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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Dr’

West Coast Happenings

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Events In The West: This Shabbos Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, will be the scholar-in-residence at Beth Jacob Beverly Hills… On March 30, Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo will be the scholar-in-residence at Young Israel of Century City.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Ryan and Anit Silver, a son… Manasseh and Menucha Levi, a daughter… Schneor and Liba Nejar of NY, a son (Grandparents Simcha and Tzirel Frankel)… Binyamin and Ilyssa Bass, a son.

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Dov Ber Genauer, son of Yaakov and Nechama Genauer… Benzion Huttler, son of Rabbi Yossi and Goldie Huttler… Dovid Fasman, son of Shmuel and Shoshana Fasman… Aaron Kahan, son of Mark and Marlene Kahan… Binyomin Zuman, son of Dr. Betzalel and Devorah Zuman.

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Adam Silverstein, son of Neil and Leslie Silverstein, to Rena Kolom of Lincolnwood, IL… Hillary Barak, daughter of Dr. Mark and Michelle Barak, to Aaron Khodorkosky, son of Igor and Larissa Khodorkosky of Tarzana, CA… Sara Bina Czapnik, daughter of Avrohom and Rivky Czapnik, to Shmuel Aron Gottesman of Lakewood, NJ… Yosef Goldberg, son of Menachem and Golde Goldberg, to Dassie Cohen of Baltimore, MD… Yocheved Huniu to Moshe Abramson of Baltimore and Israel.

Mazel Tov – Weddings: Beni Malkin, son of Dr. Michael and Rachel Malkin, to Tzirel Pritzker of Brooklyn, NY… Bradley Lipman, son of Brian and Ilana Lipman, to Allyson Brody of Cedarhurst, NY… Carmiel Schoenfeld, son of Alan and Elisa Schoenfeld, to Sara Soniker of New Rochelle, NY.

Congratulations: Deputy Barry Poltorak for receiving the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Annual Distinguished Service Award for his heroic and lifesaving effort as a deputy sheriff during the October 27, 2001 City of Carson fire… Donald Etra for being named “Lawyer of the Year” by the Century City Bar Association.

PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Moishe and Mussie Witkes of Safed, a daughter (Grandparents Rabbi Yonason and Sussie Denebeim).

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Jason and Donna Roberts, a daughter (Grandparents Irving and Rivka Gold).

Mazel Tov – Wedding: Daniel Stahl to Dr. Ariella Schwartz.

VALLEY VILLAGE, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov- Birth: Roy and Galit Zer-Chen, a son.

Mazel Tov – Bas Mitzvahs: Aleeza Kapenstein, daughter of Jim and Jill Kapenstein… Atara Bayever, daughter of Jason and Tova Bayever.

Mazel Tov – Wedding: Marc Borenstein, son of Jack and Renee Borenstein, to Jean Liao.

DENVER, COLORADO

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Avi Mehler, son of Dr. Philip and Leah Mehler, to Abby Moskowitz, daughter of Jay and Joyce Moskowitz.

Teacher, Love Your Student: It Takes More Than Chapters, Pages and Lessons

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

A young teacher described this episode that occurred early in her teaching career:

“One beautiful spring morning when I arrived at school, I was surprised to see a youngster waiting at the door. ‘It’s locked,’ he said sadly. His expression brightened as I began to fumble for my keys. ‘You’re a teacher!” he exclaimed in obvious delight.

“As I slipped the key into the lock and opened the door, I looked at him and smiled. ‘What makes you think that?’ I asked him, amused and pleased in no small measure by his reaction.

“He looked directly into my eye and spoke softly but with respect. ‘You have the key.’ “I was both humbled and overwhelmed at the magnitude of his simple observation, by the implication it carried, and the responsibility I bore simply by possessing ‘the key.’ Without question, this young student’s comment to me was among the most significant of my entire teaching career. Not a day went by when, upon arriving at school, I did not recall it.”

Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik taught that “teaching involves more than the transmission of knowledge and understanding. It requires empathy between teacher and student, and a sharing of feelings, thought and motives. There is an interaction of personalities, an exchange of values and insights.” To teach is to know how to unlock not only the mind, but the heart, feeling and interest of every student as well. There is no master key. “What we require is the warm embrace as much as the brilliant idea; sympathetic understanding, true befriending, and a human reaching out: a suggestion that we care; the teaching role is inadequate.”

We need the key.

Is there a standardized lesson plan from which we can derive instruction as to how to transmit more than just the data, the uninspired information of our subject to our students?

Listen to The Master Teacher Himself – God – teaching a lesson to his star pupil, Moshe. The lesson’s goal was to convey the specifics of charity – terumah – needed for erecting God’s sanctuary.

The lesson begins with general instructions. “Speak to the children of Israel, that they may take unto Me an offering,” and then moves on to details of implementation. The terumah, Moshe is told, may be offered from gold, silver, copper, skins, wood, oils and stones.”

Facts. Knowledge. Information. These are, of course, necessary but not nearly sufficient for the Teacher who wants to not only teach but uplift and inspire. God adds to these basic instructions feeling and emotion: “Veasu li mikdash veshachanti betocham – and let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.”

It is in these words that we are given insight into the true art of teaching.

The Kotzker notes that God does not say He will dwell in His midst but rather “in their midst.”

The real lesson is very clearly not about facts and figures but charity. As such, its greatest value and greatest lesson is in character development. Each individual must have ample room and easy access within his being for God to enter and remain as a permanent resident, betocham mamash.

Ultimately, all good and effective teaching must arouse pleasant feelings and responses. This is a lesson all teachers must remember when they teach. It is the responsibility of the teacher to teach in a way that arouses positive feelings. It is not, as too many teachers presume, the student’s responsibility to create within himself such feelings.

By showing our students respect and love, as God showed Moshe, we invite our students into the wonder, awe and power of what we teach. And even if our students do not always grasp the “whys and the wherefores” they should always come away from our lessons knowing that they are worthy and cherished.

In his words to Moshe, God carefully instructs that the Mikdash be constructed li – for Me. But of course! What other reason might there be in constructing a Mikdash if not for the sharing of God’s spirit and knowledge?

Rashi comments: “Let them make to the glory of My name a place of holiness.” Success in imparting Torah knowledge can only be measured by the ultimate affect the learning has on the total being of the student. If a student’s actions, thoughts and responses are Mikdash-like, the educational process is successful. That is, the student must learn the stuff of the lesson but unless he or she does so in a context of respect and honor, it is only half a lesson.

The full lesson only happens when mechanchim – educational producers – understand that the for Me aspect of Mikdash requires that knowledge be delivered not only to the head but also to the heart, that the lesson taught must ultimately touch the student’s heart and emotion. Such a lesson can only be taught by a living and caring teacher. A creative curriculum is not enough.

Parshat Mishpatim: Location! Location! Location!

Friday, February 17th, 2012

The Inauguration of the President of the United States has become both a complicated and expensive process. It begins with a meeting at the White House between the incoming and outgoing First Families, followed by a joint drive to the Capitol for the actual ceremony. Weather permitting, the inauguration is followed by a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. At the conclusion of the parade the new First Couple must quickly change attire in order to attend the many galas and balls being held in their honor that evening.

Interestingly enough, much of what transpires is dictated by tradition. The Constitution itself dedicates a very limited amount of space to the inauguration. The current date is set as January 20th, as per the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933. The text of the oath of office is presented in Article 2 Section 1 of the Constitution. It is a mere 35 words. Yet this almost matter-of-fact item in the Constitution has become one of the hallmarks of our democracy.

Congressional historian Donald Kennon explained: “It’s probably safe to say that the presidential inauguration is the transcendent ritual associated with the rise to power of a representative government. Unlike the coronation of a monarch or any ritual associated with the rise to power of a dictator or autocrat, the inauguration of the American President is a cyclical, regularly scheduled event held every four years. The regularity of presidential inaugurations lends a sense of reassuring stability, continuity and permanence to a political system that permits turnover in office holders and change in policy agendas. Moreover it is a peaceful change in government, unlike the violence that so often has accompanied a change in head of state elsewhere” (www.fpc.state.gov).

