THE JERUSALEM JEWISH VOICE
THE WEEKLY TORAH READING -- A FIRST GLANCE
VAYIGASH (and Yehuda drew near)
HOLY HORS D'OEUVRES, FORTHCOMING FORSHPEISEN AND TORAH TIDBITS
This past week, between Chanuka and the Fast of the 10th of Tevet, we re-experienced both Jewish Joy and Jewish Sorrow-- the beginning of the end, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and their re-building and re-dedication by the Macabbees. Via Temple korbonot (sacrifices), we Jews "feasted with God", relishing His Covenant, as did Yaakov at Beer Sheva, upon leaving Canaan (46:1), and the Jews at Sinai; but when we betrayed Him, he no longer wanted our insincere outward manifestations of loyalty, and kicked us out of His house; thank God, today, at the beginning of our Zionist redemption, He has welcomed us back to his house, tho He still has not invited us to return to His sacrificial table (Rav Yehoshua Berman at a Nishmat evening at the new home of Dr. David and Jo Morrison-- may it be the venue of many such holy and happy gatherings. I highly recommend any lectures given by Rav Berman, whose depth, breadth and knowledge belies his youth! His traditional, yet innovative, study, The Temple, is published by Jason Aronson, purveyor of quality books to the well-to-do, some eventually remaindered, sold at normal Feldheim-like prices for the not-so-well-to-do. The poor have to use libraries until everything is available cheap on-line. HUC is about the best friendly and helpful Jewish library in our neck of the woods, H.U. the best general library-- its Frank Sinatra Cafeteria has A-1 cheap meals (about 15Sh).
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THE TORAH GOES PUBLIC
Rabee Chalafta ben Dosa, a man of Kfar Chananya (a disciple of Rabee Meir), says: "When 10 people sit together and occupy themselves with the Torah, the Shchinah abides among them, as it is said: `The Lord stands in the Godly Adah (congregation, which consists of at least 10 people; cf. Avraham's pleas for Sdom, IF at least 10 righteous men are found there; see Ber. 21b)'" (Avot 3:7). He goes on to affirm that this is also true for 5, 3 and 2 folks (Jews are not specified) who study together, and even for one who studies alone; nevertheless, the more people who join in performing a good deed, the greater its cumulative value; a multitude studying Torah together is better than a group of unrelated individuals (R. Yona, quoted in the Artscrolls siddur; cf. Ber. 6a).
Single Dr. Yehuda Lave (27) will conduct 4 more independent seminars on "5 Steps to Controlling Anger and Having More Joy", together with Rav Zelig Pliskin, on Wednesday evenings, 8 PM, at the German Colony's dynamic Ezrat Yisroel Synagogue, Hildeshimer 17 (12/25; 1/1, 1/8, 1/15; there is no charge; call him at voice mail 654-0135, extension 7173 for further info).
Ezrat Yisroel is rapidly becoming a leading Jerusalem Torah center, with lectures in English, French and Hebrew. For info on scheduled events and using the synagogue, call Shoshana Koginsky, 563-3217. Single Rav Mordecai Gafni (35) delivers an exciting spiritual-psychological exploration of the weekly Torah reading there on Sundays, 8:30 PM; it's repeated Monday in Hebrew-- Tell your Israeli friends. Rav Gafni can reach those turned off by more establishment or constipated teachers of Torah. Rav David Aaron, dean of Isralight, 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). Call Isralight at 627-4890 to sample their Jewish 1/4 classes at 25 Misgav Ladach St., right above The Wall and Aish. Their orientation is both intellectual and spiritual, featuring great religious Zionist Rav A. Y. Kook's inspiring teachings, not taught in Jerusalem's non-Zionist programs for neophytes. A free memorial lecture for Judy Hurwitz, z"l, Models of Learning Torah, will be delivered, in Hebrew, by Leah Rosental-- Thursday 12/26, 7:30PM, at Y'didya, in the basement of the school at the corner of Yehuda and Gad; Y'didya is a truly Great Synagogue, whose upbeat Shabbat services feature lilting melodies, rather than fastidious formalities.
A 7 COURSE MEAL or A 7 LAYER CAKE:
A. THE BACKGROUND, & AN OVERVIEW, OF VAYIGASH
In last week's study, Miketz ("at the end"), all of Yosef's trials and troubles ended. As is so often the case, his trials and tribulations matured him, as he emerged from adolescent egocentricity; his natural leadership traits, broad outlook, and keen insight could now benefit humanity. Only when he ruled himself, taking his God-given talents as a challenge, rather than a source of pride, could he rule others (Rav Shlomo Aviner; cf. Israel's leaders today). He then gave his brothers their own trials and tribulations, to develop their empathy and brotherhood with Rachels' sons, he and Benyamin. True, they had already mouthed sincere regret for selling him (42:21), but talk is cheap-- pretty words often substitute for noble deeds (N. Rabinowitz); cf. Luther & beautiful German music, USSR's Constitution, Crusader and PLO rhetoric; the opposite may also be true-- ugly words, expressing alienation, may mask deep unexpressed inner beauty and values (cf. Tugboat Anne); Eugene Borowitz (The Mask Jews Wear) claims that well-to-do Western liberal Jews are unconscious marranos-- they verbally deny their Jewishness, even in their own homes; yet their affinity for morality, expressed in social activism, as opposed to a hedonistic life style, stems from strong, howbeit unconscious, Jewish identity; so both Rav Kook and Rav Soloveichik saw deep unconscious faith in Torah among early Zionist pioneers, despite their rabid outward anti-Torah stance.
The nascent return of assimilated Israeli secular Jews to their own roots and source is finally beginning to burgeon-- see Zionism, Phase II, Secular Israelis Reclaim Judaism (JR 12/26/96); even the most disrespectful satiric approach to Torah, e.g. that of Gil Kopatch, greatly publicized and popularized by Shas' Shlomo Benizri, may lead to serious involvement with the text-- absorption in Torah, even for the wrong motives, may eventually lead to doing so with higher motives: mitoch shlo leshma ba lishma (Pes. 50b, Kallah 8, Jer. Hag. 1:7, Zohar 50:85, P'ticha Acha Raba 2).
So Jacob Neusner (Judaism In Modern Times, 1995) observes that early leaders of the Conservative Movement, reared in high level European traditional yeshivot, e.g. Louis Ginzberg of Slobodka, a descendant of the Vilna Gaon, strictly observed halacha (orthopraxy), out of deep emotional attachment to the Orthodox way of life; yet they publicly denied its very basis-- a God-given immutable written and oral Torah; HUC cancelled Ginzberg's appointment in 1899, when they discovered 2 strikes against him-- 1) very pious practice and 2) he promulgated the absurd and heretical German Wellhausian Bible Criticism-- the Reform Movement (back then!), as the Christians, whom they slavishly imitated, claimed that the Written Torah was indeed given by God, tho He expected them to change it periodically in accord with their own developing Divine inner awareness!!!!! Neusner pithily describes contemporary trends in Judaism: Reform eats tref and thinks tref, Conservative eats kosher and thinks tref, Orthodox eats kosher and thinks kosher; I'd add that some Jerusalem groups eat only badatz and just don't think!
