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Parshat Vayigash 4 Tevet 5774/December 7, 2013 Vol. 5 Num. 13
Abarbanel believes that the Torah taught us the laws of the Egyptian priests so that we would know to give generously to our own Kohanim. Others suggest that the compassion is meant to contrast between the two systems; Egyptian priests are the only owners of land in Egypt, while Israelite Kohanim are the only one who do not receive land; G-d is their share and inheritance. (Devarim 10:89, cf. Necham Leibowitz, Iyunim on our parshah).
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Mensch tracht une G-tt lacht (Man plans, G-d laughs)
An unusual paragraph at the end of our parshah (Bereishit 48:22-26) tells us the laws of the Egyptians priests. We are informed that when all of the Egyptians were starving, they sold their land to Pharaoh in order to buy the food stored by Yosef. Yosef, acting on behalf of Pharaoh, rearranged Egyptian society along feudalist lines: all of the land would now belong to the king, and the people would pay him twenty percent of their crops. The priests, though, would receive their ration from the king, and therefore would never need to sell their land for food. An obvious question bothered the Akeidat Yitchak, Don Isaac Abarbanel and others: Why is this information relevant for us? Why should we care about the benefits of clergy status in ancient Egypt? Commentators offer different explanations: Targum Yonatan sees it as Yosef's act of gratitude. According to the Targum, Yosef was saved from Potifar's rage by Egypt's priests, and thrown into jail rather than executed. In return, Yosef gave them a ration from the king's reserves. A completely opposite view is found in the 'Panim Yafot' commentary of Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz. He argues that Yosef did not want to sell food to the idolaters' priests, and so he gave them only a small ration, causing them on-going hunger. Others saw these verses as an introduction to the laws obligating us to give tithes and other gifts to our own Kohanim. Here, too, two distinct views arise:
Rabbi Baruch Weintraub
an allotment from Pharaoh, and they ate the allotment that Pharaoh had given them. Therefore, they did not sell their farmland," and the result was, "Only the farmland of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh's". (ibid. 47:22, 26) Yosef created a situation in which his family's status was like that of the priests, society’s highest caste. Obviously, Yosef's intention was to help his family in their new life on a foreign soil, but, ironically, it seems that his actions helped bring about all of the troubles that fell upon his family in the beginning of Shemot. If the Israelites had been weak and poor, it is hard to imagine that Pharaoh would have been able to convince his people that they posed an immediate danger requiring suppression. (Shemot 1:9-10). And so a circle is closed. The brothers intended evil when selling Yosef, and Gd intended it for good. Yosef intended good, but he opened the door to the enslavement of his descendants, as designed by G-d since Brit Bein HaBetarim. The message, I think, should be one of honest optimism. We should understand the shortcoming of our ability to navigate the future of our communities and our nation; many acts that seemed necessary and useful at one time are revealed later to have led to a disaster, and vice versa. But we should also know that while we cannot see all of the cards, the One who sits in heaven does hold them – and He, and by His will for us, will have the last laugh, when our mouths will be filled with laughter. firstname.lastname@example.org
Perhaps, though, the answer to our question does not lie in the laws of the priests themselves, but in the relationship between the status of the priests and the strikingly similar status of Yaakov's family, and the contrast with the status of the common Egyptian: "Yosef settled his father and his brothers, and he gave them property in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land… And Yosef sustained his father and his brothers and his father's e n t i r e h o u s e h o l d w i th b r e ad according to the young children." The result was, "And Israel dwelled in the land of Egypt in the land of Goshen, and they held to it…" (Bereishit 47:11 -12, 27) Contrast this with the Egyptian's fate: "Now there was no food in the entire land, for the famine had grown exceedingly severe… So Joseph bought all the farmland… and the land became Pharaoh's." The result was, "And he transferred the populace to the cities, from one end of the boundary of Egypt to its other end." (ibid. 47:13, 20-21) And compare with the status of Egyptian priests: "For the priests had
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Haftorah: Yechezkel 37:15-28