Among the many customs that have developed with respect to the inauguration is its location. Aside from extenuating circumstances, it has almost always taken place at the location of the legislative branch of government. Weather permitting, the President is escorted by a Congressional delegation from within the Capitol confines outside to take the oath in front of the American people. It is this fact, that the president takes the oath at the Capitol which interested me in this topic. My research question was, why?

A Google search found quite a non-scholarly suggestion (who knows? Perhaps it contains a kernel of truth). A person suggested that due to the previous president moving out of the White House and the new president and his staff moving in, the White House would be way too busy of a place to have the ceremony there. Therefore a different venue needed to be chosen – so why not the Capitol. However, Dr. Kennon offers the following possibilities.

The first reason he suggested is precedent. When George Washington took his oath of office, he went to Federal Hall in New York City where Congress was meeting at the time. A second reason Kennon suggested has to do, “with the fact that Congress is the first branch of American government. The first Article of the Constitution created Congress. It was the Continental Congress, after all, which led to the American Revolution. It was a legislative revolution, if you will.” It is held outside, in front of the people, to declare to the world that ultimately the president is answerable to the American people.

This idea, that when it comes to people in power the symbolism of location matters, is highlighted by the commentators at the beginning of this week’s parsha. The Torah begins the parsha with a discussion of the laws that Moshe needs to teach Bnei Yisrael. Rashi, in his commentary on the first pasuk, addresses why the discussion of societal and judicial laws is placed immediately following the Torah’s discussion of the mizbayach at the end of the previous parsha. Rashi explains that with this juxtaposition, the Torah is instructing us that the seat of the Sanhedrin must be established within the confines of the Beit Hamikdash. The anthology Iturei Torah relates the following explanation in the name of the Shlah Hakadosh’s son. Rav Horowitz explains that a major function of the Sanhedrin was to ensure the genetic purity of the Kohanim who served in the Beit Hamikdash. To effectively carry out this responsibility, the Sanhedrin needed to be located in close proximity to the Temple.

The Mei’ana Shel Torah quotes the following explanation from the work Avnei Eizel (which was actually an unpublished manuscript of the compiler of this anthology, Rav Zusha Friedman). For most of the nations of the world, the laws governing interactions between people are conventions set up by citizens to enable their society to function. They are bereft of any Divine influence. However, such laws within a Jewish society are very much religious laws as well. To demonstrate this point the Sanhedrin, which was ultimately responsible for all legal aspects of society, was housed in the Temple. By being there it was made clear to all that, for Jewish society, the interpersonal societal laws were Divine in origin, just as the ritual laws were.

