. Other than that black clothing was
sometimes mandated by hostile authoriies, as a way of
stigmatizing Jews, there seems to be no basis for this custom".
Leon of Modena claimed that much of ritual pietistic
practice is in inverse proportion to Torah learning and
intelligence-- cf. Mea Shearim and Bnei Brak with Bar Ilan and
Vayeshev opens: THESE ARE THE CONSEQUENCES (Rashi) or
GENERATIONS (Ramban) OF YAAKOV: YOSEF WAS 17; A
SHEPHERD WITH (or OF) HIS BROTHERS; HE HAD AN
ADOLESCENT (or SUBSERVIENT) PERSONALITY
(Rashi: he overstressed his appearance-- from an orphan's sense
of insecurity?) (HE STAYED) WITH THE SONS OF BILHAH &
ZILPAH, HIS FATHER'S WIVES (rejected by Leah's arrogant
sons-- Rashi). Yosef TOLD HIS FATHER OF THEIR BAD
REPUTATION (37:2; of Leah's sons, per Rashi; of all the
sons, per Ramban-- see Ber. Raba 40:5; otherwise why wouldn't
his other brothers help Reuven save Yosef from Leah's sons?--
perhaps they feared them). YISRAEL LOVED YOSEF MORE THAN
(or OF) ALL HIS SONS, AS HE WAS THE SON OF HIS OLD
AGE (or A SON OF ELDERLY DEMEANOR or A HELPFUL
SON, IN HIS OLD AGE); HE MADE HIM A ROYAL GARMENT
(37:3; cf. 2S13:18; OR a colorful, striped, illustrated,
embroidered or fine coat-- see A. Kaplan, The Living
Torah); some identify it with Adam's Divine garment in Eden,
passed down thru Nimrod and Esav. It's "many colors" represents
Yosef's variegated talents and personality.
Abarbanel's unique interpretation: Yaakov pursued family
and career day and night in Aram; back in Israel, covenantal
land of his fathers, he again SETTLED DOWN in the tents of
Torah study (cf. 25:27); he left his affairs to his sons, still
seething with the ambitious blood of youth. But those truly
noble try to raise all others up to their own level; Yaakov
tried to raise all his sons to be sensitive intellectual beings;
he succeeded only with Yosef, who could transcend gut reactions,
and respond nobly and appropriately to quite varied situations.
Yosef, only 17, acted as SHEPHERD TO HIS BROTHERS, their
advisor and leader; yet he acted as an equal, a youthful
companion, A LAD, WITH THE SONS... of the
maidservants; he called their mothers wives, to raise
their self-esteem; he told only Yaakov of bad rumors about his
brothers, hoping he'd correct them and improve their reputation.
Finally, only Yosef was a serious wise companion-- A SON OF
OLD AGE- to Yaakov, tho Benyamin was younger, and Yissaschar
and Zevulun only slightly older. Only Yosef is a true heir to
Yaakov's learning and ideals, his very image in face and spirit.
His beautiful form and appearance reflected Rachel's. Little
Benyamin, orphaned at birth (as Rambam, who was left without
even paternal or sibling love), never absorbed her personality.
ALL 12 tribes would have come from Yosef, were he not tainted by
sinful inclinations, before rejecting Mrs. Potiphar (Ohr
Hachayim). Esav's angel wounds Yaakov's thigh, perhaps a sign of
Yaakov's descendants' (of his 4 wives and his thigh) weakness
for temptations of the thigh (e.g. Shimonites, Samson, Eilat,
Israel's profane TV).
Abarbanel continues: Yosef is called "Righteous", due to his
disciplined abstract intellect and principles, as opposed to
natural emotion and imagination. Abarbanel, as Rambam, may
negate women (see Gen. 1:27), perhaps due to this preference for
thought over feeling. Per Maimonides, only one great holy
intellect in each generation or two fulfills God's plan for man,
justifying his existence; everyone else lives just to run the
world for him and prevent his insanity, due to loneliness
(Introd. to the Mishna; cf. Greek elitist philosophers, M.T.
Isurei Biah 12:10; so Rambam's own dad, an automatic model for
his later concept of Divine likes and dislikes, finally liked
him only when he became a little genius, after years of
non-achievement in study). Pupils of the Besht, who stressed
holy emotion over abstraction, warmth and nurturing over keen
dialectic and intellectual rigor, put women on a much higher
plane; their model was often an ignorant, but saintly, old
couple (cf. R. Nachman's 7 Beggers). Ohr Hachayim rejects
the older teachings above, that only Yaakov truly settled down
in Canaan-- he claims that Yaakov, JUST AS HIS FATHERS,
"SETTLED AS A STRANGER" IN CANAAN. Israel was still THE LAND
OF CANAAN; only Yaakov's descendants will finally conquer it,
after long exile.
HIS BROTHERS SAW (had insight) THAT THEIR FATHER
LOVED HIM MORE THAN ALL HIS BROTHERS-- THEY HATED HIM AND COULD
NOT SPEAK TO HIM PEACEFULLY (cf. Islamic hatred of
Israel!). So Leah felt "hated" when Yaakov preferred Rachel.
