How is everyone? This is the last weekend of the year. I hope 2012 was at least a decent year and let us hope for better things in 2013. As we go from then end of one year into a new year, so this week’s Bible portion of Vayichi is the end of the opening chapter of the Jewish nation. The last of the Avos – (our forefathers) dies, along with his twelve sons. Next week we start with a new chapter of the Jewish people, the slavery in Egypt.
I do not know what I will focus on this week, Shabbos morning. I am thinking about the blessings Jacob gives to his twelve sons. The first three are rebukes. Why not couch it in positive terms? Yet Yehuda is blessed by Jacob to be the leader of the Jewish nation – despite being the one who may have done Jacob the most damage, as Yehuda was the ringleader in the selling of Joseph and causing 22 years of agony for Jacob. Did Jacob even know the Joseph was sold ? And if he did, was Yehuda forgiven? It appears that Jacob did not know because Rashi says that when it came time for Yehuda to receive his blessing, Yehuda started to turn away out of fear of being rebuked over the incident of Tamar. Rashi does not mention the selling of Joseph. I have to look at the Midrash. We were not there so we do not know how the family handled everything. It is interesting that after Jacob dies, the brothers were afraid that Joseph would turn against them.
Last Shabbos, I walked to Anshe Sholem for morning services. I love speeches, especially Rabbi’s sermons. I wondered what Rabbi Lopatin would focus on and what his message would be. There is a great deal of excellent Torah on last week’s Bible portion that is relevant to us, that we can learn out great lessons, especially the words, “I am Joseph, is my father still living”. Rabbi Lopatin in his words captured the emotions and feelings of the congregation and us Jews in the lesson of Sandy Hook. He mentioned that last week’s Torah portion started with “Viyagash Alov Yehuda”, as the Targum translates the words, Yehuda came close to Joseph. Rabbi Lopatin said that to influence people, we have to come close. It appears that the Sandy Hook killer was not abused, not bullied, no one may be to blame. Talk to people, don’t let people be isolated. It may not help or the person may want their privacy, but we must try. Rabbi Lopatin talked about his trip to Israel, walking the streets of Bnei Brak, meeting with Rabbi Shteinman and Rabbi Keneivsky, the two great Cheridei leaders. Rabbi Lopatin is reaching out to all different parts of the Jewish people. He also met with Rabbi Melchior and Rabbi David Hartman. He was warmly received by all these leaders. He said that Rabbi Hartman although weak, is full of life and about to publish a new book. Rabbi Lopatin talked about Achdus – togetherness – in Israel and the Jewish people.
I also talked to Jack Berger, the super Jew. He was in Israel for the Likud primaries. I asked him if he saw our Rebbe (teacher) Rabbi Nachman Kahana. He had breakfast with Rabbi Kahana at the Inbal hotel in Jerusalem. I told Jack Berger a great – great story that Chazzan S. told over at Kiddush a few weeks ago.
Chazzan S. has a daughter who is Chereidei and lives in the New York area. She has a son who volunteered for the IDF. Chazzan S,’s daughter called up her parents and tells this amazing story.
Their son served 2.5+- years in the IDF and was released about 4 months ago. Since he was an American, he was not in the reserves. About 2 months ago his unit was called up to Gaza. The kid called his commanding officer (CO) and wanted to come back. His CO told him that if he decides to re-enlist, the CO will make sure the kid ends up with his unit on the Gaza front. The kid re-enlists and makes it back to his unit. The kid is on the Gaza front with 70,000 other soldiers. The Lubavtichers were there handing out Titzis and putting on Tefillim. The kid told his parents that he was able to see with his own eyes the holy sparks of holiness ascending from the soldiers to the heavens.
Jack Berger told me that the spirit of the IDF has never been better.
Contrast this Holiness of the Jewish people, Mi Kamacha Yisroel, with the nonsense coming out of the Cheredei community. My nephew pointed out a Cheredei website that has an audio of a Yeshiva student going to a recruiting office and telling them he will not serve. I do not know if this audio is true because it is so infantile, but I do believe this mentality permeates Cheridei society. They do not have the decency or the humility to recognize what others are doing for them. I do not believe that the leaders of Chereidei society agree with this type of behavior, but they have yet to stand up to this boorish behavior and indirectly encourages it. It is tragic that they do not realize they are clowns and unfortunately this type of infantile behavior is applauded. This Cheridei website just does not get it and does not even know to be embarrassed. This is not the first time that they published something I considered wrong and when I e-mailed them they defended their position.