West Coast Happenings

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Events In The West: This Shabbos, Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, university professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and senior scholar at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, is the scholar-in-residence at Yeshivat Yavneh… February 26 is International Agunah Day. Accordingly Bnai David-Judea in L.A. is hosting a program, co-sponsored by YICC, Beth Jacob Beverly Hills, YULA, Bais Bezalel, Happy Minyan, Shalhevet and Westwood Village, entitled, “Preventing the cycle of pain” with Rabbi Jeremy Stern of the ORA, an organization that helps women who are agunot. Alexandra Leichter, Rabbi Paul Gelb and Leah Rosenfeld, a former agunah, will be featured… On February 28 David Feifel is speaking at Congregation Adat Yeshurun in La Jolla. His topic: “The Human Brain, an Owner’s Manual”… On March 1, West Coast Chabad Lubavitch is hosting the 30th Siyum HaRambam in a grand, citywide celebration at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Skver Visits L.A.: All yearlong chassidic rebbes visit L.A., but none with the entourage of the Skverer Rebbe. On his recent visit, his first since 2006, he was accompanied by close to 300 chassidim. Jews in the La Brea-Hancock Park area housed as many as they could, but 144 of the devotees spent Shabbos dormitory style in Bais Yaakov classrooms that were converted in order to provide them with all their physical and religious comforts. Those comforts included bedside netilas yadayim equipment. Food was brought in for the group and served for all Shabbos meals at Congregation Shaarei Tefilah’s Kanner Hall. The gym at Yeshiva Ohr Eliyahu was transformed into a chassidishe shul, complete with bleachers and huge banners welcoming the rebbe and proclaiming the event’s uniqueness. Hundreds of people attended each Shabbos davening, and more than 1,000 people participated in the Friday night tisch. The rebbe also conducted a special Monday night tisch at Congregation Bais Naftoli. While the community benefited greatly from the visit, it turns out the chassidim took something home with them as well. During their Shabbos afternoon stroll, a group of chassidim stopped to admire the esrogim growing on a tree in someone’s courtyard. The chassidim requested and were given permission to return after Shabbos to pick some of them. They indeed came back after Shabbos and picked the tree bare. So this year on Tu B’Shevat, in addition to esrog jam from Israeli or Yanever esrogim, the residents of Square Town also enjoyed delicious esrog jam from California.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Dovid and Jessica Leiser, a son (Grandparents Barry and Dena Gres)… Zev and Lisa Wiener in Yerushalayim, a son (Grandparents Dr. Isaac and Geri Wiener)… Dr. Jonathan and Sarah Prostak of Denver, a daughter (Grandparents Joe and Myrna Strapp)… Allen and Dassi Kahn, a daughter (Grandparents Dr. Seymour and Carole Perl)… Zak and Sarah Isaac, a son… Andrew and Rachel Geller, a son… Levy and Bracha Katz, a son (Grandparents Ellen and Ilan Paz; Fred and Debra Stepen; Jerry and Miriam Katz)… Dovid and Jessica Leiser, a son (Grandparents Barry and Dena Gres)… Moshe and Revital Rubin in Yerushalayim, a son (Grandparents Dr. Daniel and Brenda Rubin; Great-grandmother Bea Hershkovitz)… Koby and Maayan Hagai, a son… Jason and Melissa Goldstoff of NY, a son (Grandparents Dr. Mark and Deborah Goldenberg; Great-grandparents Andrew and Yvette Gardner)… Yehuda and Rachel Rabinowitz of Fairlawn, NJ, a son (Grandparents Dr. Josh and Debbie Rabinowitz)… David and Julie Iskowitz, a son.

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Robert Leeds, son of Fred and Dina Leeds.

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Rachel Schultz, daughter of David and Debbie Schultz, to Daniel Small of Teaneck, NJ.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Rabbi Akiva and Chani Naiman, a son.

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Elizabeth Ravkin, daughter of Ilya and Tzippora Ravkin, to Moshe Glasser of Teaneck, NJ.

Congratulations: Eli Filler, son of Vic and Stella Filler, on receiving semicha.

VALLEY VILLAGE, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Motti and Mina Perlstein of Cleveland, OH, a daughter (Grandparents Rabbi Eliezer and Pnina Pflaster)… Moshe and Nechama Zucker, a son… David and Annie Statman, a son… Yehonaton and Malka Schwarzmer of Far Rockaway, NY, a son (Grandparents Rabbi Shmuel and Malca Schwarzmer).

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Yehuda Stepen, son of Ilan and Ellen Paz and Fred Stepen, to Aviva Goldhaber.

DENVER, COLORADO

Mazel Tov – Births: Dr. Jonathan and Sarah Prostak of Denver, a daughter… Moshe and Nechama Zecharyia, a daughter (Grandparents Daniel and Jill Goldstein).

Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society Reception

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Naomi and Chaim Manela, and Lorraine and Steve Spira recently hosted the annual Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society (RCCS) reception in Los Angeles. RCCS supporters throughout the Los Angeles Jewish community were in attendance.

Guest speaker Rabbi Dr. Joel Rosenshein of RCCS spoke about the issue of the emotional trauma of cancer and its effects. Executive Director Rabbi Yosef Golding articulated the significant role played by the RCCS in assisting those in need.

(L-R) Guest speaker Rabbi Dr. Joel Rosenshein; reception host Chaim Manela; and RCCS Executive Director Rabbi Yosef C. Golding. Photo credit: Arye D. Gordon

It is through the beneficence of the Jewish community and RCCS that cancer-stricken patients can maintain their health insurance, thereby enabling them to maintain their coverage and freeing them from the financial burdens and subsequent emotional stress that can ensue.