Unloved, or less-loved, mates and children can avoid rancor by
realizing that, in any event, they eventually lose their mate or
parent-- their only true eternal connection is to God and His
Torah. This approach might even make them act more pleasantly to
their mates and parents, thereby indeed gaining more love and
respect from them.
Rav Dr. Moshe Koppel contrasts attitudes of Kierkegaard
and Rav J. Soloveichik to holiness and worldly involvement.
The Great Dane urges inner abandonment of all self-affirming
definitions, relationships and activities to achieve this:
"Man's anxiety is a function of his sheer ambiguity and of his
complete powerlessness to overcome that ambiguity, to be
straightforwardly an animal or an angel. He can't live heedless
of his fate, nor can he take sure control over that fate and
triumph over it, by being outside the human condition... The
self must be destroyed, brought down to nothing, for
self-transcendence to begin. Then the self can relate itself to
powers beyond itself. It has to thrash around in its finitude,
it has to "die" in order to ? that finitude, to see beyond
it". To what? Kierkegard answers: "to infinitude, to
absolute transcendence, to the Ultimate Power of Creation which
made finite creatures... if you admit you're a creature... you
demolish all your unconscious power links or supports" (from
The Psychoanalyst Kierkegaard, 69, 89). His attitude
resembles mussar and chassidic bitul, self-negation-- Rav
Y. Ginsberg views the latter as a prelude to more vital life
involvement; the value of such "spirituality", as other escapes
from "reality", e.g. philosophy, music and drugs, may be
measured by one's subsequent ability to love and work (cf.
But Rav J. Soloveichik seems to link real holiness and
God-connection with full involvement in life, with validating
human creative power and relationships, themselves gifts and
desiderata of God (except on Yom Kippur and Av 9?). "When
man (not just Jew?) gives himself to the covenantal
community, the Halacha (Israeli haredi too?) reminds him
that he's also wanted and needed in another community, the
cosmic-majestic, and that when it comes across man, while he's
involved in the creative enterprise of the majestic community,
it does not let him forget that he's a covenantal being, who
will never find self-fulfillment outside of the covenant, and
that God awaits his return... (The Lonely Man of Faith,
82-3)". Rav Mordecai Gafni finds the Rov's outlook similar
to that of mainstream hassidut, e.g. that of Rav Levi Yitzchak
of Berditchev, which finds God within Man himself and his life
experiences-- "From my flesh, I'll see the Lord" (Job
Per Abarbanel, Yosef's brothers viewed his dreams as
self-aggrandizement, and his reports of their bad conduct a plot
to make Yaakov disdain them-- one finds his own faults in
another (Kid. 70a, D.E. 1-- cf. "projection"). Jews who use
Torah to make money assume that others do likewise. Midrash Raba
sees some good even in Yosef's brothers' hatred-- true, hating
their brother was terrible; yet their inability to speak
peacefully to him shows that they weren't two-faced, hiding
hatred under politeness (cf. England, Japan and King Hussain
with the Wild West!). Rashi cites this midrash; but Ramban urges
his son to speak softly at all times and look down toward the
ground in humility, etc. So Rashi stressed holy earthiness,
labelling Nazarites sinners, while Ramban urged asceticism, in
awe of Nazarite heroes; both reflect Talmudic opinions, each
selecting that view most in keeping with his own personality and
worldview (see our Naso study).
PAINFUL TRUTHS: Should X indeed tell Y that he can't stand
him? (X might be able to simply avoid conversation with Y).
While he hurts Y's feelings, it will put Y on guard (not enough
re Yosef!). She also might respond to the causes of the hatred
and eradicate it: HATE NOT YOUR BROTHER IN YOUR HEART. YOU
SHALL SURELY REPROVE YOUR BROTHER, AND NOT BEAR SIN DUE TO HIM
(Lev. 19:17). As Midrash Raba, we should seek one's good side,
even amidst terrible conduct (e.g. groups hostile to outsiders
may exhibit love within their own camp; almost everyone tries to
appear "good", to justify his actions; vegetarian Hitler was
nice to cats).
So Rav Nachman of Breslav urges us to emphasize the
positive, deemphasize the negative; positive reinforcement of
the good brings more good, automatically diminishing the
strength of evil. Torah Jewry's best image is "God's Peace &
Love Corp", not "God's Militant Army" (cf. bans on import of
non-kosher meat and Shabat entertainment). But we may not ignore
aggressive evil and allow it to run rampant-- cf. pacifist
Quaker tolerance of Hitler and the PLO. True, Shchem was evil
and undisciplined in raping Dina; but did her fierce angry
brothers, whose next "guilty" victim was Yosef, ignore his
better side?-- he truly loved her and wanted marriage (cf.
Shimon's descendants subsequent orgy with Midianite floozies).
