Shabbos Parshas Bo – January 7 and 8, 2022

January 13, 2022 – Understanding the Malbim


Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser (March 7, 1809 – September 18, 1879), better known as the Malbim (Hebrew: מלבי”ם), was a rabbi, master of Hebrew grammar, and Bible commentator. The name Malbim was derived from the Hebrew initials of his name. He used this acronym as his surname in all his published works, and became known by it in common usage.  When we spent a Shabbos in Pinsk in 2007, the Rabbi, Moshe Dema, took us on a walk on Shabbos afternoon.  He showed us about where the Malbim was buried. In Belarus there was a law that if a cemetery had no burial for 50 years, the cemetery was destroyed and the land reused.  The government plowed up the cemetery, I guess they moved the graves, and built houses on part of the cemetery land.     Wikipedia said the Malbim died in 1879 in Kiev.  I would go with Rabbi Dema.

Thursday – January 13, 2022 – :

On Thursday morning after Shabbos I was still reviewing my Torah from the past Shabbos.  I came across a beautiful Malbim.  The night before I read through the Malbim and I did not fully understand what he said.  This morning at 5:30 AM I learned the Malbim again and it came into clear focus.  I was very joyous.   My grandfather Rabbi Sholem Sklar praised his father (died in 1923) that his father knew all the Malbims.  I have the Malbim of my wife’s grandfather, Rabbi Leibush Noble.  It  seemed that the Malbim was in every Jewish home and when the Eastern European Jews came to America, they brought their Malbims with them.

I was very B’Simcha. This is the first Malbim that I worked on and understood.  There was one before but this one I put it within a larger Torah thought. I connected to the Malbim and to my grandfathers.  I had the same Simcha when I learned and understood my first Netziv.  I spoke this Torah to the Kollel at Skokie Yeshiva in front of Rabbi Revah.

Divrei Torah from this past Shabbos.

Chapter 12, Verse 21:

וַיִּקְרָ֥א מֹשֶׁ֛ה לְכׇל־זִקְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֑ם מִֽשְׁכ֗וּ וּקְח֨וּ לָכֶ֥ם צֹ֛אן לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתֵיכֶ֖ם וְשַׁחֲט֥וּ הַפָּֽסַח 

Moses then summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go, pick out lambs for your families, and slaughter the passover offering.

What does מִֽשְׁכ֗וּ וּקְח֨וּ לָכֶ֥ם צֹ֛אן mean?  

Pashut Pshat:

Targum Onkelos –  נְגִידוּ וְסִיבוּ לְכוֹן (מִן בְּנֵי) עָנָא  – translated in the Artscroll by Avrohom Morgenstern as “Draw forth and take lambs for yourselves.”

Translating this Pasuk like Onkelos are:

Sefaria –  “Go, pick out lambs for your families”

Artscroll – “Draw forth and take for yourselves”        

JPS,  Mechon Mamre,  and Soncino – Draw out and take you lambs,

Reb Shimshon Raphael Hirsch – Go out and take for yourselves

See Artscroll on Pasuk 12:6, note five that says, “Rashi explains why two verbs,   “משכו” –  “draw” and 

“קְח֨וּ” – “take” are used for a single action of taking.  What this note is saying that the plain meaning of these two verbs are used for a single action of taking, like Targum Onkelos.  Rashi both here 12:6 and 12:21 is the deeper meaning of the Pasuk.  As we delve into Pasuk 12:21 we see that there are four ways to Darshen the two words of שְׁכ֗וּ וּקְח֨וּ .

Interpretation #1


משכו. מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ צֹאן יִמְשֹׁךְ מִשֶּׁלּוֹ 

וקחו. מִי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ יִקַּח מִן הַשּׁוּק 

Reb Yosef Ber Soloveichik (Rabbi AJ Rosenberg) – Draw forth or buy for yourselves..

Gutnick Lubavitch Chumash – Draw (from your own flock) or buy for yourselves         

Artscroll Green Tanach – Draw forth or buy for yourselves

What is interesting is that you see that although the Jews were slaves, they had property rights.  They owned flocks.

Interpretation #2 – Rashi on Verse 12:6:   

 ר’ יוסי הגלילי אומר, משכו מעבודה זרה והדבקו במצוה.

Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel – נְגוּדוּ יְדֵיכוֹן מִטַּעֲוַות מִצְרָאֵי וּסְבוּ לְכוֹן מִן בְּנֵי עָנָא    Withdraw your hands from the idols of the Mizraim, and take to you from the offspring of the flock.  Does not mention”sheep of a Mitzvah”

Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel did not quote Reb Yosi Hagelili completely.  He quotes the first half exactly as Rashi and the Mechlita to  withdraw from idol worship; however regarding the second half he does not say take a sheep and cling to the Mitzvah.    You could say that this is what he meant, but I am not happy with this Pshat.  


Rashi Verse 12:21 –  משכו. מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ צֹאן יִמְשֹׁךְ מִשֶּׁלּוֹ 

 וקחו. מִי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ יִקַּח מִן הַשּׁוּק   

However Rashi in 12:6 interpretes these words like the Drush Pshat.

            וּלְפִי שֶׁהָיוּ שְׁטוּפִין בֶּאֱלִילִים אָמַר לָהֶם משכו וקחו לכם, מִשְׁכוּ יְדֵיכֶם מֵאֱלִילִים, וּקְחוּ לָכֶם צֹאן שֶׁל מִצְוָה (מכילתא)

Question #1:

Why does Rashi on Verse 21 translate משכו וקחו differently? 


The Seifsei Chacomin, which is the Mizrachi asks and answers this question.

  מי שיש לו צאן ימשוך משלו. והא דלא פי’ נמי הכא משכו ידיכם מעבודת אלילים כדפירש לעיל (פסוק ו). י”ל דהתם לאו בפירוש המקרא קאי אלא בטעם המצוה, ובטעם המצוה סגי אפי’ מילתא דאגדתא, אבל הכא מיירי בפירוש המקרא, לכן פי’ אותו היותר לפי פשוטו. [רא”ם]

English Translation of the Seifsei Chacomin from Sefaria:

Whoever owns lambs shall draw one of his own. Why does Rashi not explain this as he did above (v. 6), “Withdraw your hands from idol worship”? The answer is: Above, Rashi was not explaining the meaning of the verse, but the reason for the mitzvah. For that, a midrashic explanation is sufficient. But here Rashi is explaining the meaning of the verse; thus he offers its simple meaning (Re”m).

The two versions in Rashi is actually a Memra in the Mekhilta D’Rav Yismael who cites both interpretations and has another two:

Words of the Mekhilta:

משכו וקחו לכם. משכו מי שיש לו וקחו מי שאין לו. ר’ יוסי הגלילי אומר, משכו מעבודה זרה והדבקו במצוה. רבי ישמעאל אומר, בא הכתוב ללמד (על כל העולין) למנין על הפסח (ומושכין) [שמושכין] את ידיהם ממנו עד שישחט, ובלבד (שיניח) את הפסח (כל) [כמות] שהוא. ר’ יצחק אומר, בא (הפסח) [הכתוב] ללמדד על בהמה דקה שהיא נקנית במשיכה. 

English translation of the Mekhilta from Seferia:

“Draw forth and take for yourselves”: “Draw forth” — he who possesses his own; “and take” (i.e., acquire) — he who does not possess his own. R. Yossi Haglili says (The meaning is:) “Draw away from idol worship and cleave to mitzvoth.” R. Yishmael says: Scripture here comes to apprise us that one may number himself for (the eating of) the Paschal lamb, and he may “depart” from it, until it is slaughtered, so long as it is not left without any owners. R. Yitzchak says: Scripture comes to teach us that a small beast is acquired by (the act of) משיכה   

The list of the four interpretations as as follows:

1)     Tanna Kama-  משכו וקחו לכם. משכו מי שיש לו וקחו מי שאין לו 

 2)   ר’ יוסי הגלילי אומר, משכו מעבודה זרה והדבקו במצוה.

