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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Yakov Horowitz’

Raising More Tolerant Children

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

All responsible leaders in our community have roundly condemned the recent violence in Beit Shemesh and Meah Shearim. Even the Eida HaCharedis, which is the umbrella group of the anti-Zionist Yerushalmi kehilla, criticized the actions of the “Sirikim” (zealots) who are generating much of the mayhem, stating that they are a radical fringe group of several dozen radical families.

What is becoming increasingly apparent from reviewing posts on Jewish blogs and the hundreds of e-mails I’ve received over the past few days is that there is a huge divide between those who decry the violence in unequivocal terms and those who offer mitigating circumstances to fully or partially explain the poor behavior.

Since I began writing columns for The Jewish Press promoting tolerance and decrying violence of any kind, many people have told me, “You are American; you just don’t understand what battles haredi Israelis face with the secular Jews.”

Well, it is my tefillah that we never come to think that violence under any circumstance is acceptable. We can neither condone it nor justify it – in the same way we would never excuse murder or child abuse. Violence hurts the victims, but far worse, it corrupts the souls of the perpetrators.

Thirty years of dealing with teens at risk and families in crisis gives one a pretty good feel for which families will emerge whole from the challenges that compelled them to seek help. One of the greatest predictors of success is the attitude of family members. In the initial meeting, those who say things like “We all made mistakes and we are committed to working things out,” almost always get through their crisis. But folks who fail to look inward and say things like “We raised three perfect children and the fourth one is ruining our lives,” will rarely see improvement until their attitude changes.

We are doing ourselves and our children a terrible disservice – and will be sowing the bitter seeds of future episodes like the ones that have been making headlines in Israel – if we avoid the grueling introspection and cheshbon hanefesh that a crisis of this magnitude requires, and instead blame all the mayhem on the secular press and the ongoing struggle between the secular and haredi communities.

In a magazine interview a while back, Rabbi Shmuel Papenheim, a former spokesperson for the Eidah, lamented that the elders of his kehilla have no control over the Sirikim.

What was most striking, however, was the feeling one got from reading the article that in his view the evolution of the Sirikim into such a destructive force was a natural disaster like an earthquake rather than an inevitable outgrowth of tolerating violence under certain circumstances.

The Sifri (Midrashic commentary) in Devarim (343) notes that when Hashem revealed Himself to give the Torah, He first went to the children of Eisav and asked them if they would accept it. They replied that they could not do so because the Torah says, “You shall not murder,” and Eisav’s father Yitzchak gave him the blessing of “Al charbicha tichyeh,” by your sword shall you live (Bereishis 27:40).

Our great rebbi, Rav Avrohom Pam, zt”l, who lived every moment of his life pursuing peace and harmony, asked, “How can we possibly think Yitzchak blessed his son Eisav that he be successful in killing people?”

Rebbi explained that Yitzchak’s blessing was for Eisav to “live by the sword” by effectively hunting and by defending himself when attacked in battle. However, since his daily bread came through bloodshed, he and his children became desensitized to killing to the point where it would be inconceivable for them to accept a Torah that forbid the taking of human life.

If the “blessed” actions of Eisav had such a corrosive effect on him and his family members, how much more so is the moral compass of children shredded by listening to adults speak about others in hateful terms, or even worse watching them engaging in violence for “good” causes.

Truth be told, we all need to improve how we get along with those who come from different backgrounds. Upon the advice of a reader, I opened a thread on our website (www.kosherjewishparenting.com; see “Increasing K’vod Shamayim”) inviting people to make suggestions on what we can do to help mitigate the terrible chillul Hashem and to help raise more tolerant and respectful children. We invite you to join the dialogue and hope it will continue to help us all raise more tolerant children steeped in genuine ahavas Yisrael.

Earlier this week I shared a beautiful insight from Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky, zt”l, with my talmidim in Yeshiva Darchei Noam that might be appropriate for us to use as a springboard for discussion with our children and grandchildren this Shabbos.

