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November 1, 2014 / 8 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yaakov Avinu’

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.

Reflections On The Eighth Yahrzeit Of Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

         The years move forward and your eighth yahrzeit (10 Shevat) will soon be here, my dear father. Eight years without you, my rabbi, my father, my guidepost. Eight years is a long time to go without hearing your wonderful Divrei Torah; without having you at our Shabbos table, or sitting at yours. But the loss is not just ours.
 
         It is really a loss for Klal Yisrael. Many people who used to turn to you for answers to their questions have told us that they have not found anyone whose responses were as clear and erudite, and who accepted every query so willingly. The best that I can do is tell people that many of the hundreds of answers that you gave can be found in your three volumes of Responsa of Modern Judaism.
 
         I sit here at your desk, in your office at The Jewish Press and your Gemaras and your seforim are still on the shelves all around me, just as you left them. Sometimes your grandson Shlomo comes in to borrow one. He works here now, writing and interviewing. How happy you would have been to see it. I can picture the smile that would have lit up your face as he reached for a Gemara. But you wouldn’t have let it go at that. You would have engaged him in a regular shiur before he left the room, sefer in hand.
 
         That was always how it was. You were so happy to see any one of your grandchildren, but the visit had to include words of Torah. And of course you trained them to always give the source. That training serves all of them very well. Whenever Zevie or Dovid gives over a piece of Gemara they are quick to say where it can be found. But it is not only your grandchildren – even Rafi, your great- grandson, always gives the origin, and I smile and thank you in my heart.
 
         In these past eight years, more great-grandchildren have been born and almost every family has a Sholom named for you. Several of your great-grandchildren have married and have children of their own, your great-great-grandchildren. Shandee is a grandmother. Yes, your beloved granddaughter Shandele has grandchildren of her own.
 
         At The Jewish Press we try to carry on your legacy. You worked so hard, and your labor bore fruit. You wanted to spread Torah throughout the land and you did. I still meet people who tell me that they are observant Jews today because of The Jewish Press. You also worked tirelessly on behalf of Eretz Yisrael. Half of your grandchildren live in Israel, and that, too, is in large measure in your zechus.
 
         I watch in growing dismay and horror the unfolding of disturbing events in Israel. I can only imagine what you would be writing today in answer to the dire situation that threatens the very existence of our beloved homeland. You always said that the pen is mightier than the sword and I know that your pen would have been a powerful weapon.
 
         The loves of your life were Torah, your family, the Jewish People and the Land of Israel. You devoted your life to further these values. And today with the help of Hashem, all of your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren live Torah lives.
 
         You used to say, “Yaakov Avinu lo met -Yaakov our forefather did not die,” but just a few weeks ago we read that he did in fact die. You liked to explain that one who leaves children and grandchildren, who follow in the path of Torah, truly never dies.
 

         In your zechus, may we continue to succeed and may you be a melitz yosher for all of us and for Klal Yisrael.

Man Serving Hashem … The Center Of Creation

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

The brothers of Yosef referred to him as the “The Dreamer” (Beraishis 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 (Beraishis 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 (Beraishis 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] (Beraishis 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, Beraishis 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 (Beraishis 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 Beraishis 1:1, Beraishis 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

Jumpstarting Your Child’s Life: Parenting An At-Risk Teen

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Note to readers: I have been flooded with e-mails and calls as a result of the columns that appeared in The Jewish Press op-ed pages over the past two weeks regarding what is taking place in the Catskills. Some addressed the issue from a communal perspective, asking what steps ought to be taken to improve the situation. Many, however, were from parents of at-risk teens pleading for guidance in counseling their children through this stormy phase in their lives. Over the next few weeks, I will be running columns in this space to address these matters from a parenting perspective. I hope you find them helpful.

Imagine going for a walk one winter morning and finding your neighbor sitting in his car vigorously turning the steering wheel while the engine is shut off. When you ask him why he doesn’t start the car, he responds that his battery died, and he will soon get jumper cables to give it a boost. However, before he does that, he would like to turn the front wheels away from the curb so that he can instantly be able to pull out of the parking space once his automobile starts. You may walk away wondering why he is exerting so much energy turning the wheel of a stalled car instead of waiting until the engine starts and the power steering kicks in.

This analogy reflects my thinking of how parents can be most helpful in assisting their at-risk teens get back on track. Very often – and understandably so – parents start helping their struggling children by addressing their antisocial behaviors (partying or drug/alcohol abuse) or the rejection of Torah values (not keeping Shabbos or inappropriate attire). I have found, however, that the most effective thing that parents can do to really help their child is to assist him/her in getting his/her life in order. Once that is accomplished, it is much easier to help him/her with the other matters.

