Shabbos Parshas VaYeshev / Thanksgiving 2021

Kiddush for Beverly’s fifth Yahrzeit coming up on 2 Teves – 

December 6, 2021

Torah on the Sedra

Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 2021

Sholem made Thanksgiving dinner.  Great meal with turkey, chicken, three types of vegetables, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and rice.   Dessert was pumpkin pie.  

Friday, November 26, 2021

Cold day.  An hour before Shabbos I went walking to get my 10,000 steps in.  Listened to Rabbi Efrim Goldberg’s Shiur on the Sedra.  It was vintage Rabbi Goldberg where he weaved together different Rishonim.  He said over a beautiful Rabbi Yosef Ber Soloveichik on the Pasuk 37:18 – וַיִּרְא֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ מֵרָחֹ֑ק – and they saw him from afar, last Torah thought on this post.  

Friday Night Shabbos – November 27, 2021:

My grandchildren, Aliza and Nechama, stayed over for Shabbos.  My daughter and son-in-law were in the hospital with my grandson.  He had trouble breathing.  Boruch Hashem everything is fine and on Sunday they came home from the hospital. 

 Every Friday night I overeat and fall asleep right after the meal.  Tonight was no different and I was asleep by 6:00 PM.  I awoke at 11:45 PM and stayed up for three hours learning the Sedra and preparing for my Shiur.  

Shabbos Morning:

At 8:45 AM left to go to Chabad of East Lakeview, a six mile walk.  Thought about the Shiur I would give and the time flew by.  Arrived in Shul at 10:45 AM, in the middle of Leining.  I leined the Haftorah in Amos which starts with the following Pasuk from Amos 2:6:

כֹּ֚ה אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֔ה עַל־שְׁלֹשָׁה֙ פִּשְׁעֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְעַל־אַרְבָּעָ֖ה לֹ֣א אֲשִׁיבֶ֑נּוּ עַל־מִכְרָ֤ם בַּכֶּ֙סֶף֙ צַדִּ֔יק וְאֶבְי֖וֹן בַּֽעֲב֥וּר נַעֲלָֽיִם׃

“For (the) three sins (I could forgive) Israel, but for four I will not forgive, because they sold justice of an innocent man for silver and cheated the poor for a pair of shoes.” 

Redak on this Pasuk:

רד”ק על עמוס ב׳:ו׳:א׳

אף על פי שעברו על שלשה עברות חמורות, והם עכו”ם, גילוי עריות ושפיכות דמים, לא נחתם גזר דינם לפני להחריב ארצם ולהגלותם ע”י מלך אשור, אלא על החמס, והוא הרביעי, ועליו הענישם על כל מה שעשו. וכן בדור המבול: אף על פי שהיו בידם כמה עברות, לא הענישם אלא על החמס, שנאמר (בראשית ו’ י”ג) “כי מלאה הארץ חמס מפניהם”, וכל שכן כשהחמס בא ע”י השופטים, שהיה להם להעמיד הצדק והם ע”י השוחד מטים הדין… פירוש “לא אשיבנו” – לא אשיבנו אל סליחתי שסלחתי לו שלש פעמים והייתי משיב אותו בכל פעם אל סליחתי אם לא היה שב אל פשעו, אבל אחר ששב עוד אל פשעו אענישנו על כולם.

The brothers purchasing shoes in Medresh:

ילקוט שמעוני על התורה קמ״ב:א׳

… (בראשית ל”ז כ”ז) “וימכרו את יוסף לישמעאלים בעשרים כסף” – כל אחד ואחד מהם נטל שני כספים לקנות מנעלים לרגליהם, שנאמר: “על מכרם בכסף צדיק ואביון בעבור נעלים”.

מדרש עשרה הרוגי מלכות (אייזנשטט, אוצר המדרשים):   פעם אחת היה יושב הקיסר ועוסק בתורה ומצא כתוב (שמות כ”א) “וגונב איש ומכרו ונמצא בידו מות יומת” – והלך וטח הבית בנעלים ודבקם בכתלים, ושלח אחר ר’ שמעון בן גמליאל וחבריו ואמר להם: אם כן אתם חייבים מיתה, קבלו על עצמכם דין שמים. אמרו לו: למה? אמר להם: בשביל אחי יוסף שמכרו את יוסף, דכתיב “וימכרו את יוסף בעשרים כסף” וכתיב “על מכרם בכסף צדיק ואביון בעבור נעלים”, ולכן טח אותו רשע את הבית במנעלים, כדי שיכירו באיזה דבר מכרו את יוסף, “בעבור נעלים” – בדמי נעלים.

The Targum Yonason Ben Uziel also brings up the purchase of shoes.   “And the Midianite men, masters of business, passed by; and they drew and brought up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Arabians for twenty mahin of silver; “which were used to purchase sandals”. And they brought Joseph to Mizraim.”

The Gutnick Chumash says “This Haftorah alludes to the sale of Yosef who was sold for silver by his brothers.  The Haftorah is a harsh rebuke by the Prophet Amos for the sins of the Jewish people during the reign of King Yarovam II (8th century BCE).”

Is the linkage of this Pasuk in Amos only superficial or is it on a deeper level.  Is it  an indictment of the ten brothers who sold Yosef because they sold Yosef without justice?  I believe that the answer is superficial linkage.  The reason the Haftorahs were instituted was at a time when the authorities forbade Jews to read the Torah.  Chazel said we will read Nach in that talks about the subject of the Sedra or something that will have a tie into the Parsha, even on a superficial level.

Where else do shoes play a role? 

The battle of Gettysburg.  The goal of General Robert E. Lee was to attack north and conquer Harrisburg, PA and from there go to other Northern cities.   The   battle plan changed in late June 1863.  Shelby Foote in his book ‘Stars in their Courses, The Gettysburg Campaign’ states; “Heth was quick to take him up on that.  “If there is no objection” he said, “I will take my division tomorrow and go to Gettysburg and get those shoes.”

I sponsored the Kiddush in memory of my Aunt Beverly Sklar, my mother’s younger sister who was born with special needs.  I told the circumstances of Beverley’s birth and life.  My source was my Hesped speech at her funeral. .

On Thursday I called Linda Kahn to come to Chabad for Davening and for the Kiddush. She has rarely been out of her house due to covid. She came.  I told her I would get her lean corned beef, her favorite, which the Rabbi made sure we had for the Kiddush.

I gave the Dr. Leonard Kranzler Memorial Shiur.  In attendance were Linda Kahn, Peggy and Sid Kaz, Herb Eiseman,  Ray Miller, Tamar Genin, Eli Morgenstern, and Xi.  Paul was in Texas for Shabbos.

Shiur was over at 3:05 PM and walked the six miles back home.

First thought – Verse 37:1 – וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יַעֲקֹ֔ב בְּאֶ֖רֶץ מְגוּרֵ֣י אָבִ֑יו בְּאֶ֖רֶץ כְּנָֽעַן׃

Yakov arrived at his father’s house when he was 99 years old and Yosef was 8 years old.  Yaakov was 108 years old when the sale of Yosef occurred.  This means that Yakov was 11 years by his father in peace and harmony.  However, during those 11 years trouble was brewing below the surface.  The famous Medresh that Rashi brings down,  וְעוֹד נִדְרָשׁ בּוֹ וישב, בִּקֵּשׁ יַעֲקֹב לֵישֵׁב בְּשַׁלְוָה, קָפַץ עָלָיו רָגְזוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף – צַדִּיקִים מְבַקְּשִׁים לֵישֵׁב בְּשַׁלְוָה, אָמַר הַקָּבָּ”ה לֹא דַיָּן לַצַּדִּיקִים מַה שֶּׁמְּתֻקָּן לָהֶם לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, אֶלָּא שֶׁמְּבַקְּשִׁים לֵישֵׁב בְּשַׁלְוָה בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה:

On the surface everything was fine but there was trouble afoot.

Yakov was planning to spend the rest of his life learning, davening, and doing Tzedakah and he did get eleven years, yet Hashem said that you cannot withdraw from reality and live a life of serenity.  The Ohr Hachaim goes a step further saying that Yakov disengaged from being the leader of the family, being actively engaged.  This was a monumental mistake because his not leading caused the rift in the family, whose effect we felt for generations. 

The first Pasuk says   וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יַעֲקֹ֔ב בְּאֶ֖רֶץ מְגוּרֵ֣י אָבִ֑יו בְּאֶ֖רֶץ כְּנָֽעַן׃ .  Yakov was יֵּ֣שֶׁב which means he found permanence in the land of the sojournings of his father.  Was his father also a יֵּ֣שֶׁב or a sojurner?  Avrohom said to the children of Ches, I am a sojourner and a permanent resident among you. What about Yitzchok?  I do not have an answer for this question.  

I saw this interesting Kotzker who brought down this Medresh. I did not say this Vort at the Shiur.  

The following Medresh say the words  בְּאֶ֖רֶץ מְגוּרֵ֣י means in the land of the converts of his father.  This teaches us that Yitzchak also converted people to monotheism.  

:דָּבָר אַחֵר, וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב וגו’, אַבְרָהָם גִּיֵּר גִּיּוּרִים, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (בראשית יב, ה): וַיִּקַּח אַבְרָם אֶת שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ, אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בֶּן זִמְרָא אִם מִתְכַּנְסִין כָּל בָּאֵי הָעוֹלָם לִבְרֹאת אֲפִלּוּ יַתּוּשׁ אֶחָד אֵינָן יְכוֹלִין, וְאַתְּ אוֹמֵר (בראשית יב, ה): וְאֶת הַנֶּפֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ בְחָרָן, אֶלָּא אֵלּוּ הַגֵּרִים שֶׁגִּיֵּר אוֹתָם אַבְרָהָם, וְלָמָּה אָמַר עָשׂוּ, וְלֹא אָמַר גִּיְּרוּ, לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁהוּא מְקָרֵב אֶת הַגֵּר כְּאִלּוּ בְּרָאוֹ. תֹּאמַר אַבְרָהָם הָיָה מְגַיֵּר וְשָׂרָה לֹא הָיְתָה מְגַיֶּרֶת, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר וְאֶת הַנֶּפֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ בְחָרָן, אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אֵין כְּתִיב כָּאן אֶלָּא אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ. אָמַר רַבִּי חוּנְיָא אַבְרָהָם הָיָה מְגַיֵּר אֶת הָאֲנָשִׁים וְשָׂרָה מְגַיֶּרֶת אֶת הַנָּשִׁים, וּמַה תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ, אֶלָּא מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהָיָה אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ מַכְנִיסָן לְתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ וּמַאֲכִילָן וּמַשְׁקָן וּמְקָרְבָן וּמַכְנִיסָן תַּחַת כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה. יַעֲקֹב גִּיֵּר גִּיּוּרִים, דִּכְתִיב (בראשית לה, ב): וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב אֶל בֵּיתוֹ וגו’ וַיִּתְּנוּ אֶל יַעֲקֹב וגו’, בְּיִצְחָק לֹא שָׁמַעְנוּ, וְהֵיכָן שָׁמַעְנוּ, רַבִּי יִצְחָק וְתָאנֵי לָהּ מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי הוֹשַׁעְיָא רַבָּה בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בַּר סִימוֹן, כָּאן כְּתִיב: וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב בְּאֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵי אָבִיו, מַאי מְגוּרֵי אָבִיו מִגִּיּוּרֵי אָבִיו.

The Kotzker said that Avrohom’s method of converting people was through action, doing kindness,  Yakov’s was more internal.  Verse 35:2 says  וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יַעֲקֹב֙ אֶל־בֵּית֔וֹ וְאֶ֖ל כׇּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר עִמּ֑וֹ הָסִ֜רוּ אֶת־אֱלֹהֵ֤י הַנֵּכָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּתֹכְכֶ֔ם וְהִֽטַּהֲר֔וּ וְהַחֲלִ֖יפוּ שִׂמְלֹתֵיכֶֽם.  The אֶ֖ל כׇּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר עִמּ֑וֹ is referring to converts of Yakov.  Yakov was telling them to look deep inside yourselves and remove the bad influence of idols.  What type were Yitzchok’s?  They were the same as Yakov’s as it says,  בְּאֶ֖רֶץ מְגוּרֵ֣י אָבִ֑יו, meaning that both Yitzchok and Yakov’s converts wee converted the same way.  As I contemplate this Kotzker, what is the Kotzker trying to say?  

Second thought on the Parsha:

Verse 2 –  אֵ֣לֶּה ׀ תֹּלְד֣וֹת יַעֲקֹ֗ב יוֹסֵ֞ף בֶּן־שְׁבַֽע־עֶשְׂרֵ֤ה שָׁנָה֙ הָיָ֨ה רֹעֶ֤ה אֶת־אֶחָיו֙ בַּצֹּ֔אן וְה֣וּא נַ֗עַר אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י בִלְהָ֛ה וְאֶת־בְּנֵ֥י זִלְפָּ֖ה נְשֵׁ֣י אָבִ֑יו וַיָּבֵ֥א יוֹסֵ֛ף אֶת־דִּבָּתָ֥ם רָעָ֖ה אֶל־אֲבִיהֶֽם׃

How do we understand this Pasuk that described Yosef.  Was Yosef good or bad? There are four descriptors of Yosef:

1 –  הָיָ֨ה רֹעֶ֤ה אֶת־אֶחָיו֙ בַּצֹּ֔אן  – good.  He was willing to pitch in. 

2 –   וְה֣וּא נַ֗עַר – immature – could be parve, but we will put this in the bad category.  They viewed Yosef as an immature youth who wanted to control the world. 

3 –  וְה֣וּא נַ֗עַר אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י בִלְהָ֛ה וְאֶת־בְּנֵ֥י זִלְפָּ֖ה – good.  Yosef hung around the sons of the maidservants who

                                                                          were verbally abused by the sons of Leah

4 – וַיָּבֵ֥א יוֹסֵ֛ף אֶת־דִּבָּתָ֥ם רָעָ֖ה אֶל־אֲבִיהֶֽם – bad

Overall, the Pasuk seems to describe Yosef as bad.

If # 3 is true; why did the four brothers of the maidservants Pasken with the sons of Leah.  They should have stepped up and said, you are wrong, we know Yosef and he would never usurp power,  He is kind and gentle.  In Shiur I answered that although Yosef supported them, when they had a chance to side with the bullies, they abandoned Yosef.  Put another way, they had a chance to be part of the club and this meant turning their backs on their former friend and defender.  This is common among people who are bullied. They so wanted to be part of the cool kids, the power elite, that when offered the opportunity they abandon their former uncool friends. Similar to Israel in the 1950s.  Israel’s foreign policy was to help the African and other poor countries with agricultural expertise.  However, in 1967 when the Arabs demanded loyalty they abandoned Israel and the technology for the people to better themselves and sided with the bullies.

Verse 3 continues and describes Yosef relationship with his father:

                                                                  וְיִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל אָהַ֤ב אֶת־יוֹסֵף֙ מִכׇּל־בָּנָ֔יו כִּֽי־בֶן־זְקֻנִ֥ים ה֖וּא ל֑וֹ וְעָ֥שָׂה ל֖וֹ כְּתֹ֥נֶת פַּסִּֽים׃    

The brothers saw the bad side of Yosef.  Yosef was their father’s favorite and made Yosef a special coat.  Additionally, Yosef was from Rachel, the love of Yakov and his primary wife.  Their mother was secondary.  This special love, the special coat had to bother them greatly which turned into jealousy and hatred.  It is understandable why Yakov would love  Yosef over all his brothers. Yosef was the son of the love of Yakov’s wife, they looked alike, he saw that Yosef was smarter than all his brothers, and he was born later in life to Yakov.   I would also guess that he saw leadership qualities in Yosef which were borne by the dreams.  To compound everything Yakov makes Yosef a special coat.  

We can understand why the brothers hated Yosef.  It was a hatred that turned into jealousy, very deadly.  

All the components of a combustible fire were set in  motion and are further exacerbated by the two dreams.  The first one he did not tell their father, however, in the second doubled down on bringing hatred to himself by telling their father the dream in front of the brothers.

Verse 37:3 –      וְיִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל אָהַ֤ב אֶת־יוֹסֵף֙ מִכׇּל־בָּנָ֔יו כִּֽי־בֶן־זְקֻנִ֥ים ה֖וּא ל֑וֹ וְעָ֥שָׂה ל֖וֹ כְּתֹ֥נֶת


Verse 37:4  וַיִּרְא֣וּ אֶחָ֗יו כִּֽי־אֹת֞וֹ אָהַ֤ב אֲבִיהֶם֙ מִכׇּל־אֶחָ֔יו וַֽיִּשְׂנְא֖וּ אֹת֑וֹ וְלֹ֥א יָכְל֖וּ דַּבְּר֥וֹ לְשָׁלֹֽם

Verse 37:5  וַיַּחֲלֹ֤ם יוֹסֵף֙ חֲל֔וֹם וַיַּגֵּ֖ד לְאֶחָ֑יו וַיּוֹסִ֥פוּ ע֖וֹד שְׂנֹ֥א אֹתֽוֹ׃     

Verse 37:6     וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֑ם שִׁמְעוּ־נָ֕א הַחֲל֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר חָלָֽמְתִּי   

וְ֠הִנֵּ֠ה אֲנַ֜חְנוּ מְאַלְּמִ֤ים אֲלֻמִּים֙ בְּת֣וֹךְ הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה וְהִנֵּ֛ה קָ֥מָה אֲלֻמָּתִ֖י וְגַם־נִצָּ֑בָה וְהִנֵּ֤ה תְסֻבֶּ֙ינָה֙ אֲלֻמֹּ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וַתִּֽשְׁתַּחֲוֶ֖יןָ לַאֲלֻמָּתִֽי׃

וַיֹּ֤אמְרוּ לוֹ֙ אֶחָ֔יו הֲמָלֹ֤ךְ תִּמְלֹךְ֙ עָלֵ֔ינוּ אִם־מָשׁ֥וֹל תִּמְשֹׁ֖ל בָּ֑נוּ וַיּוֹסִ֤פוּ עוֹד֙ שְׂנֹ֣א אֹת֔וֹ עַל־חֲלֹמֹתָ֖יו וְעַל־דְּבָרָֽיו׃

Verse 37:9  וַיַּחֲלֹ֥ם עוֹד֙ חֲל֣וֹם אַחֵ֔ר וַיְסַפֵּ֥ר אֹת֖וֹ לְאֶחָ֑יו וַיֹּ֗אמֶר הִנֵּ֨ה חָלַ֤מְתִּֽי חֲלוֹם֙ ע֔וֹד וְהִנֵּ֧ה הַשֶּׁ֣מֶשׁ וְהַיָּרֵ֗חַ וְאַחַ֤ד עָשָׂר֙ כּֽוֹכָבִ֔ים מִֽשְׁתַּחֲוִ֖ים לִֽי׃

Verse 37:10 – וַיְסַפֵּ֣ר אֶל־אָבִיו֮ וְאֶל־אֶחָיו֒ וַיִּגְעַר־בּ֣וֹ אָבִ֔יו וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ מָ֛ה הַחֲל֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר חָלָ֑מְתָּ הֲב֣וֹא נָב֗וֹא אֲנִי֙ וְאִמְּךָ֣ וְאַחֶ֔יךָ לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֺ֥ת לְךָ֖ אָֽרְצָה

Yakov realizes that the brothers hated Yosef and he tries to mitigate the hatred by minimizing the dream and saying it is a false dream.  Obviously, this was too little, too late. This verse and Verse 11 say:

וַיְסַפֵּ֣ר אֶל־אָבִיו֮ וְאֶל־אֶחָיו֒ וַיִּגְעַר־בּ֣וֹ אָבִ֔יו וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ מָ֛ה הַחֲל֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר חָלָ֑מְתָּ הֲב֣וֹא נָב֗וֹא אֲנִי֙ וְאִמְּךָ֣ וְאַחֶ֔יךָ לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֺ֥ת לְךָ֖  אָֽרְצָה׃

Third Thought:    Verse 37:11 וַיְקַנְאוּ־ב֖וֹ אֶחָ֑יו וְאָבִ֖יו שָׁמַ֥ר אֶת־הַדָּבָֽר׃

Beautiful Medrsh says on the words    וְאָבִ֖יו שָׁמַ֥ר אֶת־הַדָּבָֽר – 

וַיְקַנְאוּ בוֹ אֶחָיו וְאָבִיו שָׁמַר (בראשית לז, יא), אָמַר רַבִּי לֵוִי נָטַל קוּלְמוּס וְכָתַב בְּאֵיזֶה יוֹם וּבְאֵיזֶה שָׁעָה בְּאֵיזֶה מָקוֹם. אָמַר רַבִּי חִיָּא רַבָּה וְאָבִיו שָׁמַר אֶת הַדָּבָר, וְרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ אוֹמֶרֶת שְׁמֹר אֶת הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁעֲתִידִין הַדְּבָרִים לִגַּע. רַבִּי לֵוִי בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי חָמָא בַּר חֲנִינָא אָמַר כָּךְ אָבִינוּ יַעֲקֹב סָבַר וְרָאָה דְּבָרִים מְמַשְׁמְשִׁין וּבָאִין, אָמַר אִם נִתְבַּקְרָה פִּנְקָסוֹ מַה יָּכוֹל אֲנִי לַעֲשׂוֹת.

Yakov marked down on his notepad the details of the dreams because he fervently believed it would happen and he wanted to record what Yosef said so that he can look into his notebook years later and recall his thoughts and emotions when he heard the dream.  Rabbi Efreim Goldberg said in the name of Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian that we all should  record in a notebook things in our life that are monumental and of consequence so we do not forget what we did and relive the experience.  We will be able to vividly recall our feelings of that time.  Imagine a lifetime of those thoughts and deeds where you can go back and relive those moments.  Especially moments of truth when our life changed directions because of a decision or an action.

As an aside.  All three parties, Yakov, Yosef, and the ten brothers bore responsibility. The ten brothers were the ultimate guilty party, even though they thought they were acting properly, but Yakov and Yosef also contributed to the hatred.  