The final charge of Yaakov Avinu to his gathered sons, as recorded in this week’s parshah, is referred to as the Birchos (blessings of) Yaakov – even though many of them seem to be describing attributes of his children rather than blessings. Reb Yaakov suggests that the greatest blessing and gift a parent can give his or her children is to explain to them their unique strengths and weaknesses – treating them as individuals and celebrating their diversity.

Events In The West

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Events In The West: From December 26-30, Yarchei Kallah, with Kollel Mercaz HaTorah, takes place in the beis medrash at Beth Jacob Beverly Hills… On January 7-8, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, will be the scholar-in-residence at Young Israel of Century City.

Safety: The light at Oakwood and La Brea in the Los Angeles La Brea-Hancock Park area has five seconds for “Walk” and 15 seconds for “Don’t Walk.” Jewish community leaders and several rabbis from institutions in Paul Koretz’s council district met with the councilman about this issue and other community issues about six months ago. They requested Koretz to increase the combined crossing time from 20 to 30 seconds, as is appropriate for a major intersection. This would give more time for the elderly and infirm to cross. So far, though, nothing has been done to change the time. Recently, 88-year-old Berish Landau, who used a walker, was killed crossing the street because he couldn’t cross quickly enough. Rabbi Shmuel Jacobs, a rabbi at Yeshiva Rav Isaacson (Toras Emes), who helped Landau cross the street on a daily basis in order for him to daven Shacharis at Congregation Bais Yehuda, was seriously injured but is recovering.

Kosher Updates: The banana bread and cinnamon flavors of Quaker instant weight control oatmeal are dairy, even though there is not yet a “D” on the box.

Singles: From January 12-15, Beth Jacob Beverly Hills will host the International Shabbaton for Young Professionals, featuring psychologist and author Dr. Gary Neuman. Women Only: On January 21, Beth Jacob Beverly Hills will feature a Shabbos lunch for single women ages 50-68… Have you had any exasperating experiences with websites? KosherWoman.com, a website for Jewish women – from the least observant to the most observant – has, among their many pages, interesting material on Jewish lifestyle topics and a page that lists troublesome websites and the specific problems surrounding them. The website states that it will only remove an entry when the problems are fixed.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Boaz and Sara Esther Goldman of Romaima, Israel, a daughter (Grandparents Jeanne Litvin and Rabbi Mel Teitelbaum; Rabbi Dr. Simcha and Miriam Goldman; Rabbi Eliezer and Pnina Pflaster)… Shmuel and Felice (Gottlieb) Barak, a son (Grandparents Dr. Emmy and Jennie (Lewkowicz) Gottlieb; Kalev and Eileen Barak; Great-grandfather Joe Lewkowicz)… Aaron and Ita Tomaszewski, a daughter (Grandparents Joe and Gerda Tomaszewski)… Ariel and Sara Bluma Fine, a son… Ephraim and Michelle Nissenfeld of NY, a daughter (Grandparents Barry and Dena Gress)… Avi and Shuli Steinlauf, a son (Grandparents Peter and Liz Steinlauf)… Yitzchak and Sara Alyesh (Grandparents Ray and Shoshana Alyeshmerani; Binyamin and Gila Zaghi)… Avy and Sandra Azeroual, a daughter.

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Josep Schnitzer, son of Avrumie and Maryjo Schnitzer… Dovid Witkin, son of Howard and Marnie Witkin.

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Frumie Goldberg, daughter of Rabbi Moshe and Devorah Goldberg, to Boruch Diskind of Montreal, Canada… Shayna Firestone, daughter of Marc and Beth Firestone, to Dovid Herzka of Flatbush, NY… Eli Hendeles, son of Moise and Angela Hendeles, and Sandy and Barry Goldman, to Sharon Feder of Englewood, NJ… Dr. Maurice Garfinkel, son of Joseph and Marlyn Garfinkel, to Tova Levin, daughter of Irv Levin… Dr. Tovy Haber Kamine, son of Bernard and Marcia Kamine, to Dr. Rebecca Barron, daughter of Drs. Alan and Ros Barron… Basya Gruman, daughter of Rabbi Dovid and Feige Gruman, to Chaim Zemel of Miami Beach.