Those who have benefited from RCCS’s assistance shared the sentiments of one fortunate recipient of the society’s aid, who said, “Saying thank you to RCCS is not enough. It was a miracle that RCCS stepped in and took care of what had to be taken care of.”

Parshat Vaeira

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

General George Armstrong Custer. The mere mention of his name evokes strong opinions of condemnation or admiration, depending on one’s perspective. Was he a brave, daring and innovative tactician or was he an impulsive, arrogant and reckless one? He was a complicated man by all accounts, so evidence can be marshaled for either side. Recent historians have argued that grading his military experience as a whole is inaccurate and fruitless. Rather, he must be judged in the context of the Civil War as a successful general, while in the context of the Indian wars as an ultimately failed cavalry commander. His decisions and actions at Gettysburg in June 1863 must be judged separately from his decisions and actions at the Little Big Horn in June 1876.

Essentially, the current argument posits that the Civil War and the Indian wars were two fundamentally different types of warfare. Therefore the qualities that made him a successful commander in one did not automatically carry over to the other. The Civil War was a conventional war with large massed armies arrayed against each other in set battles. These battles were more or less governed by accepted rules of war. The tactics followed by both sides were Napoleonic in nature and everyone knew what to expect. It was this type of war that West Point graduates, such as Custer, studied and ultimately excelled at.

The Indian war was quite different. “This was an insurgency, a guerilla war in which the enemy typically attacked civilians rather than military units, and quickly disappeared, melting into the countryside….And in this type of warfare, U.S. troops could not effectively operate in large, massed armies, as they had done in the Civil War; rather, they operated in small, isolated, and fortified units, and all territory beyond a fort’s walls had to be considered hostile” (Custer: Lessons in Leadership by Duane Schultz, 2010, p. 181).

Custer, like other Civil War veterans certainly had his difficulties adjusting to the Indian wars. However, plaguing Custer was a much deeper leadership problem. Unlike during the Civil War where his men idolized him and were committed to following him into the worst of battles, the 7th Cavalry troopers (and many of its officers) despised him in 1876. Although the 7th Cavalry marched under one pennant, it was far from a well-oiled, fine-tuned, cohesive unit.

In a recent issue of the Civil War magazine, The Civil War Monitor (Winter 2011) historian Glenn LaFantasie analyzed why Custer experienced such different relationships with his various commands. During the Civil War Custer commanded volunteer regiments from Michigan. These soldiers knew each other, often coming from the same towns. They were motivated by a sense of patriotism and, although they forever maintained the free spirit of volunteer soldiers, as the war wore on they developed a true professionalism. Custer realized that these men had to be inspired and inspire them he did. With his courage and daring Custer was the perfect role model for them.

The cavalry of the Indian war was a different reality. Many of the soldiers were immigrants – some of whom barely spoke English. They joined the army not out of a sense of duty or patriotism but as a means of escaping their wretched economic existence. Other soldiers were criminals and social outcasts who fled proper society. Even those soldiers who were veterans of the Civil War remained in the army or rejoined because they could not readjust to civilian life. “There was no cohesion as had existed in Civil War regiments drawn from a single state…The men of Custer’s 7th Cavalry, including the officers, had nothing in common, nothing that bound them together…” (p.32). Custer was never able to find a way to inspire them…so he stopped trying. It was under these conditions that he led his men to defeat at the Little Big Horn.

Among Custer’s character flaws was his inability to look inward. When a problem arose he blamed others. In the case of the 7th Cavalry he never considered that he needed to find a new way to inspire his troops. He just assumed that what had worked during the Civil War would work in the Indian war as well. Fortunately for Bnei Yisrael when Moshe Rabbeinu was faced with a similar situation of not successfully inspiring his people, he became introspective and accepted responsibility.

The Torah relates at the beginning of the parsha that Hashem described to Moshe His plan for Bnei Yisrael. He would first take them out of Egypt and ultimately bring them to Eretz Yisrael where they would serve Hashem as the successors to the legacy of the Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. Moshe immediately delivered the prophecy to his brethren but was met with a disappointing response. The pasuk states (6:9): “And Moshe spoke thus to Bnei Yisrael but they did not respond to (literally hear) Moshe due to their shortness of spirit and the hard labor.”