Dina might have straightened out Shchem or Esav. Amnon hated and
expelled Tamar II, his father David's daughter, after raping
her-- she reminded him of his lowness. She told him that this
was worse than the rape; he could have married her (she was born
after her mother's conversion, thus not considered his sister
for legal purposes-- see M.T. Kings 8:8, San. 21a). Rashi notes
that she too, as Yosef, possessed a coat of many colors, a sign
of royalty; Rav Gafni posits that Rashi's trying to compare
the two rapes-- in both cases, the father (Yaakov and Dovid)
seems apathetic, causing over-reaction by the sons-- Yaakov's
sons may feel that his apathy reflects his dislike of Dina's
mother, Leah, and take their revenge on his favorite (Rachelian)
Yosef dreamt that his brothers' sheaves bowed down to his
upright sheaf IN A FIELD; the sun, moon, and 11 stars--
suggesting his family (including Bilha, Rachel's alter ego and
Yosef's de facto mother, who raised him)-- bowed to him in a 2nd
dream. He told his brothers, showing his friendship and trust.
This backfired (cf. the effects of "Who Is A Jew" legislation)--
they despised him, now convinced that his tale-bearing was only
an act of pride and arrogance-- lower souls rarely appreciate
finer souls and their motives. When the former persecute the
latter, they often do so in the name of religion or some higher
ideal, e.g. Jewish Pride, The Koran, or Workers' Solidarity.
Mediocre students may lash out at much greater men, who disagree
with their own rebbe or ideal.
One of history's worst examples was the Catholic Inquisition,
where the forces of evil united to destroy all that was good and
decent in the name of Christianity. Two historical novels truly
convey the experience of its victims-- The Anointed, by
Halevi, a prolific writer on kabala ($12 from TOP), is the
easy-reading tale of a Buberian-Baeckian kabbalist-converso who
tries to build links of humanity and spirituality between those
of different faiths. But it's hero doesn't reflect traditional
Jewish values, in putting one's heartfelt feeling above God's
law, e.g. in intermarriage, and in venerating Jesus, whom the
Rambam considers evil (Letter to the Jews of Yemen), tho Yaakov
Emden felt that he and Paul were good Noachide missionaries (see
end of Sefer Hashimush). Halevi's hero puts him in the same
class as Moshe, Dovid, Esther, etc., "Meshiach Personalities"
for thir age. But he may just be portraying his hero's converso
rationalization, not his own views. Sacred Sword
(Abramowitz, $35 from TOP) is a great Spanish saga, full of
historical detail, about the fate of Samuel, the son of Don
Isaac Abrabanel-- he was a famous converso Marrono, like his
great-grandfather and namesake.
A similar Inquisitorial spirit prevails in much, tho not all, of
what, in many ways, is Satan's fiefdom in Israel-- Meah Shearim.
From the violent tactics of the perverse "modesty patrols" (see
Sotah, Naomi Regen) to the burning of garbage containers and
tires in Kikar Shabat; from the equations of Nazi and Zionist
ideologies, scrawled on its walls, to the recent attacks on the
Women at the Wall; from the beating of Dalia Batzon, as
neighbors stood by, for the crime of sheltering a mother of 12,
in the process of being divorced from a prominent rabbi, to the
stoning of cars on Shabbat-- alienated Jews are constantly
becoming more alienated from Torah via this allegedly pious
community, masking as The Heavenly City.
Prof. Mark R. Cohen of Princeton discussed Jews and
Muslims: Is the Past Prologue to the Present? for ICCI,
directed by Dr. Ron Kronish (672-6430), and Mishkenot Sha'ananim
(625-4321) this week; its worthwhile to get on both mailing
lists. Cohen showed the political uses and distortions of
history; ashkenazic Jewish historians of the 19th century
stressed the golden age of harmonious relationships of medieval
Jewry and Islam, an implied rebuke of, and model for,
anti-semitic European Christian culture, which perpetuated the
spirit of the Inquisition and the Crusades. Modern Arab
propogandists constantly quote these Jewish scholars to show how
well Jews would fare in an Arab Palestine! They excuse all the
Palestinean massacres of Jews as an over-reaction to Zionism,
which took away their sovereignty; of course, they ignore
Mohamad's own destruction of 3 Jewish tribes in Medina, and the
constant degraded and persecuted status of Jews in Arab lands
thruout the ages; at the other extreme, revisionist historians,
e.g. Cecil Roth, especially among Right Wing Zionists and
Sephardic Jews, who lived and suffered under Arab domains,
equate the Jewish experience under Islam with the terrible
Christian Crusade and Holocaust laden history of their European
The truth lies somewhere in-between, recognizing all the wrongs
done by Moslem Arabs to Jews, and the dangers should they, God
forbid, control Israel, while simultaneously recognizing how far
worse was the Christian persecution. Cohen was optimistic about
a new modus vivendi between Jews and Arabs here, if moderate
factions, who can understand and respect the feelings, thoughts
and needs of the other side, lead both communities; religious
fanatics on either side condemn us to eternal hate and warfare.