As long as your teen is unhappy and/or unproductive, it is as if his/her life is on hold – as the vehicle of his/her life is stalled. The “power steering” that enables positive change to occur and a sense of spirituality to develop can only kick in when the engine of accomplishment is turned on. You can exert a great deal of force turning the wheel while the engine is off, but you will be draining your energy, shredding the tires and digging trenches in your driveway while this is going on. It is much wiser to work on helping him/her achieve success first. The rest will follow, with the help of Hashem.

I often tell parents of at-risk teens to follow the sage advice of the Kotzker Rebbe (Reb Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, 1787-1859), who noted that the Torah informs us in Shemos 22:30 that “V’anshei kodesh te’heyu li – the people of holiness shall you be to Me.” The rebbe pointed out that the Torah places the word anshei before kodesh, in effect telling us to be a mentsch before attempting to achieve spirituality. (His exact words in Yiddish were, “kodem a mentsch un nach dem heilig – first become a refined human being, and only then strive to become more holy.”)

While the rebbe did not express these thoughts in terms of at-risk teens, I feel that this concept represents the most effective way for parents to chart a course for the lives of their at-risk children. Help them become mentschen – functioning, productive young adults who have a reason to wake up in the morning with the feeling that each day is a gift that ought to be unwrapped as the treasure that it is. This should be done before you work on the at-risk symptoms. For once they become happier and more productive, you will find it so much easier to “turn the wheel.”

In a very practical sense, it means helping him/her get a GED or, better yet, helping your child resume schooling in a mainstream high school, yeshiva or college setting. Send him/her for career counseling and get him/her a job. Tell your child that you are in this together, and you will always love him/her forever. (You may get a roll of the eyes, but I can assure you that your child will be eternally grateful for this.) Get your child into therapy if there are “issues” that need to be resolved. Show leadership and express your love for your child by going for your own counseling to help you effectively parent your child through this challenging stage in their life.

Please print the following saying and affix it to your desk or refrigerator: “No one ever changed the oil in a rented car.” As one of my favorites, I tell it to parents every time I lecture on parenting at-risk teens. This aphorism means that the more ownership your teen feels in their life, the more likely he/she will avoid reckless and life-threatening behaviors. Giving them the keys to their lives will give them the “boost” they need.

I would also suggest that you carefully study the theory of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (You can read about it online by doing a Google search of Abraham Maslow. It is the third item on the list.) He suggests that there are five sequential “needs” aligned like a pyramid. Once the more basic needs – safety, security and belonging – are met, a person can begin to work on achieving success and self-actualizing. This means that if you lecture an unhappy, unfulfilled teenager about his davening or lack thereof, it is unlikely that your efforts will meet with much success. As with all theories, you need not agree with it in its entirety (I, for one, don’t), but there are profound lessons to be learned from Maslow’s thoughts.

Finally, I implore you to ignore your neighbors and societal pressure, and do what is right for your child. Our patriarch, Yaakov Avinu, had the wisdom and fortitude to acknowledge the diversity of his children’s natures and abilities in his final blessings to them (see Bereshis 49). He celebrated the individual paths charted by Yissacher and Zevulun. Yaakov did not try to force one into the shoes of the other, and was rewarded by having all his children follow his path of serving Hashem. Parents who ignore the sage advice of his living example often pay a horrific price.

Over the years I have seen far too many children sacrificed on the altar of “what will the neighbors say,” when out-of-the-box children are forced into settings that do not match their natures. Keep your eye on doing what is right for your child. That’s all that really matters.

© 2007 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved.

Next week: What to do if you suspect your child is experimenting with drugs or abusing alcohol.

Man Serving Hashem – The Center Of Creation

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

        The brothers of Yosef referred to him as the “the dreamer.” (Beraishis 37:19). Although the brothers seemed to have used the title in a disparaging manner, Yosef’s life was, in fact, inextricably tied to dreams.
 
         Yosef engendered the envy of his brothers when he shared his two dreams with them. Later he correctly interpreted the dreams of the ministers of Pharaoh, and 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 (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 (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 that Yaakov “guarded” the dreams and anxiously waited for them to come to fruition (37:11; see Rashi).
 
         This brings 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, Beraishis 37:2, see Rashi). In that light, it is interesting to note that Yaakov Avinu also dreamed of the same two elements – earthly and heavenly matters – when he was sleeping in Bais El on his way to the house of Lavan (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 conveyed in the dreams of his son. Yosef was thinking of man in his highest state – as the center of 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 firstborn1 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 fulfillment to His world (Rashi, Beraishis 1:1, Beraishis 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 Egypt, 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 patriarchs and tribes, he alone earned the title of Yosef HaTzadik, 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 Egypt 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.