3)  רבי ישמעאל אומר, בא הכתוב ללמד (על כל העולין) למנין על הפסח שמושכין את ידיהם ממנו עד שישחט,   

      ובלבד (שיניח) את הפסח (כל) [כמות] שהוא.

 4)    ר’ יצחק אומר, בא (הפסח) [הכתוב] ללמדד על בהמה דקה שהיא נקנית במשיכה.

Mishna in Kiddushin 25b and the Yerushalmi has an identical Mishna:

מַתְנִי’ בְּהֵמָה גַּסָּה נִקְנֵית בִּמְסִירָה וְהַדַּקָּה בְּהַגְבָּהָה דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי מֵאִיר וְרַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה נִקְנֵית בִּמְשִׁיכָה

Yerushalmi Chapter 1, Mishna 4:

משנה: בְּהֵמָה גַסָּה בִּמְסִירָה וְהַדַּקָּה בְּהַגְבָּהָה דִּבְרֵי רִבִּי מֵאִיר וְרִבִּי אֶלְעָזָר. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים בְּהֵמָה דַקָּה נִקְנֵית בִּמְשִׁיכָה.

The Gemora Yerushalmi  says what is the source of the Chachomin

וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים. בְּהֵמָה דַקָּה נִקְנֵית בִּמְשִׁיכָה. מַה טַעֲמוֹן דְּרַבָּנִין. מִשְׁכוּ וּקְחוּ לָכֶם צֹאן לְמִשְׁפְּחוֹתֵיכֶם.

 Clearly the Chacomin that hold  a  בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה  is acquired with מְשִׁיכָה agree with Reb Yitzchok.  The presumption is that Reb Meir who holds that a בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה is acquired with lifting is like the Tanna Kammah, even though the Tanna Kammah does not say this directly.   

How does Reb Yitzchok learn   מְשִׁיכָה  from the Pasuk?  If he translates the Pasuk like the Tanna Kamma that Rashi brings down that משכו מי שיש לו וקחו מי שאין לו, how does he learn his Chiddush that בְּהֵמָה דַקָּה נִקְנֵית בִּמְשִׁיכָה.  The acquisition is going on the  קחו  and not on the משכו .

Comes along the Malbim and explains Reb Yitzchok.  The Malbim also says that the Tanna Kama is Reb Meir.  


משכו וקחו לכם . . . במ”ש משכו וקחו, שהוא לדעת ר’ יצחק שמ”ש משכו הוא שמי שאין לו צריך לקנות הצאן במשיכה, והוא כדעת חכמים בקדושין (דף כה ע”ב), דבהמה דקה נקנית במשיכה, וכן  *פרש”י ז”ל משכו מי שאין לו וקחו מי שיש לו, ומ”ד במכילתא משכו מי שיש לו וקחו מי שא”ל ס”ל כר’ מאיר בקדושין [שס] דבהמה דקה נקנית בהגבהה, ועז”א וקחו מי שא”ל שיקח ויגבהנו, ומי שי”ל ימשך ליחדו למצוה, וריה”ג מפרש ע”ד הרמב”ם שימשכו ידיהם מע”ז, כי עיקר טעם הפסח היה לבטל ע”ז שלהם שהיו עובדים למזל טלה, והוסיף ושחטו הפסח ולא אמר ושחטו אותם ללמד שישחט לשם פסח ואם שחט שלא לשמה פסול כמו שלמד בזבחים (דף ז) בכמה למודים:

*I do not know where this Rashi is located.

Based on the Malbim משכו וקחו has four different explanations

1)   Rashi like the Tannah Kammah of the Mekhilta:

      Rashi Verse 12:21   –  משכו. מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ צֹאן יִמְשֹׁךְ מִשֶּׁלּוֹ 

                                            וקחו. מִי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ יִקַּח מִן הַשּׁוּק   

2)  Reb Yitzchok who  explains these words opposite of the Tannah Kamah/Rashi.

                        משכו. מִי שֶׁאֵין לוֹצריך לקנות הצאן במשיכה  

                                                                                      וקחו. מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ ימשך ליחדו למצוה    

 3)  Reb Yose Haglili who explains Reb Yose Haglili

מפרש ע”ד הרמב”ם שימשכו ידיהם מע”ז, כי עיקר טעם הפסח היה לבטל ע”ז שלהם   שהיו עובדים למזל טלה      

4)  Reb Yishmael explains these words as referring  to  allowing the withdrawal from one group and adding yourself to another group before the actual slaughter of the Korban Pesach.

(provided the first sheep has an owner).

When  I learned and understood this Mekhilta unfortunately I did not feel that I was standing in the presence of these Tanauim, Reb Meir, Reb Yossi Hagelili, Reb Yismael, and Reb Yitzchok, and the Malbim.   This is because my sins have caused me to lose this feeling.  I hope one day to discuss it with them.

On Shabbos I was looking at a new Sefer written by Rabbi Shlomo Morgenstern on the Targum Yerushalmi and saw a beautiful addition to my Torah.  The Targum Yerushalmi translated in Aramaic the words “משכו וקחו” as אתמנון וסבו . Rabbi Shlomo Morgenstern in his explanation says that the word משכו is to be translated the same way as the Targum Yerushalmi translated the word תָּכֹ֖סּוּ in Pasuk 4 – וְאִם־יִמְעַ֣ט הַבַּ֘יִת֮ מִהְי֣וֹת מִשֶּׂה֒ וְלָקַ֣ח ה֗וּא וּשְׁכֵנ֛וֹ הַקָּרֹ֥ב אֶל־בֵּית֖וֹ בְּמִכְסַ֣ת נְפָשֹׁ֑ת אִ֚ישׁ לְפִ֣י אׇכְל֔וֹ משכו עַל־הַשֶּֽׂה׃.  The Targum Yerushalmi   תָּכֹ֖סּוּ is תִּתְמְנוּן in Aramaic. The Artscroll translates Verse 4 as “so shall you be counted for the lamb/kid.

 Comes out that according to the Targum Yeruchalmi both  משכו and  תָּכֹ֖סּוּ mean to be  counted.   Normally  משכו means to draw out so why does the Targum change the meaning of משכו to תָּכֹ֖סּוּ .    

A) The Targum was bothered by the same question as the other  תנאים, why did the Torah use two verbs to describe the same action, so they understood that they are not to be interpreted as the same verbs. B) Then how are we to translate the word משכו?    I spoke to Rabbi Avrohom Isenberg who told me that whenever the Targum Yerushalmi translates a word differently than the normal Pshat you have to look at Remez and Sod.   The Gematria of  משכו וקחו is 486, the same Gmatria of  תָּכֹ֖סּוּ.   The Targum Yerushalmi is therefore learning like Reb Yishmoel of the Mekhilta and they hold  that the word משכו means that you can do a counting after you withdraw from an original counting which you can do up until the slaughter of the animal. 

Perhaps the reason why Reb Yismoel did not learn like the Tanna Kama and Reb Yitzchok is that this Pasuk is talking about Hilchos Korban Pesach which is the same Inyan while the Tanna Kama and Reb Yitzhcok are in Hilchos Kinyan.  Perhaps also since the Tanna Kama and Reb Yitzchok use the same words two different ways for the concept of Kinyan, Reb Yishmoel felt that their explanations are not correct.  Therefore there is  no limud of Kinyan from this Pasuk. Reb Yishmoel did not learn like Reb Yosi Hagelili as the Sefisei Chacomin said that Reb Yossi Hagelili  is Aggdata. 

Gur Aryeh adds the source of Reb Yossi Hagelili

משכו מי שיש לו צאן ימשוך משלו כו’. אף על גב דלעיל פירש (רש”י פסוק ו) “משכו וקחו” ‘משכו ידיכם מעבודה זרה ו

קחו לכם צאן של מצוה’, אין המקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו *(יבמות כד. ), וצריך לפרש “משכו” מי שיש לו ימשוך משלו, “וקחו” וגו’, אלא שקשה דלמה לי למכתב, דפשוט מי שיש לו ימשוך משלו, ולא היה צריך לומר “[משכו] וקחו צאן”, ולכך דרשינן “משכו” ידיכם מעבודה זרה “וקחו” צאן של מצוה:

I would add that perhaps the main Drasha of Reb Yossi Hagleli  is from the word “לָכֶ֥ם” in מִֽשְׁכ֗וּ וּקְח֨וּ לָכֶ֥ם צֹ֛אן.  If you take something of course it is yours.  Therefore Reb Yose Hagelili says that the Korban  Pesach is your mitzvah, so that you will have the merit to leave Egypt.  The Malbim and Torah Teminah add a beautiful wrinkle.