Continuation of the Narrative:

Everything is primed for a disaster.  The brothers hated and were jealous of Yoseph.  They felt that Yoseph was a Morad B’Malchus.  Yehuda was to be the king in the Jewish nation and Joseph via his dreams said I will be the king and they felt Yosef was trying to influence their father to be his successor and not the ten tribes.  The brothers Paskened that Yoseph deserved death.  We see that after they put Yoseph in the pit, they ate with a clear conscience.  They felt morally correct.

Fourth Thought:  Verse 37:12:

וַיֵּלְכ֖וּ אֶחָ֑יו לִרְע֛וֹת אֶׄתׄ־צֹ֥אן אֲבִיהֶ֖ם בִּשְׁכֶֽם   – There are two dots about the אֶׄתׄ .  Rashi brings down the Medresh saying that the two dots are telling us  that they went to take care of themselves. Bamidbar Rabbah 3:3 escribes what the were doing –  וְדִכְוָתָהּ (בראשית לז, יב): וַיֵּלְכוּ אֶחָיו לִרְעוֹת אֶת, לָמָּה נָקוּד עַל אֶת, מְלַמֵּד שֶׁלֹא הָלְכוּ לִרְעוֹת אֶלָּא לֶאֱכֹל וְלִשְׁתּוֹת וּלְהִתְפַּתּוֹת.  The Medresh is very critical of the tribes. When I first saw the word  לְהִתְפַּתּוֹת I thought it meant girls, however the  Medresh does not say girls.   This Medresh is telling us that they went to Shechem to think about how to carry out  the Pesak that Yosef deserves death and should be killed.  They had to talk themselves into carrying out this terrible Pesak.  They had to seduce themselves and talk themselves into carrying out the death sentence.  לְהִתְפַּתּוֹת is a reflexive word, meaning you let yourself be seduced.  It is one thing to say that Yosef deserves death, but to actually carry it out is difficult.  They had to build up the courage to actually carry out the death sentence.  I spoke this over with Rabbi Avrohom Shimon Moller and he did not hesitate that it means to seduce themselves, talk themselves into.

Fascinating.  It seems from their viewpoint, they were right. They sat down for a meal when they had Yoseph in the pit to eat with a clear conscience. Later on when they had the trouble in Egypt, they did not say they made a mistake, rather they said we should have heard the pleading of Joseph.  

Rabbi Efreim Goldberg asked why were they punished if they paskened that Yosef should die and God participated in their decision?  Their decision had a lasting negative impact on the Jewish people from the split in the tribes to the ten martyrs, so we see that they were wrong.  Rabbi Goldberg answered because they were jealous of Yosef and hated  him.  They did not have clarity when they Paskened.   Therefore they had no right to Pasken and were held accountable.  I am willing to bet that during the 22 years that Yoseph was gone some it not all of them felt uneasiness about their Pasak.  I have to assume that the four sons of the maidservants regretted the Pasak.   God’s participation is cited in Rashi Verse 37 that the brothers cursed anyone who would reveal what happened and included God with this curse.  

חיה רעה אכלתהו. נִצְנְצָה בוֹ רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ, סוֹפוֹ שֶׁתִּתְגָּרֶה בוֹ אֵשֶׁת פּוֹטִיפַר. וְלָמָּה לֹא גִלָּה לוֹ הַקָּבָּ”ה? לְפִי שֶׁהֶחֱרִימוּ וְקִלְּלוּ אֶת כָּל מִי שֶׁיְּגַלֶּה, וְשִׁתְּפוּ לְהַקָּבָּ”ה עִמָּהֶם (תנחומא), אֲבָל יִצְחָק הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהוּא חַי, אָמַר הֵיאַךְ אֲגַלֶּה וְהַקָּבָּ”ה אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְגַלּוֹת לוֹ:

The Sefsei Chachomin adds:

לפי שהחרימו וקללו את כל מי שיגלה ושתפו להקב”ה עמהם כו’. בודאי לא היה מוכרח לכך אלא מעצמו היה מסכים עמהם מפני כמה דברים חדא כדי שיתקיים כי גר יהיה זרעך (לעיל טו יג) דאי היה יודע יעקב שהורד למצרים היה פודה את יוסף בכל ממון שבעולם. ועוד דאי היה יודע יעקב היה מקלל אותם למחות את שמם ואז יכלה זרעו של ישראל והקב”ה רצה שיפרו וירבו. ולכך פירש בסמוך והקב”ה אינו רוצה לגלות לו משמע שלא היה מוכרח לכך ואם רצה היה מגלה אלא שהקב”ה הסכים עמהם כדי שיתקיים הגזירה של ועבדום וענו אותם. ועוד י”ל כדפירש רש”י בסמוך ימים רבים כ”ב שנה וכו’. וקשה מאי נ”מ אם כ”ב שנה או יותר הוא אלא ודאי דקשה לרש”י למה לא הגיד לו הקב”ה ליעקב למה היה מצערו כ”ב שנה אלא משום זה היה עושה כנגד כ”ב שנים שלא קיים כיבוד אב ואם שאם הגיד לו הקב”ה היה יעקב עושה תשובה והיה מבטל מה שנגזר עליו שיהיה בצער כ”ב שנה והקב”ה רצה לשלם לו על שביטל כיבוד אב ואם ולכן הסכים עמהם בחרם כדי שלא יהיו רשאין לגלות. דחרם הוא כמו שבועה וכשהקב”ה נשבע אין התשובה מבטלת כדפירש”י בפרשת חקת (במדבר כ יב) לכן לא תביאו בשבועה וכו’ נשבע בקפיצה כדי שלא ירבה בתפלה על כך ה”נ החרם היא כמו שבועה לכך הסכים עמהם:

  Fifth Thought:   Verses 13 and 14:

Continuing the Narrative:

                                                     וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל אֶל־יוֹסֵ֗ף הֲל֤וֹא אַחֶ֙יךָ֙ רֹעִ֣ים בִּשְׁכֶ֔ם לְכָ֖ה וְאֶשְׁלָחֲךָ֣ אֲלֵיהֶ֑ם וַיֹּ֥אמֶר ל֖וֹ הִנֵּֽנִי׃

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֗וֹ לֶךְ־נָ֨א רְאֵ֜ה אֶת־שְׁל֤וֹם אַחֶ֙יךָ֙ וְאֶת־שְׁל֣וֹם הַצֹּ֔אן וַהֲשִׁבֵ֖נִי דָּבָ֑ר וַיִּשְׁלָחֵ֙הוּ֙ מֵעֵ֣מֶק חֶבְר֔וֹן וַיָּבֹ֖א שְׁכֶֽמָה׃

Yakov tells Yosef.  Please go and see what is happening with the brothers and the flock.  Despite Yakov knowing of the hatred, he asked Yosef to go.  Yosef responded  הִנֵּֽנִי.  Yosef knew that he was hated and he should have said to his father, Dad, I do not think this is a good idea, my brothers hate me and may harm me.  Additionally, why would Yakov have to worry about his ten 10 sons.  They were a strong group of adult men.  We also see that Ruvein went back to take care of his father so why did he have to send Yosef.

The answer is that this all is the start of the fulfilment of the destiny foretold at the Akediah of the enslavement in a strange land. The entire idea of Yakov feeling the need to send his son for a status report had to be placed in Yakov’s head by God, Yakov thinking I need a report.   

Yakov sending Yosef,  you can answer simply that he did not understand how deeply the brothers hated Yosef, however, how do you understand Yosef’s reaction?  The answer that is given is that he had so much honor and respect  for his father, he would not question his father in any way.  

The new Lubavitch Chumash explains Yakov’s and Yosef’s considerations differently.  Yakov knew that the brothers hated Yosef and did not want to send, however, he sensed destiny and felt he had to send.  Similarly, Yosef also felt that destiny will be played out.   Both Yakov and Yosef had an intuition that something big will happen, destiny is about to happen but this is only a feeling.   There is no  question that had Yakov known the end result he would not have sent Yosef. 

Peggy Kaz said over a nice Pshat.  Where else does the Torah say הִנֵּֽנִי?  When  Avorhom responded to God    הִנֵּֽנִי by the Akeidah and a second time in Genesis Verse 31:11 – וַיֹּ֨אמֶר אֵלַ֜י מַלְאַ֧ךְ הָאֱלֹהִ֛ים בַּחֲל֖וֹם יַֽעֲקֹ֑ב וָאֹמַ֖ר הִנֵּֽנִי׃.

Peggy said that perhaps the word   הִנֵּֽנִי is not that just a response, I am here to do what you are asking me to do,   Perhaps it is also a sense that I am here to do what you want because I sense destiny. It is a word that infers destiny.  

We see from Rashi on Verse 37:14 that destiny is playing its hand.

מעמק חברון. וַהֲלֹא חֶבְרוֹן בָּהָר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיַּעֲלוּ בַנֶּגֶב וַיָּבֹא עַד חֶבְרוֹן (במדבר י”ג), אֶלָּא מֵעֵצָה עֲמֻקָּה שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ צַדִּיק הַקָּבוּר בְּחֶבְרוֹן, לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר לְאַבְרָהָם בֵּין הַבְּתָרִים כִּי גֵר יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ (בראשית ט״ו:י״ג):

Sixth Thought

I said years ago that Yakov for twenty two years wondered why he sent his son.  He told himself, I knew that there were reasons not to send, why oh why did I send him? He replayed the scene daily in his mind. I found the following Medresh that says this very thing.     רַבִּי חָמָא בַּר חֲנִינָא הַדְּבָרִים הַלָּלוּ הָיָה יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ נִזְכָּר וּמֵעָיו מִתְחַתְּכִין, יוֹדֵעַ הָיִיתָ שֶׁאַחֶיךָ שׂוֹנְאִים אוֹתְךָ וְהָיִיתָ אוֹמֵר לִי הִנֵּנִי.

    Rabbi Chama bar Chanina: Yaakov remembered these words and his internal organs would

    feel like     they were being chopped up: you knew that your brothers hated you, and still 

    you said to me ‘here I am.’

Seventh Thought:

Yosef goes and has a dialogue with someone the Torah calls an “Ish” who Rashi says is a good angel, Gavriel.   Rabbi Yosef Ber Soloveichik calls Gavriel, the angel of destiny.  Destiny is being played out at this time and Gavriel is manipulating events to make sure it happens.  Rashi in Verse 37:14 says that destiny is being played out to start the process of fulfilling God’s words at the Akediah that the Jews will be in a strange land for 400 years.

Rabbi Goldberg brought down a beautiful Rabbi Yosef Ber Soloveichik.

The angel Gavriel asks Yosef what are you seeking.  Yosef answers  וַיֹּ֕אמֶר אֶת־אַחַ֖י אָנֹכִ֣י מְבַקֵּ֑שׁ.  The Rov says the Pshat is that I am looking for brotherhood, peace and harmony.  The angel responds that brotherhood will not happen, and the angel hinted to Yosef, in fact they are going to Dosan to Pasken that you should be put to death and they are planning to kill you.   וַיֹּ֤אמֶר הָאִישׁ֙ נָסְע֣וּ מִזֶּ֔ה כִּ֤י שָׁמַ֙עְתִּי֙ אֹֽמְרִ֔ים נֵלְכָ֖ה דֹּתָ֑יְנָה וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ יוֹסֵף֙ אַחַ֣ר אֶחָ֔יו וַיִּמְצָאֵ֖ם בְּדֹתָֽן׃ 

Then it says וַיִּרְא֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ מֵרָחֹ֑ק וּבְטֶ֙רֶם֙ יִקְרַ֣ב אֲלֵיהֶ֔ם וַיִּֽתְנַכְּל֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ לַהֲמִיתֽוֹ׃  The Rov tranlslates וַיִּרְא֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ מֵרָחֹ֑ק that they saw Yosef as an outsider, a  stranger.  Yosef wanted brotherhood but they would not reciprocate and never would.    After Yakov dies the brothers go over to Yosef and tell him that their father instructed them to tell Yosef not to take revenge against them.  Yosef is devastated.  He knew that they were lying because he never revealed to his father the true story of himself going to Egypt.  Despite years of all of them getting along, it was illusionary, they only showed brotherhood because of Yakov.  They never viewed him as part of the family.

You can ask, isn’t this rich? Yosef caused the rift and now he wants to have brotherhood.  You have to answer that Yosef never wanted to cause jealousy.  He never intended to hurt his brothers.  He wanted them to grow as humans.  Rabbi Efreim Golberg asked when Yosef told over the dreams what did he expect?  Rabbi Goldberg answered perhaps Yosef is saying strive for greatness.  Look at me, the young, immature  brother will accomplish greatness.  The message of the dream is not that you will bow down to me, but that I will also become a great figure and you, my older brothers, can also achieve greatness. I have had this younger brother syndrome to my two older brothers, Peach and Arela.


Week of October 31 – November 6, 2021

25 Cheshvon – 2 Kislav 5782

Shabbos Parshas Toldos – November 6, 2021

This is the first full week of living in our new house at 2936 W. Glenlake.   Magnificent.

Recalling  Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik, TZL

This Shabbos was Avrumi Bernstein’s Au Ruf in Sidney’s basement Minyan.  The wedding is in Lakewood,

Purchased of A Letter in the Scroll by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, TZL

Purchased Rabbi David Fohrman’s Sefer on Bereshis

Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik

Recap of week:

This was the first full week of living in my new home at 2936 W. Glenlake.  I have been dreaming of moving into this home since I purchased it in 2012.  The house is beyond my expectations.  Rabbi Revach’s Shiurim continue to be amazing and I continue to fight with my Chavrusah.  Worked hard to buy things and organize the new home.  We made our final decision on kitchen cabinets on Wednesday and ordered them.  They will be completed in late January 2022.  We still have to pick out the countertops.  Originally we picked out a Corian tile, however I want to go with Ceaserstone, an Israeli company.  I want to picture the sweeping landscape of Israel and recall the theme song of the movie Exodus, .  The theme song with words – .    We also have to decide whether the countertops will have a one foot overhang for bar stools or a table. Friday I went to Rosenblums and purchased Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Sefer, A Letter in the Scroll and Rabbi David Fohrman’s Genesis, A Parsha Companion.  On Shabbos was the Auf Ruv of Avrumi Bernstein at our Shul in Sidney Glenner’s basement.  I know the Chassen’s father, Matt Bernstein, an attorney,  and finally met his mother, a Japanese convert.

Vort #1:

On Shabbos Parshas Toldos 1973 at his Shalosh Seudas Drasha, Reb Aaaron Soloveichik explained why Yitzchok wanted to give the Brachos to Eisav and not Yakov.  As I recall Reb Aaron said that Yitzchok felt that to survive, Klal Yisroel had to be strong and tough like Eisav and as far as Torah, he will teach Eisuv Torah.  This Hashgacha Pratis of the events as they unfolded was to show Yitzchok that Yaakov also had strength to become the foundation of the nation of Israel. 

Reb Aaron mentioned Onkelys in Todos Verse 27:13.   וַתֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ אִמּ֔וֹ עָלַ֥י קִלְלָתְךָ֖ בְּנִ֑י אַ֛ךְ שְׁמַ֥ע בְּקֹלִ֖י וְלֵ֥ךְ קַֽח־לִֽי׃

Onkeylis – וַאֲמֶרֶת לֵיהּ אִמֵּיהּ עֲלַי אִתְאַמַּר בִּנְבוּאָה דְּלָא יֵיתוּן לְוָטַיָּא עֲלָךְ בְּרִי בְּרַם קַבֵּל מִנִּי וְאִזֵּיל סַב לִי – tranlsated as “And his mother said to him, Unto me it hath been said in prophecy, that there shall be no curses upon thee, my son; only obey me, and go, and take for me.”   The way Reb Aaron interpreted it, or how I remember Reb Aaron explaining Onkolus that she told her son that I was told via prophecy that you are to go in and take the Brochos from Eisav.  Meaning that at this very moment Rivka had this prophecy.  I always wondered, how did Onkelys know that Rivka heard a prophecy to pull this deception.  On Friday, I purchased the Sefer written by Rabbi David Fohrman on Bershis from Rosenblum’s.  Reading his Torah on Toldos, it clicked.  The prophecy Onkelys mentioned in all likelihood is the prophecy she heard from Shem when she was pregnant that the elder son will serve the younger son.  Most commentators translate this to mean that the older son being Eisav will serve the younger son Yaakov.  Therefore she reasoned Yaakov was destined to receive the first born blessing from Yitzhok and seemingly she felt that the only way to do this is through deception.  Rabbi Fohrman has a different Mehalech and says that she did not plan to deceive Yitzchok. Yaakov was to go in and tell his father that I am Yakov and that the Borchos belong to me.  The plan went awry and Yakov ended up deceiving his father.

Vort 2:

I was listening to Rabbi Levertov’s Parsha class from Sante Fe, NM, where he is the Shliach.   There was one listener who challenged Rabbi Levertov a number of times and was saying ideas that smacked of bible criticism and interpreting the Avos in a bad light.  She sounded intelligent and was hard to refute.  Of course she went against Rashi and other Reshoman, but just reading the Chumash without Rashi she sounded intelligent.  At one point Rabbi Levertov said that we cannot ignore 3,000 years of Mesorah.  Her last complaint was that the Avos had bad communication skills because Rivka did not tell her husband about her prophecy.  Through siatta dismaya, I remembered an old Vort that I said many years ago as to why she didn’t tell her husband the bad news that one son will turn out evil.  Rivka upon hearIng this devastating news thought to herself, I will not let this happen.  I will bring him up in a spiritual atmosphere, teach him, and train him to be a Tzaddik, a righteous man.  We do know that Eisev had the potential to be a Tzaddik.  Some say that the original divine plan was for Eisuv to be the financial support for Yaakov and Klal Yisroel, with Yaakov being the spiritual heart.  A Yissachar-Zevulun relationship.   She did not tell her husband because she did not want her husband to prejudge Eisav.  She wanted Yitzchok  to treat him and educate him just like Yaakov.  This is the nature vs. nurture argument.  I think that this explanation is so obvious.

Vort #3:

 The Torah in Chapter 26 discusses Yitzchok’s stay in Gerar.  Yitzchok becomes wealthy and the Pelishtim become jealous of Yitzchok.   

Bereshis Verse 26:14 describes Yitzchok’s wealth. 

וַֽיְהִי־ל֤וֹ מִקְנֵה־צֹאן֙ וּמִקְנֵ֣ה בָקָ֔ר וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה וַיְקַנְא֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ פְּלִשְׁתִּֽים׃

and he acquired flocks and herds, וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה, so that the Philistines envied him.

When I read this Passuk, I thought that the translation of   וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה  would be that Yitzchok had many slaves.   I was surprised that Rashi said that וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה  means “much work.   Looking through the Reshonim, there are three different translations וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה

1 – much enterprise – Rashi

2 – slaves/servants – Ibn Ezra and the Ramban

3 – farmland / farm work to be done – Sferno, Rashbam, Raak

What does Rashi mean when he says “much enterprise”.  The world back in the times of the Avos and for thousands of years were agricultural societies and raising farm animals.  There was no industry creating jobs that we have since the industrial revolutions starting in 1840.

Rashi is telling us an aspect of Yitzchok’s responsibility to the world and fellow man.  Yitzchok built businesses to employ people, to give them jobs, and a living.  Yitzchok is generally considered a man of Gevurah.  Someone who closed himself from within and did not engage the world.  However, the Torah tells us that despite his lack of engagement with the world, he was a tremendous Ba’al Chesed.  The Torah’s tells us the same thing with the wells.  After being kicked out from Gerar, he goes back to dig wells.  Why would Yitzchok do this when he was kicked out from Gerar and as Rashi says that he went to the valley of Gerar, far from the city.   Verse16:17 and 18 say –  וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ מִשָּׁ֖ם יִצְחָ֑ק וַיִּ֥חַן בְּנַֽחַל־גְּרָ֖ר וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב שָֽׁם׃ 

וַיָּ֨שׇׁב יִצְחָ֜ק וַיַּחְפֹּ֣ר ׀ אֶת־בְּאֵרֹ֣ת הַמַּ֗יִם אֲשֶׁ֤ר חָֽפְרוּ֙ בִּימֵי֙ אַבְרָהָ֣ם אָבִ֔יו וַיְסַתְּמ֣וּם פְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים אַחֲרֵ֖י מ֣וֹת אַבְרָהָ֑ם וַיִּקְרָ֤א לָהֶן֙ שֵׁמ֔וֹת כַּשֵּׁמֹ֕ת אֲשֶׁר־קָרָ֥א לָהֶ֖ן אָבִֽיו׃

The reason is that Yitzchok knew that water means life and water is a major resource to sustain society.  He went back to Gerar to dig wells to give the people sources of water.    All major cities in the US are built next to water sources.  This Is in contrast to the leaders who closed Avrohom’s wells because of jealousy.  They deprived their citizens of an important resource and caused them hardships and told the people a nonsensical reason why they closed the wells.  While on the surface it seems reasonable, that an invading army may come and will have water to fight against us, the reality is that when invading armies come to Gerar, they can close up the wells at that time.  This is what politicians do.  They do not care if they hurt their own people and only care about their power.  

Rashi in explaining  וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה as “much enterprise” based on what I wrote is saying that Yitzchok observe the highest level of chairy, of giving people jobs, as the Rambam writes in Hilchos Matnas Aniem – the laws of giving charity –   שְׁמוֹנֶה מַעֲלוֹת יֵשׁ בַּצְּדָקָה זוֹ לְמַעְלָה מִזּוֹ. מַעֲלָה גְּדוֹלָה שֶׁאֵין לְמַעְלָה מִמֶּנָּה זֶה הַמַּחֲזִיק בְּיַד יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁמָּךְ וְנוֹתֵן לוֹ מַתָּנָה אוֹ הַלְוָאָה אוֹ עוֹשֶׂה עִמּוֹ שֻׁתָּפוּת אוֹ מַמְצִיא לוֹ מְלָאכָה כְּדֵי לְחַזֵּק אֶת יָדוֹ עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת לִשְׁאל. וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לה) “וְהֶחֱזַקְתָּ בּוֹ גֵּר וְתוֹשָׁב וָחַי עִמָּךְ” כְּלוֹמַר הַחֲזֵק בּוֹ עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִפּל וְיִצְטָרֵךְ:  

There are eight levels of tzedakah, each one greater than the other. The greatest level,

higher than all the rest, is to fortify a fellow Jew and give him a gift, a loan, form with him a partnership, or find work for him, until he is strong enough so that he does not need to ask others [for sustenance]. Of this it is said, (Lev. 25:35) [If your kinsman, being in straits,

comes under your authority,] and you hold him as though a resident alien, let him live

by your side. That is as if to say, “Hold him up,” so that he will not fall and be in need.