An interesting question raised was why Ashkenazic and Sephardic
populations, roughly equal 400-500 years ago, later diverged so
greatly that pre-WWII European Ashkenazim numbered about 8
million, while there were only about 1 million Edot Mizrach
Jews. Some tried to attribute the difference to the growth of
science and public health, leading to greatly increased infant
survival, in Europe, unlike the primitive Arab lands, affecting
both Jews and non-Jews. But others questioned this fact
vis-a-vis Eastern Europe, where most European Jews lived. I
noted the Hagada's equation of Jewish suffering, far greater in
Europe, with Jewish miraculous multiplication. Ruth Fogelman
questioned the accuracy of censuses in both areas, but Israel
and the Zionist Movement conducted their own censuses in
bringing our people back to their land. In both European and
Middle Eastern Jewish communities, not many converted to the
dominant faith; Jewish converts to nascent Islam gave it its
Jewish ambiance, akin to halacha, often a source of surprise to
Arabs today. We're open to suggestions about this population
Rav J. Soloveichik (THE RAV SPEAKS-- Yosef and His Brethren)
sees Yosef's dreams as prophetic visions. Dream #1 shows the
family transferred to a developed agricultural land, led by
Yosef. In Dream #2, Yosef leads them into the intellectual and
cultural life of high-tech astronomic civilization-- sun, moon,
and stars-- without their losing their Jewish essence. Rav
Soloveichik calls the Mizrachi religious zionist movement the
"Yosef of 5662". Religious zionists and religious modernists saw
Europe's old Jewish life tottering from internal and external
devastation (cf. Yaakov Emden's hebrew dairy, Megillat Sefer,
$20 from TOP); East European Jewry was the last western
community to abandon the medieval mindset, based on authority
and compulsion. Mizrachi strove to perpetuate Judaism WITHIN
rapidly expanding new worlds of knowledge and opportunity;
Jewish nationalism was to restore Israel and begin the 3rd
Commonwealth. Their religious brethren of lesser vision reviled
them. Unlike Yosef's brothers, many of the physical and
spiritual descendants of anti-Zionist "g'dolim" still won't
admit their error! The Rav's certain that the anti-Zionist Torah
giants themselves would have admitted their tragic error, which
engendered so much death and pain, had they survived WWII. Rav
Yissaschar Dov Teichtal indeed did so in AM HABANIM SMACHA
($20 from TOP; English synopsis $5).
Yaakov anticipated Yosef's greatness, but kept quiet about it to
maintain peace and quiet-- Rashi; he sent Yosef FROM THE VALLEY
(lit. DEPTH) OF CHEVRON to help his brothers, shepherds in
Shchem (37:14; that he not appear so privileged-- Abarbanel).
But ancient Chevron was not in a valley, but at the top of a
hill, today's Tel Romeida neighborhood! Why mention Yosef's
departure point at all? Thus Rav Chanina b. Pappa said: "Thru
the deep counsel of that righteous one who is buried in Chevron
(Avraham; the Cave of Machpela is in the valley, as is modern
Chevron), as it is written (15:13): `Know indeed that your
children will be strangers in a foreign land'" (Sota 11a).
Yosef's trip is the beginning of the ultimately messianic exile
predicted to Avraham; Yosef was sent from "the spiritual
Chevron", howbeit unconsciously, from the very same spiritual
DEPTH of the vision of future generations as Avraham's--
probably never imagining that his mission had such profound
significance, until much later, when he says to his bothersome
brethren: "God has sent me ahead of you to save lives... Now it
is not you who sent me here, but God" (45:5-8). This is
Hashem's way of ruling the world: man makes his own small
calculations and Hashem makes them into His great calculations,
directed at generating the light of Meshiach from all
geographical valleys and spiritual depths (Rav Azriel Ariel in
"B'Ahava U'b'emuna; their fine Torah study should cite sources
and speakers, rather than just writing: "Chazal explain..."; all
Chazal didn't say this, only Rav Chanina; w/o the book and page,
its hard for their readers to explore further.
Anyone who says something, citing the author, brings
redemption to the world (Avot 6:6, Meg. 15a, P'dRE 50).
Anyone who cites his teacher brings redemption to the world
(Kallah 2). Anyone who utters a word of wisdom, even non-Jews,
is called wise (Meg. 16a). Anyone who says something without
citing its source brings curse to the world (Madmash 6,16).
Yosef told a mysterious man (angel?): "I SEEK MY BROTHERS" (i.e.
reconciliation, 37:16). He forwarded Yosef to Dotan. As usual,
they SAW HIM FAR OFF (not close enough to appreciate him--
v. 18). THEY SAID, A MAN TO HIS BROTHER (Shimon and Levy are
so called in 34:25)... LET'S KILL HIM... WE'LL SAY A WILD
ANIMAL CONSUMED HIM, AND WE'LL SEE WHAT WILL BE OF HIS DREAMS
(19:20). Yosef seemed to be a rebel, seeking to usurp Reuven,
their weak firstborn leader; Reuven didn't defy his brothers--
he just told them to cast Yosef into a well (or pit or cistern),
hoping to save him later. When Yosef came, his brothers stripped
him of his coat, took him (lit. "he took", the ringleader,
perhaps Shimon-- Gen. Raba 84), and threw him into the well.