The Torah Temimah says on Reb Yosi Hagalili – משכו וקחו. משכו מי שיש לו וקחו מי שאין לו קפזכלומר קנו מי שאין לו, ומפרש קחו מלשון קנין וכמ”ש בקדושין ב’ א’ קיחה אקרי קנין וכמ”ש בירמיה ל”ב שדות בכסף יקנו. , ר’ יוסי הגלילי אומר משכו מעבודת כוכבים והדבקו במצוה קפחנראה הבאור ע”פ מש”כ הרמב”ם במורה פ”ל משלישי דתכלית מצות הקרבנות היתה מפני שקשה היה לישראל להפרד ממנהגי האומות בזביחתם והקטרתם לאלהיהם, ולכן נצטוו להתרגל בעבודה זו בקודש לשם ה’. ואע”פ שהרבו לטעון נגד הרמב”ם בענין זה, אבל האמת הוא, כי יש לו להרמב”ם על מי להשען, ודבריו ממקום קדוש יהלכון, שכן מ

בואר במ”ר פ’ אחרי, איש איש וגו’ אשר ישחט, משל לבן מלך שלבו היה גס עליו והוא למוד לאכול נבילות וטריפות, אמר המלך, יאכל על שלחן זה תדיר ומעצמו הוא נוזר [פורש], כך לפי שהיו ישראל להוטים אחר ע”ז והיו מביאים קרבנותיהם לשעירים באיסור ופורעניות בא עליהם, אמר הקב”ה, יהיו מקריבים קרבנותיהם לפני באהל מועד והם נפרשים מע”ז, ע”כ. וזה מורה ממש כדברי המורה, ויותר מזה הכתוב עצמו מורה מפורש כדבריו, והוא בפ’ אחרי במצות קרבנות מסיים למען וגו’ ולא יזבחו עוד וגו’ לשעירים, יעו”ש. והנה גם ממאמר זה שלפנינו משכו מע”ז והדבקו במצוה יש סמוכים נאמנים לדעת הרמב”ם. ועפי”ז יש לפרש לשון הגמרא בתמורה ל’ ב’ עה”פ דפ’ פינחס תשמרו להקריב לי במועדו, לי ולא לאדון אחר, יעו”ש לפנינו. .

The final Torah on Bo 12:21 from the Kotzker.

December 18, 2021 – Parshas Vayechi

Week in Toronto

Shem Hagedolim Hachadash and the Tur HaAruch

Ateres Mordechai – Rabbi Bitterman

Noam Horowitz – Matt Schwartz

I purchased these two Seforim at the Lubavitch in Chabad Gate, the Shem Hagedolin Hachadash and the Tur HaAruch.

It is interesting to note that in the Shem Hagedolim Hachadosh’s face page,  the author’s name is not listed.  The Chida is listed.  This Sefer is a continuation of the Chida’s Sefer, Shem Hagedolim.  Rabbi Ahron Walden updated the Chida’s Sefer with a list of Rabbis and scholars where the Chida’s sefer ends.  The Chida died in 1806.

I was made aware of the Tur HaAruch through Sefaria.  I was overjoyed to obtain my own copy of this Reshon.

Spent this week in Toronto.   My mother in law is doing well.

December 17, 2021 – Friday night 

Davened in the building.  They require masks and the Gabbai lectured everyone.  Very distasteful.

Had a great meal with my mother- in-law. After the meal went to visit Yosef and Heather Kelman.  Yosef Kelman is Auntie Ruthie’s grandson.  Auntie Ruthie is my mother-in-law’s sister.  Yosef’s mother, Beverly, was my Shadchan. Yosef and Heather’s daughter is getting married in Lakewood during January 2022.   Heather is a runner and has corresponded with Beatie Duetsch.  We had running in common.     I found out that Heather grew up in Denver, CO.  In November I was in Denver for the 50th anniversary of Yeshiva Toras Chaim’s first graduation class and we spoke about Denver.   Yosef Kelman has a beautiful family and is doing well. The below is a picture of his mother in the high chair, his grandparents, Marvin and Ruth Lister, and his great grandparents, Rabbi Leibush and Zelda Bayla Noble.

Zelda Baila Noble (my mother-in-law’s mother), Ruth Noble-Lister, Rabbi Leibush Noble, with Beverley in the high chair.

December 18, 2021 – Shabbos Morning

Got up at 1:00 AM, read and learned Chumash.  Went back to sleep at 4:00 AM.  Got up at 8:00 AM.  Walked to Ateras Mordechai, Rabbi Bitterman is the Rabbi.  It was snowing and for me this was the first snow of the season.  The first snow of the season is beautiful and I felt joy, a lightness.  I was invited by Jason Lapidus to daven at his Shul.  I sat with the South African contingent at Ateres Mordechai.

The Shul is at 230 Arnold, a converted home.  I was invited there by Jason Lapidus.  They davened relatively slowly.  There was a Bar Mitzvah, last name of the family is Dabush.  The boy leined nicely.  His Bar Mitzvah speech was on the father’s Bracha of Bracha Sh’Petrani.   

Rabbi Bitterman spoke nicely on the following Verses 50:15-21, especially Verse 50:17. 

Verse 15 – וַיִּרְא֤וּ אֲחֵֽי־יוֹסֵף֙ כִּי־מֵ֣ת אֲבִיהֶ֔ם וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ ל֥וּ יִשְׂטְמֵ֖נוּ יוֹסֵ֑ף וְהָשֵׁ֤ב יָשִׁיב֙ לָ֔נוּ אֵ֚ת כׇּל־הָ֣רָעָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר גָּמַ֖לְנוּ אֹתֽוֹ׃

Verse 16 – וַיְצַוּ֕וּ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֖ף לֵאמֹ֑ר אָבִ֣יךָ צִוָּ֔ה לִפְנֵ֥י מוֹת֖וֹ לֵאמֹֽר

Verse 17

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


Verse 18 – וַיֵּלְכוּ֙ גַּם־אֶחָ֔יו וַֽיִּפְּל֖וּ לְפָנָ֑יו וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ הִנֶּ֥נּֽוּ לְךָ֖ לַעֲבָדִֽים

Verse 19 – וַיֹּ֧אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֛ם יוֹסֵ֖ף אַל־תִּירָ֑אוּ כִּ֛י הֲתַ֥חַת אֱלֹהִ֖ים אָֽנִי

Verse 20 – וְאַתֶּ֕ם חֲשַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָלַ֖י רָעָ֑ה אֱלֹהִים֙ חֲשָׁבָ֣הּ לְטֹבָ֔ה לְמַ֗עַן עֲשֹׂ֛ה כַּיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֥ת עַם־רָֽב

Verse 21 – וְעַתָּה֙ אַל־תִּירָ֔אוּ אָנֹכִ֛י אֲכַלְכֵּ֥ל אֶתְכֶ֖ם וְאֶֽת־טַפְּכֶ֑ם וַיְנַחֵ֣ם אוֹתָ֔ם וַיְדַבֵּ֖ר עַל־לִבָּֽם

Rabbi Bitterman commented on Yosef’s crying.  Yosef cried because he realized that their fighting was so counterproductive.  He was responsible for the animosity.  How much was lost because they fought.  They did not grow and lost many opportunities to move forward.  People fight over nothing.  He mentioned a Rabbi Efraim Goldberg story,, how a little mistake can create major fights.   Rabbi Bitterman said how many family fights are over nothing and years later, people do not even know why they are fighting.    Rabbi Bitterman mentioned the story of Kamtza and Ben Kamitza.  