Neusner's odd thesis is that the only truly traditional Judaism is narrow separatist haredism, which he, as a man of his age, can't possibly accept; as Rav Shach, he claims that only the distorted life in Eastern Europe, amidst terrible persecution, for the last few hundred years is the real thing; he labels modern Orthodoxy, together with Reform and Conservative Judaism, as a radical departure from truly traditional Judaism, a response to the 19th century paradigm shift from other-worldly theological absorption to a modern secular rational and scientific approach to life; but Neusner virtually ignores the vast Jewish history that preceded Eastern Europe, e.g. the Roman and Spanish periods, when pious and learned Jews were fully part of the world, just like modern Hirschian Orthodoxy; even the Vilna Gaon himself was involved in math, music, science, etc., tho his alleged spiritual descendants might claim that he did it all in the bathroom-- if so, why don't they, constipated personalities, do at least that? But to recognize this true Jewish Torah and Derech Eretz tradition, and that the last few hundred years in the ghettos were but an aberration, might compel Neusner to share Modern Orthodoxy's ardent faith and precise practice, and to leave the Conservative movement for true tradition, Florida for Jerusalem.
Yet Neusner was the only leading Conservative spokesman committed to observance of the Torah's laws of Shatnes, in the AJC Commentary symposium on The Condition of Jewish Belief. Milton Himmelfarb concluded, in his book on the symposium, that there are only two basic Jewish belief systems-- that called truly traditional or Orthodox, the belief that God gave an immutable written and oral Torah, and that shared by Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reform theology-- that He did not, tho they differ in temperment; some, called Conservative, as the "conservative" British, like to retain or only slowly change old traditions; others, called Reform, like many Americans, would rather do their own thing, their own feelings becoming their true guide and god.
Borowitz, in exploring the true beliefs of contemporary Jews, notes: "To get to know someone these days means to pay as much attention to his emotions as to his ideas, if not more (cf. Oslo). Experience and the psychologists have taught us that people are far more likely to act in terms of their childhood fantasies and youthful associations (cf. Ginzberg above) than in terms of their philosophy... Some possibilities move and arouse the person. Others are firmly shut off or are expressed only with resentment. One quickly learns to listen to professional people less in terms of what they say than in terms of what excites them. They may know all about what someone in their role should do, but one may count on their doing effectively only that which touches their emotions. He cites the case of a returnee who espoused Judaism so seriously, but only as a morally acceptable means of unconsciously killing off his assimilated father, while creating in God the good father he felt he never had; he went on to become a devout Maoist... though the verbiage has changed, the emotional realities have not... The same need to reach for our emotional depths is true of our coming to understand what being Jewish means to us"-- cf. Return to Tradition, Danzger.
Yosef threatens to enslave Benyamin for stealing his "planted" magic goblet; he thereby tests his brothers' rhetoric, via their readiness to save the sole survivor of Yaakov's most beloved wife, tho she was their mother Leah's rival. Yehuda then pleads to be enslaved instead of Benyamin; his devotion binds Benyamin to him and his kingdom, rather than to Efrayim (Tanhuma); God's Presence rests in the Temple, located in the territory of both Yehuda and Benyamin.
YEHUDA DREW NEAR TO HIM (Yosef) AND SAID: "THIS IS MY AFFAIR, MY MASTER (Abarbanel). PLEASE LET YOUR SERVANT SPEAK A WORD IN THE EARS OF MY MASTER... (44:18)". The pronoun "him" shows a continuation of last week's dialogue. Why interrupt it with a new portion? Why does Yehuda argue for more-- Benyamin's release-- after Yosef generously let the other brothers go?-- better to escape before he retracts, and work from Israel for Benyamin's release.
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Rav J. B. Soloveichik explains: By LAW, Benyamin deserved death; all his brethren, accomplices to theft, could be enslaved (44:9); such laws, e.g. cutting off hands that steal and prosecuting one present when drugs are taken, are cruel when applied, but also merciful, in that they protect society-- crime disappears. Ultimately less people may die or be hurt (cf. Saudia, and expelling Hamas). Yosef announced, however, that he'll imprison ONLY the thief, Benyamin (44:17)-- he also values EQUITY; law must not create injustice. Once Yehuda hears this, he passionately initiates a NEW dialogue-- enslaving Benyamin, tho legal, is unjust; his innocent father Yaakov will die and Yehuda's life will be ruined. Indeed Yosef is himself ultimately responsible, for unreasonably demanding Benyamin's appearance (did Yehuda's similar attempt to judge Tamar, when it turned out that he himself was the bad guy, inspire this argument?). Indeed, how would bringing someone claiming to be their youngest brother prove that the Jacobsons weren't spies? So some Israeli laws, vestiges of socialism, oppose equity today-- one buying a video or auto is treated as a criminal, who must pay a 100-300% fine for his indulgence. Secular zealots measure his engine size as strictly as any halachist. Woe if your car has a 2001 cc. motor! Many folks leave restrictive arbitrary societies for more tolerant and rational ones-- such laws should be repealed at once to preserve our nascent Messianic State.
A seemingly superfluous phrase,"Yehuda drew near to h(H?)im", may also refer to God-- drawing near to your brother brings you closer to God. As these 2 opposite archetypes are reconciled, we return closer to Eden. Yehuda, sacrificing himself for Benyamin, also "DRAWS NEAR" to Yosef-- approaches the greatness which Yosef attained by suffering. Per Abarbanel, he physically "draws near"-- he asks to whisper his messsage in Yosef's ears, so that Yosef's entourage won't hear his proposal to ignore the law; Per Marsha, he begged to drop the interpreter, fingered as their misinterpreting enemy.
"Drawing near" denotes closeness, intense interaction with another. The purpose may be to attack (2 S 10:13), to appease (Josh. 14:6), to pray (1 K 18:36), or all 3-- Yaakov's response to Esav (Genesis Raba 93:6). One "draws near" to make peace (I S 30:21), to comfort (Gen. 27:27), to sacrifice (Lev. 8:14), to censure (Gen. 19:9) and to feel (Gen. 27:21).