Who is the prophet of our haftorah? Yechezkel, son of Buzi, was a priest who was exiled from Eretz Yisrael before the destruction of the first Beit haMikdash. Some suggest that “Buzi” is actually Yirmiyahu. His book begins, “I am in exile, on the K'var River”, and in his prophecies he speaks to his fellow exiled Jews. However, the first half of Sefer Yechezkel (until Chapter 24) consists mainly of rebukes issued before the destruction of the Beit haMikdash, as Yechezkel battles the sins and corruption of the Jewish nation. After G-d's decision to destroy the Beit haMikdash, Yechezkel turns to the surrounding nations and prophesies their own destruction as a punishment for the suffering they have inflicted upon the Jewish nation. Then, from Chapter 33 to the end, Yechezkel focuses mainly on consolation for the devastated Jews, predicting their redemption and salvation. What is the message of our haftorah? Our haftorah comes from the third part of the book, and is a prophecy of consolation. It immediately follows the eschatological vision of the restoration of the “dry bones” to life. The main topic Yechezkel touches upon here is the reunion of the two parts into which the Jewish people had divided, namely Yehudah and Ephraim (a.k.a. Yosef). In order to demonstrate this reunion, Yechezkel is commanded by G-d to pick up two separate sticks and hold them together. On one stick Yehudah's name is written, and Ephraim's name is on the other. Holding the two sticks together symbolizes the reunion of the two branches that emerged from the tree of Yisrael. Yechezkel emphasizes that a descendant of the house of David will rule the unified kingdom, and that by uniting they will be able to rebuild the Beit Hamikdash and become G-d's people once again. What is the connection to our parshah? The connection to our parshah is straightforward: in our parshah we also read about the reunion of the Jewish people. The brothers are led by Yehudah, and are reunited with Yosef, the ancestor of Ephraim. But one difference is obvious: In Yechezkel's prophecy the united nation will be ruled by David from Yehudah, but in our parshah Yosef is the one to lead the family, as the second to the king of Egypt and the family's food supplier. When is Yosef the one to lead, and when is Yehudah fit to rule? Many thinkers have tried to explain the differences between Yehudah and Yosef. We will bring here a summary of Rav Kook's explanation, from his essay, 'Misped b'Yerushalayim'. Rav
Rabbi Baruch Weintraub
Kook ties this into another distinction, between Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David. According to Rav Kook, Yosef is responsible for the national aspect of the Jewish people. As such, he is in charge of the physical dimension of building the nation. This position also makes him more open to learning from other nations, as the physical side of the Jewish nation is similar to that of others. Yehudah, on the other hand, is responsible for the spiritual development of the Jewish people. As such, he is in charge of Torah learning and the performance of mitzvot in general, and the establishment of the Beit Hamikdash in particular. This position makes him more inverted, as he tries to maintain the holiness of the Jewish nation, a trait unique to them. For the Jewish people to function properly, we need both approaches in place. But Rav Kook explains that when we are only building our nation then we need Yosef in charge, and Yehudah's approach is marginalized. After the physical dimension is set, then Yehudah can take his place at the head, and lead the Jewish nation to its final destination. email@example.com
613 Mitzvot: #325 Succah: Mitzvah and Message
When the Jews travelled from Egypt to Israel, G-d provided protection for them. (Vayikra 23:43) The sages (Succah 11b) debate whether this protection was solely through special clouds, or whether the Jews also lived in huts; the authoritative halachic work known as the Tur (Orach Chaim 625) follows the former view. Either way, we commemorate this Divine protection by building succah huts and living in them for a week, starting with the 15th of the month of Tishrei. The Tur (ibid.) emphasizes the Succot theme of recognizing Divine control of the world, writing, "The Torah linked the mitzvah of succah with our departure from Egypt, as it does for many mitzvot, because this is something we saw with our eyes and we heard with our ears, and no one may contradict us. It shows the truth of the Creator who created all according to His desire, and who has the strength and reign and power in the Heavens and the lower areas to do as He will, and no one may tell Him what to do, as He did with us when He took us out of Egypt with signs and miracles."
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
The Tur's explanation of the intent of succah is unusual for his commentary; the Tur generally deals exclusively with practical matters. This anomaly leads Rabbi Yoel Sirkes, in his 17th century Bach commentary to the Tur, to contend that the Tur sees the meaning as part of the mitzvah of succah. "Since the Torah says, 'So that your generations will know that I placed the Children of Israel in succot,' one does not fulfill the mitzvah in its proper form unless he knows the intent of the mitzvah of succah." We are expected to live in the succah as we would live in our homes. Therefore, we bring in nice silverware and other items to make it liveable, and we sit in the succah even when we are not eating. On the other hand, if conditions such as heat or cold are bad enough that, were we in our houses, we would leave the room, then we also leave the succah. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev
Rabbi David Teller
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (17401809), also known as the Berdichever and the Kedushat Levi (the title of his treatise on the weekly Torah Portion, holidays and general thought), was a beloved Chassidic leader known for his love for, and relentless defense of, the Jewish people. The young Levi Yitzchak studied with his father until his marriage, when he moved to his wife's hometown of Levertov to study under the tutelage of Rabbi Shmelke Horowitz. At Rabbi Horowitz’s insistence, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak traveled to Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezeritch (the Maggid of Mezeritch), who had assumed leadership of the Chassidic movement after the passing of the Baal Shem Tov in 1760. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak became a devoted follower of the Maggid and is known as one of his foremost disciples. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was appointed to rabbinic positions in Ritchwul, Pinsk and Zelichov, but anti-chassidic sentiment in each town forced him to frequently relocate. In 1785 he assumed the rabbinic mantle in Berditchev and remained the leader of the community for 25 years. Reb Levi Yitzchak was known as the "defense attorney" for the Jewish people, and is remembered for his legendary love for every Jew regardless of their level of religious observance. He emphasized that since Hashem has chosen the Jewish people to be His nation on Earth, no person possesses the right to pass negative judgment on any member of Klal Yisrael. A famous story is told, that the Kedushat Levi once saw a young Jewish boy eating a bar of chocolate on Tishah b’Av. He approached the boy and gently told him that he must have forgotten what day it was. The boy shook his head and said that he had not forgotten. The Kedushat Levi tried again, assuming that the boy must have been granted permission from a doctor to eat, and he advised the boy that it would be better to do so in private. The boy harshly responded that no doctor gave him permission, and that he wanted to specifically eat chocolate on Tishah b’Av and in public. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak looked heavenward and exclaimed, “Master of the Universe, who is like Your nation, Israel? Your children display such unwavering honesty, regardless of the circumstances!” email@example.com
Torah and Translation
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev
Kedushat Levi, Parshat Vayigash
Translated by Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
ויגש אליו יהודה ויאמר בי אדוני ידבר נא עבדך דבר באזני אדוני ואל יחר אפך בעבדך ולכאורה אינו מובן מה. כי כמוך כפרעה דמשמע שדבר,'שאמר 'ואל יחר אפך בעבדך אתו דברי קנטורים עד שבעבור זה הוצרך ובכל הפרשה כולה, לבקשו שאל יחר אפו ...מצינו רק דברי ריצוי ותחנונים
"And Yehudah approached him and said, 'Please, my master, let your servant speak in my master's ears, and be not angry at your servant, for you are like Pharaoh.'" (Bereishit 44:18) "Be not angry" is incomprehensible; it sounds like he had provoked him to the point of needing to ask, "Be not angry," but in the entire section we find only words of appeasement and pleading… It appears, in my humble opinion, that Yehudah intended thus: Yehudah wished to awaken Yosef's mercy, so that his heart would understand and listen to his pleading, but he sensed that this would only come, as our sages say, via 'Words that come from the heart, enter the heart.' This is what he intended, when he drew near to speak. However, this is effective only when one person speaks to another directly; then his friend accepts the sweetness of his words, and truth is recognized. When there is a translator, speech does not make such an impression; this is clear to all who understand. The obstruction here was, "The translator was between them," (ibid. 45:23) for he spoke via a translator. Therefore, Yehudah requested of Yosef to speak personally, without the translator. However, in truth, it is not respectful to speak to the king in one's own tongue, for perhaps the king would not comprehend it. Thus Yehudah declared, "Please, let your servant speak in my master's ears," so that the words would go from mouth to ear without a translator, in Yehudah's own formulation, despite the lack of respect in speaking thus. Therefore, he said, "Be not angry at your servant" at this mode of address. "There is no claim against me [Yehudah], for it is clear to me that you know the seventy languages;" for the early kings knew the seventy languages. Thus he said, "for you are like Pharaoh," meaning that you are a king, like Pharaoh, and you know seventy languages, and certainly, you will know our language. And so is seen in Sotah 36b, "Gavriel came and taught [Yosef] 70 languages." Pharaoh did not know the holy tongue, but he was degraded for this, for a king should know all tongues.