The well was empty-- THERE WAS NO WATER IN IT (37:24; an
unsuccessful dry well-- Tzavaat Zvulun 2:7). If it was empty, of
course there's no water! But the extra phrase implies that it
only lacked water, but contained snakes and scorpians (Rav Natan
b. Minyumi, quoting Rav Tanchum, Shabbat 22a). The Vilna
Gaon expounded this passage: There can never be a vacuum!
Where there is no Torah, compared to life-giving water, space is
filled instead by snakes and scorpians-- evil personality
traits, incorrect opinions, etc. So assimilated Hasmonean Jews
substituted tawdry Greek superficial secular values, e.g.
superficial beauty, theaters, circuses and sports, for Torah
light; so in today's assimilated secular Israel of discos, Betar
Yerushalyim, and Miss Israel. The moment we deatch ourselves
from Torah, from our original culture, and are not illuminated
by the light of Torat Yisrael, God forbid, darkness, the total
absence of light, rules us (Rav Mordechai Nagari in B'Ahava
U'b'emuna, again only quoting amorphous "Chazal", rather than
the author and source).
Nature abhors a vacuum (heretic enemy of Judaism Baruch
Benedict Spinoza, perhaps rightly excommunicated, despite the
protests of fellow heretic David Ben Gurion, in Ethics, I.15).
Whatever philosophy may determine of material nature, it is
certainly true of intellectual nature, that it abhors a vacuum
(Boswell's Life of Dr. Johnson, p. 403).
His brothers enjoyed a good meal (37:25; probably while Yosef
cried, perhaps their worst callous sin). Yosef had merely
RELATED his dreams, didn't ACT upon them (cf. 42:21). Now,
following Yehuda, they sold Yosef to a passing caravan for 20
silver coins. Reuven broke down when he returned; they dipped
Yosef's coat in blood of a goat (cf. Yaakov's similar act,
"getting Yitzchak's goat") and sent it to Yaakov for I.D. He
mourned inconsolably, convinced that a wild animal (or human
equivalent) killed Yosef, leaving the inedible coat.
Excessive mourning is rejection of Divine Will; but Yaakov took
Yosef's early death as a sign of God's anger; he mourned his own
sinful state to avoid more deaths, tho he had 12 other children
(Abarbanel). Midrash Raba claims that Yaakov mourned his sin--
sending Yosef to his enemies; so R. Yochanan overly mourned Resh
Lakish-- his harsh words might have killed him; Rambam couldn't
function for a year after his half-brother, perhaps his only
"intimate other", was lost at sea, while supporting the family.
Rav J. Soloveichik reacted similarly to the loss of his wife.
Ishmaelites and Midianites took Yosef to Egypt (are the
Midianites brokers? Per Abarbanel, they're an Ishmaelite
subgroup); he was sold to Potiphar, Minister of Executions or
Meat Processing. Reuven deposed, Yehuda and Yosef now struggle
for leadership. Each has ups and downs; someday, they'll DRAW
NEAR and recognize each other's unique Messianic gifts. YEHUDA
WENT DOWN FROM HIS BROTHERS... (38:1)-- deposed (Rashi)
and dejected, he turns to non-Jewish Chira to rebuild. One can
make yerida without leaving Israel-- he can bring Israel down
with him, turning it into a tawdry replica of alien cultures--
e.g. Eilat, The Arad and Jerusalem Festivals, the Shabat sports
fetish, Israel TV, Sylvester parties, and pagan Hebrew rock
artists. Yehuda marries an unnamed Canaanite woman (for business
connections?-- cf. Ms. Kissinger) and has 3 sons-- Er, Onan and
Shala. Tamar I married Er and, after his childless death, Onan,
a levirite marriage; he also dies for spilling his seed, lest
she get pregnant with a child who wouldn't be viewed as his.
Yehuda's wife dies too-- he had deprived Yaakov of Yosef, his
last link with his beloved wife, Rachel (Sforno).
Yehuda won't give Shala to husband slayer Tamar I. Does Yehuda,
as Yaakov, favor his younger son, not so concerned about
perpetuating his two older dead sons? He doesn't attribute their
death to God, but to Tamar I. She disguises herself as a
prostitute and sleeps with Yehuda, taking a pledge (Does
levirite marriage also ignore love?). As he treats her as I-It,
a sexual object, so his descendant Amnon treats his descendant
Tamar II. As he descends to marry Canaanite Bat Shua, so David
wrongly takes Bat Sheva, called Bat Shua in 1Ch.3:5. As Tamar I
covers her face, her personhood, absent from this relationship,
so Rivka covered her face upon encountering Yitzchak, the quiet
saintly farmer, with whom the little returnee from Las Vegas of
yore could never communicate, despite shared values and beliefs.
