Just as the moon waxes and wanes and then totally disappears from view before returning to the night sky, so, too, the Jewish people.
A fascinating Biblical echo
In this week’s parshah Yaakov Avinu takes his entire family down to Mitzrayim. The Torah lists the family members who made this journey. On the list is Shimon’s son, Shaul. The pasuk refers to him as Shaul ben haCanaanis – the son of the Canaanis.
According to the Sefer Yetzirah, each month is associated with a letter of the aleph-beis. Teves was formed by means of the letter ayin, which has a numerical value of seventy – a number that figures prominently in Judaism.
Having come to the conclusion that nobody was more qualified than Yosef to lead Egypt in anticipation of and during the approaching famine, Pharaoh appointed him prime minister. This appointment made Yosef the second most powerful man in Egypt.
Standing up for the truth is by no means an easy feat and Yosef paid for it dearly.
This new perspective helps us understand Joseph.
The Bach, commenting on Tur Shulchan Aruch, explains that the decrees of the Yivanim against the Jewish people occurred because the Jewish people became “lax in their service.”
In this week’s parshah, Yosef is the ruler of Mitzrayim and his brothers come to purchase food from him, not realizing with whom they were dealing.
If your home fits the chaotic description but you’d love to change it to the calm one maybe you should think about joining the ever growing Chatzos Movement – a group of ladies whose goal is to have all the main preparations for Shabbos over by chatzos, the middle of the day on Friday.
Of all the “what were they thinking” stories we have in Tanach, the story of Yosef definitely takes the cake. He knows his brothers hate him and should not be messed with. And yet he begs, “Please hear my dreams, in which you all bow down to me.”
Rashi tells us that after the Torah described the life of Eisav in an abbreviated manner, it then told over the events of the life of Yaakov in full detail. The reason for this is that Yaakov and what occurred to him are important in the eyes of Hashem, whereas Eisav and his life aren’t. So too, Rashi explains, we find with the ten generations from Adam to Noach. Each individual gets a mere mention until we get to the life of Noach. Then the Torah elaborates in full detail.
Toward the end of the parshah, we read that Yosef was incarcerated. While there, the sar hamashkim and the sar ha’ofim were imprisoned as well. Both men had dreams one night, which disturbed them the next day. Rashi tells us that they each dreamed the interpretation of the other’s dream.
Why is it so important to sing specifically during the seudah? If we understand this minhag and how to fulfill it, we will discover an amazing new aspect of Shabbos.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the Rashi, but did you know there’s another explanation as to why the malachim ascended and then descended?
Shechem, the son of Chamor, set his sights on Dina. He carefully laid a trap to entice her out of her tent, and then kidnapped and defiled her. When Yaakov and his sons heard what had been done, “they were extremely distressed . . . [and said] ‘So shall not be done!’ ”
At the beginning of this week’s parshah we learn that Eisav was coming with 400 men to attack Yaakov and his family. We are told of the many preparations that Yaakov took before this encounter. The pasuk says that Yaakov was very afraid, for as it is written: “vayira Yaakov me’od, vayeitzer lo” (Bereishis 32:8). Rashi tells us that this fear was not for his own life; rather this fear was that he might have to take other people’s lives. In Rashi’s words: “shema yehareg es acheirim.”
Like our forefather Yaakov, we too need to dream especially at times of transition and change. Whether we are embarking on a new career, getting married, graduating from one educational level to another, or considering retirement, it is critical to take stock and reflect before making that transition.
What in the world happened to the Ten Lost Tribes? How could we lose ten out of twelve tribes, 83% of our peoplehood?
Are we really meant to applaud Yaakov's behavior?
When Yaakov met Rachel at the well, he experienced conflicting emotions. He felt tremendous joy at having finally met his bashert, yet he raised his voice and cried. Rashi explains that he cried because he came empty-handed. He said, “My father’s servant came with ten camels laden with gifts and finery, and I come with empty hands.”
The Magen Avraham, in siman 42:3, says that one should not reverse the straps from his tefillin (shel yad and shel rosh), making the part that was originally tied as either a “yud” or a “daled” into the opposite end – which is either wrapped around the fingers, or just left hanging down. The reason for this is because the part of the strap that was tied as a “yud” had more kedushah.
On the 25th day of Kislev the holy light of Chanukah shines upon us to conquer the darkness, and proper adherence to its mitzvah purifies our souls. It is written that Chanukah is an extension of Rosh Hashanah and thus a most effectual time for teshuvah.
Esav truly thought he was getting the better part of the deal. He considered that as a hunter, whose life is constantly at risk, it was likely he would die before his father anyway. Therefore, when an opportunity to sell the birthright presented itself he jumped at it and immediately profited from the sale.
What does the parsha teach us about the nature of heritage?