The following is a list of Reshonim and how they translate וַעֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה.

First Translation:

1 – Rashi’s words –   ועבדה רבה. פְּעֻלָּה רַבָּה בִּלְשׁוֹן לע”ז אוברי”נא, עֲבוֹדָה מַשְׁמָע עֲבוֹדָה אַחַת; עֲבֻדָּה מַשְׁמָע פְּעֻלָּה רַבָּה: 

Artscroll translation of Rashi – “This means “much work”. “The word  עֲבוֹדָה  denotes one task but the word עֲבֻדָּה  denotes many varieties of work.”

Second Translation:

2 – Ibn Ezra – ועבדה. עבדים ושפחות שיעבדוהו והוא תואר השם או שם כמו סגולה: 

3 -Ramban:   ויהי לו מקנה צאן ומקנה בקר ועבודה רבה – אתונות וגמלים וחמורים ועבדים ושפחות

Third Translation:

4 – Sforno:   ועבודה רבה, soil ready to be worked

5 – Rashbam:       ועבודה רבה, work in the field and vineyards. The expression עבודה, unless defined differently, additionally, always refers to labour in the field.

6 – Radak:      ועבודה רבה, he also engaged extensively in agriculture. Compare Proverbs 12,11, עובד אדמתו, “tilling his own land.” Compare also Genesis 4,11 כי תעבוד את האדמה, “when you till the soil.”                                                     

The word עֲבֻדָּ֖ה רַבָּ֑ה  as defined by the Reshomin and how the various Chumasim translate these words.

Rashi – Much enterprise:

Artscroll – much enterprise

            Gutnick Chumash – much enterprise

            Mesoras Harav – much production

Ibn Ezra – slaves  –  Sefaria – large household

Ramban                   JPS – great household

                                Soncino – great household*

* See Soncino commentary

Sferno – Farmland/farmland to be worked – Rabbi Samson Rephael Hirsh chumash – much farmland 



Rabbi Roberts said that this is the meaning of the Rambam in Hilchos  Melachim 9, Halacha 1 

that says:     וְכֵן הָיָה הַדָּבָר בְּכָל הָעוֹלָם עַד אַבְרָהָם. בָּא אַבְרָהָם וְנִצְטַוָּה יֶתֶר עַל אֵלּוּ בְּמִילָה. וְהוּא הִתְפַּלֵּל שַׁחֲרִית. וַיִּצְחָק הִפְרִישׁ מַעֲשֵׂר וְהוֹסִיף תְּפִלָּה אַחֶרֶת לִפְנוֹת הַיּוֹם. וְיַעֲקֹב הוֹסִיף גִּיד הַנָּשֶׁה וְהִתְפַּלֵּל עַרְבִית. וּבְמִצְרַיִם נִצְטַוָּה עַמְרָם בְּמִצְוֹת יְתֵרוֹת. עַד שֶׁבָּא משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ וְנִשְׁלְמָה תּוֹרָה עַל יָדוֹ.

Yitzchok established the laws of tithing.  The Ravad argues on the Rambam and says it was Avrohom who established Maaser.   According to the Rambam one would not expect that Yitzchok established tithing because Yitzchok’s character trait is Geverah and not Chesed.  It was Avrohom whose characteristic was charity and chesed.  Yet, the Rambam ascribes tithing to Yitzchok.  The reason is as stated above.  Yitzchok worked to the benefit of society, providing water resources and an economy providing jobs.  He also felt that people should have to give away 1/10 of their property to help other people, to help society.

Added Insight:

Each of the Avos had their defining trait; Avraham’s was chesed, Yitzchak’s was gevurah (to be explained), and Ya’akov’s was emes/tiferes. The Immahos also had their defining traits, and these were the traits which complemented their husbands; Sarah’s was gevurah, Rivkah’s was chesed, and Rachel and Leah’s matched Ya’akov. At this point we shall explain what the trait of gevurah is and why it complements the trait of chesed. Chesed as a trait [this is distinct from the mitzvah of gemillus chesed] means the attribute of unlimited giving. The only problem that this can have is that giving without limits can be harmful. As every parent knows, giving a sweet to their children is nice, but too many sweets will cause tooth decay. Similarly, the Torah labels certain forbidden incestuous relationships as being ‘a chesed’[3] for this is when one’s desire for love and giving has spilled over and has not been contained or limited appropriately. This is where the trait of gevurah comes in. Gevurah limit’s the outflow of the trait of chesed to give it solid boundaries and essentially bring it into positive fruition – it is the ‘strict/harsh’ setting of limits.

Letter to Rabbi Yonah Reiss

October 14, 2021

Rabbi Yonah Reiss

Chicago Rabbinical Council

2701 W Howard

Chicago, IL  60645

Dear Rabbi Reiss:

Rabbi Zev Eleff in his 2016 book, Modern Orthodox Judasin  quotes a 1954 Der Tog article in which Rabbi Yoseph Ber Soloveichik was asked three questions and the Rov’s response was published. One of the questions was asked by a  young man who had moved to the suburbs.  There was no orthodox Shul nearby and asked the Rov if he, the young man, can hear shofer in a Shul with mixed seating.  The Rov said, “It would be better not to hear the shofar than to enter a synagogue whose sanctity has been profaned.”  The Rov went on to say,”Orthodox organizations should undertake to build synagogues in the suburbs and new communities where Jews are settling.  If the various synagogue organizations .  .  . wound concentrate in America they could accomplish much.”

It is over 65 years since the article and I just realized that Chabad is fulfilling the Rov’s wishes and the Rov’s prophecy.    I was speaking to Rabbi Avrohom Gershon and he told me that his son, Rabbi Mordechai Gershon,  opened up a Chabad house at 1501 S. Indiana, in the South Loop of Chicago.  I was amazed.  I already knew that Chabad had a number of places on the North side, but did not realize how much Lubavitch has penetrated the City.  Someone told me that in opening up a new store, his company used a 2.5 mile radius around a store to be part of the store’s community.    Chabad’s biggest  gap is between Bnei Ruvain and Chabad of East Lakeview, a 6.5 mile walk.   Lincoln Square is roughly in the middle.  I am sure that Rabbi Hertz is working on setting up a Chabad house in Lincoln Square. (I just found out that Rabbi Hertz will eventually set up a Chabad house in West Lakeview, roughly 2 miles south east from Lincoln Square or 4 miles from my house.)

I attend the Chabad of East Lakeview.  Rabbi Kotlarski is working to create a community and a full time Shul.  One of the benefits he has is that there is an Eruv in the community.   There is no problem with Chilul Shabbos.  It is a joy watching this formation.

In the attached letter to Rabbi Ciment of Boynton Beach, FL, I spell out what a Shul means to congregants.  Lubavitch is giving Jewish people eternity.  

Walking the six miles from my house to Chabad of East Lakeview on Shabbos Parshas Noah, I thought about the luxury of an Eruv.    Setting up a large community Eruv that would encompass many of these Chabad houses or individual Eruvim around these Chabad houses would be a major benefit for the Lubavitch Rabbis and for the Jewish people. Carrying on Shabbos would be one less worry for them.   I realize that this is a difficult undertaking in terms of Halacha and money, as I do not have the money to fund the project, but I would like to put this out in the public consciousness, especially to the leaders of the community.   


Mitchell A. Morgenstern

Letter to Rabbi Ciment, Chabad of Boynton Beach

October 5, 2021

Rabbi Sholom Ciment
℅ Chabad of Boynton Beach
10655 El Clair Ranch Road
Boynton Beach, FL 33437

Dear Rabbi Ciment:

Thank you for a beautiful Simchas Torah that I was able to celebrate with my grandkids.
Your speeches were excellent over Yom Tov. If you have them written down or an outline, please email me.

Your Yizkor speech was about connecting generations. I saw a beautiful paragraph in a book titled, The Miracle of Intervale Avenue written by Professor Jack Kugelmass. The book was first published in 1986 and again in 1996 with an update. The book is about the last remaining Orthodox Shul in the South Bronx, the Intervale Jewish Center. Professor Jack Kugelmass was an anthropology graduate student and first entered the Shul in February 1980 thinking he would write a magazine article on the last remaining Jews in the South Bronx. He ended up spending over 5 years visiting the Shul on a regular basis and wrote a 250 page book about the Shul and its people.

Jack Kugelmass talks about why these elderly Jews stayed in the South Bronx and attended the Interval Jewish Center and talks about the expected. Towards the end of the book, Jack Kugelmass comes to realize something important about the Shul to its members and why they stayed in the South Bronx. He writes, “For congregants concerned about their legacy and needing the reassurance that they will be remembered, the Intervale Jewish Center has come to serve as a communal kaddish, guaranteeing to each member the recitation of the memorial prayers.” and “For some congregants yorsayt is a major reason for attending.”

Then Professor Jack Kugelmass sums this up with a powerful, powerful conclusion. He writes, “Ultimately, only the knowledge that one is part of something greater than familial bonds and obligations, something that reasserts the existence of a higher order of things, gives man the sense that death and life are linked, that they are both part of a divine plan, and that one gives meaning and purpose to the other. The communal rites of the shul provide that sense of order if only because they tie congregants to the world of their fathers and even, as I argued in an earlier chapter, to the world of their biblical forefathers.”

I have reread this paragraph numerous times and it is profound. Professor Jack Kugelmass was not Frum, yet he came to realize the ultimate purpose of a Shul, and what it should mean to its congregants. For most of my life I thought that Shul was just a place to daven and it really did not make a difference where I davened. I discovered that a Shul must be more than just a place to daven. It must connect the person to his past and to the Jewish people.

This is also what a Rabbi must do. He connects his congregants to something greater than their lives. In your case, it is the Rebbe, events, and Torah. I connected to Boca Raton Synagogue and never wanted to leave. Rabbi Lopatin at Anshei Sholom in Chicago connected his congregants to Rabbi Lopatin’s world. Through Rabbi Lopatin, I was able to experience an AIPAC convention, and a CUFI convention. When Rabbi Lopatin attended a Friday morning breakfast for the dedication weekend of the Holocaust Meusem in Skokie, that Shabbos in his Drasha, Rabbi Lopatin expressed his displeasure with the breakfast. I was part of Rabbi Lopatin’s world. His successor, Rabbi Wolkenfeld, connects me to beautiful Torah. Once he explained a Rashbam magnificently. His recent Shabbos Shuva Drasha was perfect. He discussed a question a congregant asked him, which Rabbi Wolkenfeld then asked Rabbi Tzvi Rimon. Rabbi Rimon wrote back discussing the basic laws of Shmitta, going through the Pesukim, then the Rishonim, the Rambam, Shulchan Aruch, etc. Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s Drasha, was Rabbi Rimon’s answer. He connected his congregation to Rabbi Rimon, the Salsheles of Torah and made them part of it. I am watching Rabbi Kotlarski of Chabad of East Lakeview trying to establish a new congregation out of nothing and I am able to be part of it. When I take the one hour and forty-five minute trek to Lakeview, I first walk to Anshei Sholom to hear Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s speech, then I walk over to Chabad of East Lakeview . Additionally, I am able to give a Shiur at Rabbi Kotlarski’s Chabad house. While it is only a small group, my goal is to connect these people who never learned to the world of the Chumash and to the great Reshonim. To a Rashi, an Ibn Ezra, a Sferno, a Ramban so that they feel part of the Reshonim’s world, the Torah world. I hope to make them feel that they are present when Rashi wrote his commentary. I know this is arrogance on my part that I think that I am accomplishing this, but at least in my mind I am.

I loved attending Anshei Sholom that at times. I would drive there Friday, right before Shabbos, Daven for 30 minutes, and walk 5.5 miles back home. I needed the inspiration of Davening in that Shul. I was under tremendous pressure at work and I needed to feel a connection to Hashem. Other times going to Shul Friday night, before I could Daven I had to read Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Torah.

Best Regards,

Mitchell A. Morgenstern

Shabbos Parshas VaYelich: September 10th and 11, 2021

Anshei Shalom and Chabad of East Lakeview.

Understanding the first two Verses of this week’s Sedra

     Verse 31:1  VaYelish Moshe – Moshe went.  Where did he go?

     Verse 31:2 Why didn’t Moshe Go Into Israel

This week is Shabbos Shuva.  We ate by Sidney and Lisa Friday night and I overate.  To make up for it, I walked to Anshei Shalom and Chabad of East Lakeview, walking 13 total miles. The temperature was in the mid 80s and I sweated.

I arrived at Anshei Shalom at 10:15.  They were already done with Leining.  I davened Musaf and then after Kedushah I davened Scharis.  Met a few of my old friends. Spoke to Jonathan Silverstein, Mateo and Ilana (Borzak)  Aceves, and Josh Lewis, who recently had a second child.   Rabbi Wolkenfeld gave his Shabobs Shuva Drasha at 11:45 AM.  Rabbi Wolkenfeld asked Rabbi Tzvi Rimon a question on Shmittha.  Places advertise that they will sell a person a 4 Amah by 4 Amah plot of land so that someone in America can observe Shmita by having their newly purchased land lay fallow. Rabbi Rimon went through the Mitzvah of Shmittah and basically said, it is a nice thing to do, but there is no requirement.

At 12:45 walked over to the Chabad of East Lakeview.  I arrived towards the end of their Kiddush.  Washed and had Cholent along with a chicken wrap.  Afterwards I gave over some Torah in the Chumash Shiur we have in honor of Dr. Leonard Kranzler..

First Dvar Torah

Verse 31:1

וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֛ר אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה אֶל־כׇּל־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

The question is asked.  Where will Moshe go?  The Torah does not explain.    Similar to Parshas Korach which opens with  ויקח קרח.  The Meforshim strive to explain what Korach took.  Either he took himself to one side to fight with Moshe or he took the 250 members of the Sanhedrin.   Here too in our Parsha Meforshim try to explain where Moshe went. 

To put this Parsha in context, this was the last day of Moshe’s life.  In the previous Parsha of Netzvim, the entire nation stood before Moshe and Moshe brought them into a covenant with Hashem.  In VaYalich Moshe is again speaking to all the Jewish people. Was Parshas VaYalich a continuation of the previous Parsha in which Moshe continued to speak to the entire congregation who were assembled or not.


First Explanation – Rashi

Rashi:   וילך משה. וגו’ – Moses went, etc.

Seemingly Rashi is saying nothing.   וגו means etc.  Artscroll notes this and says that this Rashi is not an explanation of anything, just giving us a marker that this is a new Parsha.     Artscroll explains – “these words do not appear in most early editions of Rashi.  They were added, with or without the word וגו, in later editions, in order to identify the beginning of the new parashah.”  Meaning that these are not the words of Rashi.   For some reason the editor of Chumash decided to put in these words. 

Okay, perhaps, but Artscroll would have to explain why only here do we have these words and not any other Parsha. I am very reluctant to diminish any word that we have in our printed editions.

I think that Rashi wrote this and this one abbreviated word וגו    is a commentary of וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֹשֶׁ֑ה.

The word וגו means “and the continued text” in the Torah.  Rashi is saying that Moshe went and continued to serve as the agent of Hashem to Israel.   He told the people of his impending death and that they should be strong, God will be with them.   וילך משה is not that Moshe went anywhere, but he continued to serve the Jewish people. 

Second Explanation – Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Chezkuni- Moshe went to each tribe.

The Ramban and Ibn Ezra explain it as Moshe went to each tribe.  (The Ramban does not say to each tribe, but I assume that is what he meant.)  In the previous Parsha, Parshas Nitzavim,  the Jewish people were standing in front of Moshe.  After entering the Jews in the Bris with God, the people went home to their tents.  This Parsha starts off with   וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ מֹשֶׁ֑ה .  The Ramban and Ibn Ezra say beautifully that Moshe went to each tribe to say his goodbyes.  This is his last day on earth.  Meeting with each tribe individually, Is a more intimate setting then with all of Israel together.   This was very emotional.  I could see the following transpiring – Moshe thanked them for following his leadership.  He told them that we had done it, we have come to the promised land.  The people cried and apologized for any problems they caused.  Moshe cried.  They hugged and kissed each other.   Then  he told them that God will be with them and that they should be strong and fearful.  He told them that their leader is Yehoshua, that he is a good man.  The Ibn Ezra goes so far to say that at this time is when he gave each tribe their Bracha that is written in וזאת הברכה .

The Chezkuni adds that Moshe’s inability to gather all the people is for a different reason    Moshe normally assembled the people by blowing the חצוצרות  and everyone knew to assemble.  However, since Moshe was to die that day, the powers of leadership were taken away from him and he could not find the חצוצרות to assemble to people because God hid them from Moshe.  Moshe was forced to go to each tribe and this produced a beautiful, emotional goodbye.

Ramban – The Ramban eloquently says this Pshat.:

וילך משה כאשר השלים כל דבריו אז הלכו כל הנצבים לפניו והטף והנשים איש לאהליו ולא הוצרך הכתוב להזכיר זה כי כבר אמר (לעיל כט ט יא) אתם נצבים היום כלכם לפני ה’ אלהיכם וגו’ לעברך בברית ה’ אלהיך ואחר עברם בברית ילכו מפניו ויאמר הכתוב עתה כי משה הלך ממחנה לויה אל מחנה ישראל לכבדם כמי שירצה להפטר מחבירו ובא ליטול רשות ממנו:

AND MOSES WENT. When Moses concluded his words, all who stood before him, and the young children, and the women returned to their own tents. It was not necessary for Scripture to mention this [that they returned to their tents], for it already stated, Ye are standing this day all of you before the Eternal your G-d;1Above, 29:9. that thou shouldest enter into the covenant of the Eternal thy G-d,2Ibid., Verse 11. and [it is self-understood that] after having entered the covenant they would go away from him [Moses]. And so Scripture now states that Moses went from the camp of the Levites to the camp of the Israelites in order to show them honor, like someone who wishes to take leave of his friend and comes to ask permission of him.

Ibn Ezra:

וילך. הלך אל כל שבט ושבט להודיע שהוא מת שלא יפחדו וחזק לבם בדברי יהושע על כן כתוב אחריו ואתה תנחילנה אותם ולפי דעתי כי אז ברך השבטים ואם ברכותיהם מאוחרות במכתב:

AND MOSES WENT. Moses went to each tribe and tribe to inform them that he was about to die and that they should not fear.1For they would not be left leaderless. He strengthened them.  He encouraged them. with his words to Joshua.3Be strong and of good courage; for thou shalt go with this people into the land, etc.,(vs. 7,8). Scripture therefore afterwards reads, and thou shalt cause them to inherit it (v. 7). I believe that at that time he blessed the tribes.   This is so even though the blessings are recorded later.6

  חזקוני – continues on this same theme.

וילך משה מאהל מועד שהיה דר שם שנאמר והחונים לפני משכן ה׳‎ משה ואהרן ובניו. והלך לו אצל כל שבט ושבט להודיעם כי הוא מת ולא יפחדו אך יחזקו לבם בדברי יהושע, ולמה הוצרך לטרוח וללכת אחריהם היה לו לכנסם בחצוצרות שעשה משה, אלא אמר ר׳‎ יהושע דסכנין משום ר׳‎ לוי חצוצרות שעשה משה במדבר כיון שנטה משה למות גנזן הקב״‎ה שלא יהא משה תוקע בהן והם באין אצלו לקיים מה שנאמר ואין שלטון ביום המות.

Third Explanation – Sforno – He was self-propelled, motivated.  Moshe felt the need to comfort the Jewish people tribe by tribe on his impending death and do not be sad.  Be glad that you have entered into the covenant with God.  This is what we all strived for and you have to continue in strength. 

וילך משה התעורר לזה כמו וילך איש מבית לוי. וילך ויעבוד ודומיהם. וזה שאחר שהשלים עניני כריתת הברית התעורר לנחם את ישראל על מיתתו כדי שלא יערבבו שמחת הברית הראויה להם להורות על היותם מקבלים הברית בשמחה על דרך ישמח ישראל בעושיו כאמרו וזבחת שלמים ואכלת שם ושמחת לפני ה’ אלהיך:

 He roused himself to do so,  just as was Amram, Moses’ father who married his aunt Yocheved, daughter of Levi, and almost certainly many years his senior. (Exodus 2,1) Another of many uses of the word VaYelich meaning that the person described acted of their own initiative is found in Deut. 17,3 where the Jewish idolater described had not been seduced by anyone, the idolator roused  himself to believe in a foregih deity.    After having concluded the matter of the covenant between G’d and this second generation of Israelites, many of whom had not been born at the time of the Exodus, Moses now proceeds to comfort the people over his impending death. He does so in order that the joy over G’d having concluded this covenant with them should not be turned into sorrow over the prospect of his impending passing from the scene. Rejoicing over having been found fit to become a party to such a covenant is something natural, the psalmist in Psalms 149,2 speaking of Israel rejoicing with or over its Maker. Being in G’d’s presence, such as here, is always a joyful experience, as is offering sacrifices to Him, as we know from Deut. 27,7.when the occasion was to mark the erecting of the stones after the successful crossing of the river Jordan.

Fourth Explanation – Baal Haturim:
Moshe went to the Avos, Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yakov to tell them that God is fulfilling his promise that the Jews are to enter the land of Israel.   The Baal Haturim links the last Pasuk of last week’s Sedra to the first two words of this Sedra.

The Me’am Lo’ez sums it up.

“Mose’s tent was situated before the Sanctuary, set off slightly from the encampment of the remainder of the people.  He went from tribe to tribe, telling the people that although he would die today, they should not fear the future.  Rather, they should follow Joshua and dara confidence from this leadership.  