True, Yaakov had cured himself of his self-centered view and his
use of others, by last week's reading; but his sons, reared in
an I-It, rather than an I-Thou, atmosphere, tho for holy goals,
perpetuate Yaakov's lower state for some time (Rav M. Gafni--
while I rejected his analysis of Yaakov's I-It stance a few
weeks ago, I now admit its feasibility).
So the older children of returnee families, already set in their
ways, often do not accompany their parents and younger siblings
back into the world of Torah. Siblings who differ widely in
age, while born of the same biological parents, often do not
have the same parents from an existential perspective. My older
children, born in the good old USA, of a struggling, somewhat
swashbuckling, young Orthodox businessman and lawyer, who bought
the Philadelphia Flyer's Caddy wagon, don't have the "same"
father as those born later in Israel, whose parent, more "like
one 70", primarily writes these studies and attends lectures on
his bicycle. This is the nadir of Yaakov's family saga--
Yaakov's house, broken apart, was plunged into gloom; Yosef was
a slave in Egypt. Yet God, at this very moment, was bringing
David's Messiah-- a descendant of Peretz, now conceived with his
twin Zerach (Midrash Raba 85, Munk; perhaps the twins replace
Tamar I's TWO lost husbands!). Meshiach also comes from Lot
sleeping with his daughters, via Ruth, and from David taking Bat
Sheva. King Messiah needs a shady background to empathize with
sinners and retain humility. He also needs non-Jewish blood to
understand and inspire universal humanity too (Gen. Raba 98:9,
Munk on 38:2, citing Rosh; so rabbis dealing with conversions
should know other languages and cultures).
As Yehuda's about to burn Tamar I for promiscuity (or brand her
as an adulteress), she presents his pledges-- he admits
paternity, and his guilt in withholding Shala. Again a "holy
wrath" avenger of iniquity is far worse than his victims, Yosef
and Tamar I (cf. today)! This episode interrupts Yosef's story,
showing Yehuda and Yosef's opposite responses to temptation (Adi
Sultanik on Ibn Ezra; per Rambam, Yehuda, before Torah, with its
prohibition of sex outside marriage, was given, did no wrong--
he thought Tamar I was unwed; but Ramban and Rosh claim that
concubinage was never prohibited by the Torah). 38:26 may mean
that Yehuda never left Tamar I, OR that he never lived with her
Yehuda's willingess to admit his sin and recognize its
consequences, taking responsibility, not his lack of sin,
qualifies him for eternal messianic Jewish kingship. His
descendant, David, is similar; he also has the necessary
skeletons in his ancestoral closet to identify with sinners and
help them repent, e.g. Lot's sexual relationship with his
daughters, tho paternal disgusting incestuous relationships are
not formally prohibited to Noachides; David's taking of Bat
Sheva adds another blemish to his own descendants, Shlomo and
the Messiah. Tho righteous Yosef never really goes off the deep
end, unlike Yehuda, he also never admits his own vain role in
fostering his borthers' violent response to him. Tamar is
responsible for Yehuda's taking responsibility, just as Avishag
the Shunamite, Bat Sheva and Natan Hanavi arouse dying David to
take charge once more, to install Shlomo as his rightful
successor, amidst Adoniyahu's rebellion (IK1, per HaRav HaGaon
AGAINST ALL ODDS! Perhaps Yehuda and Tamar I merit Messiah
as a descendant for their persistent efforts to carry on, tho
all seems hopeless. She's determined to somehow bear children
from Yaakov; failed Yehuda had the courage to start his life
over, on a much lower level. So, with unquenchable zeal, the
Maccabees led a revolt of a few Jews against the vast Greek
civilization, which captured Israel's body and soul-- Jews are
INTOLERANT of evil! God only AFTERWARDS intervened. Chanuka
Candles, soul symbols, are lit, as only Jewish souls, not
bodies, were threatened (Or Hatora; thus we eat and drink on
Purim, when Jewish lives were at stake! Ibn Ezra prescribes
Chanuka feasts too, and composed a special drinking song for
Shabbat Chanuka, Hei, Hei, Bet Kor). Sports and secular
"culture" had replaced God and the Jewish Soul in ancient
Israeli assimilationist value systems.
BACK TO YOSEF, who's successful in all his work and filled
with Divine Spirit; both are appreciated by Potiphar-- you can't
keep a good man down! Ms. Potiphar kept trying to seduce
beautiful Yosef, who told her only that he wouldn't betray his
good trusting master-- not that adultery was immoral per se;
Egyptian jetset ladies viewed it as natural and OK. Reproof must
fit the sinner's beliefs-- "Who Is A Jew" arguments must make
sense to those affected. Yaakov tells his angry sons only that
their Schemtown massacre is dangerous; only on his death bed
does he also condemn it as immoral. So Yaakov hears,
understands, Reuven's rebellion against him (35:22); he's trying
to bring Yaakov back to his mother, Leah. Should Yaakov fight
his strong well-intended passion, Reuven may run away in anger
and despair-- Uncle Esav's always ready to welcome anyone who
rejects Yaakov's high standards. So militant Israeli Orthodox
may drive secularists to assimilation abroad. Banning TV,
howbeit perverse, to teenagers may drive them from their homes
to far worse influences; Yaakov also waits until his deathbed to
reprove Reuven, who's forfeited his role as leader. As Yosef's
other brothers, Reuven should have spoken his complaint to
Yaakov for ignoring Reuven's mother, Leah, rather than taking
action behind his back; as firstborn leader, he also should have
defied his brothers and saved Yosef, rather than pretending to
abandon him in the pit.