After the davening, I stayed for the Kiddush.  Delicious.  I sat across from Jason Lapidus, Sheldon Tennabaum, and Stan Vanik; and next to Douglas Chillovitz.  Douglas Chillovitz employed my nephew, Dovie Janowski.  Dovie’s mother told me that Doug Chillovitz is a nice guy and was good to Dovie.  I told them my Torah from this week that I learned in the early morning.

I ended up being the last to leave.   I looked around to find someone to walk with however, no one was around.  I started walking home.  On Atkinson near Clark I saw someone walking in the opposite direction, wearing a knit hat.  I stopped him and asked where he Davened this Shabbos morning.  He davened at Netivot.   I asked him if I could say over my Torah and he said yes.  I started and after a few minutes, I said that I do not want to hold him from his Shabbos meal.  He said no problem with me saying over the Torah and that he would walk me.  I asked, but you are walking the opposite way from your destination, and he said no problem.   He turned and  accompanied me.   After I finished my Vort we were at Clark and Hilda, across the street from my mother in law.  I was not sure if he was married and asked if he wanted to come over for lunch?  He told me that he is married and has four kids.  I apologized for making him late for his family meal.  He said no problem.   I asked his name and he is Noam Horowitz.  He is a Levi and from the Shelah Hakodesh.  He learned in the Gush.  I told him how much I love Rabbi Moshe Teragin,   Rabbi Moshe Teragin is one of the few people in the world that can say Torah in perfect English, using the right descriptive words, being efficient while speaking, and able to teach and be understood.  Additionally, he teaches history while he speaks Torah.  I mentioned that my nephews learned at the Gush, Matt and Elyasaf Schwartz.  He responded, of course.  I am good friends with Matt and that they were also  together at YU.  His Rebbi was Rabbi Rosenzweig.  After Shabbos Matt told me that Noam Horowitz is a great guy, will do anything, has a great wife, and four cute kids.  Noam Schartz walking me, and going out of his way is Noam Horowitz.  He is an inspirational Rebbe.  Gevaldig.  I  met the only person who knows Matt Schwartz in Toronto.

Got to my mother in law, walking on a cloud. Had the Shabbos meal, cold cuts sandwiches.  

Torah #1 – the Theme of Yakov Kissing and being Kissed:

This week I focused on kissing.  It seems that more than anyone else in the Torah, kissing played a role in Yakov’s life.  How are we to understand this?  Is it just happenstance or is there something deeper.  

We find Yakov kissing or being kissed in the following six times:

1 – Yitzchok kissing Yakov when he blessed Yakov posing as Eisav.   Berehsis 17:27 –  וַיִּגַּשׁ֙ וַיִּשַּׁק־ל֔וֹ וַיָּ֛רַח אֶת־רֵ֥יחַ בְּגָדָ֖יו וַֽיְבָרְכֵ֑הוּ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר רְאֵה֙ רֵ֣יחַ בְּנִ֔י כְּרֵ֣יחַ שָׂדֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בֵּרְכ֖וֹ יְהֹוָֽה

2 – When he meets Rochel for the first time

Bereshis 29:11 – וַיִּשַּׁ֥ק יַעֲקֹ֖ב לְרָחֵ֑ל וַיִּשָּׂ֥א אֶת־קֹל֖וֹ וַיֵּֽבְךְּ׃.   Rashi comments on why Yakov cried and gives two reasons.    ויבך. לְפִי שֶׁצָּפָה בְרוּח הַקֹּדֶש שֶאֵינָהּ נִכְנֶסֶת עִמּוֹ לִקְבוּרָה. דָּ”אַ לְפִי שֶׁבָּא בְּיָדַיִם רֵקָנִיּוֹת; אָמַר, אֱלִיעֶזֶר עֶבֶד אֲבִי אַבָּא הָיוּ בְיָדָיו נְזָמִים וּצְמִידִים וּמִגְדָּנוֹת וַאֲנִי אֵין בְּיָדִי כְלוּם; לְפִי שֶׁרָדַף אֶלִיפַז בֶּן עֵשָׂו בְּמִצְוַת אָבִיו אַחֲרָיו לְהָרְגוֹ וְהִשִּׂיגוֹ, וּלְפִי שֶׁגָּדַל אֶלִיפַז בְּחֵיקוֹ שֶׁל יִצְחָק, מָשַׁךְ יָדָיו. אָמַר לוֹ מָה אֱעֱשֶׂה לַצִּוּוּי שֶׁל אַבָּא? אָמַר לוֹ יַעֲקֹב טֹל מַה שֶּׁבְּיָדִי, וְהֶעָנִי חָשׁוּב כַּמֵּת.

Both reasons are powerful.  Yakov found his soulmate, the love of his life, the one who he would give his everything to.  Rashi says that Yakov saw with his holy spirit that they would not be buried together.  Yakov’s kiss with Rochel was tragic.    Yakov sensed that something would happen that would get in the way of true happiness in marriage.  He cries over this impending darkness.  

3 – Lavan kissing and hugging Yakov.  Bereshis  29:13 – וַיְהִי֩ כִשְׁמֹ֨עַ לָבָ֜ן אֶת־שֵׁ֣מַע ׀ יַעֲקֹ֣ב בֶּן־אֲחֹת֗וֹ וַיָּ֤רׇץ לִקְרָאתוֹ֙ וַיְחַבֶּק־לוֹ֙ וַיְנַשֶּׁק־ל֔וֹ וַיְבִיאֵ֖הוּ אֶל־בֵּית֑וֹ וַיְסַפֵּ֣ר לְלָבָ֔ן אֵ֥ת כׇּל־הַדְּבָרִ֖ים הָאֵֽלֶּה.

Lavan kissed and hugged Yosef not out of love but to see if Yakov was hiding diamonds in his mouth and money around his chest.  Lavan reasoned that Eliezer, the servant of Avrohom, come with ten camels full of riches, so he thought Yakov would also be coming with great wealth,  Lavan did not see camels laden with riches, so he kissed and hugged to see if Yakov was hiding the wealth on his body  protecting it from thieves.  This kissing has an ulterior motive.  Yakov tells Lavan that he is penniless and the reason as Rashi says in 29:13.   .ויספר ללבן. שֶׁלֹּא בָא אֶלָּא מִתּוֹך אֹנֶס אָחִיו, וְשֶׁנָּטְלוּ מָמוֹנוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ

Yakov feels compelled to say what happened.  Not sure if Yakov admitted to taking the Brochos deceitfully, but he did reveal that Eisav wants to kill Yakov and he gave his money to Eliphaz.  Lavan got the upper hand, as Yakov is a pauper, estranged from his family.   He knew that Yakov did something to antagonize his brother and that Yakov could not go home.

This is another example of Yakov divulging too much information.  See my Torah from last year. 

4  – When Yosef revealed himself to his brothers, he kissed his brothers. 

        Bereshis 45:15 – וַיְנַשֵּׁ֥ק לְכׇל־אֶחָ֖יו וַיֵּ֣בְךְּ עֲלֵהֶ֑ם וְאַ֣חֲרֵי כֵ֔ן דִּבְּר֥וּ אֶחָ֖יו אִתּֽוֹ 

5 – hugging and kissing Ephraim and Menashe

         Bereshis 48:10 – וְעֵינֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ כָּבְד֣וּ מִזֹּ֔קֶן לֹ֥א יוּכַ֖ל לִרְא֑וֹת וַיַּגֵּ֤שׁ אֹתָם֙ אֵלָ֔יו וַיִּשַּׁ֥ק לָהֶ֖ם וַיְחַבֵּ֥ק לָהֶֽם

The Sferno says   –וישק להם ויחבק להם כדי שתדבק נפשו בהם ותחול עליהם ברכתו.

Translated as “the physical contact was designed to make Yaakov more attached to them so that his blessing would be correspondingly more effective.”