If the brothers didn't repent, Benyamin would have stayed with Yosef, and they would have returned crestfallen, to confess their sins to Yaakov; Yosef had to make them repent and confess, to avoid Divine retribution; he may have planned that Yaakov eventually come and bow down too, but he forgot his dreams amidst Yehuda's sacrificial filial love- Rav Yehuda Henkin.
IS LAST BEST? That which emerges last-- e.g. man in creation, Israel in history, the latest version of Dos-- is often greatest. So in Israel's return to Israel, first Yosef and his worldly Messiah will solve natural problems of Israel and the world (e.g. bread for Russia?)-- man will achieve harmony with his fellow man and Elokim (= 86; Bosnia?), the impersonal aspect of the Lord of nature, "hateva" (= 86; ecological concern, preservation of the Earth God gave to Man, is both very Jewish and very ecumenical, tho Rav A. Miller ridicules clean air campaigns, as he thanks God for the air he breathes in Brooklyn); then the Messiah of Yehuda and David will connect man with Hashem, the transcendental, yet intimate, aspect of God (see Biur Hagra, Is. 11:13). One messiah gets the Jews out of exile and the other exile out of the Jews (Rav Reines, whose religious Zionism was more motivated by alleviating Jewish suffering than Rav kook's later messianic transcendance)! Per Rav A. Y. Kook, Yosef represents the Jewish universal gesture, testimony to mankind; Yehuda represents Jewish separatism, Israel's testimony of self-acknowledgment (Rav Y. Metzger; cf. Ps. 78:5 and M. Hirsch infra, on the haftara).
Rav Shlomo Aviner: a new bicycle might outpace a neglected Ferrari; but once the Ferrari's tuned up, the bike doesn't stand a chance! God's rusty Kingdom of Priests and Holy Nation is now beginning its Israeli overhaul at dawn, after limping thru the dark night of a 1900 year exile. Once back in shape, they'll lead humanity back to Eden via Jerusalem's Temple-- site of Adam's soul infusion and formation, from dust of the whole earth (Zohar, Vayigash 205b; but some say the Third Temple will be about 45 mil north of Jerusalem-- see Artscroll's wonderful Ezekial, Chs. 40, 45, 48). "Neck", a metaphor for the Temple, links head and body, heaven and earth; thus Yosef cries over Benyamin's "necks"-- 2 temples-- and Benyamin over Yosef's "neck"-- the Tabernacle at Shilo-- all to be destroyed (Gen. Raba 93:12-- but in OUR present Torah text, both have neckS-- see Mizrachi and Matnot Khuna ibid; the other brothers' necks aren't mentioned at all). East Coast Jews adore Great Neck, N.Y.-- may all Great Neckers come soon and build Israel with their skills and wealth, that the truly "Great Neck", the third Temple, be speedily rebuilt (cf. TeaNECK)! West Coast Jews dig L.A.-- may they too soon leave it for the true "City of (Yaakov's) Angels"!
Kabbala, as Jewish philosophy, often sees global principles, forces, and historic cycles in Biblical tales and commandments (see The Anointed by Ze'ev ben Shimon HaLevi for this theme, despite its universalist, rather than Jewish, orientation); they're perceivable in proportion to the reader's own inner development. One's blinded by looking directly at the sun, but can experience its shaded light; so the ultimate light, "the Mind of God", "white fire", can be grasped by mortals, even Moshe, only via the shade of the written Torah, "black fire"; R. Akiva needs more "black cues", the crowns upon the letters. The Oral Tradition itself serves as black fire, comprehension, to the otherwise obscure white fire of the written Torah. Both the primordial Torah of Eden and the clearer Messianic Torah may involve different arrangements of the same letters, higher messages for those beyond the temptations of today's man (Rav M. Cordevero, per Rav Natan Cardozo's tape-- The Torah as God's Mind; all his tapes are now available at TOP).
Kabbalists view Yosef, whose descendants lead 10 tribes, as representing the highest development of the normal hierarchy of worldly existence; he's equated with the tabernacle, whose replica of reality begins with an inanimate dirt floor, progressing to wooden (plant kingdom) walls, culminating in a covering of animal skins. Yehuda, whose kingdom will include the tribe of Benyamin, represents the flipside hierarchy of higher worlds; there that most subservient in this world becomes the most significant; he's equated with the higher Temple, completely built of lowly trod-upon stone, wood being forbidden (Torah Ohr); but Tanna D've Eliyahu Rabba 25 claims that the tabernacle was more sacred than the destroyed Temples; perhaps this kabbalistic tradition refers to the indestructible 3rd Temple, which won't be built until we reach a high spiritual level-- then even the Arabs will agree (see Ramban, Gen. 25:22).
Something done right, with proper foundations, tho on a lower plane, may endure; when one reaches for higher worlds, without corresponding lower integrity, destruction may result; so Rav Chayim Lifshitz posits that males, essentially spiritual, find it difficult to function on this earth; they often respond by giving up spirituality, leaving it to more earth-oriented females. The female's AM blessing to God, WHO HAS MADE ME LIKE HIS OWN PERSONALITY, naturally good, suggests the opposite. The male must constantly remind himself that he's not a female, intuitively oriented to goodness and Godliness, that he needs elaborate social and intellectual structures and institutions, e.g. synagogues and yeshivot, to transcend his existential condition. When women claim equality in male houses of worship, they do make it more spiritual-- but, as a result, the men leave and the synagogue's purpose, to domesticate, spiritualize and intellectualize the savage male, is defeated.
Yaakov and Leah's first 4 sons-- Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehuda-- are involved in Yosef's sale and vie with him for leadership. Reuven, tho first born, proves unfit in his impetuous attempt to oust Bilhah from his dad's tent. Shimon and Levi have too much holy wrath-- Yosef and Yehuda now come around the bend, neck and neck, in the race for Egyptian exile leadership. Yosef takes the lead with Yehuda, #2, only drawing near, until David comes. During the other-worldly desert trek, Levi (via Moshe & Aharon) takes over both secular and religious leadership (cf. the victorious Maccabees). Reuven (joining Korach) and Shimon (joining wild Midianite women) both attempt to regain their positions by breaking the rules-- they are destroyed. Yehoshua revives Yosef's role. Benyamin produces Saul and the Temple site. Finally, Yehuda, the repentant sinner, yields the Davidic dynesty; his great descendant, Meshiach, will clean up our corrupt world, which righteous Yosef's progeny cannot do. Are dead "messiahs", no matter how righteous and effective, by definition failed Messiahs, if total peace did not come in their era-- e.g. Bar Kochba and the Rebbe?-- cf. Christianity.