One day Ms. Potiphar grabbed Yosef, who fled, leaving his
garment in her hand. To explain its presence, she accused him
of attempted rape; Potiphar jailed him. Yosef impressed the
chief warden, who put him in charge of the prison! Talent must
emerge! Eventually Sir Wine and Sir Baked Goods, important court
officials, are thrown in jail for their servants' errors--
Abarbanel. In Egypt's hedonistic culture, the purveyor of his
majesty's delicacies was a high official! (cf. Italy's MP whore,
welcomed by Israel's secular society and its cheap newspapers--
goodbye Chadashot! So the Post's fine witty British English is
used for lengthy reviews of tawdry biographies or films, usually
concluding that they're trash-- why not devote the precious
space to good books and cinema?-- bad ones can simply be listed
Both Ministers dreamt of their work. Yosef, with Divine insight,
interpreted "3" in the dreams-- in 3 days, Sir Wine would be
forgiven and Sir Baker killed (a fly might fly undetected into
already poured wine; but it would only be found inside
carelessly baked bread). SO IT WAS! Yosef probably breaks the
bad news to Sir Baker, so that he'll repent his hedonistic life,
before his end; otherwise, why torture him with the knowledge?
Sir Wine forgot his promise to help Yosef escape; tho some
criticize Yosef for relying on such a jetset bum, one should try
anything, not rely on miracles. As we leave Yosef languishing in
an Egyptian jail, he yearns for Zion, from which he was stolen.
His name (i.e. his essence) = 156 = ZION. But only his corpse
will return, much later.
Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage; minds
innocent and quiet take That for a hermitage; If I have freedom
in my love, And in my soul am free, Angels alone that soar above
Enjoy such liberty (Richard Lovelace)
D. THE HAFTARA is AMOS 2:6-3:8 (unless Vayeshev is read on
We are at home with the non-conformist Amos and the protesting
Job, because it is they who taught us the nature of
non-conformity and protest. They talk to us in our own language,
and that because we have made their language ours (L. Roth,
Jewish Thought as a Factor in Civilization, 1954, p. 39).
Amos portrays God's disappointment with Israel, who, as
Yosef's brothers, still lack mutual love and respect, still lack
I-Thou relationships, insensitive to each others' dreams and
aspirations: FOR THEY SELL THE RIGHTEOUS FOR SILVER AND THE
POOR FOR SHOES-- God's tougher with the Jews, who must achieve
their great potential for leadership, as A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS
AND A HOLY NATION (Ex. 19:6). ONLY YOU HAVE I INTIMATELY
KNOWN, OF ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH (parental
favoritism?)-- THEREFORE I'LL VISIT ALL YOUR SINS UPON YOU
(are siblings consoled by huge demands made upon the favorite?)
... WILL A SHOFAR BE BLOWN IN A CITY AND FOLKS NOT TREMBLE?
WILL THERE BE EVIL IN A CITY AND GOD DID NOT DO IT?
The Holy One tests the righteous in the pasture; there Moshe,
Dovid and Amos proved themselves (Yitzchak Napacha, Tanchuma,
Shmot 10, ed. Buber, 3b).
When Shabbat Vayeshev is the first Shabbat of Chanuka, we read
about the princes' dedication of the tabernacle, (Num. 7) for
maftir; the haftara, Zecharia 2:14-4:7, also that of
B'haaloscha, discusses God's messianic return to Zion and
Israel. We joyfully anticipate the final redemption of fallen
humanity via Israel and its temple. This slow historical process
flows from the modest beginnings of that minority of Jews who
returned from rich Babylonia, to build the 2nd Temple, and the
few Maccabees who salvaged it (cf. today; but Ramban notes that
the Third Temple will only be built when no one opposes it--
Gen. 26:19ff). For more on this haftara, see our Chanuka study.
E. Due to space limitations, SIBLING SITUATIONS, dealing with
favoritism among children and sibling relationships, tho related
to this study, will be discussed, while still relevant, within
the next few weeks, as the relation of Yosef to his brothers
F. A REAL EGYPTIAN
I WILL SPUR EGYPT AGAINST EGYPT (Isaiah 19:2).
Rav. Yehuda Henkin asks: "Who was Potiphar"? The Torah calls
him "Ish Mitzri", an Egyptian-- what else would an Egyptian
Minister be? For 100 years, Egypt was ruled by shepherd-kings
from Syria, Hyksos (Hertz, Pent. 394f; Ency. Judaica, s.v.