Usually, Moshe gathered the entire people by sounding the trumpets specifically made for this purpose.  On this day, God stored them away so that Moshe could not use them for this purpose, thus giving expression to the adage ’There is no authority on the day of one’s death.”

Although Moshe surely had many personal concerns on this final day of his worldly existence, he ignored them all and sought to reassure the Jewish people.  This is the many of the righteous.  Rather than be involved in their own personal affairs, they dedicate themselves to the welfare of the entire Jewish people.

Second Dvar Torah:

Verse 31:2:

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֗ם בֶּן־מֵאָה֩ וְעֶשְׂרִ֨ים שָׁנָ֤ה אָנֹכִי֙ הַיּ֔וֹם לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל ע֖וֹד לָצֵ֣את וְלָב֑וֹא וַֽיהֹוָה֙ אָמַ֣ר אֵלַ֔י לֹ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֥ן הַזֶּֽה׃ 

Artscroll:  He said to them I am one hundred and twenty years old today, I can no longer  go out and come in,, for Hashem has said to me, ‘you shall not cross this Jordan’.

Sefaria:  He said to them:

I am now one hundred and twenty years old, I can no longer bLit. “come and go.”be active.-b Moreover, the LORD has said to me, “You shall not go across yonder Jordan.”

Artscroll translates it like Rashi and the Sefaria translates the pasuk like the other Rishonim.

The Reshonim work to explain this Pasuk. The issue is that If you notice, first the Pasuk says I am 120 years old and (therefore) I am no longer able to go and come, seemingly because I am old.   Then the Torah adds another reason why I can no longer lead you and why I will die, because God told me that I will not cross the Jordan.

Rashi on Verse 31:2

לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא. יָכוֹל שֶׁתָּשַׁשׁ כֹּחוֹ, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר “לֹא כָהֲתָה עֵינוֹ וְלא נָס לֵחֹה”, אֶלָּא מַהוּ לא אוכל? אֵינִי רַשַּׁאי, שֶׁנִּטְּלָה מִמֶּנִּי הָרְשׁוּת וְנִתְּנָה לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ. דָּ”אַ — לצאת ולבוא. בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה, מְלַמֵּד שֶׁנִּסְתְּמוּ מִמֶּנּוּ

 מָסוֹרוֹת וּמַעְיְנוֹת הַחָכְמָה (סוטה י”ג):

I CAN NO LONGER GO OUT AND COME IN — One might think that this was because his physical strength failed him! Scripture, however, states (Deuteronomy 34:7) “His eye was not dim nor his natural force abated!” What then is the meaning of לא אוכל? It means: “I am not permitted” (cf. Rashi on Deuteronomy 12:17 and Deuteronomy 24:4), because the power (leadership) is being taken from me and given to Joshua. — Another explanation of לצאת ולבוא is: I can no more take the lead in the matter of the Law; this teaches us that the traditions and the well-springs of wisdom were stopped up for him (cf. Sotah 13b).

וה’ אמר אלי. זֶהוּ פֵּרוּשׁ לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא — לְפִי שֶׁה’ אמר אלי:

וה’ אמר אלי — This (according to the previous comment) is the explanation of לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא: I can no more go out and come in because (ו = because) the Lord has said unto Me, [Thou shalt not pass over this Jordan].

Rashi on Verse 31:2 explains that לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל ע֖וֹד לָצֵ֣את וְלָב֑וֹא is the effect and the cause is וַֽיהֹוָה֙ אָמַ֣ר אֵלַ֔י לֹ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֥ן הַזֶּֽה׃, which is the cause.  It is one statement, I cannot come and go because God is not letting me cross the Jordan.

Normally when you write you would write the cause first, God said to me that I cannot cross the Jordan, thereforeI am not able to come and go.  

The driving issue for Rashi is verse 34:7 says  וּמֹשֶׁ֗ה בֶּן־מֵאָ֧ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֛ים שָׁנָ֖ה בְּמֹת֑וֹ לֹא־כָהֲתָ֥ה עֵינ֖וֹ וְלֹא־נָ֥ס לֵחֹֽה׃ “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.”  Moshe at the end of his life was full of life as before, he did not age.  As a result of this Pasuk Rashi says that the reason why “he is not able” is because God said to him, you will not cross the Jordan River, per below.

As a result of the way the Torah is written the Ramban, Ibn Ezra, and The Daas Zekanim say that these are two different reasons.  1)  I cannot go and come because I am 120 years old;  and

                                           2)  God is not letting me cross the Jordan. 

The Ramban has a twist on the first reason as follows:

Ramban – Verse 31:2 tells us the Moshe gave the Jews two reasons why he could not continue to be their leader.

Reason #1 –  לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל ע֖וֹד לָצֵ֣את וְלָב֑וֹא – 

Ramban – Moshe was still strong and vibrant, he only said he was old to comfort the Jews on his death to tell them he is old.

Reason #2 – God is not allowing me to continue as leader.  He is not letting me cross the Jordan.  


ויאמר אלהם בן מאה ועשרים שנה אנכי היום וזה לנחם אותם על ענינו כלומר אני זקן ואין לכם עוד תועלת ממני ועוד כי השם צוני שלא אעבור שם ואל תפחדו ואל תיראו כי ה’ יעבור עמכם לא יסלק שכינתו מכם בעבורי ויהושע הוא העובר לפניכם במקומי ואע”פ שמשה רבינו היה בתקפו ובבריאותו כאשר העיד הכתוב (דברים ל״ד:ז׳) לא כהתה עינו ולא נס לחה אמר להם כן לנחמם ורש”י כתב (רש”י על דברים ל״א:ב׳) לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבוא לפי שה’ אמר אלי לא תעבור את הירדן ואינו נכון ועל דעת ר”א (אבן עזרא על דברים ל״א:ב׳) לצאת ולבוא למלחמה כי חלשו כחותיו בזקנותו וגם זה איננו נכון ורבותינו אמרו (סוטה יג) מלמד שנסתתמו ממנו מעיינות חכמה והיה זה במעשה נס שלא ידאג לתת גדולה ליהושע בפניו:

AND HE SAID UNTO THEM: ‘I AM A HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS OLD THIS DAY.’ This was to comfort them concerning his condition [i.e., about his approaching death], as if to say, “I am old and you have no more benefit from me. Moreover, G-d has commanded me that I should not go over there. Do not dread and do not be fearful, for the Eternal will go over with you; He will not remove His Presence from you on my account [i.e., because of my absence], and Joshua, he shall go before you in my place.

Further, Verse 3. you in my place.” Now, although Moses our teacher retained his vigor and health, as Scripture testifies, his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated,4Ibid., 34:7. he told them this [“I am old and you have no more benefit of me”] in order to comfort them [over the transfer of leadership to Joshua].

Now, Rashi wrote: “I can no longer go out and go in, because the Eternal hath said unto me: Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.” But it is not correct.5The text reads: ‘Vashem’ (‘and’ the Eternal) said unto me. Now, Rashi explains that the connective vav, which generally means “and,” signifies “because.” It is this interpretation which Ramban considers incorrect because vav always means “and,” not “because.” Mizrachi, too, raised this objection to Rashi and left it unanswered. See, however, in Ma’aravi where a different version of Rashi’s text is cited, in which the connective vav has its usual meaning. And in the opinion of Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra the expression I can no longer go out and come in means to war, because his powers weakened in his old age. This too, is not correct.6For Scripture testifies: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated (further, 34:7). And our Rabbis have said:7Sotah 13b. “This teaches us that the well-springs of wisdom were stopped for him.” This was a miraculous event in order that Moses should not be troubled [about the transfer of leadership to Joshua] and [G-d] bestowing honor upon Joshua in his [Moses’] presence.8See further, Verse 14.

Daas Zekanim – I am old

בן מאה ועשרים שנה אנכי היום לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבא. כי זקנתי ועוד כי ה’ אמר אלי לא תעבור את הירדן וגו’. ואתם אין לכם הפסד בדבר כי ה’ אלהיך הוא עובר לפניך ואין לכם כמוהו. ד”א לא אוכל עוד לצאת ולבא ולא משום חלישות אלא משום שה’ אמר אלי לא תעבור וגו’:

Ibn Ezra – I can no longer go out to war

לצאת ולבוא. במלחמה והטעם כי אילו לא הייתי מת עתה אין בי יכולת להלחם ואין לכם צורך למי שיעזור אתכם כי השם ישמיד הגוים גם יהושע והעד מה שראיתם בעיניכם במלחמת סיחון ועוג:

Reason #2 according to everyone – וַֽיהֹוָה֙ אָמַ֣ר אֵלַ֔י לֹ֥א תַעֲבֹ֖ר אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֥ן הַזֶּֽה׃ – God told me that I cannot cross the Jordan, meaning that I will die now, today.

Rashi learned that it is one reason because later on it said that at 120 Moshe was still a vibrant person.  The Ramban agrees with Rashi but says that Moshe said I am aged to give them comfort on his upcoming death.  It was true that Moshe is old.  How do you explain that later verse according to The Daas Zekanim and Ibn Ezra.  I think that while Moshe is still vibrant, he could not continue as a leader.  Leadership would take too much out of him and he can not do it any more.

Verse 31:3:

יְהֹוָ֨ה אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ ה֣וּא ׀ עֹבֵ֣ר לְפָנֶ֗יךָ הֽוּא־יַשְׁמִ֞יד אֶת־הַגּוֹיִ֥ם הָאֵ֛לֶּה מִלְּפָנֶ֖יךָ וִירִשְׁתָּ֑ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֗עַ ה֚וּא עֹבֵ֣ר לְפָנֶ֔יךָ כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהֹוָֽה׃

 The LORD your God Himself will cross over before you; and He Himself will wipe out those nations from your path and you shall dispossess them.—Joshua is the one who shall cross before you, as the LORD has spoken.—

Shabbos Nachamu – Parshas V’Eschanan – July 23 -24, 2021

Shabbos Nachamu – Parshas V’Eschanan – July 23 -24, 2021

Chazzan Silber

Sivan Rahav-Meir

Omri Caspi

The Bench

Kotzker Vort on Devorim Verse 3:23 says – אֶעְבְּרָה־נָּ֗א וְאֶרְאֶה֙ אֶת־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן הָהָ֥ר הַטּ֛וֹב הַזֶּ֖ה וְהַלְּבָנֹֽן׃ 

Kotzker Vort on Dvorim Verse 4:9

” רַ֡ק הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֩ וּשְׁמֹ֨ר נַפְשְׁךָ֜ מְאֹ֗ד פֶּן־תִּשְׁכַּ֨ח אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֜ים אֲשֶׁר־רָא֣וּ עֵינֶ֗יךָ וּפֶן־יָס֙וּרוּ֙ מִלְּבָ֣בְךָ֔ כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י חַיֶּ֑יךָ וְהוֹדַעְתָּ֥ם לְבָנֶ֖יךָ וְלִבְנֵ֥י בָנֶֽיךָ׃ 

Kotzker Vort #3: Devorim Verse 4:23

הִשָּׁמְר֣וּ לָכֶ֗ם פֶּֽן־תִּשְׁכְּחוּ֙ אֶת־בְּרִ֤ית יְהֹוָה֙ אֱלֹ֣הֵיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּרַ֖ת עִמָּכֶ֑ם וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֨ם לָכֶ֥ם פֶּ֙סֶל֙ תְּמ֣וּנַת כֹּ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוְּךָ֖ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶֽי

Kotzker Vorton Devorim Verse 4:29:  

וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּ֥ם מִשָּׁ֛ם אֶת־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ וּמָצָ֑אתָ כִּ֣י תִדְרְשֶׁ֔נּוּ בְּכׇל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכׇל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ

I had planned to walk to Anshe Sholom to hear Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s Shabbos Drasha and attend their welcome back Kiddush.  Afterwards walk to Chabad of East Lakeview.  They were having a Bat Mitzvah and an Aufruf.   Chabad’s Cholent is a Pesach Cholent  and Kiddush is the best.  As I walked out of my house, I had to change my pants three times because each pair was stained including the pants I had just picked up from the cleaners.  By the time I was ready to leave, it was too late to make Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s speech and since I would miss most of Davening, I stayed and davened at Sidney’s Minyan.  He was in South Haven.  There was a nice Kiddish.  Just give me Cholent and I am happy.

I spoke at Shalosh Seudos and the following is my speech.

We are fortunate to have Chazzen Silber with us.  I have listened to his Torah for years at Mishna Ugemora.  (As a side note, I am very intimidated when I say Torah with Chazzen Silber listening.)

There are three Tefilos that I love from Chazzen Silber.  One is on Shabbos Mevorchim, his יהי רצון.  Chazzen Silber said that his father composed the tune for him.  I would time Chazzan Silber when he chanted the  יהי רצון.  Usually it took about 10 minutes, with the record 20 minutes.  Once his daughter, Dina, called him from Israel excitedly telling him that they were playing his יהי רצון one Erev Shabbos Mivorchim.  The second Tefilah is the אב הרחמים right before Musaf, it evokes the whirlwind of the Holocaust, and the third is his  אהבת עולם on Rosh Hashana night.

There are a number of Divrei Torah from the Kotzker  on this week’s Sedra that are pure Kotzk.  The first Kotzker Vort:

Devorim Verse 3:23 says – אֶעְבְּרָה־נָּ֗א וְאֶרְאֶה֙ אֶת־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן הָהָ֥ר הַטּ֛וֹב הַזֶּ֖ה וְהַלְּבָנֹֽן׃ –

 “Let me, I pray, cross over and see the good land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country, and the Lebanon.”

The Kotzker comments are follows:


Devorim Verse 3:23 says – אֶעְבְּרָה־נָּ֗א וְאֶרְאֶה֙ אֶת־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן הָהָ֥ר הַטּ֛וֹב הַזֶּ֖ה וְהַלְּבָנֹֽן׃.   The Kotzler asks  what is the intent of the Torah in the above Pasuk when it says וְאֶרְאֶה֙.  Obviously if Moshe were to enter into the land of Israel, he would see the land.  The Kotzker answers that Moshe’s prayer was also on the ראיה – the seeing, not just on crossing over into Israel.   A person who is working on anything must pray that Hashem will show him the good in what he is doing.     

The Vort by itself is beautiful. We have to pray that we see the goodness in everything we do.  

Perhaps a deeper understanding is as follows.   Everything we do has goodness wrapped in it.  We have to recognize it and pray to Hashem that he show us the goodness.   Giving Tzaddikah is obvious.    However, for most of our daily lives, we just have to open our eyes and pray to Hashem to show us the goodness that results from our actions.   When I worked at a bank, I routinely waived overdraft fees and bank charges.    I felt that I was preventing calamities.  I was setting the person’s mind at ease and making him feel better.  This was especially true for someone who lived paycheck to paycheck.  I was doing Avodas Hashem and felt the bank was better off in many ways from my generosity.   In that rare instance, the person in front of me with this request may be having a bad day.  By waiving the fee, I put the person in a better mood and now his earlier frustration is gone.  I know what it means to get hit with an overdraft charge.   That person’s frustration and anger did not result in a calamity.   It could have resulted in yelling at his wife and kids later in the day and from there resulting in worse things.   Good comes from even mundane acts and part of our prayer is that  good should flow even from our mandance acts.  We should pray to merit to see the goodness.  

A person who is in a trade, such as an electrician, plumber, etc does tremendous Chesed working his job.    Ezra Moskowitz is a plumber.  I told Ezra, you are not just a plumber.  You are doing the work of Hashem.  All of us can understand what it means to have an honest and reliable plumber, especially a Frum person.   Another example.   Pizza stores are centers of Chesed. Klal Yisroel needs relatively inexpensive, tasty food to feed their families.  The owner running the pizza store is feeding Klal Yisroel and this is what I  see when I walk into a pizza store.

Kotzker Vort #2:

Devorim Verse 4:9 says ” רַ֡ק הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֩ וּשְׁמֹ֨ר נַפְשְׁךָ֜ מְאֹ֗ד פֶּן־תִּשְׁכַּ֨ח אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֜ים אֲשֶׁר־רָא֣וּ עֵינֶ֗יךָ וּפֶן־יָס֙וּרוּ֙ מִלְּבָ֣בְךָ֔ כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י חַיֶּ֑יךָ וְהוֹדַעְתָּ֥ם לְבָנֶ֖יךָ וְלִבְנֵ֥י בָנֶֽיךָ׃ 

“But take utmost care and watch yourselves scrupulously, so that you do not forget the things that you saw with your own eyes and so that they do not fade from your mind as long as you live. And make them known to your children and to your children’s children.”

Kli Yakar:    

רק השמר לך ושמור נפשך מאד פן תשכח וגו’. השמר לך ר”ל שמירת הגוף ולא הזכיר בו מאד כמו בשמירת הנפש אשר בשמירתה צריך האדם להזהר ביותר מבשמירת הגוף לכך אמר ושמור את נפשך מאד.


Look out for yourself and guard your life exceedingly- מאד . “Guard yourself” means look after your physical body. It does not add “exceedingly” ( מאד)   as it does after the second part of the verse which refers to guarding one’s soul, because one must be even more careful to protect one’s soul than one’s body.  

The Kli Yakar focuses on the word מְאֹ֗ד .  By watching your soul it says מְאֹ֗ד, however, in the first part of the pasuk by watching your body, the Torah does not use this word. 

The Kotzker seems to say the same thing but focuses on the first word of the Pasuk  רק.     The Kotzker says:

“רק השמר לך ושמור נפשך מאד:  והדקדק מבואר ויש לפרש על פּי הידוע כי תיבת רק מיעוט הוא והיינו רק השמר לך, שתשמור את הגוף מעט ושמור נפשך מאוד, כי העיקור לשמור את הנפש  “

The editor of the Sefer  אהל התורה has a beautiful footnote on this Vort”

The Editor in his footnote explains that while on the surface it seems that the Kli Yakar and the Kotzker are saying the same thing, as the Editor phrased it, “these two prophets, prohitized in the same style” however, the Kotzker is  –  משונה לשבח.  The Kotzker is saying that your Neshamah is covered with  physicality.  Once you humble your physical body, it becomes translucent and your  inner soul – the  צורה – enlarges and increases its light, because it is no longer covered up.  It seems that Kotzker is expressing the idea in a more Chassidic bent.  This is what Chazzan Silber says that a person’s Neshamah is always pure.  

The editor’s ending is beautiful – “ואף כי מי הוא זה אשר יקח העטרה לעצמו אשר יאמר כי הוא זה הפירוש האמתי בּדברי מרן הנורא האלקי זי״ע אכן תורה הוא וללמוד אנו צריכין”.

“Who is the person who can take a crown for himself – take the initiative –  and say that this is the true understanding of the words of this awesome man of Hashem, however, it is Torah and we have to learn it. 

Kotzker Vort #3: Devorim Verse 4:23  –   Beautiful Vort and pure Kotzk.

Kotzker Vort #4: Devorim Verse 4:29:  

וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּ֥ם מִשָּׁ֛ם אֶת־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ וּמָצָ֑אתָ כִּ֣י תִדְרְשֶׁ֔נּוּ בְּכׇל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכׇל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ

But if you search there for the LORD your God, you will find Him, if only you seek Him with all your heart and soul—

The Kotzker asks two questions”:

  וצריך להבין כי תיבת משׁם לכאורה כמיותר? ועוד דתיבת ומצאת היה צריך לכתוב לבּסוף?

We have to understand, the word  מִשָּׁ֛ם is extra and the word וּמָצָ֑אתָ should be at the end of the Passuk.

The Kotzker answers: 

    ונראה כי “משׁם” היינו מעומק נקודה הפנימיות שבּלב ועל ידי זה כִּ֣י תִדְרְשֶׁ֔נּוּ בְּכׇל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכׇל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ והיינו שׁתמצא מציאה יקרה ונעלה מאד כי תתאוה לדרוש את ה” בּכל לבבך ונפשׁך בכל פּעם יותר ויותר:

The  “משׁם” is  not referring to the location of the soul searching, but is referring to looking inside of oneself for that place in your heart where you connect to Hashem.  Once you find that connection you will desire to continue to inquire of Hashem with all your heart and soul on higher and higher levels.

Beautiful.  This is brought out in Sivan Rahav-Meir’s article in this week’s Jewish Press.

What did Omri Casspi tell me?

  • e on emare on printTranslation by Yehoshua Siskin

“I hope it was an easy fast for all who fasted.” This was the first sentence spoken by Omri Casspi, among the greatest Israeli basketball players, at his press conference yesterday evening in which he announced his retirement. I have nothing to add to all the praises of the world’s elite basketball players who spoke of the professionalism, the humility, and the perseverance of the boy who grew up in Yavneh and made it to the NBA. But I was reminded of when Casspi interviewed me on his podcast and opened our conversation with this surprising statement: “I departed for the United States as an Israeli only, but I returned also as a Jew. He explained this transformation as follows:

“Outside of Israel, if you do not create an identity, it will not happen on its own. I lived in places like Sacramento, Cleveland, and Houston – without a large Jewish community. But at some point, I stopped and said to myself: ‘Wait a minute, what is going on with me?’ I felt a sense of obligation and began thinking: I represent something, but I know nothing about what I represent.

For example: I land in Boston and American Jewish kids are waiting for me there with much excitement and they are staring at me. I represent for them the Jewish nation, the State of Israel, but I am conflicted. After all, if you go outside in Los Angeles on Yom Kippur, it’s just a regular day, traffic as usual. If you do not do something special on Shabbat, you won’t feel any Shabbat. It’s your responsibility to do something since you are not in a Jewish country.

My wife and I went through this process together, as a family – Friday night dinner, kiddush, tefillin, holidays, community, Jewish education, kosher food. I felt a sense of obligation towards myself and towards the Jewish community. Many Israelis feel this over there, but there are many unfortunately who do not. Only there was I able to understand that I am an emissary of something great. Sometimes you need to go far away in order to come closer, to discover who you really are.”

Wishing you much success, Omri, as you continue in the game of life.

Sivan Rahav-Meir

Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds

Sivan Rahav-Meir’s column had another beautiful article, titled The Bench. 