6  – when Yakov passes away.  Pasuk 50:1 – וַיִּפֹּ֥ל יוֹסֵ֖ף עַל־פְּנֵ֣י אָבִ֑יו וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ עָלָ֖יו וַיִּשַּׁק־לֽוֹ 

It does say in Verse 32:1  that Lavan kissed his daughters and grandchildren – וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֨ם לָבָ֜ן בַּבֹּ֗קֶר וַיְנַשֵּׁ֧ק לְבָנָ֛יו וְלִבְנוֹתָ֖יו וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֶתְהֶ֑ם וַיֵּ֛לֶךְ וַיָּ֥שׇׁב לָבָ֖ן לִמְקֹמֽוֹ׃, however, since it was not Yakov we will ignore it.

Let us trace Yakov’s life using the above mileposts.  

Yakov is kissed by his father and results in getting the blessings in a deceptive manner.  This is the beginning of the tragedy of Yakov’s life and is the סיבּה, the cause of all of Yakov’s trevails.  Yakov deceives his brother.  His brother swears revenge and Yakov has to flee.  As Yakov was making his way to Choron, he is overtaken by Eliphaz who is told to kill Yakov.  Yakov gives Eliphaz  all of his money and Yakov arrives at Choron penniless.  He does not arrive at his uncle’s home as the honored family member.  As a result he has to work for Lavan for seven years for Rochel’s hand in marriage.  Yakov is tricked to marry Leah and Leah’s justification is that Yakov tricked his own brother Eisav, saying whatever goes around, comes around.  Yakov is powerless to dictate anything because he arrived in a weakened position.    Had Yakov come with money, Yakov would have been treated as an honored guest and in all likelihood married Rochel immediately without any trickey and having to marry Leah.   Yakov sensed this tragedy when he kissed Rochel. All this traces itself back to when Yakov deceived his father.  

The dysfunction continues.  Yakov’s marriage to Leah created friction in his marriages  and between the brothers.  This friction leads to animosity and the animosity leads to the brothers selling Yosef and splitting the family.  Yosef is sold into slavery and Yakov does not see his beloved son for twenty two years.  During this time Yosef became monarch in Egypt.  Finally at age 130 father and son are reunited.   It takes a dramatic scene of Yosef revealing to his brothers that this despot, this Egyptian they were dealing with, is indeed their brother and Yosef kisses them and they cry.  This is the kiss of Godliness, of brotherhood, of unity.    

Yakov is now 130 years old and is able to live out the last seventeen years of his life in total peace and harmony.  As the Medresh Rabah says, 96:1, דָּבָר אַחֵר, לָמָּה הִיא סְתוּמָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁסָּתַם מִמֶּנּוּ כָּל צָרוֹת שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם and the Kli Yakur elaborates:

 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,              

The Kli Yakur is explaining the first pasuk on a deeper level than the plain meaning.  The plain meaning is that Yosef lived for 17 years in Egypt and his total life was 147 years.

                   *וַיְחִ֤י יַעֲקֹב֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם שְׁבַ֥ע עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה שָׁנָ֑ה וַיְהִ֤י יְמֵֽי־יַעֲקֹב֙ שְׁנֵ֣י חַיָּ֔יו שֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֔ים וְאַרְבָּעִ֥ים וּמְאַ֖ת שָׁנָֽה 

               “Jacob lived seventeen years in the land of Egypt, so that the span of Jacob’s life came to one 

                hundred and forty-seven years.” 

    The Medresh and Kli Yakur are saying that Yakov’s life of 17 years in Egypt was in 

    such bliss and peace, that Yakov was able to forget the pain and

                suffering of the first 130 years of his life, so much so that he felt as if he lived for 147 years in

                goodness and sweetness.  To expand on this, Yakov felt that he did not live the first 130

                years.  He was tossed and turned by life and he had no control over life.   He could not smell 

                the roses and every breath he took was loaded with stress.  Once he went to Egypt and was

    supported by Yosef and surrounded by his other kids, did he feel alive.  He had a joy of

    waking up every day.   

Now that Yakov has had 17 years of life of peace and harmony, he is able to kiss his grandchildren with this same kiss of Godliness that Yitzchok blessed him with, however, that kiss ended in tragedy and Yakov kiss was full of light and ended in greatness for his grandchildren.  

As Yakov leaves this world, Yosef kisses his father, the kiss of one’s soul being bound up in another soul.

Torah #2:

The Tur HaAruch and understanding the kiss and hug Yakov gave to Ephraim and Menassha:

This past Tuesday I davend in Lubavitch on Chabad Gate in Toronto.    There is a bookstore in Lubavitch and they have many older Seforim on sale.  I picked up two Seforim that I was looking for for years.  One is a Shem Hagdolim Hachodesh by Rabbi Ahron Walden, published in 1864.  He has  two great paragraphs of a first person account of the Kotzker.  It is very poetic and draws on many Pesukim in which one has to understand.   I had Barnea Sellavan translate it.  The second is the Tur HaAruch.  I did not know that the Tur HaAruch existed until I saw it on Sefaria a number of years ago.  I was B’Simcha Gedolah when I found these Sefroima nd was able to purchase.

Torah on Verse 48:10.

#1 – The Tur HaAruch:

וְעֵינֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ כָּבְד֣וּ מִזֹּ֔קֶן לֹ֥א יוּכַ֖ל לִרְא֑וֹת וַיַּגֵּ֤שׁ אֹתָם֙ אֵלָ֔יו וַיִּשַּׁ֥ק לָהֶ֖ם וַיְחַבֵּ֥ק לָהֶֽם

This Pasuk is saying that Yakov was blind from old age and he (Yosef) brought Ephraim and  Menashe close to Yakov.  Yakov hugged and kissed them.


The Tur HaAruch says 

וישק להם ויחבק להם. שאין שכינה שורה אלא מתוך שמחה וכדרך שנעשה לו שאביו חבקו ונשקו כשברכו:

Yakov hugged and kissed his two grandchildren to create Simcha so that the Schinah should rest on him to bless his grandchildren, just like Yitzxhok kissed Yakov posing as Eisav.  However in Bereshis Verses 27:26 and 27:27 speaks to the kiss of Yakov, as follows:


Bereshis 27:26 – וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו יִצְחָ֣ק אָבִ֑יו גְּשָׁה־נָּ֥א וּשְׁקָה־לִּ֖י בְּנִֽי׃

Bereshis 27:27 –  וַיִּגַּשׁ֙ וַיִּשַּׁק־ל֔וֹ וַיָּ֛רַח אֶת־רֵ֥יחַ בְּגָדָ֖יו וַֽיְבָרְכֵ֑הוּ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר רְאֵה֙ רֵ֣יחַ בְּנִ֔י כְּרֵ֣יחַ שָׂדֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בֵּרְכ֖וֹ יְהֹוָֽה׃

Translated as:

And Yitzchok his father ssiad come close and kiss me, my son.   Yakov approaches and kisses his father and smells the smell of his clothes and he blesses him, saying see the smell of my son is that of a field that Hashem has blessed.

However, the Tur HaAruch does not say that Yitzchok’s kiss was done to create Simcha. The Tur HaAruch gives a very practical reason –    

גשה נא ושקה לי בני. אמר הנה שני סימנין בקול דומה ליעקב במשוש דומה לעשו אראה עוד סימן ג’ בבגדיו ויכריע בין 

ב’ סימנים ועל כן כשקרב אליו והריח ריח בגדי עשו ברכו:  

Yitzchok was not sure who was standing in front of him,  Yitzchok performed one more test to see if he has an earthy smell or would the person smell like Yakov, so he kissed him to test him.  Yirzchok was being practical.  Kissing his son, Yizchok smelled the smell of the field (not someone sitting in the Bais Medrash), confirmed in his mind it was Eisav and blessed him.  

We seem to have a contradiction in the Tur HaAruch.  In Breshis 27:27 the Tur HaAruch gave a practical reason for Yitzchok’s kiss, for a test;  however, in the week’s Sedra the Tur HaAruch refers back to Yitzchok’s kiss and said it generated Simcha.  Both kisses in VaYicha and in Toldos were for Simcha. 

The answer is that while true the purpose of the kiss was very practical, the outcome was that it created great Simcha.  What was the joy?  On a simple level you can say that Yakov felt he had proof that the person in front of him was Eisav and was now happy that he can give a Bracha to Eisav.   In both cases the kiss created joy, by Ephreim and Menashe he hugged and kissed to create joy, by Yitzchok the outcome of the kiss was joy and Yitzchok had clarity.  I think the answer is much deeper than this.  Yitzchok already had a good meal and wine.  Knowing with clarity would seem to bring some joy,  but not great joy.  