 

[1] Yosef received the double portion that a bechor is entitled to, when two of his sons became shevatim of Yaakov

 

         Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and Menahel of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and the founder and Program Director of Agudath Israel’s Project Y.E.S. His presentation on “Different Strokes – Helping Your Child Succeed by Understanding His/Her Learning Profile,” is now available on CD.
 

For more information on this and his “Raising Your Adolescent Children CD/DVD, visit www.rabbihorowitz.com, e-mail jp@rabbihorowitz.com or call 845-352-7100 x 133.

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Kahane’s Views Not `Abnormal’

Elliot Resnick (“Kahane’s Ideas, 15 years and 1,300 Deaths Later,” op-ed, Dec. 9) writes that “Kahane felt abnormal times required an abnormal response.” I highly doubt that Rabbi Kahane would have agreed with this presumptuous notion. His response to the demographic crisis in Israel could not be termed “abnormal” in the least. It was an answer and philosophy based on Torah values. His entire political platform was based on Torah. The rabbi would often quote the Rambam in Hilchos Melachim as a source for the laws relating to a ger toshav. He would often quote Tanach about purging the enemies from our midst.

None of the ideas that Rabbi Kahane extolled were predicated on hatred, racism, or his own personal or political philosophy. They were based on Jewish values from a Divine source.

The rabbi would often tell us that the way to penetrate the impurity of the world is to keep speaking the Torah truth. To never allow ourselves to be intimated and discouraged by the hostile reaction of the masses. The greatest tribute we could pay Rabbi Kahane is to keep speaking the truth – and to ask Hashem to give us the strength to gird our loins and courageously face our detractors and adversaries with His Word.

Fern Sidman
(JDL National Director 1983-1985)
Brooklyn, NY
 
 
Real Priorities

My heart goes out to the young lady searching for her bashert (Rebbetzin’s Viewpoint, Dec.16). Perhaps the question to be asked is not “What’s wrong with me?” but rather, “What’s wrong with them?” – referring, of course, to her so-called girlfriends, nay, married women, so busy with gossip at the attended wedding. What is wrong with people? Have we lost all sense of derech eretz? What are the real priorities?

Parents, educators and rabbis need to focus first and foremost on the essential task of instilling derech eretz in our youngsters. The banning of home Internet use (“Lakewood Rabbis Ban Home Internet,” Dec. 16) is all fine and good, if this is the derech chosen by some (from what I’m told, not all residents or rabbis approve of this ban) in the community. Naturally, some of us might retort: What’s next? The banning of appropriate educational television programming? Of Jazz music? How about the reading of “secular” American papers?

Kedusha, holiness, is an integral aspect of a Torah home Yet I would like to believe that appropriate use and editing of the Internet or other modern media in one’s home can be achieved through wise choice, education and discipline without the need for a ban. My real concern is the need for true, aggressive and visible religious leadership where it appears to be lacking – in emphasizing values of derech eretz to young people and in fact, to people of all ages.

A special message to the aforementioned young lady: As an observant psychologist, I would venture a guess that there is, in reality, nothing wrong with you. I am sorry that your “friends” and those around you have been so thoughtless and inconsiderate. May God bless you, heal you and bring you speedily to your true mate.

To the foolish, inconsiderate girls at the wedding, and those like them: Know that there is One above; an Ear that hears and an Eye that sees all. To parents, rabbis and the rest of us: Let us be ever vigilant and work tirelessly to raise the banner of the important values reinforced constantly in our holy Torah.

Hye Harris
Via E-mail

 
Learning From Yaakov

Just to add one thought to Chaim Silver’s fine letter of Dec. 16: I think it’s important to note Yaakov Avinu’s first interaction with “outsiders” after spending 14 years in yeshiva, out of touch with mainstream society. When he arrived at the well in Charan, he saw three flocks of sheep being tended by some shepherds. Yaakov said, “My brothers, where are you from?”

“My brothers.” It boggles the mind.

Why would Yaakov Avinu, a man used to interacting with angels and immersing himself in Torah for years at a time without sleep, feel any connection to the common, if not lower-class, idol-worshiping shepherds?

The answer is simple. Hashem’s Torah is not about elitism and being naive or out of touch. Hashem’s Torah is about engaging with the world and with its inhabitants and elevating everyone and everything to new levels of holiness. That’s what Yaakov Avinu was trying to teach us when he approached people who were as foreign to him as any he had ever encountered, and called them his brothers.

Halevai that we should approach our fellow Jews, let alone non-Jews, with that degree of love and sensitivity.

Yaakov Steinhart
(Via E-Mail)
 
 
On Being A `Good Jew’

Reader Herman Ganz (Letters, Dec. 9) attacks The Jewish Press for a recent editorial stipulating, as he paraphrased it, that the authentic way to be considered a “good Jew” is through the performance of mitzvos.