The Bench

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Shani Avigal, mother of six-year-old Ido Avigal from Sderot who was killed in the recent “Guardian of the Walls” conflict, is still healing from her painful loss. Yesterday she wrote me the following:

“I thought a lot about how to memorialize Ido, how he would want me to memorialize him. I thought about the value of friendship and that it was sometimes difficult for him to connect with others. Whether in kindergarten or on a playground, he would play alone and find it difficult to participate in group activities. I thought that if there had been a ‘friendship bench’ at his kindergarten, that could have been most helpful to him. The idea is this: If it is difficult for a child to connect, he can simply sit on the bench and others can approach him and ask him to join their game. If children argue amongst themselves, they can also resolve their argument on the bench.

The idea began with one bench at his kindergarten and has now spread to schools and even public parks. A number of cities have already ordered these benches in preparation for the coming school year. The feedback I have been receiving is tremendous. The benches simply help children who are socially isolated or otherwise in distress. Every night before bed, Ido would share with us what happened to him that day and said that he always made sure to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Therefore, this is what is written on the bench.”

As Tisha B’Av is almost here and we become aware of what is missing and what we need to change, I wrote Shani that perhaps a bench like this is needed for adults as well.

May 23, 2021 – Parshas Naso

Shabbos morning left home  at 8:35 AM to walk to Anshei Shalom.   Got there at 10:20 AM and sat next to Eli.  Listened to Rabbi David Wolkenfeld’s Shiur., below.   Left Anshei Shalom and arrived at Chabad of Lakeview at 10:50 AM.  They were in the middle of the Torah reading.  The Rabbi spoke well.   There was a big Kiddush.  Alexi became a Geyoris by the CRC and she sponsored a Kiddush.  She spoke and had a great story.  This week’s Medresh on Verse 5:10 spoke about the significance of converts.   After the Kiddush I gave a Shiur to Paul and Jack (Charlotte’s adopted brother).  I went to Eli’s house, slept for 1.25 hours and walked 5 miles home.  

My Torah thoughts:

I first spoke about the beginning of the Parsha.  On Verse 5:2 Rashi says “This section was spoken on the day when the Tabernacle was erected; there were eight sections spoken on that day, as is related in Treatise Gittin 60a, in the chapter beginning with the word הנזקין.”

Bamidbar begins with a census of the Jews in the desert which was taken in the second year after leaving Egypt on the 1st day of Iyar.  24 days later they would be heading to Israel, until fate intervened.   Why was it necessary to have thes Parsha of the census out of chronological order?  Second question – why was the census done a month after the Miskan was assembled, one month after God put his presence in the Mishkan.  Placing Hashem’s Shekinah is directly  related to the census as Rashi said in Bamidbar Verse 1:1.   At first glance I would think that the census should have taken place on the first of Adar.  The simple answer is that there was no time as the Jews were building the Mishkan. However, it should have been written after the twelve Korboans of the twelve princes.

The Torah in Nasso strings together six topics.  It starts with the end of the census, counting the tribe of Levi and their jobs.    After finishing the counting the Torah discusses a number of subjects related to the Mishkan, directly or indirectly.    Verse 5:10 discusses the levels of holiness in the camp of the Jews.  Space is made holy and we go up from lower levels of holiness to higher levels.  I heard this concept  from Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda TZL in Boca Raton.  Just like in space on earth we have levels of holiness, so we have it in time.  Weekday, Shabbos, holso May idays, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah.  2)  We see that the encampment of the twelve tribes, the living place of the Jewish people, was holy.  3) Next topic is theft, particularly theft from a convert, 4)  the need to give Bikkurim, 5) the fifth topic is adultery.  Connected to adultery is Nazir.  6) The sixth topic is Birchas Kohanim.  7)  Afterwards the Torah speaks about  the offerings of the twelve tribes.  The verse starting from Verse 5:10 in Nasso and ending at the fifth Aliyah of Parshas  Behaaloscha,  verse 10:10 was said or done on the first day of Nissan and forward.   We have to go to Bamidbar Verse 10:11 to pick up the unfolding events in a chronological order for the Jews in the desert, which would be the expected chronological order .  

I believe the answer is as follows.   The Torah is teaching us how the Mishkan and Bais Hamikdash and Jewish society survives.      

1. Census

It starts with us understanding that God loves us.  Rashi Bamidbar Verse 1:1

2.  Sending out Tamah people  Verses 5:2-4

We are holy people and our living spaces are also holy.  In addition

we have access to enter into higher levels of holiness. 

3.  Theft and theft from a convert. Verse 5:5-8

Theft corrupts.  The Parsha is dealing with all theft, but the Torah here adds that repayment of theft from a convert who has died goes to the Kohen.  

The Medresh brings down from Verse 5:10 the integration and specialness of converts and their holiness.  We could add the acceptance of others is also a part of our holiness and base for a civil and just society.

4.  Giving Bikkurim – Verse 5:9110

We have to share our wealth and success with others.

5.  Sotah – Verse 5:11-31

Family relationships have to be stable to bring holiness.

6.  Birchas Kohanim  6:22-26

If we understand and are loyal to items 2 – 5 then God will bless us with Birchas Kohanim.  

Then as Rabbi Wolkenfled said, we will be beacons of peace in the world.

The counting of the Jewish people was purposely performed on the 1st day of Iyar, close to the commandment to travel to Israel as a lesson for future generations of what is needed for the Jewsih nation to sustain itself.  

Rabbi’s Speech:

Rabbi David Wolkenfeld.  
ASBI Congregation
Naso 5781

May God Grant Peace

Who is the subject of Jewish prayer? When the siddur says “we” “us” “our” as in the phrase “our God” “heal us” and “we thank you” who is the subject? It seems that in almost every instance, the first-person-plural voice that is adopted in Jewish prayer reflects Klal Yisrael – the spiritual collective that unites all Jews. Although we pray as individuals, and should personalize our prayers, our fixed liturgy expresses the hopes and dreams and yearnings of every Jew. There is just one exception.

The final blessing of the amidah is Birkat HaShalom, the blessing of peace. The subject of this blessing is not Klal Yisrael, but the congregation present at that moment. That’s why we request שִׂים שָׁלוֹם טוֹבָה וּבְרָכָה חֵן וָחֶֽסֶד וְרַחֲמִים עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמֶּֽךָ. We ask for the blessing of peace and grace and kindness and mercy be bestowed on “us and on all Israel.” We speak to God in this blessing as a congregation standing together in one room, and then we ask that the blessings that we have received be shared outward and shared onward. The blessing of peace, once received, must be shared with others. Or, the only way the blessing of peace can be manifest in the world is if it is shared.

The blessing, Sim Shalom, is a congregational recapitulation of Birkat Kohanim, the priestly blessing which is found in Parashat Naso and which is recited immediately before Sim Shalom in the public amidah. Birkat Kohanim concludes with a blessing for peace, and then the congregation responds that we pray that this peace will indeed be granted to us and not just to us.

As Birkat Kohanim is found in the Torah there is some ambiguity about precisely who is blessing and who is receiving blessing. At the end of the sixth chapter of Sefer Bamidbar we find:

דַּבֵּ֤ר אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹן֙ וְאֶל־בָּנָ֣יו לֵאמֹ֔ר כֹּ֥ה תְבָרְכ֖וּ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אָמ֖וֹר לָהֶֽם׃        

יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהֹוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃        

יָאֵ֨ר יְהֹוָ֧ה ׀ פָּנָ֛יו אֵלֶ֖יךָ וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּ׃        

יִשָּׂ֨א יְהֹוָ֤ה ׀ פָּנָיו֙ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְיָשֵׂ֥ם לְךָ֖ שָׁלֽוֹם׃       

Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them:

The LORD bless you and protect you!

The LORD deal kindly and graciously with you!

The LORD bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace!

And then there is a curious summation.

 וְשָׂמ֥וּ אֶת־שְׁמִ֖י עַל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַאֲנִ֖י אֲבָרְכֵֽם׃ 

“And they (that is, the priests) shall place My name upon the Children of Israel and I shall bless them.”

In the Talmud, Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Akiva disagree about how to understand that verse. According to Rabbi Akiva (and Rashi agrees with his interpretation) the word “them” refers to the Israelite recipients of the blessing. God is endorsing the birkat kohanim and carrying out the intentions of Birkat Kohanim. According to Rabbi Yishmael  – who is also quoted by Rashi – God blesses the kohanim, setting up a chain in which the kohanim bless the Israelites and God blesses the kohanim. Ibn Ezra understands the phrase “bless them” to refer to both the kohanim and the Israelites who are simultaneously blessed by God through the ritual of Birkat Kohanim. 

Undeniably there is ambiguity in the phrasing of the verse. But all of the interpretations have in common a nexus between God, the Kohanim, and the Israelites. The relationship between these three is important and potent and the pinnacle of that relationship of blessing is bestowing peace that expands outward in circles. The blessings of peace are never limited to the first recipients; they are always passed onward.

The opening line of Birkat Kohanim is focused on basic material needs. Rashi tells us that יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהֹוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃ May God bless you and protect you refers to our bodies and our posessions being safe from any threat. If so, the blessing of peace in the third line of Birkat Kohanim must mean more than the absence of war. 

Shalom implies “sheleimut” – the state of being that Yaakov attained וַיָּבֹא֩ יַעֲקֹ֨ב שָׁלֵ֜ם  after reconciling with his brother. It was only after reconciliation with his great rival after many decades of fear and enmity that Yaakov was able to be at peace with himself and his place in the world.

Maimonides, the Rambam, ends his Book of Seasons with a moving praise of peace as a telos of the entire Torah:

גָּדוֹל הַשָּׁלוֹם שֶׁכָּל הַתּוֹרָה נִתְּנָה לַעֲשׂוֹת שָׁלוֹם בָּעוֹלָם 

“Great is peace, since the entire Torah has been given to create peace in the world.” But this peace too is not simply the absence of war. For Rambam, peace entails the freedom and tranquility and harmony to study Torah and to draw close to God. He concludes his great book, Mishneh Torah, by explaining that our sages and prophets yearned for Mashiach and for redemption, not live lives of ease, but to live at a time in which there would be the freedom to pursue Torah study and the contemplation of God in a world without competition or famine or war.

The Jewish people are described in the Torah as being a mamlechet kohanim. We are a kingdom of priests. This means that just as the kohanim are a conduit of blessing to the Israelites, so too, all of us together are meant to be a conduit of blessing to humanity. And so the trilogy of God, kohanim, and Israelites transferring blessing and bestowing peace on one another is meant to play out on a larger and universal scale.

One disturbing facet of the past week of fighting in Israel and Gaza were news reports of young American Jews, who have become increasingly alienated from Israel over their perception of a growing divide between their idealism and the reality of the circumstances in which the State of Israel conducts its policy. I don’t know if that describes any of you but if it does, I suggest that walking away in disappointment and disillusionment is not a choice any Jew should make. First, because as I wrote last week, our brothers and sisters in Israel are literally our family and not metaphorically our family. You can’t walk away from your family.

But, also, your care and concern and support for Israel as it makes its way, in fits and starts, towards peace is among the most important religious tasks that a Jew can undertake in this generation. The redemptive potential of the Jewish people’s return to Eretz Yisrael is not in tension with the need to come to a peaceful accommodation with Israel’s neighbors. Redemption is the direct outcome of that peaceful accommodation.

This was said and understood by many others. Rav Menachem Froman z’l, a mystic and peace activist from the West Bank town of Tekoa said this years ago. This message was shared anonymously by a Jerusalem rabbi to Roi Ravitzky years ago when he was researching ways to elicit the support of religious Muslims and Jews for peace negotiations. And it was said yesterday by Rabbi Chananel Rosen of Tel Aviv following a week of rocket attacks and internecine violence. I read these words of his in an email on Friday and they took my breath away:

“Either we are doomed to intractable, unending conflict until the times of Moshiach, or – and this is a big ‘or’ – there is a reason that we’re not alone in this land, and our destinies are somehow tied up with those of the Other (Muslims, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians – whichever). For whatever reason, God has thrown us together with them, and we need to deal with that. In the final analysis, I suspect that deep down many of us would be far happier if we woke up to find that these “others” had suddenly been magically teleported to Uganda – and they no doubt feel similarly about us. No such luck though; I think God has other plans for us all.”

My attempt to understand Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s speech.

David Wolkenfeld
4:49 AM (1 hour ago)Reply
to me


This is a very fair and accurate recapitulation of my words.

In terms of peace, I think the mindset that would need to be developed, both among Israelis and Palestinians, is for each group to see each other as permanent neighbors sharing a common homeland. From the Israeli perspective, this means that no peace agreement with an Arab government can substitute for reaching an accommodation with the Palestinians who were displaced by the creation of Israel and who still live within the sovereign State of Israel or the territory that Israel controls. From this vantage point, the Abraham Accords were, at best, a distraction, insofar as far off oil sheikdoms cannot substitute for the millions of human beings who reside within the only sovereign nation that currently exists between the river and the sea.

I don’t see much hope for short-term optimism.  But, there are some very interesting and inspiring green shoots – religious Israelis and religious Muslims in Israel and the West Bank meeting for dialogue. There is the “two states, one homeland” movement which has significant rabbinic support. There is Mansour Abbas who is an ideological cousin of Hamas – two parallel wings of the Muslim Brotherhood – and who leads the Arab political party that has done the most to integrate itself into Israeli politics this past year and who pledged to rebuild the synagogue destroyed last week in Lod…

Best wishes,


From: Mitchell Morgenstern <>
Date: Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 10:31 PM
To: David Wolkenfeld <>
Subject: Re: Yesterday

Rabbi Wolkenfeld:

 I am trying to understand the theme of your speech.  Is this what you are saying?

 1)  Peace only works in concentric circles, from one person to another person or from one group to the next.  Meaning Sholem has to emanate from us as individuals and from groups however defined.  It can be a Shul, a class, a block, or a business.   It includes Israel as a whole.

 2)  Shalom is also defined as being complete.  When we feel complete, we are at peace with ourselves, happy with life, and as a result we can radiate goodness and peace to the world.

 3)  Israel and the Arabs must live together as this is what God dictates.  Therefore Israel must project peace despite all the hardships.

 I have always tried to live #1 and believe was successful.  As a banker, I always have tried to give people a fair deal, waive fees, and give them the benefit of doubt.  I  always put myself in their position and respond to them as I would want if the roles were reversed.  In fact that this mentality was great marketing for the bank and did more than the millions of dollars spent on marketing. It only brought me success in my career.   I had to fight the corporate mentality and kind of do things quietly.

This is true for many, many professions.  The goodness you can do in any business is Godly.  A mechanic that is honest is a Godsend.  I look  Jewish pizza stores and places where Chessed is done every day.  The Jewish people tend to have large families and need inexpensive, tasty food.   This applies to every single business.  One must see the higher calling of what they are doing.  A plumber is not just fixing a toilet or a water line.  He is giving a family normal living conditions.  

 #2 is so true.  When I am a peace with myself, I am more effective and better able to empathise with people.

 Sorry to get political on #3.

#3 is an issue for every Israeli and for the government as a whole.  As most people, I feel that there is almost no solution for the Israeli –  Palestinian conflict.  The Abraham Accords seem to be the best chance.  Find peace from without by changing the mindset, then potentially peace can be found within.  This is somewhat similar to Golde Meir’s efforts for diplomacy in the 1950s using Israeli farming innovations for Africa because Israel did not have money.  This fell apart in 1967 after the six day war, when they were promised money and oil from the Arab countries.  

  On Sun, May 23, 2021 at 2:45 PM David Wolkenfeld <> wrote:

It was great to see you too.

Best wishes,


From: Mitchell Morgenstern <>
Date: Sunday, May 23, 2021 at 2:24 PM
To: David Wolkenfeld <>
Subject: Yesterday

Rabbi Wolkenfeld:

It was nice to be in Shul yesterday.  I would like a copy of your Drasha.

Mitchell A. Morgenstern

PURIM 2021

February 26, 2021

Chullin 139B – Moshe Min Hatora Minayim

Hamen Min Hatora Minayim

Esther Min Hatorn Minayim

Mordechai Min Hatora Minayim



Ben Yehoyada – Ben Ish Chai

Rabbi Shimi Bertram Chidush

Chasam Sofer

PURIM 2021  

Four  questions were asked of Rav Masnah from people of the city of Pupnai about four individuals; Moshe, Haman, Esther, and Mrdechai.    

Gemora Chullin 139B –

Question #1                     :משה מן התורה מנין (בראשית ו, ג) בשגם הוא בשר    

Rashi:                                                                          ועוד זה שאלו ממנו מנין למשה רמז קודם שבא שסופו לבא:

בשגם הוא – בשגם בגימטריא כמו משה וכתיב שם והיו ימיו מאה ועשרים שנה וכך היו ימי חיי משה כלומר עתיד לבא בשגם משה מן הנולדים וכן ימיו:

 Question 2                   המן מן התורה מנין (בראשית ג, יא) המן העץ

Rashi                             :מנין – למעשה המן

                                                                                               המן העץ – יתלה על העץ:                                                                                               

Questions 3 and 4:

אסתר מן התורה מנין (1) (דברים לא, יח) ואנכי הסתר אסתיר מרדכי מן התורה מנין דכתיב (שמות ל, כג) מר דרור ומתרגמינן מירא דכיא:

Rashi:    “למעשה” אסתר – הסתר אסתיר בימי אסתר יהיה הסתר פנים ומצאוהו צרות רבות ורעות:

                                 מנין – לגדולת מרדכי     

                                 מר דרור – וקרי ליה ראש לבשמים לצדיקים ואנשי כנסת הגדולה

We have to try to understand their questions. Moshe was obviously in the Torah.  Haman, Esther and Mordechi played prominent roles in the story of Purim.   It seems that Moshe was one question and the other three were a different question.   

What exactly was the question of the Bnei Papunai to Rav Manna for Haman, Esther, and Mordechai?  Was it simply that everyone is mentioned in the Torah, so the Bnei Papunai were asking where are their names in the Torah.  My Pasuk is in Mispatim 22:24 –  אִם־כֶּ֣סֶף ׀ תַּלְוֶ֣ה אֶת־עַמִּ֗י = The word אִם is an acronym for my Hebrew name – Avrohom Meir.  I was a lender at Peterson Bank/Manufacturers Bank/MB Financial/5/3rd Bank for 33 years, helping many Jewish people.

Answer 1 – Rashi

Rashi says that their questions were not simply  where are they mentioned in the Torah, but rather where are the events that happened in them hinted to in the Torah. Similar to bible codes.   They were asking where in the Torah is there a hint to Haman’s hanging, Esther being the person who saves the Jewish people, and Mordechai’s leadership.  Proof of this is that when the Gemora says אסתר מן התורה מנין Rashi add in his דברי המתחל  the word  מעשה.  The full דברי   המתחל  is  מעשה אסתר   which means the story of Esther.  The story of Esther is how she became queen and saved the Jewish people from destruction.  Per Rashi the question for Mordechai was where do we see גדולת מרדכי .  The Next rashi says that he was the leader of the righteous people and the אנשי כנסת הגדולה.   This Is understood from the Pasuk that he was ראש לבשמים – the  בשמים referring to the Tzaddikim and Men of the Great Assembly.

Answer #2- Maharsha:

Comes along the Maharsha and says that the questions of the Bnei Papunai were on the names.  All four of these individuals had other names given to them at birth.  We know that names given by parents are considered semi prophecies which defines their character.  .  How do we know that the names alternative names given to them later in life are the names that define them.  Rav Masna gives answers that all four  names are mentioned in the Torah and these names are primary. 

Answer #3 – Ben Yehoyada – the Ben Ish Chai:

The Ben Yehodaya says that the questions on Esther and Mordechai Min Hatorah are intertwined.  There were complaints against Mordechai.  Regarding Esther, why didn’t Mordechai lock Esther away so that she would not end up being forcibly married to Achasverosh.  Mordechai could have locked her away so she could not be found on one extreme.  Mordechai did not do this.   On the other extreme did simply give her over to the king’s messengers.  Rather, he left her in the house and if they found her, then she would have to go.  Hashgacha Pratis takes over.  Esther becomes the queen and saves the Jewish people.  This was hinted in the Torah, that she would save the Jewish people.  This is the מעשה אסתר that is referred to in Rashi.   Her becoming queen and everything else that happened  was preordained in the Torah.  Mordechai being a prophet sensed all this even subconsciously because this was preordained in the Torah.   it was not that Mordechai was reacting to events, Hashgacha Pratis took over,  and Esther ended up being the queen and saving the Jewish people.  The complaints of the other Gedolim were that Mordechai could have hidden Esther away and also did not have to accept leadership in the Persian empire.   They claimed that Hashem would have saved the Jews in another fashion.   The answer is that this is not true.  God preordained that the events of Esther life and Mordechai’s actions were all holy, preordained by the Torah.   He did the right thing and should not be criticized.  

Perhaps the Ben Yehoyada is responding to the pasuk in Esther 10:1:

כִּ֣י ׀ מָרְדֳּכַ֣י הַיְּהוּדִ֗י מִשְׁנֶה֙ לַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ וְגָדוֹל֙ לַיְּהוּדִ֔ים וְרָצ֖וּי לְרֹ֣ב אֶחָ֑יו דֹּרֵ֥שׁ טוֹב֙ לְעַמּ֔וֹ וְדֹבֵ֥ר שָׁל֖וֹם לְכָל־זַרְעֽוֹ׃

REashi says because it says  רָצ֖וּי לְרֹ֣ב אֶחָ֑יו and not  כל אחיו  , not everyone agreed with the leadership of Mordechai.

My addition to the Ben Yehoyada.