When the brothers truly repent, Yosef reveals himself. The "drawing near" of Yehuda and Yosef, necessary for the growth of the nation, starts a long, often interrupted, process. One distinct world approaches another (Zohar 206a); when the Tzadik joins the King, they bring much good to the world and peace to all the tribes, causing Yaakov to "live" again (206b-- Vayigash leads to Vayechi). "Beautiful is the study of Torah with the way of the world" (Avot 2:2) may apply to interaction of the saint and the politician, but more likely refers to such integration within one person, e.g. "beautiful" Yosef or the new Yaakov-Yisroel. Is Levi, the desert leader, a compromise between them or a true combination? Gen. Raba 83:2 cites Ps. 48:5: LO, THE KINGS MET (Yehuda and Yosef), THEY WERE ANGERED TOGETHER... TREMBLING SEIZED THEM (the other tribes, who couldn't interfere-- only a king can fight a king).
Per Rav Matis Weinberg (Patterns in Time, Vol. 8, $20 from TOP), Yosef & Yehuda argue over the nature and future of Israel and Creation; each only projects half the picture. Yehuda's greatness only appears after Yosef reigns in Egypt; so Yosef's rulers, tabernacle, and Messiah all precede those of Yehuda; "chan", self-projecting beauty, expressed in "hallel", praise, comes before "hoda'ah"-- other centeredness, debt acknowledgment, thanksgiving, admission and concession. Rav Mordecai Sheinberger claims that such kabbalistic catagories aren't usually visable in daily life; their soul-essence emerges clearly only in the Messianic Era.
B. THE HAFTARA, EZEKIEL 37:15 - 28
Ezekiel thus speaks of eventual Messianic union of Yehuda and his comrades, the children of Israel, with Yosef, Efrayim, and his comrades, the entire house of Israel. In the interim, Yehuda and Yosef's tribes separate into Judea and Israel, also called Efrayim. Yehuda's descendants are better than Yosef's, but also wind up in exile, slightly later, tho they don't disappear. The prophet speaks, even after Efrayim's exile, of antagonism between Yehuda and Efrayim.
Per Dr. M. Hirsch, S. R.'s son, Efrayim represents politically savvy, outgoing, generous, but religiously assimilationist, Jews; they substitute political alliances with other nations for divine protection, which only comes from Torah observance. His "friends" finally reject him (Hosea 13:15, 7:8, 8:8-- cf. Herman Cohen's plea for all Jews to adulate Germany, peak of culture and intellect, our ideals for humanity!!). "Yehuda", the orthodox Jewish archetype, acknowledges the rule of Torah and keeps many of its ritual laws. But they often lack deep faith and connection to God, a prerequisite for the harder part of Torah-- to freely and generously relate to others with 100% integrity, lack of envy, and love (cf. religious establishments, creeps at the kotel, cursing kabbalists). They turn Torah into magical tribal rituals, not an edifying inner cosmic experience (Is. 29:11ff), a substitute for life, not that which sanctifies it. First God will bring both types back to Israel, where His prophet will refine them; they'll then become a united model nation, wherein God will dwell, to redeem mankind. We're well on the way!
C. A SYNOPSIS OF VAYIGASH
Overwhelmed by Yehuda's pleas and self-sacrifice for Benyamin and Yaakov, Yosef reveals himself; his heartache pours out in a storm of tears. As his father may have wept for the children he could have had with Rachel, had he met her earlier (Rashi), Yosef may weep for those good years that might have been. Egypt realizes that Yosef's long-lost family, with whom he's so happy to be reunited, are noble-- a plebian who makes good is embarrassed by his common family and wants nothing to do with them (Abarbanel). The brothers were speechless (they didn't recognize newly bearded Yosef!-- Gen. Raba 91:7). Per Sefer Agada (43a), they first tried to kill Yosef! Then Yosef "drew his brothers near", i.e. told them that selling him fulfilled God's plan to sustain life for a great deliverance. He told them to hurry to Yaakov, to tell him he ruled Egypt, and to urge him to "come right down" (to a lower State). They'll dwell in Goshen, near him, with their families and herds; he'll support them during 5 more years of famine. Their eyes and those of Benyamin see that it's his mouth speaking! His brothers wept and finally spoke.
Not ALL Pharo's servants gladly greet the capable Jews (cf. Jordan's business and professional organizations), tho ALL mourn Yaakov's death (50:7, Mid. Hagadol); cf. Vatican holocaust mourning w/their Esavian refusal to recognize the State of Israel 1948-93. Thru Yosef, Pharo told them to load up their animals, go home, and "come back" to Egypt (this involves no "descent", no comedown, in Pharo's eyes!) with Yaakov and their families. He promises them good land and a good life. He COMMANDS Yosef to give them wagons, and tells them not to bother about their old stuff. Yosef gave the wagons "by Pharo's mouth", provisions and new outfits; Benyamin got 5 outfits and 300 silver pieces. Yosef sent Yaakov 10 MALE donkeys, laden with Egypt's best produce (Rashi: old wine, which old men like!) and 10 female asses with the staples-- men tend to buy luxury foods, women basic necessities. He told his brothers not to get upset on the way, as they ascended from Egypt (Israel's "higher" in their eyes).
Yaakov was flabbergasted; his spirit revived when he heard Yosef's words and saw the wagons. Again called "Israel", he says this is more than he hoped for-- enough that Yosef's even alive (Hirsch)! "I'll see him before I die". On his way to Egypt, he sacrifices to the God of his father Yitzchak, Who lovingly calls out "Yaakov, Yaakov" in a night vision; he replies "Heneni!"-- "At Your service" or "Wow, me!" God proclaims that He'll make him a great holy nation there (implying a long stay), in the next act of the covenantal drama. God will descend and ascend with him; Yosef, who shares Yaakov's vision, connecting heaven and earth, and who can now execute it, will lay his hands on his eyes. God's Presence could be felt in every diaspora shtiebel, when aliya was impossible; once we CAN return, His Presence may also make aliya-- those who can come here may fully sense it only here. Yaakov now sacrifices Zevachim (happy family sacrifices-- Hirsch) to the God of Yitzchak, not of Avraham (46:1-- cf. 28:13).
Yaakov ends Jewish settlement in Canaan and, with all he has, enters Egypt; all his descendants are listed-- 70 souls (not including his non-public daughters or sons' wives-- 46:7, 26; see The Living Torah). Only 69 are listed; Ibn Ezra denies the number's rounded off-- Yaakov's #70. He also rejects the talmudic view, that Yocheved was conceived in Israel, but born and named in Egypt (B.B. 125). If so, the Torah should note her miraculous delivery of Moshe at 130! Ramban takes him to task for belittling the sages' view (but Ramban himself criticizes even Avraham!), tho he respects Ibn Ezra. Ramban defends the Talmud's view-- only old age births to those hitherto barren were then noteworthy. Many Israeli Sephardi women today experience "fertile fifties".