Mr. Ganz, this is not merely an editorial position, it is the basic foundation of the faith. You advocate secular humanism – or, in Jewish-speak, being a mensch – as a substitute for observing the Torah. This constitutes a basic fallacy of the nonobservant – the belief that Judaism is a series of meaningless rituals divorced from proper etiquette. The Torah speaks of laws between God and man as well as those between man and his fellow.

In fact, as our Sages teach, Hashem is more exacting with the latter group of laws; therefore, it is impossible to be a “good Jew” without doing what Mr. Ganz calls “acts of kindness.” That said, if one dismisses those regulations that are unique to our religion and concentrates instead on being a nice guy, he is no different from a pleasant gentile. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we are enjoined to reach higher. So yes, Mr. Ganz, it is entirely appropriate to stress the performance of mitzvos as the key for one to earn the moniker “good Jew.”

Dr. Yaakov Stern
Brooklyn, NY
 
 
Painful Parting:
An Open Letter To The RCA

A newspaper is not the address that one generally chooses to send a letter of resignation from a major Jewish organization such as the Rabbinical Council of America.

I chose this unusual route because I have come to the conclusion that I have no other recourse, as there appears to be no one in the organization’s hierarchy I can turn to.

I have been a member of the RCA since 1986 when I assumed my first position as a pulpit rabbi after having spent fifteen years in the Lakewood Kollel. I was embraced by finerabbonim and outstanding leaders, who, despite recognizing that my hashkofos swung way to the right, were bold enough and honest enough to invite me to serve as executive treasurer for six years. I have always considered this a display of their religious integrity and an expression of the broader scope of interest and responsibility that the organization embraced. The RCA had good and honest leadership – then.

I am afraid that I no longer have the same confidence in the RCA’s leadership. It no longer matters who is right and who is wrong in the Tendler affair. (Of course it matters to all of us that Rabbi Tendler has been vindicated, but I now speak with regard to my resignation from the RCA.)

I am so dismayed by the conduct of people whom I respect and call colleagues. I say to them:

Your utter disregard and disrespect for the Bet Din in Yerushalayim is appalling. Do you really believe that traditional “rabbi double talk” is going to fool the rabbis themselves? Do you really believe that your constituents are so simpleminded that they will fall for “Well, we don’t have to listen to a bet din butyou do”?

To be declared a “lo tzayis dina” by the Jerusalem Bet Din of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is not a slap on the wrist. It means shame on you, shame on everything you are associated with. It means that on public record you are in defiance of the laws of Torah. This is a public pronouncement made by the holy bet din humiliate you into submission. Yet not only do you show no remorse, regret, or contrition – you continue to show defiance. (At least be creative. Come up with something that appears logical instead of continuing to debase yourselves with inane innuendo and lame explanations).

I will tell you what disturbs me most of all. I will tell you why I resign from your midst. In 1987 Rabbi Aron Shurin, z”l, told me this story. The Rav, zt”l, said to him that he was jealous of Reb Aharon Kotler, zt”l, who had “real”talmidim. “But you also have talmidim,” protested Rabbi Shurin. Answered the Rav: “Reb Aharon’s talmidim ask him ‘Rebbi, can I do this?’ Or, ‘Rebbi, can I go there?’ Or, ‘Rebbi, can I say that?’ My talmidim say, ‘Rebbi, I did this. Rebbi, I went there. Rebbi, I said that. Is it ok?’ He lamented what he perceived to be a lack of real and absolute loyalty by some of histalmidim (not most, who were and are talmidim n’emonim).

I am not atalmid of the Rav. I know, however, that the Rav expected, and had the right to expect, obedience from his talmidim. There was no one who protected the honor of and demanded subservience to theBet Din of Yerushalayim more than did the Rav. B’ksav and b’al peh.

For his talmidim to violate and shame the memory of their rebbi by brazenly ignoring his edict makes those of us, who studied under the tutelage of otherrebbeim, carefully contemplate and more clearly understand the words of Rabbi Shurin.

My rebbi, Reb Chaim Shmulevits, zt”l, has a well-known shmues in which he attributes the foibles of Chiel- who sinfully attempted to rebuild Jericho – to his having been sucked into a whirlpool of mistakes, from which he was unable to extricate himself because his understanding became more and more obscured as the mistakes kept piling on. The same has happened to you, unfortunately. I pray that Hashem gives you the einayim lir’os and oznayim lishmoa to recognize and reverse those mistakes.

Until that happens I can no longer be affiliated with an organization whose leadership is declared a violator of Torah law by the Bet Din of Yerushalayim. I sadly submit my resignation from the RCA.

Rabbi Moshe Faskowitz

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-117/2005/12/21/

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