Hyksos. Cf. Ex. 1:8-10: "A new king", "his people", and
"our enemies" may reflect the end of Hyksos rule). During
this period, Yosef was sold into Egypt; the Torah notes that his
buyer, Potiphar, was a native Egyptian, tho the rest of Egypt's
court were Semitic foreigners. A foreign ruling class prefers to
let such a native be its chief executioner, head of the prisons
(B'reshit 40:3; 41:10)... let the anger and hate of the populace
be focused on him, not them (cf. the Judenrat, and Polish
landowners who employed Jews as their tax-collectors). Later,
Potiphar's wife "called to the men of her house and said:
`See, he brought us a Hebrew to mock us. He came to me to sleep
with me, and I cried out loudly'" (39:13-14).
Who, especially in the good old pre-feminist days (but cf.
Cleopatra), complains to servants about her husband, their
master? She openly criticized him: "See, he brought us a
Hebrew", even in his presence: "the Hebrew slave which you
brought us came to have relations with me" (v. 17). She said
"brought US"-- Potiphar was Egyptian, but his wife a member
of the foreign ruling class. She called "the men of her
house"-- her relatives, not her servants. She, of higher
status, freely berated her husband-- "we're Semites, so you
brought a Hebrew Semitic slave to ridicule us" (thus Yosef's
future wife, Asnat, her daughter, is half Semitic, by maternal
descent, not 100% decadent Egyptian, unless we follow U.S.
Reform's paternal descent, Schindler's List-- YF).
When Potiphar heard his wife's words, he was furious... (19)--
at his wife, not at Yosef. Had he suspected Yosef, he would have
executed him, or at least left him to rot in a dungeon (YF:
Abarbanel says this too-- they assume that even immoral
Egyptians would kill an adulterer. So her brothers would have
killed Dina, had they believed that she willingly went with
Shchem, per Abarbanel-- he assumes that they were like Arabs
today, probably knowing little of their culture factually).
Potiphar put Yosef in a comfortable prison for royal prisoners
(40:3); but he couldn't release him, after his wife accused him
of mocking the ruling class. Only Pharoah, the king and head of
the ruling class, could extricate Yosef. Yosef dreamt he'd rule
and control his brothers; instead, he found himself utterly
without control of his situation, his fate determined by people
and politics having nothing to do with him-- cf. Diaspora Jews
and Samuel Abarbanel above.
Blessed be Egypt, My people, and Assyria, My handiwork, and
Israel, My inheritance (Isaiah 19:25).
There is no nation so despised of the Holy One as Egypt
(Zohar, 1278, Ex. 17a).
G. YOSEF'S FLAME-- A CHANUKA CANDLE
Why did Joseph die before his brothers?-- Because he assumed
airs of authority. (Hama b. Hanina, Ber. 55a).
Rav Matis Weinberg sees Yosef as culmination of Yaakov, the
flame emerging from his fire (PATTERNS IN TIME, Vol. 8,
Chanukah, 179-189; $20 from TOP). For (ultimate) restoration,
Am Yisrael must be healed and whole, as Yaakov Avinu was healed.
Yosef, who can master both Esav and this world, begins the
restoration. Only the tzaddik can restore the ability to stand
in this world and utilize it fully, overcoming the damage caused
by Esav and schism-- Tzaddik is the complement of gid hanashe,
the sciatic nerve, which enables one to stand erect (Tikunei
Zohar 18). And it is on Yosef, the tzaddik, that our story and
the spotlight of history now focus.
Why does Esav (eventually) fall into Yosef's hands? Of Yosef it
says: "I fear the Lord"; Of Esav it says: "who feared not the
Lord". Yosef achieved the bechorah (first born authority)
through worthy deeds. Esav lost the bechorah through evil deeds.
Yosef supported his brothers. Esav tried to murder his brother.
Yosef guarded himself from adultery and murder. Esav filthied
himself with adultery and murder. Yosef risked his life for his
mother's honor. Esav wanted to kill his mother. So it's fit that
Esav fall into Yosef's hands. When the Divine essence of each
tribe confronts that of Esav, he answers them. But Esav's
essence collapses before Yosef-- THE HOUSE OF YOSEF WILL BE A
FLAME, THE HOUSE OF ESAV STRAW (Ov. 1:18; excerpts from Psikta
Rabbosi 12, Tan. Ki Setze 10).
A mere extra 2 measures of silk,which Yaakov gave Yosef,
started a chain of events which led our forbears down to Egypt
(Rav, Meg. 16b).
The famous quotations cited are mostly from 2 truly great works,
John Bartlett's Familiar Quotations and Joseph Baron's A
Treasury of Jewish Quotations.
... AND TO ALL A HAPPY CHANUKA!
Rav Shalom Gold's 2 cassettes "In Defense of Religious
Zionism" (from "Yeshiva World" attacks) and Yaakov Fogelman's
2 cassettes on "An Overview of the Torah and Religious
Zionism" are now available from TOP-- $15 each set. WE TRY TO
HAVE "SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE TO DISAGREE WITH"!
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