I think the Pshet is that Yitzhok’s kiss created unbelievable joy for him and this is what the Tur HaAruch is saying.  Everyone asks the question, what was Yitzchok thinking? He knew Eisav was an evil person, albeit mitigated by Eisav’s fulfillment of honoring his parents.    The mainstream answer said by Rabbi Aaron Solovechik in 1974 is that Yitzchok options were to either give the blessing to Eisav and teach Eisav to do good, after all Eisav excelled in the commandment of honoring one’s father and mother;  or give the Bracha to Yakov, who was physically and emotionally  weak, not equipped with the strength to be the foundation of the Jewish perople.  Yitzchok felt it is best to give the blessing to Eisav and Rivka understood the disaster that would occur if Eisav received the blessing. 

When Yitzchok kisses the person in front of him and smells a field, it is a field of blossoming floors, a touch of Gan Eden. As Rashi on this Pasuk says,

 “ ’וירח וגו AND HE SMELLED etc.— Surely there is no more offensive smell than that of washed goat-skins! But Scripture implicitly tells us that the perfume of the Garden of Eden entered the room with him (Genesis Rabbah 65:22)”  . 

The smell of blossoming flowers, enhanced by the smell of Gan Eden brought tremendous  Simcha to Yitzchok.   Yitzchok according to the  Tur HaArcuh has now confirmed in his mind that Eisav is standing in front of him ready to receive the blessing and Yitzchok smells Gan Eden.  Yitzchok is overjoyed.  He confirmed in his mind that he made the right decision, Eisav is the correct person to receive the blessing of the nation of Israel.  This was his great Simcha and this is the comparison between the two kisses, one in Toldos and the other in Vayechi.     

This is exactly what the Tur HaAruch is effectively saying in his next piece on the next Pasuk, which discusses the actual kiss.  

ראה ריח בני כריח שדה. פי’ ראה הוא הדבור במחשבת הלב שאמר בלבו ודאי עשו הוא זה שריח בגדיו מריחים כריח השדה פי’ כציצי הפרחים שהוא איש שדה וקלטו בגדיו ריח השדה ועל כן ברכו. וי”מ שהיה בגדיו מגומרים בבשמים הגדלים בשדה:

ראה ריח בני כריח שדה, “indeed the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of the field.” The meaning of the word ראה here is that the expression does not reflect something Yitzchok saw with his eyes, but that this is what he observed internally, when thinking about what his son Esau’s presence projected. He felt that there could not be any doubt that of his two sons it was Esau who represented the fragrance of blossoming flowers and all the blessings associated with nature when it unfolds. This is why he determined to accord him the blessing. Other commentators see in this statement about the fragrance simply a reference to the perfume with which Esau sprayed his garments, something which matched what could be found in the field.

Torah #3 – Yakov’s blindness and kissing and hugging his two grandchildren are in the same Pasuk, Verse 48:10.  Is there a connection?

Bereshis 48:10 – וְעֵינֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ כָּבְד֣וּ מִזֹּ֔קֶן לֹ֥א יוּכַ֖ל לִרְא֑וֹת וַיַּגֵּ֤שׁ אֹתָם֙ אֵלָ֔יו וַיִּשַּׁ֥ק לָהֶ֖ם וַיְחַבֵּ֥ק לָהֶֽם

Pasuk is saying that Yakov was blind because of old age.  The same Pasuk that talks about his blindness also says Yakov hugged and kissed his two grandchildren.  There seems to be a connection. 

 I believe that the answer is based on the above Torah.  Kissing represents connecting to someone one a deep level, your soul’s touch one arbiter.  I believe that the juxtaposition of Yakov’s blindness and his kissing his two grandchildren is to tell us although a poor person and a blind person are both considered “dead”, when Yakov lost his money before going to Choron, this was “death” for Yakov.  This led to bad outcomes in Yakov’s life.  You can even say that Yitzchaks blindness also led to “death”, to the deception which defined UYakov’s life for years and not seeing Yakov for 22 years.   However, in this Parsha Yakov’s blindness did not result in “death”.  Yakov saw and radiated light.  He woke up every day with joy knowing that he had another day to be with his family, to learn Torah with his grandchildren.  He was able to kiss and hug his grandchildren to pass on Yakov’s neshama of purity and holiness.  

An alternative explanation  and other Reshonim discussing Yakov’s blindness.  

The Ohr Hachaim is bothered by this connection and says:

ועיני ישראל וגו’. צריך לדעת למה כתיב הודעה זו במקום זה, ומה קשר ושייכות לדבר זה עם הסמוך לו וישק להם ויחבק להם. עוד צריך לדעת אומרו להם שהיה לו לומר וישק אותם. ואולי ששני דקדוקים אלו כל אחת מתרצת חברתה כי לצד שכבדו עיניו מזוקן היה מחבק שלא במקום החיבוק ומנשק שלא במקום הנישוק ולזה אמר להם ולא אמר אותם והבן:

Israel’s eyes were heavy with old age, etc. Why did the Torah choose this point to inform us of Jacob’s failing eyesight? What does it have to do with his proceeding to embrace and kiss Joseph’s children? Besides, why did the Torah have to describe these kisses as להם instead of אותם? Perhaps one of these details will help us understand the other detail. Jacob embraced the children in the wrong places and kissed them in the wrong places due to his failing eyesight. If that were true the expression להם instead of אותם is quite understandable.

The Ohr Hachaim’s explanation leaves us wanting more.

 Contrast Yakov blindness to Yitzchok’s, Verse 27:1

וַֽיְהִי֙ כִּֽי־זָקֵ֣ן יִצְחָ֔ק וַתִּכְהֶ֥יןָ עֵינָ֖יו מֵרְאֹ֑ת וַיִּקְרָ֞א אֶת־עֵשָׂ֣ו ׀ בְּנ֣וֹ הַגָּדֹ֗ל וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ בְּנִ֔י וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו הִנֵּֽנִי׃

Rashi says ותכהין. בַּעֲשָׁנָן שֶׁל אֵלּוּ. דָּ”אַ כְּשֶׁנֶּעֱקַד עַ”גַּ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְהָיָה אָבִיו רוֹצֶה לְשָׁחֳטוֹ, בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה נִפְתְּחוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְרָאוּ-  מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת וְהָיוּ בוֹכִים, וְיָרְדוּ דִמְעוֹתֵיהֶם וְנָפְלוּ עַל עֵינָיו, לְפִיכָךְ כָּהוּ עֵינָיו. דָּ”אַ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּטֹּל יַעֲקֹב אֶת הַבְּרָכוֹת 

Notice that Rashi does not say that he lost his sight due to old age, even though the Pasuk says he was  old. The Rashban says that Yitzchok did lose his sight because of old age.

Rashbam –  ותכהין עיניו – מן הזקנה, כמו שמצינו בספר שמואל: ועיניו החלו כהות.

The Netziv in his Hemek Dvar and others say that Yitzchok was only 127 and he was not old enough to lose his sight from age, rather there is another reason.

ותכהין עיניו מראות. אין לפרש שהזקנה גרמה זאת שהרי לא הי׳ זקן כ״כ לפי ערך ימי חייו. שהי׳ חי עוד ששים שנה. אלא סיבה הי׳ מן השמים. וכמבואר עוד ברבה הרבה טעמים וגם דקדקו לשון מראות שהוא מיותר אלא נרמז בזה הסיבה לכך וא״כ צריך לפרש ויהי כי זקן יצחק אירע סיבה שכהו עיניו. אבל הזקנה גרמה לו לחשוב מחשבות כי קרבו ימיו שהוא בעצמו לא שיער שהוא סיבה מן השמים. אלא חשב כי סוף ימיו המה


Shabbos Parshas Miketz / December 4, 2021 – Sixth Day of Chanukah 2021

Chabad of East Lakeview

December 3, 2021 -Thursday Night – Fifth night of Chanukah

We had our 2021 Chanukah party.   Thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.  Serka received a Tory Burch purse The boys and Mordy received a colorful pair of socks.  Mordy showed up in shorts.  I received a blue and white Chanukah gnome candle.  We had three types of pizza, eggplant parmesan, mac and cheese, and of course potato latkes.  For dessert an assortment of Sufganiyot.