Mazel Tov – Weddings: Moshe Stewart, son of Rabbi Eliyahu and Bryna Stewart, to Chani Richter of Monsey, NY… Robbie Silverman, son of Nachi and Hedy Silverman, to Ariella Winter, daughter of Jeff and Shaindy Winter… Eli Lehman, son of Kenneth and Libby Lehman, to Rivky Frankel of Lakewood, NJ.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Ash and Mindy Berla, a daughter. Mazel Tov – Engagement: Yael Friedkin, daughter of Gerald and Miriam Friedkin, to Matt Kovner. Mazel Tov – Wedding: Elana Jagoda, daughter of Jeff and Joanne Jagoda, to Saul Kaye.

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Aharon and Chana Kestenbaum in Yerushalayim, a daughter (Grandmother Esther Kestenbaum). Mazel Tov – Engagements: Jessica Light, daughter of Donald Light, to Evan Silverberg… Daniel Stahl, son of Willy and Jean Stahl, to Dr. Ariella Schwartz of Staten Island, NY.

VALLEY VILLAGE, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Aharon and Shelly Striks, a son (Grandparents David and Miriam Striks; Al Lebovic and Barbara Lebovic)… Boaz and Sara Esther Goldman of Romaima, Israel, a daughter (Grandparents Rabbi Eliezer and Pnina Pflaster; Jeanne Litvin and Rabbi Mel Teitelbaum; Rabbi Dr. Simcha and Miriam Goldman)… Netanel and Tova Chait, a daughter (Grandparents Rabbi George and Dr. Lisa Lintz).

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Rachel Goodfriend, daughter of Mark and Elaine Goodfriend, to Gabriel Saadat, son of Elias and Janet Saadat of Beverly Hills, CA… Benji Samet, son of Dr. Michael and Bracha Samet, to Raissa Sosnow of North Miami Beach, FL.

Our 9/11: What Will We Learn From The Leiby Kletzky Tragedy?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

A surefire way to gauge the generation in which a person was raised is to have him or her fill in the following sentence: Where were you when ?”

Baby Boomers would ask, “When President Kennedy was shot?” Thirtysomethings would respond, “When the space shuttle exploded?” Today’s teenagers would reply, “On 9/11?”

These were shocking, transformational moments that are etched in our mind’s eye forever. We remember where we were standing when we heard the news and recall the sinking feeling in the pits of our stomachs as we thought this just can’t be happening.

Members of our community had our 9/11 moment last week when we heard that Leiby Kletzky, a”h, was allegedly murdered by one of our own. As was the case on 9/11, people of all stripes banded together to search and later to mourn for that precious neshamah.

In the aftermath of 9/11, a paradigm shift occurred in our thinking about security. No longer would people saunter onto an airplane or enter a New York City tunnel without passing through the watchful eye of law enforcement personnel and fellow citizens alike. The ubiquitous “If you see something, say something,” ads have been extraordinarily effective in training people to be more vigilant and to report suspicious activity to the authorities.

It is of utmost importance that members of our community engage in a similar shift in thinking – and acting – in the aftermath of our 9/11, in the arena of the safety and security of our children.

The two areas that demand our urgent attention are (1) the education of our children regarding their personal space and safety and (2) the critical need to immediately report all predators to the authorities.

Education is extraordinarily effective in training children and preventing abuse. Research shows conclusively that children who are spoken to about their personal space are more than six times as likely to take defensive action when approached by a predator. And all of these messages can be delivered in a perfectly modest manner appropriate for haredi homes.

As of this moment, Leiby’s abduction seems to have been random in nature, and many parents in our community are limiting their discussions with their children to not taking rides from strangers. This is a grave and dangerous error. We ought to use this opportunity to provide each of our children, from the youngest ages on up, with a comprehensive, research-based model of child safety training.

Why? Because even if Leiby’s case was indeed random, it would be an exception to the rule. The vast majority of predators are well known to the victims and are often relatives or friends of the family.

