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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Bereishis Rabbah’

The End Of An Era

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Let’s face it: this is not going to be an ordinary year.

We are praying very seriously this year because we are praying for our lives. Yes, I know: every year we pray for our lives. But how many feel it? This year, whether we want to or not, I think we are beginning to feel it.

Let’s examine the world picture. When you consider history, you can see that the events of the past several thousand years are leading toward a climax. This is even more obvious when you look at history from a biblical perspective. It makes perfect sense to consider world history from a biblical perspective because the Torah is written by the Author of history and the Creator of the world. So the Torah’s perspective is, by definition, accurate.

Let’s go to the very beginning of our national existence.

Avraham Avinu and Sarah are about to found the Nation of Israel. Sarah is unable to have children and so she temporarily gives over her conjugal rights to Hagar, whose son Yishmael is also Avraham’s son. Later, Sarah gives birth to Yitzchak, and Hashem says the famous words to Avraham, “Through Yitzchak will offspring be considered yours” (Bereishis 21:12).

Right here the seeds are sown for dissension over who is the legitimate heir to Avraham. The Torah is very clear on this point, but those who don’t want to listen to the Torah have a vested interest in distorting its words. The dissension has lasted to this very day, with hatred on the part of Yishmael’s descendants undiminished in strength and viciousness. Yishmael raises his children in every generation not just to hate us but to make their lifework the attempt to redress the alleged wrong that was committed so many centuries ago.

“Sarah saw [Yishmael]…mocking [Yitzchak]” (Bereishis 21:9).

As I wrote in my book Worldstorm, citing Bereishis Rabbah 53:11,

Our sages tell us that “mocking” means violence and bloodshed. “Yishmael said to Yitzchak, ‘Let us go and see our portions in the field.’ Then Yishmael would take a bow and arrow and shoot them in Yitzchak’s direction, while pretending to be playing. Yishmael pretended to play, but his game was murder.”

In the following generation, a similar situation occurred, although this time the conflict arose not between half brothers but rather twins with diametrically opposite personalities. Eisav was born “ready-made” while Yaakov, on the contrary, would spend his entire life trying to perfect his personality. Their rivalry began, as we know, in the womb and reached a crescendo when “Eisav cried out an exceedingly great and bitter cry” (Bereishis 27:34) at the moment he discovered that Yaakov had received their father’s blessing.

There is a fascinating insight into the hatred of Yishmael and Eisav. After Yitzchak blesses Yaakov, we find this pasuk: “So Eisav went to Yishmael and took Mahalath, the daughter of Yishmael son of Avraham…as a wife for himself” (Bereishis 28:9). Immediately after this, the Torah tells us that “Yaakov departed from Beer-Sheva” (Bereishis 28:10).

What does Eisav marrying Yishmael’s daughter have to do with Yaakov Avinu leaving Beer-Sheva? It seems that when our two primeval enemies team up, we are in very great danger. The origin of this is shown in the Chumash. When Eisav marries into the family of Yishmael, Yaakov Avinuleaves Israel! It is bad enough when we have to contend with Yishmael or Eisav separately; when they get together it is extremely difficult for us to deal with.

* * * * *

And so it is in our times. Today the world is lining up against us, whether shells are flying from Gaza or bris milah is being attacked in Germany. When we try to defend ourselves against Arab terrorists, the descendants of Eisav spring to their defense. As we say in Tachanun, “Look from heaven and see that we have become an object of scorn and derision among the nations; we are regarded as sheep led to slaughter, to be killed and to be destroyed, for beating and for humiliating….” Yishmael and Eisav have linked hands against us. As the Prophet says, “Behold a day is coming for Hashem…. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem for the war…” (Zechariah 14:1; haftara for the First Day of Sukkos). So the age-old crusade against Am Yisrael is reaching a climax; Yishmael and Eisav have grasped hands. But do you think they love each other? Their friendship is only a temporary expedient. Before long their true nature will emerge.

Man Serving Hashem … The Center Of Creation

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

        The brothers of Yosef referred to him as the “The Dreamer” (Bereishis 37:19). And, while the brothers seemed to have used the title in a disparaging manner, Yosef’s life was, in fact, inextricably tied to dreams.  

 He engendered the envy of his brothers when he shared his two dreams with them. He correctly interpreted the dreams of the ministers of Pharaoh, and later rose to glory when he was called upon to shed light on the dreams of Pharaoh himself. The two original dreams of Yosef and their significance in the events of the lives of the children of Yaakov compel us to study them carefully and glean important messages from their meaning. 