A position for a Gadol B’Torah is a story about Menachem Begin when he was first elected Prime Minister in 1977.   On his first trip to America, Begin went to visit Reb Moshe Feinstein, Reb Yosef Ber Soloveichik, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  He went to visit them to get a Bracha and ask for advice.  The Israeli press had never seen a prime minister visit a Gadol B’Torah and they asked Begin, why did you visit this person (I think this was asked when he walked out of Reb Moshe Feinstein’s house.)  Begin knew that this could possibly cause an uproar, so all he said was, I am an old European Jew and I went to see another old European Jew.   Yehuda Avner writes in his book, The Prime MInisters, that when Begin and the Lubavitcher Rebbe met, they agreed that Yehuda Avner would report back to the Rebbe how the meeting with President Carter went and what was said.  That night Yehuda Avner spent four hours with the Rebbe, until well past midnight.  The Rebbe was consulted by Begin about policy and other state matters.  The Rebbe was there for support of the leader of Israel, not publicly, but privately.  Begin knew that the Lubavitcher Rebbe had his back.     When Begin went to visit Rabbi Yosef Ber Solovecihik, Rabbi Riskin was in the room and he described the conversation between Rabbi Soleveichik and Menachem Begin.  When it came time for them to have a serious discussion, Rabbi Riskin was told it is time for him to leave.  History has not recorded what was discussed.  I am sure it was a Bracha and policy questions along with Halacha.

Answer #4 – Chasam Sofer:

The Chasam Sofer has a beautiful explanation.  The two questions of Esther and Mordechai are to ask and explain why when Esther was told by Mordechai that the Jews were going to be destroyed, Verse 4:9, she did not know what to do.  Mordechai said go to the king even though you were not called, risking your life.    Esther was close to being a prophet, however, she did not have the same dream as Mordechai, there was a plot between her husband and Hamen to destroy the Jews.  Mordechai had a dream that night detailing the plot.  Mordechai had time to think it over and concluded that Esther was the wife of the king because she is to be the saviour of the Jewish people.  Esther did not have this dream, so she was not able to process and arrive at a course of action.    The Chasam Sofer says that this bothered Esther.  The reason why Moredechai had the dream and esther did not is hinted to us in the Gemora, Esther is described as הסתר אסתיר.  The dreams of צודק as the Chasem Sofer describes Mordechai’s dream, were hidden from her.  Esther thought that it was proper for her to have a dream.  In order to have a dream of  צודק which is close to prophecy, one has to be in a state of joy and gladness of the heart.  She thought that she did have joy because she was in the king’s palace בּשׂמחה וטוב לבב; however, although she was happy, since she was trapped against her will, she did not have true freedom.  Mordechai on the other hand could go wherever he wants.  He had full simcha and he was the one to have the dream.  In fact the Ramban says that the spice מר דרור that was used could only be wild, not cultivated in a house.  

Shimmy Bertram had a very nice insight.  When Avrohom was taking Yitzchok to the Akedia, he was 37 years old.  Yet he followed his father.  Avrohom was told by God to perform the Akeda.  Yitzchok did not hear the word of Hashem, he went because of his faith in his father.  The nation of Israel has tremendous benefits from the merit of Yitzchok.  Perhaps you can compare Esther to Yitzchak.  She did not hear the word of Hashem, but did what Mordechai told her, and saved the Jewish people.  Perhaps this is why the holiday of Purim will never disappear even after Mosiach comes because the Jews were saved based on faith in our leaders, Emunas Chachamim.   

Perhaps there is another lesson.  In Devarim 31:19 it calls the warning to the Jewish people a song.   How can you call this warning a song.  The answers that through Emunas Chacomin, doing Tshuva, and other acts of kindness, the Rebuke and warnings of destruction can turn into a song, as it did in the days of Esther and Mordechai.

Verse 19:

וְעַתָּ֗ה כִּתְב֤וּ לָכֶם֙ אֶת־הַשִּׁירָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את וְלַמְּדָ֥הּ אֶת־בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל שִׂימָ֣הּ בְּפִיהֶ֑ם לְמַ֨עַן תִּהְיֶה־לִּ֜י הַשִּׁירָ֥ה הַזֹּ֛את לְעֵ֖ד בִּבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

Therefore, write down this song and teach it to the people of Israel; put it in their mouths, in order that this song may be My witness against the people of Israel.

The answer may be that you are correct that it is not really a song.  However, if you have an Esther, through her abilities and closeness to ZHashem, she can change the evo; decrease to a song of redemption.  Perhaps maybe that is why it is labeled a song.  Everything that Hashem does is for the good and the evil contains good in it when the nation of Israel changes their destiny through doing the right thing, having the proper leaders.


משה מן התורה מנין כו’ המן מן התורה כו’ אסתר כו’ מרדכי כו’. יראה בזה לפי שבאלו הד’ מצינו שיש להם עוד שמות אחרים במשה טוביה אביגדור כו’ בהמן אמרו שהוא ממוכן אסתר היא הדסה מרדכי בלשן פתחיה ולפי הנראה היה לבעל דין לחלוק ולומר שאלו שמות המיוחדים להם אינם עיקר מן התורה בהם כי שם משה בת פרעה נתנה לו והוא לשון מצרי כדעת המפרשים ושם המן ומרדכי ואסתר נראה כי שמות פרסיים הם כי המגילה נכתבה ע”י הפרסיים שע”כ לא הוזכר שם הקב”ה במגילה כדעת הראב”ע וע”כ אמר במשה מנין שהוא שם המיוחד לו לעיקר מן התורה שנאמר בשגם הוא בשר גו’ שקודם שנקרא כך ע”י בת פרעה קראו התורה אותו בשם זה ע”ש שהוא הוציא ומשה את ישראל מן הים עד”ה ימשני ממים רבים וע”כ נקרא משה ולא נמשה או משוי והוא מבואר כשדור המבול לא היו מאמינים בהשגחה פרטית שאמרו מה שדי כי נעבדנו כדאמרי’ פ’ חלק ונפרע מהם במדה כי לפי הטבע ראוי שיהיה העולם מים במים אבל היתה השגחה אלהית שנא’ יקוו המים ותראה היבשה לצורך בן אדם וע”כ הביא עליהם מי המבול כפי הטבע ולפי שע”י משה רבינו נתפרסם זאת השגחה שבני ישראל הלכו ביבשה תוך הים והמצריים נטבעו שם ע”כ הזכיר שם משה כאן ועד”ז אמר המן מן התורה מנין שזהו שם המיוחד לו ואמר המן העץ במעשה הנחש והוא לפי שהיה הוא גזע צפעוני מעשו ועמלק אשר כחם נחש הקדמוני ובמדרש המן והנחש פתחו באף כו’ ושניהם נתנו עיניהם במה שאינו ראוי להם כו’ כדאיתא פ”ק דסוטה ואמר אסתר מן התורה מנין שהוא עיקר שמה ואמר ואנכי הסתר אסתיר ע”ש שבימיה נתקיים מקרא זה שאמר הקב”ה אסתיר לפי שרחקו והסתירו ישראל עצמם מדבור אנכי שהוא עיקר אמונה כדאמרי’ פ”ק דמגילה למה נתחייבו שונאיהם של ישראל כליה לפי שהשתחוו לצלם ונהנו מסעודת אחשורוש וע”ז אמר מרדכי מן התורה מנין שע”י זכו להנצל להיעשות בני חורין מלשון מר דרור כי הוא וסיעתו אנשי כנסת הגדולה לא רצו להשתחות לצלם ולא ליהנות מאותה סעודה ועל שם שהוא ראש לגדולה ולש”ט נמשל לראש בשמים משמן המשחה וק”ל:

Ben Yehoyada

Yosef Hayim (1 September 1835 – 30 August 1909) (Iraqi Hebrew: Yoseph Ḥayyim; Hebrew: יוסף חיים מבגדאד‎) was a leading Baghdadi hakham (Sephardi rabbi), authority on halakha (Jewish law), and Master Kabbalist. He is best known as author of the work on halakha Ben Ish Ḥai (בן איש חי‎) (“Son of Man (who) Lives”), a collection of the laws of everyday life interspersed with mystical insights and customs, addressed to the masses and arranged by the weekly Torah portion.

מֹשֶׁה מִן הַתּוֹרָה מִנַּיִן. נראה לי בס”ד הכונה בתורה כתוב שבשם זה קראתו בתיה אחר שגמלתו אמו והביאתו אצלה וקראתו מֹשֶׁה על שם המקרה שקרה לו ומנין לנו ראיה מן התורה שזה השם גזור לו מן השמים דלכן נעשה שם זה עיקר יותר משאר שמות שיש לו? והשיב רמוז מקדם קדמתה בכתוב (בראשית ו, ג) ‘בְּשַׁגַּם’ זה משה.

אי נמי נראה לי בס”ד הכי קאמר מֹשֶׁה מִן התּוֹרָה רצונו לומר מן חמשה חומשי תורה מִנַּיִן, כי שמו הטוב אינו כתוב אלא בארבעה ספרים ואינו נזכר בספר בראשית, והשיב ‘בְּשַׁגַּם’ זה משה והוא פסוק בספר בראשית.

אֶסְתֵּר מִן הַתּוֹרָה מִנַּיִן. נראה לי בס”ד גם בזה כיון להציל את מרדכי הצדיק ע”ה מן התלונה שיש להתלונן עליו על אשר לא הסתיר את אסתר להצניעה בחדרי חדרים שלא ידע בה אחשורוש ויקחנה לו ולכן שאל מקום שמה בתורה כדי שמשם יוודע מה יהיה בסופה ופירש ששמה נרמז בפסוק הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר וכו’ (דברים לא, יח) משמע שתמצא אסתר בזמן שיתקיים דבר זה של הסתרת פנים ועל כן מכאן מוכח שתהיה הצלה לישראל בזמן הסתר פנים על ידי אסתר דמאי קא משמע לן שתהיה אסתר מצויה באותו זמן אם לא לענין שתהיה ריוח והצלה ונס לישראל על ידה על כן לא הצניעה לגמרי אלא עשה פתח שתהיה לקוחה לבית המלכות כדי שתהיה התשועה על ידה כאשר היה כן באמת.

מָרְדֳּכַי מִן הַתּוֹרָה מִנַּיִן. גם על זה שאל כדי להציל את מרדכי הצדיק מן התרעומת שיש עליו מן העולם באומרם והלא זקנו שאול ברח מן השררה וכן ראוי לכל צדיק שיהיה בורח מן השררה וכן התנא אמר וְאַל תִּתְוַדַּע לָרָשׁוּת (משנה אבות א, י) ומה ראה מרדכי להכניס עצמו לשררה שהיה אחד משרי המלך קודם שנלקחה אסתר וגם לסוף היה משנה למלך והיה לו לברוח מזה ולכן שאל על מקומו בתורה כדי שמשם יוודע מה יהיה סופו, והשיב קַח לְךָ בְּשָׂמִים רֹאשׁ, מָר דְּרוֹר (שמות ל, כג) 

Next take choice spices: (five hundred weight of) solidified myrrh,

ותרגומו מירא דכיא דמשמע מרדכי יהיה ראש ולמה נגזר עליו להיות ראש? אלא ודאי בשביל טובת ישראל שיהיו צריכין אליו לכן קרב עצמו לשררה ולא ברח ממנה דכונתו לשם שמים.

Menachem Begin’s story with Rabbi’s Moshe Feinstein, Yosef Ber Solovecihink and the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  The Ben Yehoyada is perhaps  response to וְרָצ֖וּי לְרֹ֣ב אֶחָ֑יו

כִּ֣י ׀ מָרְדֳּכַ֣י הַיְּהוּדִ֗י מִשְׁנֶה֙ לַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ וְגָדוֹל֙ לַיְּהוּדִ֔ים וְרָצ֖וּי לְרֹ֣ב אֶחָ֑יו דֹּרֵ֥שׁ טוֹב֙ לְעַמּ֔וֹ וְדֹבֵ֥ר שָׁל֖וֹם לְכָל־זַרְעֽוֹ׃

והא דשאלו על המן קודם מרדכי ואסתר, כי באותו הדור היה המן מצד הקליפה והחשך ומרדכי ואסתר היו מצד הקדושה והאור ואיתא בגמרא (שבת עז:) מאי טעמא עיזי מסגן ברישא והדר אימרי? והשיב כברייתו של עולם שהיה החשך קודם ואחר כך נראה האור, וכן כאן שאל על המן תחלה שהיה מצד החשך ואחר כך על מרדכי ואסתר שהיו מצד האור.

אי נמי פפונאי ידעי תשובות אלו ולא שאלו אלא לבדוק לרב מתנה ולכן אמר אמרי ליה פפונאי לרב מתנה ולא אמר שאלו ליה פפונאי ולכן כיון דתשובה לשאלה דשם משה רבינו ע”ה היתה מפרשת בראשית והם ידעי דשם המן גם כן נרמז בפרשת בראשית לכן אמרו לו על שם המן תחלה דקדים בקרא לקראי דאסתר ומרדכי.

Chasam Sofer:

אסתר מן התורה מנין וכו’ מרדכי מן התורה מנין. יראה היתה מתייאשת לבקש על עמה ומולדתה משום שלא נודע לה דבר אפי’ בחלום. ואמר רבא פ”ק דחגיגה ואנכי הסתר אסתיר את פני ביום ההוא אבל בחלום אדבר בו ופירש”י דדייק מדכתיב ביום ההוא דייקא ביום אסתיר פני אבל בלילה אגלה בחלום. והנה לא נודע לה דבר ושום רמז ע”כ התיאשה מלבוא לפני המלך. והיינו אסתר מן התורה דכתיב ואנכי הסתר וגו’ אכן איתא במדרש ומרדכי ידע כבר שנתגלה לו ע”י חלום וכן הוא בתרגום שני. ובמנות הלוי. אלא שלחלום צודק שהוא כענין נבואה צריך להיות שורה בתוך שמחה כמשחז”ל אין השכינה שורה אלא מתוך שמחה ומסיים שם וכן לחלום טוב רוצה לומר חלום צודק נבואיי. וחשבה אסתר שראוי לגלות לה בחלום שהיא שוכבת בארמון המלך בשמחה וטוב לבב. אבל באמת לא כן הוא כי עכ”פ היתה חבישה שלא ברצונה משא”כ מרדכי מתהלך ברצונו וחפצו והוא שמחה יותר והוא ראוי לחלום נבואיי יותר דבר זה גילה לנו רמב”ן בפי’ התורה פ’ כי מור דרור שיקחו מור מחיה שהיא דרור והולכת ברצונה בין הערוגות ולא מאותן החבישים בבתים להאכילן ולפטמן כי מור שלהם אינו חשוב כאותם המתהלכות חפשי ודרור והיינו מרדכי מן התורה מנין מור דרור:

ומתרגמינן מארי דכי’ אמרתי עפ”י ירושלמי דשקלים וש”ס מנחות מרדכי בילשן שהי’ בולל לשונות ודורשן כגון גגות צריפין גג לה”ק וצריף לשון ארמי וכן עין סנכר עין לה”ק וסנכר לשון ארמי ע”ש וה”נ כשמו כן הוא כי בלה”ק נקרא מור דרור ובלשון ארמי מארי דיכיא. ונקרא פלגא לה”ק ופלגא ארמי מר לה”ק דכי ארמי:

Torah Temimah on Chumash:

הסתר אסתיר. שאלו פפונאי לרב מתנה, רמז לאסתר מן התורה מניין, אמר להו, ואנכי הסתר אסתיר כ

(חולין קל”ט ב’)

כמה פירושים ובאורים ורמזים נאמרו בבאור אגדה זו. ולי נראה פשוט עפ”י הדרשה הבאה והסתרתי פני מהם ביום ההוא, אמר הקב”ה, אעפ”י שהסתרתי פני מהם – בחלום אדבר בו, ופירש”י ביום ההוא קדייק, ביום ולא בלילה, שמראים לו חלום כדי שיתפלל על הדבר, עכ”ל. ור”ל דכשעתידה לבא איזו גזירה וצרה חלילה מראה הקב”ה את הדבר למי שראוי בחלום הלילה כדי שיתפלל ויתבטל הגזירה. והנה איתא במדרשים על הפסיק באסתר ומרדכי ידע את כל אשר נעשה, מאין ידע – בעל החלום הגיד לו [והובא בפירש”י שם], וזהו ששאלו, אסתר מן התורה מניין, כלומר ענין אסתר ומקריה, שיודיע הקב”ה דבר גזירה בחלום כדי שיתפללו, איפה רמוז בתורה, והשיב רב מתנה, ואנכי הסתר אסתיר, וצ”ל וגומר, שסמך על יתר לשון הפסוק ביום ההוא, ועפ”י הדרשה על אותו הלשון בחלום אדבר בו, וכמש”כ, ויען כי עיקר המגילה נקראת ע”ש אסתר, לכן תלו השאלה על שמה, ואף רב מתנה כיון להשיבם בערך לשון נופל על לשון הסתר אסתיר, ודו”ק. .

מר דרור. שאלו פפונאי לרב מתנה, רמז למרדכי מן התורה מניין, אמר להו, מר דרור וכתרגמינן מירא דכיא

 מחפירש”י מניין לגאולת מרדכי, דמתרגמינן מירא דכיא, וקרי ליה ראש לבשמים לצדיקים לאנשי כנה”ג, עכ”ל, והדברים צריכים באור, ונראה באור הענין ע”פ האגדה דמגילה י’ ב’ דדריש שם על הפסוק דישעיה נ”ה תחת הנעצוץ יעלה ברוש, תחת הנעצוץ זה המן וכו’, יעלה ברוש זה מרדכי שנקרא ראש לכל הבשמים שנאמר בשמים ראש ומתרגמינן מירא דכיא, ע”כ, ור”ל שהצדיקים מכונים בשם בשמים ע”ש הכתוב בשה”ש נרדי נתן ריחו, ומרדכי הוא ראש לצדיקי הדור ההוא, ואולי דריש מרי מלשון מר, שהיה ראש גם לסנהדרין כמבואר במגילה.

ולולא פירש”י היה נראה לפרש דכונת הגמרא מוסבת לענין אחר, והוא לפי המבואר בגמרא מגילה שם דעיקר שמו של מרדכי היה פתחיה, א”כ קשה למה שינה את שמו העברי בשם שאין לו מקור בעברית, והוא יותר נוטה לשמות האומות, כמו מרודך, ומפרש דגם שם מרדכי יש לו רמז בתורה, דהוא מלשון מר דרור בעברית. ועיקר הדבר ששינה שמו יש לזה טעמים וענינים שונים שאין כאן המקום לבאר, וע”ע לפנינו בפ’ נצבים בפסוק ואנכי הסתר אסתיר. .

Torah Temimah on Esther:

ושמו מרדכי. שאלו פפונאי לרב מתנה, רמז למרדכי מן התורה מניין, אמר להו, דכתיב (שמות ל’) מר דרור ומתרגמינן מירא דכיא

פירש”י מניין לגאולת מרדכי דמתרגמינן מירא דכיא, וקרי ליה ראש לבשמים לצדיקים לאנשי כנה”ג, עכ”ל, והדברים צריכים באור, ונראה ע”פ האגדה דמגילה י’ ב’ דדריש שם על הפסוק דישעיה נ”ה תחת הנעצוץ יעלה ברוש, תחת הנעצוץ זה המן, יעלה ברוש זה מרדכי שנקרא ראש לכל הבשמים שנאמר בשמים ראש ומתרגמינן מירא דכיא, ע”כ. ור”ל שהצדיקים מכונים בשם בשמים ע”ש הכתוב בשה”ש נרדי נתן ריחו, ומרדכי הוא ראש לצדיקי הדור ההוא, ו

היה נראה לפרש דכונת הגמרא מוסבת לענין אחר, והוא לפי המבואר בגמרא דמגילה שהבאנו דעיקר שמו של מרדכי היה פתחיה, א”כ קשה למה שינה את שמו העברי בשם שאין לו מקור בעברית, ועוד לשם שהוא יותר נוטה לשמות האומות, כמו מרודך, ומפרש דגם שם מרדכי יש לו רמז בתורה, דהוא מלשון מר דרור בעברית וע”פ התרגום כמבואר, ועיקר טעם הדבר שנשתנה שמו הוא מפני שהוא ראש לצדיקים שבדורו, וכמש”כ בדרשה הקודמת. ועיין עוד מש”כ בתו”ת פ’ נצבים בפסוק ואנכי הסתר אסתיר. .

Footnote 1:

 Devarim 31:17 – 19

Verse 17:

וְחָרָ֣ה אַפִּ֣י ב֣וֹ בַיּוֹם־הַ֠הוּא וַעֲזַבְתִּ֞ים וְהִסְתַּרְתִּ֨י פָנַ֤י מֵהֶם֙ וְהָיָ֣ה לֶֽאֱכֹ֔ל וּמְצָאֻ֛הוּ רָע֥וֹת רַבּ֖וֹת וְצָר֑וֹת וְאָמַר֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא הֲלֹ֗א עַ֣ל כִּֽי־אֵ֤ין אֱלֹהַי֙ בְּקִרְבִּ֔י מְצָא֖וּנִי הָרָע֥וֹת הָאֵֽלֶּה׃

Then My anger will flare up against them, and I will abandon them and hide My countenance from them. They shall be ready prey; and many evils and troubles shall befall them. And they shall say on that day, “Surely it is because our God is not in our midst that these evils have befallen us.”

Verse 18:

וְאָנֹכִ֗י הַסְתֵּ֨ר אַסְתִּ֤יר פָּנַי֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא עַ֥ל כָּל־הָרָעָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה כִּ֣י פָנָ֔ה אֶל־אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֲחֵרִֽים׃

Yet I will keep My countenance hidden on that day, because of all the evil they have done in turning to other gods.

Verse 19:

וְעַתָּ֗ה כִּתְב֤וּ לָכֶם֙ אֶת־הַשִּׁירָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את וְלַמְּדָ֥הּ אֶת־בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל שִׂימָ֣הּ בְּפִיהֶ֑ם לְמַ֨עַן תִּהְיֶה־לִּ֜י הַשִּׁירָ֥ה הַזֹּ֛את לְעֵ֖ד בִּבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

Therefore, write down this song and teach it to the people of Israel; put it in their mouths, in order that this song* may be My witness against the people of Israel.

Sefari translates שִּׁירָ֣ה as poem and Chabad as song.   שִּׁירָ֣ה is normally tranlstated as a song.