Yehuda's sent ahead to prepare Goshen with Yosef (including Yeshivos, unlike the haphazard beginnings of U.S. immigrant Jewry). Yosef meets Yaakov there, after zealously harnessing his own chariot; Yosef wept profusely. Yaakov was already all cried-out (Hirsch). Now again called Israel, he tells Yosef that he now could die (happily-- Hirsch)-- he's seen Yosef's living face (radiant soul?). Yosef will tell Pharo that they've come with their animals, being shepherds; they're to confirm this profession (disgusting to Egyptians) as their ancestoral occupation-- then they'll be left alone in Goshen Green ghetto. A 5-brother delegation does so; Pharo offers them the best of the land and Goshen, requesting capable Jacobians to tend his own flocks. Yosef presents Yaakov to His Majesty, whom Yaakov blesses. Yaakov told him that his own 130 years were few and bad, no comparison to his fathers' lives in their wanderings (thus he looked much older!-- cf. Kotel denizens who bless you, tho they themselves obviously are much more in need of blessing; was Yaakov questioning the effect of his own blessings of Pharo-- if he can't help himself, can he help another?); he reblessed Pharo and left.
The Jacobians settled in Ramses, best of the land; Yosef supported them. He distributed famine rations, acquiring for Pharo all of Egypt's money, animals, land and people in exchange. He transferred populations-- thus oldtimers couldn't shun his brethren; cf. DAR. So Jews feel comfortable in the USA, with its huge varied immigrant population. Egyptian priests were exempt from these measures, via Ministry of Religions subsidies. All Egypt became sharecroppers, giving Pharo 20% (things still grew, just not much; cf. USSR). As we end Vayigash, the gilded ghetto drifts into permanence (cf. today). Israel SETTLED DOWN IN THE LAND OF EGYPT, IN THE LAND OF GOSHEN "VEYEUCHAZU BAH"-- this is usually translated THEY ACQUIRED POSSESSIONS IN IT; the literal meaning is THEY WERE POSSESSED IN IT-- POSSESSED by their own POSSESSIONS. The Diaspora Jew's new car, ranch house and swimming pool may keep him from his true destiny in Israel, and his grandchildren from being Jewish. But Israel's Draconian taxes on new cars, TV viewing, etc. drive Jews away, while its TV buries its Jewish soul under layers of western filth; but its socialist leaders, e.g. Peres, have nice big free cars.
D. ? ? & RESPONSES
The brothers volunteered information about their father and brother in 42:13. But in 43:7, they tell Yaakov that Yosef asked them about a brother! Then Yehuda tells Yosef in 44:19: "MY LORD ASKED HIS SERVANTS: `HAVE YOU A FATHER OR A BROTHER?'" Did Yosef ask? What's the hidden Chanuka message?
RESPONSE: Maybe Yosef did ask them! Terse Torah tales may be elaborated elsewhere. So we're told only much later that Yosef cried and pleaded from the pit (42:21-- written only when his brothers finally note and "hear" his cry, per Rav M. Gafni). One must study the whole Bible to understand any of it (Ramban, 42:34-- cf. 2S24 and 1Ch21). Yosef's accusation of spying may have forced his brothers to tell their family history-- IN EFFECT, he "asked them"... We might translate "Did my lord ask us if we have a father or brother?" (No!-- we volunteered it, showing we're not making up this story now!-- Abarbanel). HAVE YOU A FATHER (Av) OR A BROTHER (Ach)? suggests (by the numerical value of "av" and "ach") the argument between Hillel, who says we add a candle each night of Chanuka (Av = 1, 2...) and Shammai, who says we start with 8 and subtract 1 each night (Ach can be read as #1 = 8). They reply: "we have an aged father"-- we rule as Hillel the Elder: 1, 2...
WHY DO GOD AND YOSEF EMPTY ISRAEL OF JEWS? WHY DOESN'T YOSEF INSTEAD CREATE A UEJA, A UNITED EGYPTIAN JEWISH APPEAL, TO AID HIS FAMILY BACK IN ISRAEL?
RESPONSE: Yosef stresses to his brothers: MY MOUTH SPEAKS TO YOU (45:12)-- in Hebrew (Onk.). This is no proof that he's Yosef (anyone can go to Berlitz!-- Ramban; cf. Gentile tourists w/kipot); but he's explaining why he COULDN'T send food abroad-- as he retained his Ivri identity and language, he'd raise suspicions of dual loyalty; Pharo must even "command" him to send wagons and supplies to Yaakov (Y. Leibowitz; but, per Ramban, Pharo knows that Yosef wouldn't take a dime without his command, as was the case in Potiphar's house). Yet anyone could buy food in Egypt and bring it back, asks Rav Yanki Tauber!-- perhaps only enough to exist at starvation level (YF).
Sporno, agonizing with Renaissance Italian assimilation, claims that Yosef had no choice-- tho temporarily ending the Zionist enterprise, this was a yerida l'tzorech aliya, a descent leading to a greater ascent. Jews could remain Jewish in Egypt-- Egyptians wouldn't even eat with them; but in friendly pastoral Canaan, they'd quickly assimilate, ending the covenant (cf. the Jews of USA and Syria, of the shtetel and Berlin). The Jews must remain in Egypt until they become a people, capable of conquering Canaan. So today's Arab hostility may prevent secular Israeli assimilation into the Mideast, until all Israeli Jews return to Torah . Thus Baal Hatanya supported the wicked Tzar against democratic Napoleon-- better Jews lose their lives, peace, and money than their religion; other great rabbis supported Napoleon-- more Jews might leave the faith or acquire deep psychological scars, never to be healthy religious souls, in cruel Russia, with its long military conscription.
E. EXILE, GALUT, predates Jews. Adam and Eve leave their only true home-- God, their own inner selves and the perfect world of Eden-- to strike out on their own in a not-so-brave new world. Most of their descendants are collectively absorbed in Flood Generation pleasure trips and Tower Generation power trips. The metaphysical nation of Israel, a model microcosmos of Man and nature, is to bring exiled Man back to Eden; but first it must get its own act together, often only by especially painful exiles, reflecting universal exile; both exiles are preceded by Man breaking his covenant with God (PdRK 119b), and will be terminated by a holy State of Israel. Adam's progeny also had to wander from land to land (ARN-2, 42:116), e.g. Noach & Co., the post-Towerians, and Terach. Jewish exile ends before it starts, as Avraham leaves his alleged home in Babylonia for his true home in the holy land; but his subsequent descent to Egypt, and Yaakov's flight northward to Assyria are preludes to Israel's 2 self-contained regional exiles in Assyria and Egypt. Yaakov's family's exile in Egypt turns into a nation's exile from the land where they've never been; it's also a model for our 1900 year global dispersion and assimilation, just now drawing to a close.