Joseph Interprets the Dream of Pharaoh (19th Century painting by Jean-Adrien Guignet)

Friday Night:

Davened at Sidney’s Bais Ment Shul.  Great Shabbos meal from Serka, food was the perfect amount.  Went to sleep at 9:00 PM.  

Shabbos Morning:

Got up at 4:00 AM and prepared for my Shiur.  I left my house at 8:45 AM to walk to Chabad of East Lakeview.   Walk seemed to go by fast as I was thinking my speech.  At the parking lot of Target on Ashland and School, a Streetwise vendor asked if I was Jewish and I showed him my Yarmulka.  His name was Gary (Steve) Cole.  His mother was Jewish, last name Frank, and his father was a hillbilly. I told him to bring his sister to Chabad.  Arrived at Chabad at 10:45 AM, by Chazras Hashatz.

Paul Fruend was there, along with the rest of the Chevra.  Nice crowd.  I received an Aliyah.  

Kiddush was sponsored by Dr. Stuart Sprague for the Yahrzeit for his father.   Dr. Stuart Sprague is a specialist who offers services and treatment options in Nephrology (Kidneys).  Magnificent Kiddush.  Chicken wraps, lean corned beef, turkey roll, coleslaw, and a great Pesach Cholent.

The Dr. Leonard Kranzler Memorial Shiur started at 2:15 PM.  In attendance were Paul Fruend, Marcel, Tamar, Peggy, Ray Miller, and Herb.    I started out with a question.  Miketz is always read during Chanukah. Is there a connection between Mikatz and Chanukah?  Rabbi Efreim Goldberg answered that Yosef at the end of last week’s Sedra was languishing in prison.  In Mikatz, Yosef goes from the bottom to the top of the world.  In the Chanukah story, the Jews were ruled by the Greek empire. The Greeks did not want to annihilate the Jews as in the Purim story.  They wanted Jews to take on Greek culture.  Circumcision was forbidden.  The Greeks worshiped perfection of the body. The Olympic games celebrated the human body.  Jewish athletes undid their circumcision.  Many Jews wanted to be Greek, the dominant culture in Israel at that time. Dana Horn who wrote the book, People Love Dead Jews, talks and writes about the historical need for Jews to assimilate and turn against themselves.

She talked about the tragedy of Jews undoing their circumcision to gain acceptance.  The Chasmonean, a ragtag group of freedom fighters fought against the Greeks to restore Jewish culture.  Israel went from almost losing their identity and brought back not only the Jewish religion, but also sovereignty to the Jewish people.  Both tell the story of rising from the depths of despair to greatness, to freedom.

Verse 41:1 – וַיְהִ֕י מִקֵּ֖ץ שְׁנָתַ֣יִם יָמִ֑ים וּפַרְעֹ֣ה חֹלֵ֔ם וְהִנֵּ֖ה עֹמֵ֥ד עַל־הַיְאֹֽר׃

Yosef was sent to prison, falsely accused by the wife of Potiphar.  I always thought that the incident happened within a year of his coming to Egypt.  This means that Yosef was in prison for ten years, plus the additional two years or twelve in total.  This year I revisited  this question.  Maybe the incident with Potiphar happened after Yosef had been in Egypt for ten years and he was only in jail for two years. Rabbi Dovid Kotlarski said last week that the incident with the Chief Baker and the Cupbearer happened because the gossip of Egypt was about Yosef and Potiphar.  Hashem made a new scandal so that Yosef’s story would be yesterday’s news and stop being talked about.  The news cycle moved on.  This is a Rashi and I was glad the Rabbi mentioned this Rashi.  This means that Yosef was only imprisoned for slightly over two years. 

The יְאֹֽר  is the Nile.  Pharaoh was a God king and in his dream he is standing by the Nile.  The Nile was the lifeline of Egypt.  Pharaoh felt the Nile is his.  

Verse 41:2 – Verse 41:7 – The dream of Pharah.  The way the Torah describes the cows and grain is in different order when comparing what the Torah said when Pharaoh dreamt vs. the language used when Pharaoh told the dream to Yosef.  I do not have an answer.

Good Cows:

Actual dream –        שֶׁ֣בַע פָּר֔וֹת יְפ֥וֹת מַרְאֶ֖ה וּבְרִיאֹ֣ת בָּשָׂ֑ר

Reciting to Yosef –  שֶׁ֣בַע פָּר֔וֹת בְּרִיא֥וֹת בָּשָׂ֖ר וִיפֹ֣ת תֹּ֑אַר

Question 1 – Good cows –  Description of cows are in reverse order

Question 2         Why in one place it is יְפ֥וֹת מַרְאֶ֖ה    and in the second place וִיפֹ֣ת תֹּ֑אַר

                                            Different descriptive words מַרְאֶ֖ה  vs.  תֹּ֑אַר and why in the first recital יְפ֥וֹת 

has a Vav and in the retelling the word  וִיפֹ֣ת does not have a Vav 

Bad cows:

Actual dream        –  רָע֥וֹת מַרְאֶ֖ה וְדַקּ֣וֹת בָּשָׂ֑ר

Reciting to Yosef – דַּלּ֨וֹת וְרָע֥וֹת תֹּ֛אַר מְאֹ֖ד וְרַקּ֣וֹת בָּשָׂ֑ר לֹֽא־רָאִ֧יתִי כָהֵ֛נָּה בְּכׇל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם לָרֹֽעַ׃

                                  Weak, bad in appearance, and emaciated flesh

Question 3 – Bad cows –    דַּלּ֨וֹת -weak is only mentioned in Pharaoh rendition to Yosef

                                              In the rendition of Yosef Pharaoh adds the word  מְאֹ֖ד. 

Artscoll translates מַרְאֶ֖ה as appearance and תֹּ֛אַר as form.  

Sefaria described  מַרְאֶ֖ה as ugly and  תֹּ֛אַר as ill-formed.

Continuing the narration:

The king’s necromancers and wise men could not interpret Pharaoh’s dream.  The Chief Cupbearer suggests that Yosef be brought in.  The Chief Cupbearer says the following in Verse 41:12:

וְשָׁ֨ם אִתָּ֜נוּ נַ֣עַר עִבְרִ֗י עֶ֚בֶד לְשַׂ֣ר הַטַּבָּחִ֔ים וַ֨נְּסַפֶּר־ל֔וֹ וַיִּפְתׇּר־לָ֖נוּ אֶת־חֲלֹמֹתֵ֑ינוּ אִ֥ישׁ כַּחֲלֹמ֖וֹ פָּתָֽר׃A Hebrew youth was there with us, a servant of the chief steward; and when we told him our dreams, he interpreted them for us, telling each of the meaning of his dream

Rashi – נער עברי עבד. אֲרוּרִים הָרְשָׁעִים, שֶׁאֵין טוֹבָתָם שְׁלֵמָה, מַזְכִּירוֹ בִּלְשׁוֹן בִּזָּיוֹן

                                                       נער. שׁוֹטֶה וְאֵין רָאוּי לִגְדֻלָּה

                                                       עבד. וְכָתוּב בְּנִמּוּסֵי מִצְרַיִם שֶׁאֵין עֶבֶד מוֹלֵךְ   וְלֹא לוֹבֵשׁ בִּגְדֵי שָׂרִים            

The Chief Cupbearer is telling Pharaoh, I know someone who has the knack for interpreting dreams.  Despite this ability he is a fool, a slave and not fit to be king.  Yes he has a talent, but he has nothing else going for him.   He is an idiot savant like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.  The Cupbearer could not be gracious and say, I know a young man who is great, smart, and can interpret dreams.   Why would the Cupbearer be afraid that Yosef would be king?  Joseph is a prisoner and to think that Yosef as a foreigner, a slave and a prisoner would becomed king is preposterous.  Yet the Cupbearer was afraid that Yosef could indeed become king.  I believe the answer is that the Cupbearer recognized that Yosef was successful, smart, a leader of men, and had a graciousness about him that drew people in.   Yosef was not a criminal nor did he behave like a slave.    The Cupbearer knew that if Pharaoh met Yosef, Pharaoh would be impressed and possibly promote Yosef. Yosef’s political stock would rise and ultimately Yosef would become a major leader.  Therefore, the Cupbearer denigrated Yosef by saying Yosef is a nothing, a fool.  