Footnote 2:

Question #1:

משה מן התורה מנין (בראשית ו, ג) בשגם הוא בשר  

Rashi:                                                                   ועוד זה שאלו ממנו מנין למשה רמז קודם שבא שסופו לבא:

בשגם הוא – בשגם בגימטריא כמו משה וכתיב שם והיו ימיו מאה ועשרים שנה וכך היו ימי חיי משה כלומר עתיד לבא בשגם משה מן הנולדים וכן ימיו:

From where in the Torah is the existence of Moses [Moshe] alluded to before his birth? He replied that the verse states: “For that he also [beshaggam] is flesh; therefore shall his days be one hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3). The numerical value of beshaggam is the same as that of the Hebrew name Moshe, and it is known that Moses lived a total of 120 years (see Deuteronomy 34:7).

Question 2:

המן מן התורה מנין (בראשית ג, יא) המן העץ

Rashi                                                                                                                             :מנין – למעשה המן

המן העץ – יתלה על העץ:

They also asked Rav Mattana: From where in the Torah can one find an allusion to the hanging of Haman? He replied: The verse states after Adam ate from the tree of knowledge: “Have you eaten of [hamin] the tree, about which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Genesis 3:11). Hamin is spelled in the same manner as Haman: Heh, mem, nun.

Questions 3 and 4:

אסתר מן התורה מנין(1) (דברים לא, יח) ואנכי הסתר אסתיר מרדכי מן התורה מנין דכתיב (שמות ל, כג) מר דרור ומתרגמינן מירא דכיא:

                                             למעשה אסתר – הסתר אסתיר בימי אסתר יהיה הסתר פנים ומצאוהו צרות רבות ורעות:

מנין – לגדולת מרדכי:

מר דרור – וקרי ליה ראש לבשמים לצדיקים ואנשי כנסת הגדולה:

They also asked Rav Mattana: From where in the Torah can one find an allusion to the events involving Esther? He replied to them that the verse states: “Then My anger shall be kindled against them on that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall come upon them; so that they will say in that day: Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us? And I will hide [haster astir] My face on that day for all the evil which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned to other gods” (Deuteronomy 31:17–18). They also asked him: From where in the Torah can one find an allusion to the greatness bestowed upon Mordecai? He replied: As it is written with regard to the anointing oil in the Tabernacle: “And you shall also take the chief spices, of flowing myrrh [mor deror]” (Exodus 30:23); and we translate mor deror into Aramaic as: Mira dakhya, which resembles the name Mordecai.

December 5, 2020 – 19 Teves 5781

Parshas VaYishlach

Yaakov Sent Messengers/Angels

Yaakov Meets Eisav

Jewish Press – Dennis Prager

First Pasuk in this Parsha:

Verse 32:4:

וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח יַעֲקֹ֤ב מַלְאָכִים֙ לְפָנָ֔יו אֶל־עֵשָׂ֖ו אָחִ֑יו אַ֥רְצָה שֵׂעִ֖יר שְׂדֵ֥ה אֱדֽוֹם׃

Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom,

Rashi:                          ( וישלח יעקב מלאכים. מַלְאָכִים מַמָּשׁ (בראשית רבה:

Midrash Rabbah 75:4 – מַלְאָכִים (בראשית לב, ד), אֵלּוּ שְׁלוּחֵי בָּשָׂר וָדָם, רַבָּנָן אָמְרֵי מַלְאָכִים מַמָּשׁ.

What is Rashi telling us that they were actual angels?  There is a disagreement in the Medresh and the plain meaning is messengers.  Why is Rashi taking sides in the Machlokes especially when it really does not add anything.

After giving this much thought I believe the answer is as follows.  Rashi is telling us what Yaakov did to repair his relationship with Eisav.  He did three things:

  1.  He sent   מַלְאָכִים to Eisav. Who were these מַלְאָכִים ?   Either they were actual angels or if they were men they were prominent people.   Yaakov is showing Eisav that I hold you in high esteem and are sending you the best, the leaders of his community. .  Rashi is borrowing this term from the Midrash, but he is  not deciding who is correct in the Medresh.  This would be like  Shimon HaTzaddick meeting Alexander the Great.  The greatest person in Israel. 
  2. A gift
  3. As he was approaching Eisav he humbled himself by bowing seven times.See below my comments on Chapter 33, verse 4, Rashi and Sforno..

These three efforts and especially the last one turned Eisav’s heart from hatred to love.

Yaakov Meets Eisav:

Perek 33   –   ל״ג   

Verse 1

וַיִּשָּׂ֨א יַעֲקֹ֜ב עֵינָ֗יו וַיַּרְא֙ וְהִנֵּ֣ה עֵשָׂ֣ו בָּ֔א וְעִמּ֕וֹ אַרְבַּ֥ע מֵא֖וֹת אִ֑ישׁ וַיַּ֣חַץ אֶת־הַיְלָדִ֗ים עַל־לֵאָה֙ וְעַל־רָחֵ֔ל וְעַ֖ל שְׁתֵּ֥י הַשְּׁפָחֽוֹת׃

Looking up, Jacob saw Esau coming, accompanied by four hundred men. He divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maids,


                                                                                                 ועמו ארבע מאות איש שלא התכפרו פניו במנחה:                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

To tell us that he had not been appeased even by the substantial gift Yaakov had sent him.  Just like Rashi is Verse 4.

Verse 2:

וַיָּ֧שֶׂם אֶת־הַשְּׁפָח֛וֹת וְאֶת־יַלְדֵיהֶ֖ן רִֽאשֹׁנָ֑ה וְאֶת־לֵאָ֤ה וִֽילָדֶ֙יהָ֙ אַחֲרֹנִ֔ים וְאֶת־רָחֵ֥ל וְאֶת־יוֹסֵ֖ף אַחֲרֹנִֽים׃

And he put the maids and their children first, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.

Question:  Verse 32:8 says he divided his camp.  Why now are his family all together?  I think the answer is that once he fought the angel and was victorious, Yaakov was no longer afraid and put his family back together.

Verse 3:

וְה֖וּא עָבַ֣ר לִפְנֵיהֶ֑ם וַיִּשְׁתַּ֤חוּ אַ֙רְצָה֙ שֶׁ֣בַע פְּעָמִ֔ים עַד־גִּשְׁתּ֖וֹ עַד־אָחִֽיו

׃He himself went on ahead and bowed low to the ground seven times until he was near his brother.

Verse 4:

וַיָּ֨רָץ עֵשָׂ֤ו לִקְרָאתוֹ֙ וַֽיְחַבְּקֵ֔הוּ וַיִּפֹּ֥ל עַל־צַוָּארָ֖ו וַׄיִּׄשָּׁׄקֵ֑ׄהׄוּׄ וַיִּבְכּֽוּ׃

Esau ran to greet him. He embraced him and, falling on his neck, he kissed him; and they wept.


ויחבקהו. נִתְגַּלְגְּלוּ רַחֲמָיו, כְּשֶׁרָאָהוּ מִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה כָּל הִשְׁתַּחֲוָאוֹת הַלָּלוּ

We see from the below Rashi that Eisv wanted to kill Yaakov all the way until he saw Yaakov bowing down to Eisav and only then did Eisav become friendly.  Refer to below Sforno.

 AND EMBRACED HIM — His pity was aroused when he saw him prostrating himself so many times (Genesis Rabbah 78:8).


וישקהו. נָקוּד עָלָיו; וְיֵשׁ חוֹלְקִין בַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה בַּבָּרַיְתָא דְּסִפְרֵי, יֵשׁ שֶׁדָּרְשׁוּ נְקֻדָּה זוֹ שֶׁלֹּא נְשָׁקוֹ בְּכָל לִבּוֹ, אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַאי, הֲלָכָה הִיא בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁעֵשָׂו שׂוֹנֵא לְיַעֲקֹב, אֶלָּא שֶׁנִּכְמְרוּ רַחֲמָיו בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה וּנְשָׁקוֹ בְּכָל לִבּוֹ (ספרי במדבר):

 Dots are placed above the letters of this word, and a difference of opinion is expressed in the Baraitha of Sifré (בהעלותך) as to what these dots are intended to suggest: some explain the dotting as meaning that he did not kiss him with his whole heart, whereas R Simeon the son of Johai said: Is it not well-known that Esau hated Jacob? But at that moment his pity was really aroused and he kissed him with his whole heart. (Sifrei Bamidbar 69.2)


וירץ עשו – נהפך לבו כמו רגע בהכנעותיו של יעקב כאמרם ז”ל שאחיהו השילוני קלל את ישראל בקנה הנכנע לכל הרוחות הן לו עשו כן בריוני בית שני לא היה נחרב בית מקדשנו כמו שהעיד רבי יוחנן בן זכאי באמרו (גטין פרק הנזקין) בריוני דבן לא שבקונן:

וירץ עשו, his attitude changed suddenly when he realised to what extent Yaakov had humbled himself before him. It is of great concern to us seeing that we live among the descendants of Esau, people who are arrogant, consider themselves invincible. Yaakov’s conduct vis a vis Esau teaches that the only way to escape the sword of Esau is through self degradation and gifts. This corresponds to what our sages taught us (Taanit 20) that the curses of the prophet Achiyah Hashiloni were more beneficial to the Jewish people than the blessing showered upon them by Bileam. Achiyah had cursed the Jewish people describing them as a reed which bends in all directions, a reference to someone demeaning himself rather than facing up to adversaries. (Kings I 14,15) If the Jewish people during the period of the second Temple had taken his advice to heart, the Temple would not have been destroyed. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai testified to this when he said “if not for the militant extremists the Romans would not have destroyed the Temple.”

Baal Haturim:

וישקהו נקוד למעלה שכיון לנשכו:

וישקהו בגימטריא לנושכיהו. דור חרבות שני”ו בגימטריא עשו:

We see from the Sforno and the Baal Haturim that Eisav wanted to kill Yaakov up until the very end and once he saw Yaakov  bowing down did Esav’s heart melt.

The lesson from Rashi, Sforno, and the Ba’al Haturim is that to fight anti-semitism we must humble ourselfs, show deference, but be firm in showing the we, the Jewish people only want to bring good to the world.  When someone says something against Israel or Jews the wrong thing to do is accuse them of being an anti-semite.   Screaming anti-semitism is the wrong thing to do and embarrassing them is wrong.     Educate.   For example, AOC is not an anti-semite.  We should work with her so when she says something we do not agree with, she has a point of reference, a go to person.   Of course this will not always work, but our first response should be muted.    Have a leader in Israel or a highly respected person call them up or meet with them privately to show them the Israeli view.  I do not think many of these people are really anti-semeitc, they have a different view, a different mindset and we have to work to correct this mindset.  I believe that when Rabbi Ovadya Yosef was alive, he should have been the Israeli emissary to the Arab world, privately meeting with Arab leaders.   I worked  over 30 years in banking as a Jewish man  with a Yarmulke and my career sparkled with goodness.  I was unique so everyone knew me in the bank and I am proud now that my career is over that I was a positive influence on many employees and customers.  

Verse 10:

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יַעֲקֹ֗ב אַל־נָא֙ אִם־ ־נָ֤ א מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ וְלָקַחְתָּ֥ מִנְחָתִ֖י מִיָּדִ֑י כִּ֣י עַל־כֵּ֞ן רָאִ֣יתִי פָנֶ֗יךָ כִּרְאֹ֛ת פְּנֵ֥י אֱלֹהִ֖ים וַתִּרְצֵֽנִי׃

But Jacob said, “No, I pray you; if you would do me this favor, accept from me this gift; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God, and you have received me favorably.

Verse 11:

קַח־נָ֤א אֶת־בִּרְכָתִי֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֻבָ֣את לָ֔ךְ כִּֽי־חַנַּ֥נִי אֱלֹהִ֖ים וְכִ֣י יֶשׁ־לִי־כֹ֑ל וַיִּפְצַר־בּ֖וֹ וַיִּקָּֽח׃

Please accept my present which has been brought to you, for God has favored me and I have plenty.” And when he urged him, he accepted.


ברכתי. מִנְחָתִי, מִנְחָה זוֹ הַבָּאָה עַל רְאִיַּת פָּנִים וְלִפְרָקִים אֵינָה בָאָה אֶלָּא לִשְׁאֵלַת שָׁלוֹם, וְכָל בְּרָכָה שֶׁהִיא לִרְאִיַּת פָּנִים – כְּגוֹן וַיְבָרֶךְ יַעֲקֹב אֶת פַּרְעֹה (בראשית מ״ז:ז׳), עֲשׂוּ אִתִּי בְרָכָה דְּסַנְחֵרִיב (מלכים ב י”ח), וְכֵן לִשְׁאָל לוֹ לְשָׁלוֹם וּלְבָרְכוֹ דְּתֹעִי מֶלֶךְ חֲמָת (שמואל ב ח’) – כֻּלָּם לְשׁוֹן בִּרְכַּת שָׁלוֹם הֵן, שֶׁקּוֹרִין בְּלַעַז שלו”איר, אַף זוֹ בִּרְכָתִי מו”ן שלו”ד:


קח נא את ברכתי המנחה וכן עשו אתי ברכה (מלכים ב יח לא) השיבו לי מנחה וכן קח נא ברכה מאת עבדך (שם ה טו) ויקראו המנחה שישלח האדם לרצונו ברכה כי הוא שולח מאשר ברך אותו השם כענין אשר ברכך ה’ אלהיך תתן לו (דברים טו יד) כאשר אמר למעלה (לב יד) מן הבא בידו והמנחה אשר התנו בה למלך בדבר ידוע תקרא מס:

Tur Haruch:

קח נא את ברכתי. פי’ מנחתי כי המנחה שאדם שולח מרצונו נקראת ברכה לפי ששולח מרצונו מאשר ברכו ה’ והמנח’ שמביאין למלך נקראת מס:


קח נא את ברכתי וגו’. המינים ארורים פוקרים ואומרים שהודה יעקב לעשו על הברכות שלא אמר את מנחתי. וזריתי פרש על פניהם כתיב אשר הובאת לך משמע המובא בידים שיש בו ממש ויהבינן להו כלהו טעותייהו לפי שגער בו הקב”ה ואמר לו אני אל שדי פרה ורבה כלו’ לא עליך לתתם כי אם לי שהבטחתי לאבותיך עלי לקיים ולך אני אקיים מה שנדרתי להם והמלאך ברכו שם אחר מעשה זה וגם יצחק אמר לו גם ברוך יהיה ובהפרדו ללכת לחרן ברכו בג’ ברכות בג’ מקומות ונתן לו ברכת אבותיו ועוד דכתיב ויפצר בו ויקח ואלו כן היה נוטלם עשו ברצון שהרי נראה לו שנטלם יעקב במרמה ותשובתם נשאר מעל:

Second piece of Torah on this Parsha:

There is a fascinating Verse towards the end of the Sedra.

Chapter 36, Verse 6 and Verse 7::

וַיִּקַּ֣ח עֵשָׂ֡ו אֶת־נָ֠שָׁיו וְאֶת־בָּנָ֣יו וְאֶת־בְּנֹתָיו֮ וְאֶת־כָּל־נַפְשׁ֣וֹת בֵּיתוֹ֒ וְאֶת־מִקְנֵ֣הוּ וְאֶת־כָּל־בְּהֶמְתּ֗וֹ וְאֵת֙ כָּל־קִנְיָנ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר רָכַ֖שׁ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ אֶל־אֶ֔רֶץ מִפְּנֵ֖י יַעֲקֹ֥ב אָחִֽיו׃

Esau took his wives, his sons and daughters, and all the members of his household, his cattle and all his livestock, and all the property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to another land because of his brother Jacob.

כִּֽי־הָיָ֧ה רְכוּשָׁ֛ם רָ֖ב מִשֶּׁ֣בֶת יַחְדָּ֑ו וְלֹ֨א יָֽכְלָ֜ה אֶ֤רֶץ מְגֽוּרֵיהֶם֙ לָשֵׂ֣את אֹתָ֔ם מִפְּנֵ֖י מִקְנֵיהֶֽם׃

For their possessions were too many for them to dwell together, and the land where they sojourned could not support them because of their livestock.

Rashi on Verse 7:

לא יכלה ארץ מגוריהם. לְהַסְפִּיק מִרְעֶה לַבְּהֵמוֹת שֶׁלָּהֶם (ב”ר). וּמִ”אַ: מפני יעקב אחיו. מִפְּנֵי שְׁטַר חוֹב שֶׁל גְּזֵרַת “כִּי גֵר יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ” הַמֻּטָּל עַל זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל יִצְחָק, אָמַר אֵלֵךְ לִי מִכָּאן, אֵין לִי חֵלֶק לֹא בַּמַּתָּנָה, שֶׁנִּתְּנָה לוֹ הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת, וְלֹא בְּפִרְעוֹן הַשְּׁטָר, וּמִפְּנֵי הַבּוּשָׁה שֶׁמָּכַר בְּכוֹרָתוֹ:

 AND THE LAND OF THEIR SOJOURNINGS COULD NOT — supply sufficient pasture for the cattle which they had. A Midrashic comment (Genesis Rabbah 82)  is: on account of the bond of indebtedness involved in the decree, (Genesis 14:13) “thy seed shall be a stranger etc… and they shall afflict them etc.” that was imposed upon Isaac’s descendants. He said, “I shall go hence — I desire no part either in the gift of this land which has been made to him (to my father) nor in the payment of this bond” . Another reason why he went away was on account of the shame he felt at having sold his birthright (cf. Genesis Rabbah 82:13).

Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel on this Pasuk

וּדְבַר עֵשָו יַת נְשׁוֹי וְיַת בְּנוֹי וְיַת בְּנָתוֹי וְיַת כָּל נַפְשַׁת בֵּיתֵיהּ וְיַת גֵיתוֹי וְיַת בְּעִירוֹי וְיַת כָּל נִכְסוֹי דִי קָנָה בְּאַרְעָא דִכְנָעַן וְטַיָיל לְאַרַע אוֹחֲרִי דַהֲוָה רַמְיָא עֲלוֹי אֵימָתָא דְיַעֲקב אָחוּהִי

And Esau had taken his wives and his sons and his daughters, and all the souls of his house, and his flocks and his cattle, and all the substance which he had gotten in the land of Kenaan, and had gone into another land; for there fell upon him a fear of Jakob his brother:


It is fascinating that Yaakov comes back to his father and Eisav is still living there with his father.  Even though earlier in the Parsha it says that Eisav was coming from Har Seir with 400 men.  I am not sure of the answer.

The Torah gives the reason why Eisav moved away from Yaakov:

  1. Yaakov and Eisev were both wealthy, had many cattle and the land could not support both of them so Eisav moved away.

Rashi adds two other reasons:

  1. Eisav did not want his kids to go into slavery
  2. He was embarrassed that he sold his birthright

The Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel adds a fourth reason

  1. “and had gone into another land; for there fell upon him a fear of Jakob his brother”

What is Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel saying?  What fear of Yaakov?  The “Perush Yonasan” explains this enigmatic Targum as follows.  Eisav moved away because he heard that Shimon and Levy killed out Shechem and because of his fear of them Eisav left.

What does this mean?

 We know from Rashi on Verse 35:8  the full extent of the evil  of  Eisav.  Rashi says that the Torah does not mention the death of Rivka, Eisav and Yaakov’s mother .  Rashi states:

 An Agada (Genesis Rabbah 81:5) states that he there received news of another mourning for he was informed that his mother had died. — In Greek allon means “another”. — Because the time of her death was kept secret in order that people might not curse the mother who gave birth to Esau, Scripture also does not make open mention of her death (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Teitzei 4).

The Hebrew is a little more graphic.

וְאַגָּדָה, נִתְבַּשֵּׂר שָׁם בְּאֵבֶל שֵׁנִי, שֶׁהֻגַּד לוֹ עַל אִמּוֹ שֶׁמֵּתָה (בראשית רבה), וְאַלּוֹן בִּלְשׁוֹן יְוָנִי אַחֵר, וּלְפִי שֶׁהֶעֱלִימוּ אֶת יוֹם מוֹתָהּ שֶׁלֹּא יְקַלְּלוּ הַבְּרִיּוֹת כֶּרֶס שֶׁיָּצָא מִמֶּנּוּ עֵשָׂו, אַף הַכָּתוּב לֹא פִרְסְמָהּ:

Eisav was a murderer, a plunder, hated by everyone and was able to do his evil unhindered.  However, when he heard that Yaakov had two sons who were men of strength, who would not tolerate evil, there was a new sheriff in town.  As a result Eisav left.   I got my understanding from an article written by Denis Prager in the December 4, 2020 issue of the Jewish Press

Denis Prager writes:

“Fakhrizadeh is the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist to have been killed in the last 13 years. One must assume that most, if not all, of these assassinations, whether Israel was involved or not, were carried out by Iranians – which only shows how many Iranians loathe their liberty-suppressing, life-suppressing, women-suppressing, Islamo-fascist regime. Too bad Western countries and the Western media also don’t loathe the Iranian regime (what they loathe is labeling the Iranian regime “Islamo-fascist”).”

The Israelis and before them President Trump put the Iranians on notice that there will be repercussions if they continue to pursue their evil in the world.  There is accountability and it is Israel.   This is another gift of the Israelis to the world.  Israel is already a leader in terms of  science, innovations, water desalination  in agriculture, medicine, and everything else.   Of course Israel cannot be the middle eastern policemen, but they can give the Ikranians pause.      If only the Arabs would make peace with Israel, there would be a renaissance in the entire Mideast.

Full Denis Prager Article:

Jewish Press Denis Prager – 12/4/2020 – The Israelis are Amazing and So Is the Left:

I always thought no one – including Israel – could pull off something as incredible as the July 4, 1976, raid on Entebbe, Uganda. To remind readers what happened that day:

A week earlier, on June 27, two Palestinian and two German terrorists hijacked an Air France Tel Aviv-to-Paris flight with 248 passengers on board, which they diverted to Entebbe Airport in Uganda. At the airport, the hijackers and four additional terrorists – aided by Uganda’s Idi Amin regime – held the Israelis and other Jews, and allowed the 148 non-Jewish passengers to fly on to Paris.

The terrorists announced that unless 53 Palestinian prisoners – 40 in Israel and 13 elsewhere – were released, the kidnapped Jews (and the Air France crew, all of whom heroically remained with the Jewish passengers) would be killed.