 Yosef’s first dream (Bereishis 37:7) was about 11 sheaves of grain in a field, bowing to the center sheaf – representing the 11 sons of Yaakov bowing to Yosef. His second dream (Bereishis 37:9) was all about heavenly matters. In this dream, the sun, the moon and the stars were bowing to him.

 Yosef aroused the envy of his brothers when he related these dreams to them. However, Yaakov Avinu had a different “interpretation” of the dreams of his son. While he adopted an external pose of annoyance with Yosef, the Torah relates “V’Aviv shamar es ha’davar – And his father [Yaakov] ‘guarded’ the dreams [and anxiously waited for them to come to fruition] (Bereishis 37:11; see Rashi). 

Yaakov Avinu Waiting And Watching 

 This causes us to question – what did Yaakov Avinu see in the dreams of Yosef that the brothers missed?

 Rashi lists several similarities between the lives of Yaakov and his favorite son, Yosef (Eleh toldos Yaakov, Bereishis 37:2, see Rashi). In that light, it is interesting to note that Yaakov Avinu also dreamed of the same two elements, gashmius and ruchnius – earthly and heavenly matters – when he was sleeping in Beis El, on his way to the house of Lavan (Bereishis 28:12). He dreamed of a ladder standing on earth that reached the heavens. 

 However, that is where the similarities ended. Yaakov’s dream was all about transcending the earthly and climbing the ladder to dwell in the presence of Hashem. The central figures in Yaakov’s dream were the angels. Yosef’s dreams were about Yosef, with all participants in the dreams paying homage to him.

 That being the case, the brothers of Yosef seemed to be correct in their contempt for their brother’s view of things. Why then did Yaakov guard the dreams and expect positive outcomes from them? 

 The answer may be that Yaakov understood the deeper meaning in the dreams of his son.  Yosef was thinking of man in his highest state – as the center of the briah (creation) itself. Yosef was not egotistical; he was thinking about the awesome responsibility of man to serve Hashem. Yosef, who was to become the visionary leader of the entire world, and who was the virtual bechor (firstborn) of Yaakov, was dreaming of the limitless potential of the human being to become the center of creation. 

 After all, Hashem created this world – earthly and heavenly things – so that man can serve Him and thereby bring shleimus (fulfillment) to His world (Rashi Bereishis 1:1, Bereishis Rabbah 1:6). Yaakov’s dreams were about angels; Yosef dreamed about heavenly humans.  
 Yaakov realized that the brothers misunderstood Yosef. He was upset that Yosef shared his vision with his siblings and aroused their envy. At the same time, Yaakov was “guarding” the dream, and hoping for its eventual fulfillment. As Rashi explains, Yaakov was hoping for these lofty dreams to come true. 

Passing The Tests

 Over the following 22 years, Yosef was severely put to the test. He was sold as a slave and sent to Mitzrayim, demoralized and alone. He was tested by the wife of Potifar, and then spent 12 years in a dungeon. Having passed the trial of loneliness and deprivation, he was then faced with a greater challenge: glory and royalty. Yet Yosef remained the humble servant of Hashem throughout these divergent phases in his life (see Rashi, Shemos 1:5). His faith in Hashem remained intact, and of all our great avos and shevatim, he alone earned the title of Yosef HaTzaddik, Yosef the Righteous One. 

 Yaakov’s confidence in his son was rewarded. Yosef emerged from his trials and tribulations as the deserving leader of the world. The sheaves of the world, the people, were paying homage to him as they came to Mitzrayim to purchase grain for their families. More importantly, the heavenly objects were bowing to him, as well. Yosef had brought meaning to the world of Hashem. All celestial bodies joined in paying tribute to Yosef – and to his creator, Hashem. 

 Best wishes for a Gutten Shabbos.
 
 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey and the founder and director of Agudath Israel’s Project Y.E.S. 

 To purchase Rabbi Horowitz’s Dvar Torah Sefer, “Growing With the Parsha” or his popular parenting tapes and CD’s – including his 2-CD set on “Raising your Adolescent Children” – please visit
www.rabbihorowitz.com, email udi528@aol.com, or call 845-352-7100 x 133.

Man Serving Hashem … The Center Of Creation

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

The brothers of Yosef referred to him as the “The Dreamer” (Bereishis 37:19). And, while the brothers seemed to have used the title in a disparaging manner, Yosef’s life was, in fact, inextricably tied to dreams.