Comprehensive child safety education includes the following components:

● The notion of private space. Your body belongs to you. Worded differently, get children to think of their own bodies like they would a favorite snack – something that is exclusively theirs.

● Good touching/bad touching. One way of expressing this is to tell children that no one is allowed to touch them in a spot covered by a bathing suit.

● No one may tell children keep secrets from their parents; predators naturally want to drive a wedge between the child and his/her parents.

● If someone is making a child uncomfortable, the child has the right to say no. Many victims of abuse felt they had no choice but to listen to the adult or older predator.

(Please note that these few lines do not do justice to a complex subject. Project YES conducted a series of workshops in the month of June to train parents in speaking to kids about personal space and abuse prevention. You can view the 33-minute video of one such presentation at http://vimeo.com/25322132).

On a communal level, we urgently need to adopt and publicize a firm policy that predators will be reported to the authorities.

Contacting someone like me when your child has been molested is analogous to informing me you saw someone carrying a suicide vest and you suspect an imminent terror attack. I have no training in the counter-terrorism field, zero enforcement capability and a day job that precludes me from devoting the 24/7 level of attention to the case it deserves and needs.

In The Beginning… A New Chumash Workbook Helps Build Basic Skills

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

             Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, founder and director of Project YES, an organization dedicated to guiding troubled teens, is trying to put himself out of business.


 


            Working on the theory that many teens end up at risk because they don’t succeed academically and slip through the cracks of the educational system, Rabbi Horowitz is attacking the problem at its source, hoping to keep as many children as possible thriving in school with a workbook series aimed at helping a greater percentage of students achieve academic success.

 

            The Bright Beginnings workbook series utilizes a curriculum stressing a visual approach to learning instead of teaching children to memorize lists of words, an approach that according to many studies is far more successful for the majority of the population.

 

            “A very clear pattern emerges when I talk to kids who haven’t succeeded academically,” said Rabbi Horowitz. “The number one reason that kids don’t make it in school is that they never picked up the language required in Judaic studies. It is crucial that they pick up proper skills when they are still young.”

 

            Having taught as an 8th grade rebbe for 15 years, Rabbi Horowitz saw firsthand how many students in the higher grades lacked the vocabulary skills necessary to succeed in Judaic studies. He recalls walking into the local sefarim store in his first year as a teacher and asking for their best Chumash program to use as a teaching aide.

 

            “They just laughed at me,” reminisced Rabbi Horowitz. “A Chumash program? Who had a Chumash program?”

 

            Rabbi Horowitz, menahel of Yeshiva Darchei Noam in Monsey for 14 years where he now serves as dean, has spent the last 12 years devising a Chumash curriculum designed to give students the basic skill set they need to master the language of the Chumash. Teaming up with two talented rebbeim who have taught in the yeshiva – Rabbi Yosef Rawicki and Rabbi Yosef Kitay – Rabbi Horowitz has released the first in what is a planned series of workbooks which will teach not only the skills required to learn Chumash, but Mishnayos and Gemara as well.

 

            Volume 1 of the Bright Beginnings Chumash Workbook tackles parshas Lech Lecha. Words are broken down into shorashim (root words), suffixes and prefixes, with different colors and shapes used to denote nouns and verbs.

 

            “Ninety-three percent of all the words in the Chumash come from just 270 shorashim, explained Rabbi Horowitz. “If you teach students the basics, they can learn how to break down words and find their meanings instead of just memorizing endless lists of words, an approach that doesn’t work for so many children.”

 

            Rabbi Betzalel Rudinsky, the current menahel of Darchei Noam, whose five sons attended the yeshiva, praised the approach used to break down the language of the Chumash, saying, “Kids in first grade literally have an understanding of the words that many adults don’t have.”

 

            Dr. Ephraim Book, a Darchei Noam parent, echoed that sentiment and found that reviewing material with his young son provided him with an unexpected benefit.

 

            “I never looked at a pasuk and broke down the words into shorashim. I just recognized them from the past. Now that I am learning with my son this way, I am actually breaking down words in my own learning which helps me tremendously as an adult.”