On July 4, the Israelis flew a disguised transport plane filled with Israeli commandos 2,500 miles from Israel to Entebbe. After refueling in Kenya, they landed in Entebbe, killed the terrorists, and saved nearly every hostage – all in 53 minutes.

No one had seen anything quite like the raid on Entebbe… until last week. On Friday, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian scientist considered to be “the driving force behind Iran’s nuclear weapons program for two decades,” was assassinated in Iran. To appreciate how remarkable this operation was, consider this: Fakhrizadeh traveled a different route to work every day, rode in a bulletproof car, and was accompanied by three personnel carriers that transported heavily armed bodyguards.

The assassins cut off electricity to the area surrounding the assassination and disabled all video cameras as well. They exploded a car next to Fakhrizadeh’s car and had a remote-control machine gun fire at Fakhrizadeh. The entire operation took three minutes. None of the assassins were killed or even wounded. All 12 (the number of assassins, according to Javad Mogouyi, a documentary filmmaker for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) got away.

One would think that every decent human being would welcome the elimination of a man whose life was dedicated to the annihilation of another country. There is, after all, no parallel in the world to the Iranian regime’s repeatedly stated goal of annihilating Israel. And Israel – to the consternation of European leaders, the United Nations, and major American media – does whatever it takes to prevent itself from being annihilated.

John Brennan, the head of the CIA under President Barack Obama, strongly condemned the Fakhrizadeh assassination. Brennan, who has never abandoned the moral values he held when he was a communist, condemned the assassination as “a criminal act” and “highly reckless” and labeled it “murder” and “state-sponsored terrorism.

He asked Iran to “resist the urge” to retaliate and “wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage.” In other words, wait until the Holocaust-denying, Islamo-fascist, America-hating, genocide-seeking Iranian regime is appeased by a Democrat in the White House.

A United Nations spokesman said, “We condemn any assassination or extrajudicial killing.”

A spokesperson for the European Union called Fakhrizadeh’s killing “a criminal act” that “runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights the EU stands for.”

A New York Times opinion piece said the assassination “could strengthen hard-line factions in Iran arguing against a return to diplomacy.” This statement embodies the naiveté of the world’s left, including liberals: that evil regimes are composed of “hard-line factions” and “moderate factions.”

The author of the Times opinion piece, Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council, added that the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany should “issue a statement condemning the assassination as illegal under international law and damaging to the cause of nonproliferation.” She said, “It would be the ultimate tragedy if Israel’s aggression now led Iran to change its calculus and go for weapons.”

To the left around the world, Israel is the villain here, not Iran.

Upon returning to France, Michel Bacos – the heroic captain of the plane hijacked in 1973 who refused the opportunity to return to France and insisted on remaining with the kidnapped Jews – “was reprimanded by his superiors at Air France and temporarily suspended from duty,” according to The Jerusalem Post (Aug. 3, 2006). Such are the values of our European allies.


Shabbos Parshas VaYechi – January 2, 2020

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Torah – The Conflict of Brothers

Yosef’s Forgiveness 

Resh Lakish and Repentance

Life of My Mother Jean Morgenstern

April 1865 – The Month That Saved America by Jay Winick

President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant

Surrender at Appomattox

The First Ramban on Parshas VaYechi

The First Kli Yakar on Parshas VaYechi

The Right Honourable
The Lord Sacks
Sacks smiling

Family Update:

We drove back from Toronto to Chicago this past Sunday. December 28th.   My  mother-in-law came back from Baycrest where she was rehabbing from surgery for a broken hip.  She has not changed.    Serka came down with Covid and we decided to head back to Chicago.   Serka  still has a loss of smell and taste.  She finished her quarantine since she got Covid and tested positive.  I have to quarantine for another week.  I am listening to Carlbach as I am writing this.

On Shabbos, I read about 100 pages of the book, April 1865 – The Month that Saved America by Jay Winik written in 2001.

Rabbi Sacks:

Rabbi Sacks has a 7 page Torah Vort in his book  Covenant and Conversation titled, The Future of the Past.   Rabbi Sacks focuses on Bereshis 50:19-20 –  Pages 341-342:

The brothers told Joseph the following in Verse 50:15- 16

  וַיְצַוּ֕וּ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֖ף לֵאמֹ֑ר אָבִ֣יךָ צִוָּ֔ה לִפְנֵ֥י מוֹת֖וֹ לֵאמֹֽר׃

So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before his death your father left this instruction:

כֹּֽה־תֹאמְר֣וּ לְיוֹסֵ֗ף אָ֣נָּ֡א שָׂ֣א נָ֠א פֶּ֣שַׁע אַחֶ֤יךָ וְחַטָּאתָם֙ כִּי־רָעָ֣ה גְמָל֔וּךָ וְעַתָּה֙ שָׂ֣א נָ֔א לְפֶ֥שַׁע עַבְדֵ֖י אֱלֹהֵ֣י אָבִ֑יךָ וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ יוֹסֵ֖ף בְּדַבְּרָ֥ם אֵלָֽיו׃

So shall you say to Joseph, ‘Forgive, I urge you, the offense and guilt of your brothers who treated you so harshly.’ Therefore, please forgive the offense of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph was in tears as they spoke to him. 

Joseph probably knew that his father never told his brothers what they claimed.  Rabbi Sacks says ”Yet Joseph takes his brothers seriously – not because he believes them but because the very fact that they say this indicates that they are still feeling anxious and guilty.  His response is majestic in its generosity, as follows:

וַיֹּ֧אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֛ם יוֹסֵ֖ף אַל־תִּירָ֑אוּ כִּ֛י הֲתַ֥חַת אֱלֹהִ֖ים אָֽנִי׃       

But Joseph said to them, “Have no fear! Am I a substitute for God?

וְאַתֶּ֕ם חֲשַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָלַ֖י רָעָ֑ה אֱלֹהִים֙ חֲשָׁבָ֣הּ לְטֹבָ֔ה לְמַ֗עַן עֲשֹׂ֛ה כַּיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֥ת עַם־רָֽב׃

Besides, although you intended me harm, God intended it for good, so as to bring about the                                     present  result—the survival of many people. 

Rabbi Sacks writes in page 342 of his book,  “As we have already discussed, this final scene is the resolution of one of  the central problems of the book of Genesis:  the continuing theme of sibling rivalry.  A book replete with tensions, hatred and competition ends with forgiveness.  This closing is essential to the biblical drama of redemption, for if brothers cannot live together, how can nations?  And if nations cannot live together, how can the human world survive?  Only now with the reconciliation of Joseph and his brothers, can the story move on to ther birth of Isael as a nation, passing from the crucible of slavery  to the constitution of freedom as a people under the sovereignty of God.”

April 1865 – The Month That Saved the Union:

How appropriate that  over Shabbos  I read about 100 pages from Jay Winik’s book, April 1865.   The Civil War pitted brother against brother.  It is the same theme that Rabbi Sacks talks about, the need to heal the rupture so that the future can move forward.  President Abraham understood that just like he won the war, he had to win the peace.  

I quote from page 208 of Jay Winik’s book, “After four bloody years of reaching for the Confederacy’s jugular, Lincoln’s humanity is unchanged,  This avatar of total war is a staunch advocate of a soft peace, a generous peace, a magnanimous peace, just as Grant has carried out at Appomattox.   It is his River Queen doctrine writ large.  So passionately does he feel about this matter that he will directly tell his cabinet today, in no uncertain words, there is “no greater or more important [issue] before us, or any future Cabinet” than Reconstruction.”

Surrender At Appomattox:

Jay Winik writes on page 193.  “Appomattox was not preordained.  There were no established rules or well-worn script.  If anything, retribution had been the larger and longer precedent.  So, if these moments teemed with hope — and they did — it was largely due to two men, who rose to the occasion, to Grant’s and Lee’s respective actions; one general, magnanimous in victory, the other, gracious and equally dignified in defeat, the two of them, for their own reasons and in their ways, fervently interested in beginning the process to bind up the wounds of the last four years.  And yes. If, paradoxically these were among Lee’s finest hours, and they were, so, too, were they Grant’s greatest moments.”

General Ulysses S. Grant treated General Robert E. Lee and the surrender of Lee’s army with dignity and tenderness.  The Union allowed General Lee’s men to surrender with dignity.  There was a stacking of the arms and acknowledgment that the men who were surrendering were honorable and deserving of respect.   General Grant carried out President Abraham Lincoln’s orders at City Point (General Grant’s command post) that there will be no bloody work and no  hangings.  This was atypical of war where the victors exact punishment on the defeated army with hangings, killings, and brutality.

The second half of Rabbi Jonathan Sack’s Torah is what I want to explain and is what animates me.

Yoma 86B states in the name of Resh Lakish:

אמר ריש לקיש גדולה תשובה שזדונות נעשות לו כשגגות שנאמר (הושע יד, ב) שובה ישראל עד ה’ אלהיך כי כשלת בעונך הא עון מזיד הוא וקא קרי ליה מכשול איני והאמר ריש לקיש גדולה תשובה שזדונות נעשות לו כזכיות שנאמר (יחזקאל לג, יט) ובשוב רשע מרשעתו ועשה משפט וצדקה עליהם (חיה) יחיה לא קשיא כאן מאהבה כאן מיראה

Reish Lakish said: Great is repentance, as the penitent’s intentional sins are counted for him as unwitting transgressions, as it is stated: “Return, Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled in your iniquity” (Hosea 14:2). The Gemara analyzes this: Doesn’t “iniquity” mean an intentional sin? Yet the prophet calls it stumbling, implying that one who repents is considered as though he only stumbled accidentally in his transgression. The Gemara asks: Is that so? Didn’t Reish Lakish himself say: Great is repentance, as one’s intentional sins are counted for him as merits, as it is stated: “And when the wicked turns from his wickedness, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby” (Ezekiel 33:19), and all his deeds, even his transgressions, will become praiseworthy? The Gemara reconciles: This is not difficult: Here, when one repents out of love, his sins become like merits; there, when one repents out of fear, his sins are counted as unwitting transgressions.

Rabbi Sacks asks – we understand that repentance can change your intent  from intentional sins to unwitting transgressions.    However, how does your deliberate sin count as merits.  How do you change the reality of what you did? It has been done, it is part of the past.  Even the Pasuk that Resh Lakish brings down in Ezekial does not support what Resh Lakish says.  The Pasuk says that he will live in the future but not that his past wrongdoing is a merit.

Rabbi Sacks answered that “once the brothers had undergone complete repentance, their original intent was cancelled out.  It was now possible to see the good, as well as the bad consequences of their act – and to attribute the former (good acts) to them.  Strpped of their initial aim, the act could instead be defined by what part it played in a providential drama whose outcome was only now fully apparent in retrospect.”  God wanted Joseph to be sold down to Egypt.  If the brothers had not sold Joseph perhaps on  his way back home, Joseph would have been kidnapped.  What the brothers did was wrong, however, now since they regretted their actions, their original intent is cancelled out and their sale of Joseph  is part of God’s divine plan.  This is what Yosef told the brothers in Verses 50:19-20.  

This is the story of my mother’s life.  She made major  mistakes in her life.  She had to pick herself off the mat, fight for everything, suffer setbacks, and in the end this humble person whose prospects for a good life initially seemed unattainable, became the matriarch of a glorious family.   Her children and grandchildren flourished, raised beautiful families, found success in America, and lived the American dream.   When my mother died in late 2017 she had over 140 living children, grandchildren, great grandchildren.  The number is now approaching 150.  My mother’s mistakes ended up becoming the foundation for a great and glorious family.  Her mistakes became merits.     This is what my sister Karen told my mother after my mother got sick.  My mother was confined to the house and no longer able to come and go.  All she did was sit and replay her  life in her mind.    She expressed her anguish to Karen about her mistakes.  Karen responded, Ma look what your mistakes produced, a Pesach and an Arela and their families.  Look at Lisa and Mitch.  We should only be so lucky.

I must add that my grandparents Sholem and Chana Feigal Sklar came to America and stayed Orthodox.  They did not change.  My grandfather did not change in America, kept his beard, and lived his life as he lived in Europe.    Zedi had 6 brothers and sisters in America that came before him and none remained Orthodox.  They told him that here in America you have to become American and shave your beard.  Initially, his siblings did have success with Esther Diamond brothers getting PHDs from the University of Chicago and working on the Manhattan project.  However, in 2020 all  his 6 brothers and sisters may have 50 descendants, only two Orthodox.  However in terms of success in America Zedi and Bubi’s kids have succeeded beyond expectations in 1923 living on Maxwell Street.  They now have over 250 descendents including Torah scholars, doctors, lawyers, businessmen and of course myself.

I saw a very nice Ramban at the beginning of the Sedra:

ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים שבע עשרה שנה כבר הזכרתי (לעיל מג יד) כי רדת יעקב למצרים הוא גלותינו היום ביד החיה הרביעית (דניאל ז ז) רומי הרשעה כי בני יעקב הם עצמם סבבו רדתם שם במכירת יוסף אחיהם ויעקב ירד שם מפני הרעב וחשב להנצל עם בנו בבית אוהב לו כי פרעה אוהב את יוסף וכבן* לו והיו סבורים לעלות משם ככלות הרעב מארץ כנען כמו שאמרו (לעיל מז ד) לגור בארץ באנו כי אין מרעה לצאן אשר לעבדיך כי כבד הרעב בארץ כנען והנה לא עלו אבל ארך עליהם הגלות ומת שם ועלו עצמותיו   וזקני פרעה ושריו העלוהו ועשו עמו אבל כבד וכן אנחנו עם רומי ואדום אחינו הסיבונו ביאתינו בידם כי כרתו ברית עם הרומיים ואגריפס המלך האחרון לבית שני ברח אליהם לעזרה ומפני הרעב נלכדו אנשי ירושלים והגלות ארך עלינו מאד לא נודע קצו כשאר הגליות ואנחנו בו כמתים אומרים יבשו עצמותינו נגזרנו לנו ויעלו אותנו מכל העמים מנחה לה’** ויהיה להם אבל כבד בראותם כבודנו*** ואנחנו נראה בנקמת ה’ יקימנו ונחיה לפניו****:

*I thought this was not true.  I have written that Pharaoh viewed Yosef as his hatchet man based on a Pasuk in Miktaz.  Perhaps both are true that he did love Yoseph.  At the same time when needed, he made Yoseph a scapegoat and his hatchet man.  

** I believe this was fulfilled in the first half of the 20th century starting with the Balfour Declaration and ending with 1948 when the State of Israel was declared.

*** Perhaps this is what has and is what is happening over the last 50 years starting with the UN and spreading to the EU. They cannot accept Israel’s great success and use it to better the Arab world and the entire world.  Rather than harnessing the entrepreneurship and energy of Israel, they choose to attempt to hurt and destroy Israel, keeping over 1 Billion people enslaved to poverty, religious fanatics, megalomaniacs, without hope for the future.   

**** We want the world to be a partner with the Jews and Israel, and not face retribution.

I also spent time on this Kli Yakar:

ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים וגו’. למה פרשה זו סתומה, אלא כיון שנפטר יעקב התחיל השעבוד ד״א שבקש לגלות הקץ ונסתם ממנו. ד״א שנסתמו ממנו כל צרות שבעולם. כך היא הנוסחא בב״ר (צו א) כפי הנראה שאין סמך מן המקרא לכל הדרשות האלו וכולם כמתנבאים. ואשר נראה לי בזה לפי שמצינו כאן סתימה שלא כדרך הפרשיות הסתומות שבתורה שיש בהם ריוח לפחות כשיעור פרשה סתומה, וכאן אין ריוח כלל ודאי שכונת עזרא הסופר להסמיך פסוק ויחי לפסוק שלפניו וישב ישראל בארץ גושן ויאחזו בה ויפרו וירבו מאד ויחי יעקב וגו’. כאילו היה הכל פסוק אחד, ע״כ נחלקו ג’ לשונות אלו במשמעות דורשין.

כי ללשון ראשון הדורש, שכיון שנפטר יעקב התחיל השיעבוד יהיה קישור שני פסוקים אלו על זה האופן, כי מתחילה אמר וישב ישראל בארץ גושן הורה בלשון ישיבה שהיה להם ישיבה של שלוה ומנוחה, ויאחזו שהיה להם גם אחוזה בארץ ויפרו וירבו מאד, וכל זה היה בזמן ויחי יעקב כי בחייו עמד להם זכות יעקב שזכו לכל אלה, מכלל שבמותו פסק זכותו ופסק הכל, כי לא היה להם עוד ישיבה של שלום מצד השעבוד, וכ״ש שלא היחה להם אחוזה בארץ כי עבדים המה, וכן לא ניתן להם לפרות ולרבות כי בקשו להמעיטם ע״י העינוי באמרם פן ירבה, ולפי זה היתה מיתת יעקב סבת השעבוד.

ונוכל לומר בהפך זה, שהתחלת השעבוד היה סבת מיתתו כי קיצר הקדוש ברוך הוא שנותיו שלא הגיע לימי אבותיו שלא יראה בשעבוד בניו, כי בא הזמן של ועבדום וענו אותם. לכך נאמר ויקרבו ימי ישראל למות ואמרו רבותינו ז״ל (בר״ר צו ד) כל מי שנאמר בו קריבה לא הגיע לימי אבותיו, ובדרך זה יהיה הסמיכות מבואר ג״כ כמו בדרך ראשון, ומספר י״ז שנה דנקט לומר שמכירתו של יוסף שהיה בן י״ז שנה, גרם להם שלא ישבו בשלום במצרים כ״א י״ז שנה.

וללשון שלישי הדורש, לפי שנסתמו ממנו כל צרות שבעולם יאמר הכתוב אע״פ שהיה כל ימיו בצרה וגרות כמ״ש ימי מגורי ק״ל שנה מעט ורעים, מ״מ לגודל השלוה שהיה לו תוך י״ז שנים שראה ישיבת בניו בשלום ויאחזו בארץ ויפרו וירבו נשכחו ממנו כל הצרות הראשונות שעברו עליו והיו כלא היו, לכך נאמר ויהי ימי יעקב שני חייו קמ״ז שנה כי אותן ק״ל שנים לא היו נחשבים מכלל ימי חייו לגודל צרותיו, ועכשיו למפרע נחשבו כולם שני חייו, וזה לפי שנסתמו ממנו כל הצרות שעברו וכאילו היה חי חיים נעימים ועריבים בכל שנותיו, שהרי באמת יוסף היה חי, לכך סמך ויחי יעקב אל הפסוק הקודם, ומה שהשמיט רש״י לשון זה לפי שנראה לו שהיינו הך הלשון ראשון כאשר הוא מבואר למבין בהתבוננות מעט.

ואולם הלשון השני הדורש, שבקש לגלות הקץ ונסתלקה ממנו השכינה, לפי שבא לתרץ מהו שאמר ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים י״ז שנה מאי קמ״ל, וכי עדיין לא ידענו שהיה במצרים י״ז שנה, שהרי בבואו לפני פרעה אמר ימי מגורי ק״ל שנה, וא״כ למה הוצרך לומר שהיה חי במצרים י״ז שנה, ועוד למה לא הזכיר לשון זה באברהם ויצחק או אמהות, אלא ודאי שבא להורות שפרשה השכינה ממנו, לפי שנאמר למעלה ותחי רוח יעקב אביהם, שפירושו ששרתה עליו השכינה מדקאמר רוח יעקב, וסד״א ששרתה עליו רוח הקודש כל הימים עד יום מותו, קמ״ל ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים כי בבואו למצרים חי יעקב אבל לא רוח יעקב שנסתלקה ממנו השכינה מיד, לפי שאמר אמותה הפעם אחרי ראותי את פניך, וא״כ מיד היה מוכן אל הצואה לצוות מחמת מיתה והיה חושש הקב״ה פן יגלה הקץ על כן נסתלקה ממנו השכינה, ועדיין לא ידענו מאיזו טעם נסתלקה שכינה ממנו, ע״כ באה פרשה זו סתומה לסמכה לפסוק וישב ישראל בארץ גושן, לפי שמהידוע שימשך נזק גדול מן ידיעת הקץ, כי הדורות הקודמים היודעים שהגאולה לא תהיה בימיהם לא ידרשו את פני ה’ לבקש על הגאולה ועל התמורה.

וכן פירש בעקידה, על המדרש (ילקו״ש קנז מט) האומר כשבקש יעקב לגלות הקץ אמר הקב״ה ולא אותי קראת יעקב (ישעיה מג כב) ר״ל שלא היית חס על כבודי, כי מידיעה זו ימשך נזק זה שלא יקראו אותי ולא יבקשו פני הדורות הקודמים ויבקשו לישב וכמתיאשים מן הגאולה, על כן סתם וחתם ה’ הקץ האחרון כדי שבכל דור ודור יבקשו את פני ה’ ואת דוד מלכם ויהיו מחכים קץ ישועתו תמיד, כאשר בעונינו מדה זו מצוייה בינינו אפילו בזמן שאין הקץ נודע מ״מ רבים המה עמי הארץ המתישבים בארצות העמים ובונין להם בתים ספונים וחשובים ושל אבנים בנין הקיום, ובסבה זו לעולם אינן דורשין את פני ה’ בכל לב להביאם אל ארצם, וע״כ הקב״ה מניחם שמה, 

ולהנחה זו פסוק וישב ישראל בארץ גושן. מדבר באשמת ישראל, שבקשו להיות חושבים ולהיות להם אחוזה בארץ לא להם, ונזק זה בא להם לפי שקץ גלות מצרים היה נודע להם, על כן הדורות הראשונים אשר ידעו בבירור כי לא בימיהם תהיה הגאולה ההוא בקשו להם ישיבה של קבע ואחוזה בארץ מצרים, על כן סמך לפסוק זה פסוק ויחי יעקב דלהורות שנזק זה הנמשך לאותן הדורות מחמת שהיה קצם נודע גרם לויחי יעקב אבל לא רוח יעקב, כי אם יעקב לבדו היה חי כדי שלא יגלה הקץ לאחרון ושלא יתפשט נזק זה לדורות.