Tough week at work. Happy to see Shabbos come. My two boys, Sholem and Tzvi, drove to Florida, to spend a month there. They made it to my daughter in Boynton Beach on Thursday at about 6:00 PM. I was full of joy. My three kids were together in Southern Florida. Eli ate by a friend on Friday night, so we had a quiet Shabbos.
I would like to wish Dr. Yosef and Dr. Joyce Morgan and his wife a huge Mazel Tov. Their son, David, married Rachel in Tzfas, Israel. What a Simcha and I wish I was there. I love you Yosef and Joyce.
This week I want to remind everyone of the Minhag in Klal Yisroel to eat Chinese food on the 25th and go to a movie. I told my boss (who is not Frum) that, as you know among Orthodox Jews, we always have questions and different guidelines. I said, jokingly, that there is a question when the Minhag of Chinese food starts on the 24th after sunset or on the 25th.
Shabbos Morning December 23, 2017:
Shabbos morning I walked to Anshe Sholem. I needed the walk and wanted to hear a great speech. Rabbi Wolkenfeld obliged. I saw Dr. David Passman, the super Jew Jack Berger, Herb Eiseman, Norm Levits and his wife. Norm is from Krinik and my Zedi is also from Krinik. He told me that when he went back to visit Krinik in 2010, Krinik was as backward as when his family left in 1920. What I found interesting is that as I looked around the Shul, it seemed like there has been a 50% turnover of congregants. I saw more single guys than Talasim. I left the Shul after Kiddush at 12:45 PM and got home at 2:30 PM. It was cold going home. It was about 29 degrees and I needed to wear the hood on my jacket, however, I like to have my Yarmulke showing so as to have people say Good Shabbos to me. I put on the hood once I got north on Clark street, which has less people.
Rabbi Wolkenfeld stated that in this Parsha there were three different interactions with Pharaoh, with power; Yosef, Yaakov, and Yehuda.
- Yosef was part of the power structure. He was loyal to Pharaoh and made Pharaoh very wealthy.
- Yaakov on the other hand says, the days of the years of my sojourns have been 130 years. Few and bad have been the days of the years of my life . . . Yaakov seemed to react as the curmudgeon old Jew who, when asked how things are going, always responds “Oh Vey, things are bad, this is no good and this is a problem.” Rabbi Wolkenfeld said beautifully. As Yaakov was on his way to Egypt, God appears in a dream (Chapter 46, Verses 1-4) and says: “Do not fear descending to Egypt, I will go down with you and I will bring you up.” Yaakov knew that eventually his descendants would be enslaved in Egypt. This is why Yaakov is not in the moment when visiting g Pharaoh. He dismissed Pharaoh. Yaakov was focused on the destiny of Klal Yisroel. Pharaoh meant nothing to Yaakov and Yaakov knew the Pharaoh or his descendants will enslave the Jewish people. Yaakov had no interest in dialoging with Pharaoh. Maybe Yaakov was hinting this to Pharaoh, just like my days were bad, you will continue the bad by enslaving my children.
- Yehuda on the other hand stood up to Yosef who Yehuda thought was Ki’Pharaoh. Yehuda was respectful.
Full text of Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s drashas, more or less, are now up on the shul’s Facebook page and should be up on the shul’s website on Tuesday. (You can go to asbi.org, click on “library” and then click on “sermons” for most of the drashot from the past 5 years).
Please look at the Ranban on Chapter 47, Verse 14. Focus on the last line of the Ranban, which is phenomenal and something that answers a question on Yosef’s actions of having the Egyptians buying the food and not giving it to them.
My Torah on this week is as follows.
When Yosef reveals himself to his brother and says. “I am Yosef, is my father still alive, and they could not answer because they were embarrassed.” The plain understanding is that Yosef was rebuking them, he was angry at them for selling him. Once he got it off his chest, he mellowed out.
However, based on another Verse, we can say a different explanation of the dialogue. In last week’s Torah portion, Chapter 41, Verse 51. “And Yosef called his first born son, Menashe, because God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s household. “ Yosef had everything, he went form a slave to being the second most powerful man in Egypt, he got the pretty wife, had a son, and God was with him in everything he did. He could not make a wrong decision. Not only that, his wife was the daughter of Dinah (per the Medresh). It was his niece. By marrying Dinah’s daughter, the house of Yaakov was made whole. As a result Yosef was no longer angry. He was able to forget the wrong that happened to him. Of course, Yosef missed his father dearly and longed for the day he would be reunited with his father. When the brothers came to him, he saw the first dream coming true and he was waiting for the second dream to become true, and only then would he reveal who he was. When Yosef said,” I am Yosef, is my father still alive.” He was not rebuking them, Yosef had moved beyond his anger and his negative feelings towards his brothers. He was stating a fact, “I am Joseph” then “Is my father alive.” Meaning, you said my father is alive, is this true, or did you say it just to say what you think I wanted to hear. Obviously, just Yosef saying, “I am Joseph” is the biggest rebuke of their actions, even if not meant as a rebuke. Yosef personally bore zero bad feelings towards his brothers. Imagine how they could live with themselves for the rest of their life. Yosef sincerely said to them, it was not your actions, but Gods actions.
When God is good to someone and things are going well, or you are older, retired, and you are having an easy retirement, with enough money to live a good life, then all the slights and insults, the things that went wrong over the years , should melt away. You have zero excuse to be angry or fight. If you hold onto past and present slights and hurts, you deny God’s goodness. You must be gracious to your fellow man, because God is gracious to you. Even if you feel that your smarts did it for you, you still have no reason to bear grudges. Life is good. You can go home and relax because you have no issues.