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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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The Beginning Of Anti-Semitism


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The story of Bnei Yisrael in the land of Mitzrayim is a tale that has become tragically repetitive in the history of our people. It is the story of a land which allows Jews to enter, and devote their talents and energies to building it up land and making it strong, only to have the ungrateful inhabitants turn on them through jealousy and greed.

In reality, the story of Mitzrayim is the story of Spain, the story of Poland, the story of Germany. In each of these lands the Jews came to a backward, depressed land and helped it to rise to world power only to be rewarded for their efforts with cruelty and murder.

The Death Of Yosef

Following the death of the great Yosef, who single-handedly raised Mitzrayim to the rank of the world’s greatest power, all the Mitzriyim mourned the loss of their great leader. But, even as they mourned, a secret meeting was being held in the chambers of the king.

Gathered there were Pharaoh and his advisors and magicians to discuss the implications that might result from the death of Yosef.

“This is a dangerous moment for Mitzrayim,” said the king. “Bnei Yisrael may now decide to return to the land of Canaan, and we will then lose a brilliant and talented people who have made us great.”

“The words of the great Pharaoh are true,” replied the magicians, “but we feel that we have a solution which will keep them here.

“We have heard that right before his death, Yosef made his brothers swear that they would not leave the land of Mitzrayim unless they took his bones with them.

“We suggest, therefore, that a simple plan be implemented. If it please the king, let a great lead coffin be made, weighing 500 measures of gold, and have the body of Yosef placed therein. Then have the coffin placed in the Nile River where it will never be found by Bnei Yisrael.

“Or, if the king prefers, let the body of Yosef be buried in the royal vaults and let there be built statues of ferocious dogs made from gold. With our magic we will give these dogs life so that they will prevent any stranger from approaching the vaults.

“With either of these two plans you can keep Bnei Yisrael in Mitzrayim forever.”

Pharaoh Approves

Pharaoh listened with approval to the words of his advisors and exclaimed:

“Excellent! Your words please me greatly, and I prefer that the first suggestion be adopted. Let a great coffin be built and place the body of Yosef therein, then have the coffin thrown into the River Nile. I choose this plan rather than the other one because from it we will have a double benefit. The Nile will be blessed with the body of the great man in it and secondly, the brothers of Yosef will never be able to find it.

“My servants, I think that we have found a way to keep these wise people with us forever.”

Yosef’s Wealth

After the Mitzriyim cast Yosef’s coffin into the Nile, Pharaoh ordered that all the wealth of Yosef he brought to him.

Looking over the vast amounts of gold, silver and diamonds, the king suddenly noticed a magnificent staff made of superb, precious stone. Never had be seen such a beautiful thing in this life.

“Quickly,” he ordered his servants, “take this magnificent staff and place it in my royal treasury and guard it with your lives. Never have I seen anything comparable to it.”

Origin Of The Staff

Pharaoh did not know it, but this was the staff that had been created by the Almighty on the sixth day of creation, toward evening. It had inscribed on it the first letters of the 10 plagues, d’tsach-adash-b’achav, an ironic hint of the blows that were to fall on the land of Mitzrayim for their treatment of the Jews.

This staff had been given by the Holy One, blessed be He, to Adam, who gave it to Chanoch who handed it down to Noah, who passed it on to Abraham, who gave it to Isaac, who gave it to Jacob, who finally turned it over to Yosef.

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“You speak foolishly, daughter, how is it possible for a man who has not eaten for 10 years to live?”

Tales of the Gaonim-logo

With enthusiasm, zemiros that had been purposefully collected for the evening were chanted.

Bnei Yisrael marched out of Mitzrayim with a mighty hand under their great leader Moshe. This was not, however, their first attempt to escape from Mitzrayim and return to the land that G-d had promised their fathers.

Rabi Pinchas’ piety and honesty were known far and wide. He would often say, “Even though our Sages (Yevamot 65b) declared that to preserve the peace, a person may change his words to fit the situation, I will never utter a false word regardless of the consequences.” If he heard that one of his followers had uttered a false word, he would expel him from his presence.

When Bnei Yisrael returned to their homeland they were a poor and weak group of people. Because of the great number of enemies and wild animals that had inhabited the land during their exile, they huddled together in a few areas, like Yerushalayim, in order to find protection.

But not everyone is destined to taste of the fruit of this world and to enjoy its vintage. Among the inhabitants of this town lived a poor man, Nachumka.

In the midst of his merrymaking, the king ordered his servants to bring out the golden vessels that were taken from the Beit HaMikdash by his father Nevuchadnezzar. The king and his men drank from them and praised the gods of gold and silver.

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