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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Yosef’

Shas Finally Selects Chief Rabbi Candidate

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

After much jockeying and infighting, it appears that Shas has finally chosen its candidate for Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel. Among the candidates were former Chief Rabbi, Rav Ovadia Yosef’s two sons, as well as Shas leader Arieh Deri’s brother, and the brother of Shas MK Ariel Attias.

In the end Shas chose Rav Ovadiah’s younger son, Rav Yitzchak Yosef to be their candidate. Rav Yitzchak is considered to be a scholar. He is also the son-in-law of the current Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.

Rav Amar has been pushing for the appointment of his long time study partner Rav Boaron. Rabbi Boaron is a judge on the Rabbinical Supreme Court in Jerusalem.

What may have helped Rav Ovadia in his decision to select Rav Yitzchak and not his older son, Rav Avraham Yosef, was the investigation that was just opened against him,.

 

 

Lapid Holds Up Coalition, But Rumors Fly that an Alternative Coalition Might Be Forming

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

“So close, and yet so far,” could effectively describe the status of coalition talks according to leaks, rumors and reports.

At the moment, coalition talks are reportedly circling primarily around the Education Ministry that Likud-Beytenu wants to keep, and which Yair Lapid is demanding at all costs.

Some within Likud-Beytenu believe that Lapid is not interested in forming a coalition at all, and wants to drag out the process until the upcoming deadline forces new elections, as polls indicate his position might strengthen even further if elections were held again.

Likud-Beytenu is also saying that they will once again approach the Hareidim if Lapid doesn’t start to back down from all his demands.

Another rumor is that HaBayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) is getting frustrated and angry at Lapid, and feel he is taking advantage of the strength they’ve given him with their alliance.

The rumors are saying that Likud-Beytenu will leave Lapid out of the coalition, and are specifically not mentioning HaBayit HaYehudi in that threat.

On Tuesday night, a senior member of Shas was supposedly called in to meet the Prime Minister. The rumors say it was either Aryeh Deri or Eli Yishai.

Netanyahu might have called the senior Shas member in to pressure Lapid, or alternatively, Netanyahu might actually be trying to form a coalition without Lapid, if he believes that Lapid is trying to drag the country to new elections.

Another rumor, which would be very significant if true, is that Labor leader Sheli Yachimovitch secretly met with Shas spiritual leader, Rav Ovadia Yosef, Tuesday evening.

With just days left, anything could be happening at this point.

Potifar’s Wife is in Your Home Too: The Dangers of the Internet

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

In the Torah portions during Chanukah, we always read about Yosef, or Joseph, as he is known on Broadway. Yosef is called “Yosef HaTzaddik,” meaning the Righteous One. The Holy Zohar teaches that Yosef earned the esteemed title of Tzaddik because he guarded the Covenant of sexual purity. This is what brought him to kingship over the world.

“Rabbi Shimon said, ‘It was only after Yosef withstood the test of temptation with Potifar’s wife that he was called Tzaddik. Since he guarded the holy Brit, he was called Tzaddik’” (Zohar,Bereshit 194b).

The Midrash says that Potifar’s wife wasEgypt’s most beautiful woman. Day after day, dressed in immodest outfits, she would approach the young Hebrew slave and beckon him to her quarters. She would whisper seductive things in his ear. Yosef’s test wasn’t just a one time thing. She kept after him for months on end, doing everything in her powers to cast her spell over him. On that fateful day when she threw herself at him with all of her charms, she made sure that no one else was in the house. The only thing standing between Yosef and the forbidden act was his fear of God. His father and family were hundreds of miles away, he was in the prime of his strength, she was the most beautiful and seductive woman inEgypt, and still he resisted.

In praising Yosef’s achievement, the Zohar emphasizes that guarding the Covenant of sexual holiness is like observing all of the Torah, “guarding the Brit is equal in weight with the whole Torah” (Zohar, Bereshit 197a).

In our time, each of us is tempted every day with the very same test when we sit down at the computer. Thousands of seductive women are just a quick click away. Today, the Internet is Potifar’s wife.

We who don’t have same exalted the fear of God that Yosef had, where will we summon the strength to overcome the temptation? For us, Divine assistance comes in the form of an anti-smut filter. Thank God, there are many on the market. Many can be downloaded for free. So grave is the danger of Internet watching that Torah authorities have ruled that Internet surfing without a safe filter is a violation of the Torah commandment, “Thou shall not put a stumbling block in front of a blind man.”

Erotic pictures on the Internet, whether they be in ads, in fashion pages, or in adult sites, cause a person to violate a long list of Torah commandments, including:

* “You shall be holy, for I the L-rd your G-d am holy!”

* “Thou shall not turn astray after your hearts and after your eyes which lead you astray.”

* “Therefore shall your camp be holy, that He see no unclean thing in you and turn away from you.”

* “And you shall guard yourself from every evil thing.”

* “Do not turn astray after their gods!”

* “You shall not walk in the customs of the gentile.”

* “Thou shall not bring an abomination into your house.”