 

            Rabbi Horowitz hopes that by continuing the series with additional workbooks, not only will teachers save endless hours having to create a curriculum of their own, but also that students will continue learning in a way that comes more naturally to them year after year.

 

            “Try to imagine what it would be like if a school used a different math program in every grade,” said Rabbi Horowitz. “There would be no consistency and every year students would be required to master a different system of learning. The idea here is to create a series of workbooks that will continue the visual learning approach, enabling students to build on the skills they acquire with every passing grade.”

 

 

            Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who has written for various newspapers, magazines and websites. She has also written song lyrics and scripts for several full-scale productions. She can be contacted at sandyeller1@gmail.com  

Our Children Are Not Hefker

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

One week ago on my website I announced my intention to attend the next court appearance of a man who was arrested last year and is now standing trial on 10 felony charges of child abuse.

I am attending the court proceeding to stand with and support victims he allegedly abused and to let them know they are valued members of our community.

I am doing so to send a loud and clear message to the predators who abuse our precious kinderlach: Our children are not hefker.

I am doing so to support the rule of law. Time and experience have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that well-meaning, untrained people (like this writer) are powerless to protect children. Chazal (Avos 3:4) wisely stated that we must pray for the stability of our government for “if not for the fear it holds over its citizens [who commit crimes], a person would swallow his neighbor.”

In my web post, I asked members of our community to please post supportive comments, which I would print out and deliver.

All week long, people wrote the most beautiful notes of support to the victim and his family members. As of this writing, more than 200 individuals from across North America, Europe, Eretz Yisrael – even Australia – posted comments and sent e-mails of support.

I strongly encourage readers to visit the website and join this effort. (Go to www.rabbihorowitz.com and look for the post with the title of this column). Let the family members know we love them, are terribly sorry they had to suffer this way, and will do everything in our power to see that those who abuse our children will be reported and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I respectfully ask that you kindly sign your real name and your city of residence. We should be proud to do what the Torah instructs us to do – 36 times, no less, far more than any other mitzvah – to give comfort to the gerim (strangers) among us as they lack the support structure so vital to one’s well-being. I can think of no greater “stranger” than the innocent children who have been ravaged by pedophiles.

When Yaakov Avinu criticized his children Shimon and Levi for killing the residents of Shechem after their sister Dina was violated by the son of Shechem’s leader (Bereishis 34:31), he gave two reasons for his displeasure with the vigilante actions of his children: (1) they shamed the family and made them loathsome in the eyes of the neighboring nations and (2) they placed their family in life-threatening danger of an attack by the incensed people surrounding them.

Shimon and Levi responded to their father’s critique with a four-word phrase: “Ha’chizonah ya’aseh es achoseinu? – Should our sister be treated like a harlot? ” Rashi explains that they meant to say their sister is not “hefker” (lit. one who is abandoned), but rather has family members who are willing to lay their lives on the line for her.

At first glance, it seems Shimon and Levi gave an emotional response rather than a logical one, since they did not address either of the two concerns their father expressed. It is almost as if they acknowledged their entire family would be shamed and in grave danger as a result of their actions, but they asked Yaakov to take into account the mitigating circumstances and understand that theirs was a visceral reaction due to the situation at hand.

I would like to suggest an alternative understanding of their response to their father’s rebuke. They may have been answering the critique point-by-point by explaining that if they allowed their sister to be treated as hefker, (1) a non-response to their sister’s defilement would be a far greater shame to the family than the one they caused, and (2) the family would be in greater danger than before since the neighbors would assume that they could violate Yaakov’s family members with nary a response.

Permit me to take a page from the response of Shimon and Levi and propose that our reluctance to squarely stand with abuse victims who report predators to the authorities has sent a shameful and dangerous message – that we do not have the moxie to do what it takes to keep our children safe.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communites – 7/03/09

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Dear Rachel,

Abuse is rampant in the Jewish community. How can I say that it is rampant? Well, I am a survivor of abuse. Including myself, I know of five people who were abused within a two-block radius. That is five people too many.