He engendered the envy of his brothers when he shared his two dreams with them. He correctly interpreted the dreams of the ministers of Pharaoh, and later rose to glory when he was called upon to shed light on the dreams of Pharaoh himself. The two original dreams of Yosef and their significance in the events of the lives of the children of Yaakov compel us to study them carefully and glean important messages from their meaning.

Yosef’s first dream (Bereishis 37:7) was about 11 sheaves of grain in a field, bowing to the center sheaf – representing the 11 sons of Yaakov bowing to Yosef. His second dream (Bereishis 37:9) was all about heavenly matters. In this dream, the sun, the moon and the stars were bowing to him.

Yosef aroused the envy of his brothers when he related these dreams to them. However, Yaakov Avinu had a different “interpretation” of the dreams of his son. While he adopted an external pose of annoyance with Yosef, the Torah relates “V’Aviv shamar es ha’davar – And his father [Yaakov] ‘guarded’ the dreams [and anxiously waited for them to come to fruition] (Bereishis 37:11; see Rashi).

Yaakov Avinu Waiting And Watching

This causes us to question – what did Yaakov Avinu see in the dreams of Yosef that the brothers missed?

Rashi lists several similarities between the lives of Yaakov and his favorite son, Yosef (Eleh toldos Yaakov, Bereishis 37:2, see Rashi). In that light, it is interesting to note that Yaakov Avinu also dreamed of the same two elements, gashmius and ruchnius – earthly and heavenly matters – when he was sleeping in Beis El, on his way to the house of Lavan (Bereishis 28:12). He dreamed of a ladder standing on earth that reached the heavens.

However, that is where the similarities ended. Yaakov’s dream was all about transcending the earthly and climbing the ladder to dwell in the presence of Hashem. The central figures in Yaakov’s dream were the angels. Yosef’s dreams were about Yosef, with all participants in the dreams paying homage to him.

That being the case, the brothers of Yosef seemed to be correct in their contempt for their brother’s view of things. Why then did Yaakov guard the dreams and expect positive outcomes from them?

The answer may be that Yaakov understood the deeper meaning in the dreams of his son. Yosef was thinking of man in his highest state – as the center of the briah (creation) itself. Yosef was not egotistical; he was thinking about the awesome responsibility of man to serve Hashem. Yosef, who was to become the visionary leader of the entire world, and who was the virtual bechor (firstborn) of Yaakov, was dreaming of the limitless potential of the human being to become the center of creation.

After all, Hashem created this world – earthly and heavenly things – so that man can serve Him and thereby bring shleimus (fulfillment) to His world (Rashi Bereishis 1:1, Bereishis Rabbah 1:6). Yaakov’s dreams were about angels; Yosef dreamed about heavenly humans.

Yaakov realized that the brothers misunderstood Yosef. He was upset that Yosef shared his vision with his siblings and aroused their envy. At the same time, Yaakov was “guarding” the dream, and hoping for its eventual fulfillment. As Rashi explains, Yaakov was hoping for these lofty dreams to come true.

Passing The Tests

Over the following 22 years, Yosef was severely put to the test. He was sold as a slave and sent to Mitzrayim, demoralized and alone. He was tested by the wife of Potifar, and then spent 12 years in a dungeon. Having passed the trial of loneliness and deprivation, he was then faced with a greater challenge: glory and royalty. Yet Yosef remained the humble servant of Hashem throughout these divergent phases in his life (see Rashi, Shemos 1:5). His faith in Hashem remained intact, and of all our great avos and shevatim, he alone earned the title of Yosef HaTzaddik, Yosef the Righteous One.

Yaakov’s confidence in his son was rewarded. Yosef emerged from his trials and tribulations as the deserving leader of the world. The sheaves of the world, the people, were paying homage to him as they came to Mitzrayim to purchase grain for their families. More importantly, the heavenly objects were bowing to him, as well. Yosef had brought meaning to the world of Hashem. All celestial bodies joined in paying tribute to Yosef – and to his creator, Hashem.

Best wishes for a Gutten Shabbos.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey and the founder and director of Agudath Israel’s Project Y.E.S.

To purchase Rabbi Horowitz’s Dvar Torah Sefer, “Growing With the Parsha” or his popular parenting tapes and CD’s – including his 2-CD set on “Raising your Adolescent Children” – please visit www.rabbihorowitz.com, email udi528@aol.com, or call 845-352-7100 x 133.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/man-serving-hashem-the-center-of-creation-6/2008/12/17/

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