דכוונת יהודה היה על,ונראה לעניות דעתי דיהודה רצה להתעורר ביוסף, זה הדרך בכדי שבעבור זה לבבו יבין, מדת רחמנות אכן הרגיש כי,וישמע לדבריו בהתחננו אליו יבא לזה על דרך שאמרו רבותינו ז " ל ,'' דברים היוצאין מן הלב נכנסים אל הלב .וכה היה דעתו בהתקרבו לדבר אכן אין במשמעות דבריהם כי אם בזה , כאשר ידבר עם חבירו מפה אל פה,האופן אז ניכרין דברי,אז יקח חבירו מתק דבריו אב ל כ אש ר ה דב ר י ו צא ע ל י ד י, אמ ת ,מתורגמן אז אין הדיבור עושה רושם כל כך ולצד זה היה המניעה.וזה ברור למביני דעת , ) כג, בדבר ' כי המליץ בינותם ' ( להלן מה .שהיה מדבר על ידי מתורגמן ולזה שאל יהודה לבקש מאת יוסף שידבר ובאמת, רק הוא לבדו אתו מבלי מתורגמן ,שאין זה הדרך ארץ לומר למלך דבר בלשונו גלל כן. כי אפשר אינו יודע המלך בלשונו ענה יהודה ואמר ' ידבר נא עבדך דבר באזני ויהיה דברים היוצאין מפה לאוזן,' אדוני ועל זה בא במענה לשונו אף. בלי מתורגמן .שאינו מן הכבוד לומר כך
ולזה אמר ' ואל יחר אפך בעבדך ' על דבר כי דבר, כי אין בזה שום תרעומת עלי,הלז ,ברור הוא אצלי שאתה מכיר בשבעים לשון כי כן דרך המלכים הראשונים שהיו מכירים ולפי זה אמר ' כי כמוך. בשבעים לשון פירוש שאתה גם כן מלך כמו פרעה,'כפרעה ולפי זה בודאי אתה, ואתה יודע ע ' לשון , וכן איתא בגמרא (סוטה לו.מכיר בלשונינו ואף שפרעה.ב) בא [ גבריאל] ולמדו ע' לשון היה נבזה, לא ידע בלשון הקודש גם כן כי מדת המלך, ) בעבור זה ( כמבואר שם ...להכיר בכל לשון
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This Week in Israeli History: Tevet 7 - Operation Gift
Operation Gift, the codename for an IDF raid carried out at the Beirut Airport, was designed in response to multiple terror attacks which had targeted El Al aircrafts in various ways. At 9:15 P.M. on Saturday, December 28, 1968 (7 th Tevet, 5729) the task force gathered in Ramat-David Airbase, in northern Israel, fully trained and ready for action. The mission was to sabotage the maximum number of airplanes belonging to Arab airlines at Beirut International Airport, while avoiding harm to civilians and damage to aircraft belonging to other airlines. A Super-Frelon helicopter was to land on the runway, dropping off twenty-two men from sayeret matkal, the IDF’s most elite unit. They were to sabotage aircrafts in one area of the airport. Two other similar units were dropped off in other areas of the airport. Before they were dropped off, a Bell helicopter was responsible for creating a diversion. Over the course of two passes, the helicopter
dropped ninety-five smoke grenades and twenty smoke flares, creating a heavy smoke screen. The helicopter continued its “blocking mission” by dropping nails on the roads leading to the airport, which would halt army, fire and police vehicles from arriving there. The navy was part of the mission; ships stood by in case they were needed for evacuation. However, they succeeded in carrying out the original plan, which had them boarding helicopters just thirty minutes after touching down. The IDF destroyed a total of fourteen planes belonging to Middle East Airlines and Air Libya. The estimated damage was around forty-three million dollars. As planned, there were no casualties reported during the operation on either side. The soldiers also requested authorization to sabotage the fuel depot, but were not granted permission to do so. firstname.lastname@example.org
Highlights for December 7 – December 13 / 4 Tevet - 10 Tevet
SHABBAT DEC. 7 7:45 AM Derashah Before minchah Before minchah After minchah 6:30 PM SUNDAY DEC. 8 9:15 AM 10:00 AM 11:20 AM 8:00 PM MONDAY DEC. 9 8:00 PM 8:00 PM 8:00 PM 9:30 PM TUESDAY DEC. 10 12:30 PM 8:45 PM WED. DEC. 11 8:00 8:00 9:00 9:00 PM PM PM PM R’ Baruch Weintraub R’ Mordechai Torczyner R’ Yehoshua Weber R’ Baruch Weintraub Prophecy for Our Time Business Ethics: Lending Responsa: Yom Tov Sheni Chabura: Sanhedrin Community Beit Midrash Night Maariv at 9:50 PM R’ Mordechai Torczyner Adam Frieberg Living Midrash Exploring Laws of Shabbat Shaarei Shomayim Shaarei Tefillah with Mekorot Rav Shlomo Gemara R’ Baruch Weintraub R’ Mordechai Torczyner R’ Baruch Weintraub The Prophets of Israel Parshah Medical Ethics Principles of Faith Bnai Torah Shaarei Shomayim Community Beit Midrash Night Maariv at 8:45 PM R’ Baruch Weintraub Mrs. Rifka Sonenberg Josh Gutenberg Parshah Revisited The Beginning of the End Torah in Translation Zichron Yisroel Shaarei Shomayim Hebrew
Midreshet Yom Rishon for Women
R’ Baruch Weintraub Josh Gutenberg Adam Frieberg R’ Mordechai Torczyner R’ Mordechai Torczyner Adam Frieberg
Moral Values in Bereishit
Or Chaim BAYT
Parshah Daf Yomi
To Repeal a Rabbinic Decree
Shaarei Tefillah BAYT BAYT Shaarei Shomayim
Dessert Reception at Bnai Torah in honour of Rabbi Baruch and Pnina Weintraub Featuring Rabbi Dr. J. J. Schacter
Yeshivat Or Chaim
THU. DEC. 12 8:40 AM 8:30 PM R’ Mordechai Torczyner R’ Baruch Weintraub Learning and Latte Chabura: Sotah Ulpanat Orot Clanton Park
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