IS DIASPORA GALUT? Prof. H. H. Ben Sasson's masterpiece on GALUT (Ency. Judaica) distinguishes Diaspora and Galut; Galut occurs only when Jews CAN'T live in and control their homeland (the aims of Zionism); even when they can, many may live in the Diaspora. Galut's a tragic state-- we pray daily for its end; yet many (not me) saw benefits in having a diaspora, which predated galut (e.g. Philo, De Legatione 281, Jos. Ant. 4:115).
WHY EXILE? Great anguished souls tried to relate to and explain Israel's exile from Jerusalem and God's Temple-- e.g. to weed out Jews unfit for the covenant (at least 80% of the Jews, evil non-Zionists, died in Egypt-- see Rashi on Ex. 10:22, 13:18). Jews also learned nation-building from Egypt's advanced technological culture-- Moshe himself was educated in Pharo's palace. After the destruction of the Temple, ascetics urged complete abstinence from pleasure and procreation, but moderation and continuation prevailed (B.B. 60b). Groundless hatred and love of money, bitter fruits of long past sins (e.g. the sale of Yosef, the spies; Taan. 29a, Num. Raba 16:20), brought down the 2nd Temple (Yoma 9b-- cf. overcharging new immigrants),
A Jew outside of Israel is in exile even if, like Yosef, he's rich, powerful and happy. Existentially, he's a stranger, helpless and mendicant (Deut. Raba 1:22, Mid. Ps. 9:15). Israel's survival, keeping faith, is sustained by the Torah, despite the horrors of life among the nations (Sifra, B'chuk. 8:10; cf. Boro Park). Rambam's father, Maimon, compares Torah to a lifeline thrown to those drowning in the sea of exile (Iggeret HaNachamah, written to those persecuted by Islam; cf. London). Per Rambam, Christianity combined two methods historically used to divert Jews from their Torah-- persuasion and coercion; they were copied by Islam-- it too falsely claimed new Divine Revelation.
HOLY POLITICAL SCIENCE: Rambam attributes exile to Jewish study of nonsense, such as astrology (mysticism?), rather than the sciences of war and politics (responsa to the rabbis of Marseilles-- draft yeshiva students?). A sacrificial rational religious Zionist response to the crisis caused by Israel's sins might have engendered repentance and saved the situation. H.U. just held a comprehensive conference on The Impact of Ideas on 20th Century History, in honor of Shlomo Avineri; many of the lectures were sweeping portraits of how societies really function-- but some were dry, even poorly delivered, recitals of prepared papers; it would have saved a lot of time just to pass out a copy.
Susan Okin's survey of the conflicts between Feminism and Multi-culturalism, e.g. recognizing minority cultures which themselves abuse women, was indeed stimulating, thought-provoking and informative; but, like many allegedly academic feminist talks, it was more of a fire-and-brimstone sermon than a dispassionate open academic treatment of her subject; polygamy and anti-abortion views were demonized, rather than being fairly and carefully weighed; the strong case against homosexuality was ignored. Okin simply couldn't even recognize that, at least sometimes, other values, e.g. fetal survival and stable traditional cultures, may override feminist goals, that the Torah may be more than a Jewish myth; the fundamental errors of her and her ilk are well portrayed by Harvard Prof. George Gilder in Sexual Suicide (1971), one of the broadest and finest overviews of society and sexuality that I've ever encountered. H.U. V.P. Honig noted that academic sociologists often simply present that obviously true in a lengthy, complex and verbose format.
What most impressed me at H.U. was the magnificent Hecht Synagogue (directed by Rav Natan Ofir), with its inspiring panoramic view of Jerusalem; but for some strange reason, the seats appear to be designed for small children! There are 3 minyanim a day for mincha-- those I attended had 50-80 participants, including a fair number of women, for whom the synagogue service is optional. About 80 students are enrolled in Hecht's Bety Midrash program; while the synagogue well meets the needs of students interested in Judaism, University protocal prevents their actively and aggressively reaching out to alienated Jewish students; Jeff Seidel's day and night efforts to do so should be appreciated by all those concerned with the Jewish souls of our youth. Unfortunately, some officials of the Overseas Students Program, overly concerned over controlling their own turf, instead harass and persecute Seidel, a friend and folk hero of so many of their students. God willing, Jewish pride will grow, and H.U., Heretical University, will be transformed into H.U., Holy University. May it's Bible Department, a hotbed of heresy, an enemy and destroyer of the sanctity and inspirational quality of the Bible, and thus ultimately an unwitting enemy of the Jewish People and State, soon be disbanded-- may it be replaced by a modern Yeshiva, blending Torah with all other disciplines, headed by someone like Rav Ofir, Rav Gafni, or Aviva Zorenberg. I met a young undergrad who abandoned her Bible courses, where she sought inspiration, as she received only outmoded Biblical criticism; luckily, Hecht Synagogue filled her needs.
SINISTER SISTER RELIGIONS: Per Ibn Verga (Shevet Yehuda), Jews didn't have to learn war when they didn't sin-- God then fought their battles (vs. R. Bachye, who says God only helps those who intelligently help themselves-- He'll bless you in all THAT YOU DO, Deut. 15:18)! Radak lamented the Jew's helpless position; his only escape from Islam was even worse-- uncircumcised Christianity (on Ps. 22:17). Edels considered Islam relatively kind (in his time); but Esav and his Christian offspring consistantly tortured the Jews (on Meg. 11a, B.B. 74b); Per Rambam, Islamic persecution, e.g. in Yemen, was the worst (Igeret Taman)! Jews have lived with their cousins, who distort Judaism, for 1900 years; but they basically ignored, and were ignored by, the idolatrous Far East.
Jewish acceptance of suffering rebounds to their credit and speeds the coming of the Messiah (Ket. 111a, Mid. Ps. 5:6). This belief kept Jews going, when mocked by Christians, who claimed Jewish suffering and exile indicated God's rejection (e.g. the Catholic Crusades, European Holocaust #1, which devastated Jewry, Isaiah's "suffering servant of God"-- see Rashi on Is. 53, Ps. 102:11; in his times, Christians taunted Jews on 1000 years of Galut). Jews felt the opposite-- their unique universal suffering indicated their election by God, and His stricter standards with His choice pupil: "YOU ALONE HAVE I INTIMATELY KNOWN OF ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH; THEREFORE I WILL VISIT UPON YOU ALL YOUR SINS" (Amos 3:2; Hag. 5a); false fair weather triumphal faiths proclaimed that God changed His mind about the Jews. Eliezer of Beaugency views the Jewish choice of a persecuted life, of death over baptism, as sanctification of God's Name (Ezek. 37:9-15). Galut uplifted the spirit (?), was a penance for sins, and preparation for redemption, G'ulah (cf. Allrightniks Row, S. Ornitz, depicting pleasure and power trips of Jewish youth on the Lower East Side. Holy Rav Chayim Zucker's head was broken when he protested Allen Street's whorehouses).