Dov Hikind has already gotten hundreds of calls from abuse survivors. This means there are probably thousands of Orthodox Jewish people who were, or are still being abused.

The abuse that I suffered could have been entirely prevented if I had been educated about this topic at a young age, but schools don’t address the issue. I went through the Bais Yaakov system and not one teacher discussed this topic. If I had been told the basics, nothing detailed, then my abuse wouldn’t have started in the first place.

As a result of not knowing about this topic, I suffered in silence for four terrible years. I am now traumatized for life. Even just walking out of my house brings horrific memories to my mind. I now suffer every day from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

Schools need to talk about this issue. Without knowledge, the chain just continues. Shoving the topic under the rug does not make it disappear. Is the Jewish community afraid that something terrible will happen if they educate their children?

I asked my therapist why she doesn’t go to schools to teach children on a basic level about the topic of abuse. She replied that schools won’t allow her to.

Jewish children need to be educated on the topic of abuse.

Guy Finley [in his book, The Secret of Letting Go] writes, “Trying to forget a fear is like trying to hold an inflated basketball under the water. It takes all of your strength and attention, and in time it must pop to the surface.” Making believe that abuse does not occur in our communities makes the entire situation one hundred times worse. It rears its ugly head in other ways. For me, my body is covered with scars, since that was the only way I knew how to deal with so much inner pain.

With education, the chain can be broken. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a thousand pounds of cure.

Some people may say, okay, let’s only tell the girls since it occurs only among young girls. Of the five people whom I know to have been abused, two of them are boys. Education is the only road to prevention. Without education, the chain just continues.

Do something about the situation. Stop the chain. Today.

Concerned about the future of Klal Yisrael

Dear Concerned,

Yes, the horrific scourge of abuse has been eating away at our hapless young, the injustice being the longstanding reluctance of individuals in a position of influence to pay heed to the unthinkable occurring in their midst.

Yes, we have been rudely awakened from our innocent slumber. To be sure, ours is a refined culture, one that is shaped by age-old Torah statutes that sculpt our way of life. Many of us, until recent times, would never have believed any of our people capable of perpetrating this type of heinous abuse.

Some will blame naiveté, others tend to accuse us of being ignorant, but even the world-wise among us were (and still are) of the conviction that such deviant behavior is an aberration in our community. As difficult as it may be for a suffering victim to accept, relative to secular society, abuse in our collective communities – though having gone unchecked for too long now – is not as widespread as the concentration of recent news flashes would have us believe.

But, alas, even one victim is too many, and as a charitable and good-natured people, our hearts cry along with every single victim we are made aware of. Every son and daughter is everyone’s son and daughter.

Courageous leaders such as Assemblyman Dov Hikind and noted educator Rabbi Yakov Horowitz are to be lauded for their tireless efforts to weed the bad seed from our beautiful garden. Moreover, they should have the support and backing of every decent, caring and clear-thinking Jewish soul.

You are totally justified in your outrage. You have suffered horrendous physical and emotional pain that most of us, thankfully, cannot begin to fathom.

Yes, we are responsible for one another, and yes, it is the duty of those in whose care we entrust our children to educate and enlighten them. (Parents must do their part and not rely solely on the school system.)

And, yet, the concept of our schools indoctrinating our young and innocent in the subject of abuse, (exposing their pure intellect to the existence of deviancy), is a difficult one to digest and relatively foreign to us as a whole. In this light it is understandable that your teachers did not think to warn you, to alert you and your peers to the ugliness that they never imagined would infiltrate our own private circles.

Now that the stark reality has hit us hard, we have no choice but to accept that we cannot rely on the insulation of our communities to protect our vulnerable young against predators, to concede that the era of innocence (if it ever truly existed outside of wishful thinking) is no more, and to unite in “arming” our children by educating them against unsuspected dangers that can chas v’shalom be their ruin.

Thank you for baring your pain and torment in the hope of sparing others the same.

May you know complete healing and merit to bask in endless joy of your own beautiful garden.

Please send your personal stories, thoughts and opinions to rachel@jewishpress.com

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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