Verse 41:15 through Verse 41:36 is the dialogue between Pharaoh and Yosef; the interpretation of the dream and Yosef’s advice.  Yosef has the confidence and presence before Pharaoh and the entire court.  He talks confidently, articulately and impresses everyone in the room.  They do not see a lowly criminal and slave.  Therefore Pharaoh responded – 

Verse 41:37     וַיִּיטַ֥ב הַדָּבָ֖ר בְּעֵינֵ֣י פַרְעֹ֑ה וּבְעֵינֵ֖י כׇּל־עֲבָדָֽיו׃ – The plan pleased Pharaoh and all his courtiers.

Verse 41:38      וַיֹּ֥אמֶר פַּרְעֹ֖ה אֶל־עֲבָדָ֑יו הֲנִמְצָ֣א כָזֶ֔ה אִ֕ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֛ר ר֥וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֖ים בּֽוֹ 

 And Pharaoh said to his courtiers, “Could we find another like him, a man in whom is  the spirit of God?”

Verse 41:39:    וַיֹּ֤אמֶר פַּרְעֹה֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף אַחֲרֵ֨י הוֹדִ֧יעַ אֱלֹהִ֛ים אוֹתְךָ֖ אֶת־כׇּל־זֹ֑את אֵין־נָב֥וֹן וְחָכָ֖ם כָּמֽוֹךָ  

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is none so    discerning and wise as you.

Everyone is happy.  Pharaoh found a person who should be able to handle running Egypt, gathering the grain, storing it, and the distribution.  All of Pharaoh’s advisers are happy. At this point Pharaoh has buy-in from his court ministers that Yosef should be promoted.  They are thinking that Pharosh will appoint one of us to lead the effort, Yosef will work for us, and we will get all the glory, the glory of saving Egypt.  They will erect statues in our honor.

In the next verse, Pharaoh delivers a shock to his royal court.

Verse 41:40 says  –  אַתָּה֙ תִּהְיֶ֣ה עַל־בֵּיתִ֔י וְעַל־פִּ֖יךָ יִשַּׁ֣ק כׇּל־עַמִּ֑י רַ֥ק הַכִּסֵּ֖א אֶגְדַּ֥ל מִמֶּֽךָּ׃ –  You shall be in charge of my court, and by your command shall all my people be directed; only with respect to the throne shall I be superior to you.”

Yosef is promoted to be the leader of Egypt who will be making all the decisions.  Only Pharaoh has more power, but will not be running the country.  It will be Yoseph.  This is a wondrous turn of events. Why would Pharaoh bypass all of his wise men, his politicians, his necromancers who have been with him for years.   I believe that Pharaoh really wanted to do good for his people.  He realized that Yosef is the best person for the job and he did not want to hinder Yosef from reporting to a boss who would only create another level of management and create roadblocks.  So true in the corporate world.   It would make it harder for Yosef to carry out his mission of saving Egypt during the famine years.   The royal court must have been stunned.  They were in disbelief and rendered speechless.  In all likelihood from that day forward they worked against Yosef.  At every turn they tried to sabotage him.  Yosef could not let his guard down.  This is one of the reasons given why Yosef did not let his father know that he was okay.Yosef was always watched, and if he faltered he would be accused of disloyalty.

Pharaoh gives Yosef a wife, the daughter of Potepher.” אֶת־אָֽסְנַ֗ת בַּת־פּ֥וֹטִי פֶ֛רַע* כֹּהֵ֥ן אֹ֖ן לְאִשָּׁ֑ה”.  In the previous Parsha  Potephar’s wife wanted Yosef and falsely accused Yosef of attacking her.  She is now his mother-in-law.  Awkward,  Thanksgiving must have been tough.    Perhaps Pharaoh deliberately gave Asnas to Yosef as a wife to show that Yosef was innocent and to quell any talk about that incident.    Interesting to note that Potephar’s wife is not identified by name.  Perhaps now that her daughter became the husband of a powerful person and she sees that the prophecy of her family becoming part of Yosef’s was not her but her daughter, she apologized to Yosef and they were on good terms.

Yonasan Ben Uziel says that Asnas was the daughter of the union of Shechem and Dina that Potephar’s wife raised, as follows”

וּקְרָא פַרְעה שְׁמֵיהּ דְיוֹסֵף גַבְרָא דִטְמִירָן מְפַרְסֵם וִיהַב לֵיהּ יַת אָסְנַת דִילֵידַת דִינָה לִשְׁכֶם וּרְבֵיתָה אִיתַּת פּוֹטִיפֶרַע רַבָּא דְטָנִיס לְאִינְתּוּ וּנְפַק יוֹסֵף שַׁלִיט עַל אַרְעָא דְמִצְרַיִם

And Pharaoh called the name of Joseph, The man who revealeth mysteries. And he gave him Asenath, whom Dinah had borne to Shekem, and the wife of Potiphera prince (Rabba) of Tanis had brought up, to be his wife. And Joseph went forth ruler over the land of Mizraim.   

This makes so much sense.  The attack on Dina, terrible when it happened,  ends up being for the good.  Imagine the joy of the family comes down and they discover that Dina’s daughter has been restored to the family.   The family is whole.

Final Thought:

Yosef is asked to interpret the dream, however, in verse 41:33 Yosef offers advice.  Yosef was not asked to offer advice.  I said a Pshat that Yosef did not want to be thrown back in prison, so he offered advice in the hopes that he would become a government official working for an advisor and not be sent back to prison.  He did not think that Pharaoh would praise him and elevate him to the number two person in the entire Egypt.

Verse 34 –  יַעֲשֶׂ֣ה פַרְעֹ֔ה וְיַפְקֵ֥ד פְּקִדִ֖ים עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְחִמֵּשׁ֙ אֶת־אֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם בְּשֶׁ֖בַע שְׁנֵ֥י הַשָּׂבָֽע׃

The word חִמֵּשׁ֙ according to Rashi is to “prepare” the land .  The Ibn Ezra says it means take a fifth of all the produce.   

Verse 35 says – וְיִקְבְּצ֗וּ אֶת־כׇּל־אֹ֙כֶל֙ הַשָּׁנִ֣ים הַטֹּב֔וֹת הַבָּאֹ֖ת הָאֵ֑לֶּה וְיִצְבְּרוּ־בָ֞ר תַּ֧חַת יַד־פַּרְעֹ֛ה אֹ֥כֶל בֶּעָרִ֖ים וְשָׁמָֽרוּ׃ Let all the food of these good years that are coming be gathered, and let the grain be collected under Pharaoh’s authority as food to be stored in the cities.

Verse 36 says – וְהָיָ֨ה הָאֹ֤כֶל לְפִקָּדוֹן֙ לָאָ֔רֶץ לְשֶׁ֙בַע֙ שְׁנֵ֣י הָרָעָ֔ב אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּהְיֶ֖יןָ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם וְלֹֽא־תִכָּרֵ֥ת הָאָ֖רֶץ בָּרָעָֽב Let that food be a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will come upon the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine.”

According to Rashi in Verse 34 it does not say that it is a tax or that the government will buy up the food supply, where the government will own this stockpile of food.  It is a פִקָּדוֹן֙ , a deposit.  The Torah seems to say that the people will give the food to the government and will get it back during the years of famine. This Is not what ultimately happened.  Why did it change?  It ended up that Pharaoh owned all the excess grain and while he saved his people, it was done at a tremendous cost to the Egyptians.  They lost their land and their freedom, as much as they had under a Sun God.

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