Saadya sees Exile as part punishment, part test (Beliefs 8:29), to "refine our dross" (Siddur 78). It's inconceivable "that He's unaware of our situation, that He doesn't deal fairly, that He's not merciful... that He's abandoned us" (Beliefs 294). Galut, as all catastrophes, can strike both righteous and wicked (295). In such a climate, Messianic pretensions were readily accepted-- any port in a storm (cf. Crown Heights). Far-flung exile may be needed to gather all the souls of potential converts to Israel (Pes. 87b, Ohr Hachayim, beginning of Ki Satze); Moshe b. Yaakov of Coucy stressed moral excellence in galut, that Jews be a worthy model to enlighten others (cf. Yosef, Israel's image among its Arab neighbors; Smag Assay 74). Jews are always scattered-- no one nation ever controls the world (USA Today?), ensuring Israel's survival (Pes. 87b, SER 20, 11, 4). Exile cramps the emotions and intellect of the Jews (Eliezer of Metz, Sefer Yraim 72:31; cf. JoBurg).
Meiri (Ps. 35) notes Christian persecution, despite Jewish patriotism-- cf. Germany's many decorated Jewish war heroes in WWI. Per Akedet Yitzchak (50), exile, e.g. Egypt, prepares Israel to relate to God. Even Christians claim a lapse of millenia from Creation until their alleged redemptive faith appears (what happens to humanity meanwhile?); a 1900 year delay in Jewish destiny is relatively short (Deut. 88)! The lack of Jewish diaspora farmers is a blessing in disguise-- thus Israel doesn't become overly attached to alien soil (Abarbanel, Yeshuot M'shicho 1:1; 47th St.? Monsey?)! Israel will eventually forgive its torturers, correct their false beliefs, and become their kind teachers (Abarbanel, Henei Yaskil Dodi; cf. Ps. 147-- PLO too? Gershom Tryster discusses our differences with Christianity at TOP and on tapes).
Shevet Yehuda claims that preoccupation with business, tax burdens and government decrees deprives Jews of wisdom in exile (cf. Berkeley, Cambridge, Y.U. and Lakewood, Israel's overly complex and oppressive semi-socialist political and economic structure!). He attributes anti-semitism to the masses, not their leaders (as Edels on Taan. 20a-- cf. Hitler, czars and popes; rabbis didn't want to antagonize their kings). It combines religious bigotry, craving Jewish money and women, and reactions to dominant Jews (e.g. Abarbanel?). Poor Lunshitz notes that Christian and Islamic success is no proof of God's favor, for we see wicked people prosper-- slight temporal payment for their bit of good (Oleiot Efrayim 1, 3, 5-6). So he condemns rich Jews who view themselves as preferred by God (vs. once wealthy Ohr Hachayim). Sensitive Christians and Moslems might well exchange their blood-stained "successful" traditions for Torah's basic moral religion for the Sons of Noach-- see our English, Spanish and German study sheets and books.
F. A MYSTICAL OVERVIEW OF EXILE: Per Kabala, exile stems from an internally fractured cosmos, where darkness and impurity prevail. Israel, guardian of light, whose weapons are deeds, knowledge, and example, is pursued by Edom, Rome and its successors, warriors of darkness. Harsh exile is decreed from Creation, the sins of Israel foreseen by God (Avraham b. Chiya Hanasi, Megillat Hamegalleh). Jewish suffering reflects the lowly state of universal man, of whose body Israel is the heart and essential organs (Kuzari 2:29-44). Tho most Jews don't appreciate their sacrificial role, they still have great merit for not opting out via conversion (1:112-5; e.g. Freud, who could have so advanced his career). Present suffering is like a seed's decay, eventually yielding beautiful fruit (4:23). RAMBAN SAW EXILE AS A CRISIS IN DIVINITY ITSELF! Exile obscures God's special powerful kingship aspect-- LORD OF Israel (Lev. 18:25; see Mid. Ps. 97:1); He too mourns (Ber. 3a). A similar crisis occurs "downstairs" in the Jewish soul-- mitzvos on earth, Divine Service, only reach full expression in Israel (see Song of Songs Raba 8:14). Prophecy, faith, world, and God are all impaired by Galut. Israel remains desolate, yet doesn't yield to Crusader or Arab, a sign of God's unbroken covenant (on Lev. 26:16). But Galut is good physically (on Deut. 28:42)! Jews in Ramban's time were indeed prosperous (cf. the Shoah and 1995).
Maharal (Netzach Yisroel) divides the long night of exile into 3 watches-- painful slavery, massacres, and forced conversions and consecutive expulsions. Exile, dispersion, and slavery are temporary anomalies in the eternal natural order. Israel could not survive without special Providence. Edom now prevails in his eternal struggle with Yaakov (as fire and water); he creates a disgraceful world, of whose comforts Yaakov doesn't partake (today too?)-- Yaakov emerges later to guide a perfected world. Jewish national consciousness, Torah, and prayer unite the dispersed folk, bringing redemption. The Galut Jew is society's best critic and advisor, due to his detachment-- cf. Yosef! Censorship of thought and literature and religious coercion repress the free Divine spirit within Man (religious education vs. religious legislation?-- see G. below) Menasha b. Israel interprets Daniel-- Israel must be scattered everywhere before final redemption. The world benefits from their skills and trade development-- each expulsion finds another prince ready to benefit from their presence (cf. Einstein)!
RAV A. Y. KOOK sees exile as correcting overly materialistic Israel-- their only national pursuit in exile is the opposite extreme, an exclusively spiritual life. When their holy light's finally reembodied in a State, they'll first be absorbed by their long-lost national body (army, farming, modern malls, etc.); but their spiritual essence will soon reassert itself to build a land where the material realm itself radiates spirit (Orot Yisroel 6:4-- cf. Israel's classic folk songs); YF: individual Jewish diaspora communities also had to deal with financial and defense problems, but w/o a functioning Jewish nation in its own land.
Many dispute diaspora validity after the shoah and rebirth of Israel. Germany showed assimilation won't solve our problems. How strange to pray for an end to our exile for almost 2000 years, yet not rise to Israel when we can! Tisha B' Av should end with a resounding cry: THIS YEAR IN JERUSALEM-- ONE WAY $700!"
For there is no righteous man upon earth, who does good and doesn't sin (Ecc. 7:20; those who do nothing, overly concerned with perfection, may not sin, but also accomplish nothing-- nothing ventured, nothing gained. Rav Yuden, Koh. Raba, applies this to charity officials, who must make some mistaken judgements re recipients).