Parshat Mikeitz

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Looking back in time it is amazing to realize that every so often we encounter a 24-hour period with a timeless impact on the trajectory of human history. These periods, though short in actual time, through the convergence of multiple factors, produced historic decisions—decisions that arguably affected humankind forever after.

A classic example of this is the 24-hour period following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. To capture the historic significance of this day, historian Steven Gillon recently published the book, Pearl Harbor: FDR Leads the Nation into War, (2011), which focuses on FDR’s crisis management from the time he heard about the attack on December 7 until his speech to Congress on December 8 requesting a declaration of war.

Today we look back to that time with an air of inevitability. However, nothing was inevitable that day. FDR had to be forthright with the American people but not too open as to cause panic and rush to submission. He needed to galvanize the country for war, not only against Japan, but against Germany as well, without allowing his comments to focus on Germany, since many Americans still viewed the war in Europe as a European problem. Some of the most important decisions he made during those 24 hours concerned the speech he would give to Congress on December 8.

Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State, opined that the speech should be a relatively long statement presenting to the American people the entire history of America’s relations with Japan and all the Japanese actions leading to war – culminating with the attack on Pearl Harbor. FDR, however, for effect, wanted to keep the speech short. He was a firm believer that less was more. FDR also worried that a longer speech would force him to reveal more details about the losses at Pearl Harbor, which would serve both to dishearten the American people and embolden the Japanese. He was afraid that once the Japanese realized how badly damaged the American military was they would strike at the United States mainland. He also realized, according to Gillon, “that focusing too much attention on the Pacific would limit his ability to lead the nation to war in Europe” (p.149).

Perhaps some of the most important decisions of that day revolved around the actual writing and editing of the speech, which FDR did himself. The original speech was dictated to his secretary with the following first sentence. “Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a day which will live in world history—the United States of America was simultaneously and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

When FDR reviewed the typed remarks, he made some handwritten tweaks. The words “world history” were replaced by the more emotion filled word infamy and the word “simultaneously” was replaced with the more frightening word suddenly. As Gillon writes: “Thus was born one of the most famous lines in presidential oratory” (p.72). Later that night, when meeting with his aid and confidante Harry Hopkins, he added the following closure at the Hopkin’s suggestion: “With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us G-d.”

The importance of recognizing an immense opportunity contained in a small amount of time, and maintaining control in order to take full advantage of the situation, is seen at the beginning of this week’s parsha when Yosef is hurriedly summoned to appear before Pharoh to interpret his dreams.

After Pharoh related his dream to his advisors and failed to receive a satisfactory explanation for it, the chief butler informed him about Yosef and his powers of dream interpretation. The Torah describes (41:14) that Pharoh sent immediately for Yosef. Due to the extreme urgency of the situation Yosef was rushed out of the dungeon. For Yosef, the next 24 hours or so were of critical importance. He had several key decisions to make—decisions that would impact his future and the future of Bnei Yisrael.

Upon being released from prison, the Torah informs us, Yosef groomed himself and changed into attire appropriate for Pharoh’s court. Rashi explains that Yosef did this out of respect for the monarchy. Later commentators expand upon Rashi’s point. According to various commentators there were halachic problems with Yosef grooming himself in an Egyptian hairstyle and dressing in accordance with Egyptian custom. However, the halachic tradition permits certain allowances for people who must interact with the secular rulers. Yosef’s first decision, as it were, was whether to rely on these allowances and demonstrate his ability to blend in or rather to maintain his separatist image.

The second decision he had to make was how to respond when Pharoh credited him with being an outstanding dream interpreter. Although he had much to gain by accepting the praise, Yosef’s integrity and fear of Hashem compelled him to acknowledge publicly that he was but a simple agent of G-d. His third decision was not to limit his words to merely interpreting Pharoh’s dreams but to dare to reach beyond his mandate as a dream interpreter and suggest a policy to guard against the dangers of the predicted famine.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/parshat-mikeitz/2011/12/22/

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