The Tanach's heros are real people, often with tragic flaws or character defects; yet, tho it may take thousands of years, the light of Torah and the Divine soul in man will eventually dispel the shadows of darkness concealing their genuine greatness, their Jewish holy essence. Those, seemingly serving piety, who turn Biblical and Talmudic heros into impeccable saints, destroy their effectiveness as role models to us imperfect sinners, torn by inner conflict. Joseph's brothers were all holy founders of the tribes of Israel, redeemers of mankind; Yehuda, their leader, is forefather of King David and the Meshiach. Nevertheless, they were jealous and vindictive, almost murdered Joseph, and finally sold him into slavery. He, in turn, seems arrogant and aloof; Yaakov is not dancing and singing with unswerving faith, amidst his tragedy, but is broken, mourning and unconsolable, devoid of Divine Revelation and Imminence. Our idyllic picture of Yaakov's family, like that of a charming old colonial New England village, is severely marred, upon close examination. But then it suddenly becomes relevant to our own weaknesses, frustrations, and ocncerns. As Kirk Douglas remarked: "When we encounter the family problems of the patriarchs, our own often seem minor in comparison!" (heard from Rav Dovid Aharon).
Many folks have a similar rosy image of the small Jewish 1/4, its 650 families, and its yeshivot; the charming neighborhood suggests to many a womblike nurturing atmosphere, a holy serene retreat, something like Home on the Range, "where never is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day". Occasionally, modern people, shipwrecked on the shoals of tough fast-paced competitive modern life, want to just stay day and night in the womb of the Rova; they only venture forth to the threatening new city, 10-15 minutes away, when absolutely necessary. One person told me that God guided her to the 1/4 and she wouldn't leave it just to go to a great lecture, concert, etc. My reply: "God gave you feet too!".
But all that glitters is not gold. The Rova has its Peyton Place side too. The neighborhood has more than its share of broken homes and seamy scandals, especially given its high percentage of returnees, many of whom go from one extreme to another, until they can harmoniously balance their upbringing with their new spiritual discoveries. Haredi and right wing nationalistic attempts to mold the neighborhood in their own image are a constant intrusion on others' lives. So we miss the Shlomo Carlebach Center in the Jewish Quarter, closed about a year ago, after being firebombed, likely by nearby haredi zealots-- they are driven even more crazy by the free-flowing joy of the Carlebach crowd, who don't suppress their women, who don't equate modesty, tziniyut, with lethargy and lifelessness. Local haredi rabbis and roshei yeshiva should have at least condemned the attack; they should have at least expressed support and appreciation for the chevra's wonderful efforts to make Judaism joyful, to attract Jews back to their faith-- none did; some of them, with deep-seated "holy" wrath and long histories of fire-and-brimstone condemnation and persecution of others, even unsuccessfully pressured the Carlebach Center's brave landlord, Moshe Sevillia, to expel them; they then pressured the Center's leaders themselves to leave-- on the advice of the Amshanover rebbe, they left, rather than fighting their oppressors.
A government-appointed neighborhood rabbi also urged them to leave "for peace", but OK'd a more private and secluded future location in the Quarter; may a new center open soon! Anyone who like to help can contact Dr. Yehoshua Ritchie, 643-6771. Meanwhile, there is a Carlbach minyan every Friday night and Saturday morning at the kotel, and they have occasional events in the Rova, such as this past week's Chanuka celebration. Their temporary study center is at the Ritchie home in Bayet V'Gan.
The rabbis in hot pursuit of The Shlomo Center objected to men and women sometimes sitting and singing together there (never during prayers), tho many authorities permit such singing, especially to bring Jews back to the fold. These same rabbis are themselves commiting very clear sins, in persecuting their fellow Jews and establishing a rule of terror in the Jewish Quarter (cf. Peyton Place). Kohelet Raba stresses that God identifies with the persecuted (III:15:1). One of these persecuting rabbis banned the entry of his own grandson (one who flew over the cuckoo nest) into his "holy" hassidic home, while clad in the "disgraceful" garb of Tzahal (he later visited me!); they claimed that the Shlomo people were spoiling their fine rigid haredi atmosphere in the Rova, as tho they control the neighborhood-- none of then reach out to alienated Jews. Anyone concerned with peace and justice in Jerusalem should oppose them and defend their victims-- if they can't tolerate others who differ from them, they can-- and should-- move to a hardei area, where everyone else dresses, thinks and acts just like them; they can also learn from other haredim in the Rova, e.g. the Sheinbergers and Brandweins, Rav Rabinowitz, and many in Habad-- they're tolerant, peaceful, friendly, joyful and loving; they also reach out to our lost brothers and sisters.
Whoever is merciful is certainly of the children of Avraham (Shabetai ben Marinus, Betza 32b).
G. YAAKOV'S FAMILY & THE JEWISH 1/4
Suppressed Studies: It is most unworthy to suppress books, or silence teachers. (Judah Loew, Be'er Hagola, 1598, Ch. 7).
Unfortunately, leaders of some synagogues, either overly concerned with collecting leftover sheets, or obsessively insistant that their premises appear antiseptically immaculate, ban from their shul all literature other than their own newsletters, many of which have no Torah content. Sometimes they don't even consult their members, so that a hundred eager readers of a free parsha sheet are prevented from doing so by a few disgruntled officials of their synagogue. Such suppression of Torah is certainly an important enough issue to put before the membership for their vote.
True, some material may be inappropriate, e.g. commercial ads and flyers for camps, caterers, etc. (tho often useful), and distorted Torah material, which preaches hatred or incites to violence. But one needn't throw out the baby with the bathwater. As in the Bet Yaakov shul in Ramot Eshkol, the board can simply weed out hate-literature, advertising, etc., scanning any new material submitted. Beware of Landau's Superclean Badatz Chickens! Every week, in NCSY's Torah Tidbits, they claim and proclaim: "There are 100 ways to cook a chicken-- Only one chicken worth cooking"-- can this possibly be true? Can obvious moral truths, e.g. appreciation of Israel's soldiers and state, and gratefully praying for them every Shabbat, possibly be recognized in the black world of the Badatz? Should we try to avoid products with their seal?
Only the suppressed word is dangerous (Boerne, Ankundigung der Wage, 1818). Extensive Torah Reading study sheets and video lectures on many Judaic subjects, as well as Jewish educational gifts and music, are available at TOP. Your purchases and donations enable us to continue our mission. The perspective is eclectic and holistic, but traditional-- that the written Torah is the word of God, much of the oral His explanation. Together with science, they comprise His factory authorized instruction manual for mankind.
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