Recognizing the terrible danger of unsupervised Internet viewing has extra significance now, at the time of Chanukah. The article, “The Secrets of Chanukah,” posted on my www.jewishsexuality.com website, explains how it was precisely the Covenant of sexual holiness of the Jewish People that the Greeks sought to pollute. The Covenant between the Nation of Israel and God is sealed on our bodies, by the brit milah, emphasizing that God also has dominion over this part of our lives. The hedonist Hellenist culture sought to stamp out this holiness and give sensuality and bodily pleasure free reign. Instead of covering the modesty of the body, they celebrated its total exposure, in their promiscuous culture, their bathhouses, bawdy cabarets, their art, and their nude Olympics. Their goal was not to wipe out the Jewish People, but rather to wipe out our holy connection to God. And the method they chose to do this was to force us into adopting their immoral philosophies and ways. For, like the wicked Bilaam before them, they knew that the God of the Jewish People despises immorality. Their hedonist culture could not tolerate the existence of a competing Jewish culture that championed the holiness of life, so they set out to destroy our attachment to Torah. Therefore, they outlawed brit milah, and decreed that every Jewish virgin before her marriage be brought to the Greek ruler’s palace to be despoiled.

Parshat Vayeishev

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Most people remember where they were when they heard the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed and justice delivered. Many books have already been written about the ten-year search for him, the decision to launch the mission and the actual attack on his compound in Abbottabad. While every aspect of this story is fascinating, I would like to focus on one specific area: Why were the Navy SEALs chosen to execute the mission? When the mission was being planned it was hardly a done deal that the SEALs would be selected as opposed to the CIA’s own paramilitary unit.[1]

At a meeting at the CIA in early 2011 Admiral William McRaven, the commander of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command), suggested that one of the military’s special operations forces be used. His suggestion was SEAL Team Six[2], based on their availability. His reasoning for using one of his teams as opposed to a CIA team was as follows: The compound was located 150 miles inside Pakistan. The least of the problems would be the actual storming of the compound. The key challenge was that the attacking force would have to fulfill its mission and extract itself without starting a shooting war with the Pakistani army. This made the mission overly complex and, the more complex a mission, the more things there are that could go wrong. The SEALs, McRaven argued, had perfected these tactics through trial and error, and at the cost of many lives. They knew what they were doing. They had the experience.

McRaven told CIA officials that history has taught that on missions like this, something always goes wrong – no matter how much planning there is. What they needed were men who could think under pressure and adapt to whatever situation materialized. McRaven was persuasive and SEAL team Six got the job.

The commander handpicked the SEALs who would go on the mission. “It was a Dream Team: men who, in the thousands of raids he had overseen, had shown they did not rattle, had shown they could handle themselves coolly and intelligently not just when things went according to plan, but when things went wrong. Those situations required quickly assessing the significance of the error or malfunction or whatever unexpected event had occurred, and then making the necessary adjustments to complete the mission. The core talent required was the ability to adapt, to think for yourself and make smart decisions” (The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden by Mark Bowden, 2012, p. 192-93).

The ability to adapt is necessary for all successful leaders. Either things don’t go as planned or unexpected opportunities present themselves. While the leader’s vision and overall goal should remain constant, his plans and tactics must be flexible. This requires conditioning and preparation. In this week’s parsha we meet the ultimate adaptable leader—Yosef. Every step of Yosef’s kidnapping and sale to the Midyanim and then to the Yishmaelim was guided by Hashem, and inspired Yosef to adapt in every situation in a manner that would place him on the trajectory to become viceroy in Egypt. The Ketav Sofer points out that Yosef, despite being a charismatic and success-generating individual, managed to act plain and unassuming while in the company of the Yishmaelim. Had he been his normal self, they never would have sold him in Egypt; they would have opted to keep him for themselves. Had that happened Yosef would have remained a permanent prisoner of a nomadic tribe with no hope of becoming a player in world affairs. Yosef thus adapted to the situation by subduing his natural personality.

Upon being sold to Potifar the Kli Yakar (39:3,5) explains that Yosef demonstrated his organizational and managerial skills and earned three promotions within the household operation. Seeing his success Potifar assigned Yosef to his personal staff with the independence necessary to do his job. He then placed him in charge of the entire household staff. Finally, he appointed him as manager of all his operations, including all of his outside concerns.

After Yosef was falsely accused of misconduct, he was sentenced to the royal prison. Yet even there, amid the terrible conditions of a prison, Yosef adapted and managed to impress his superiors, inspire confidence and attain the position of prison manager. The Or Chaim Hakadosh (39:22) suggests, based on the wording of the pasuk, that Yosef, despite being the senior prisoner, did not take advantage of his position and co-opt for himself special privileges. Instead, he worked with the other prisoners sharing in their discomfort. By setting such a high personal example Yosef endeared himself in the eyes of all others.

Asking For Advice

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

“These are the chronicles of Yaakov: Yosef was seventeen years old, and he watched his brothers.” – Bereishis 37:2

At the age of seventeen, Yosef was wise in the ways of the Torah and in the ways of the world. He was called a “ben zikunim” because even at such a young age he showed the brilliance of an elder scholar. He had already absorbed all the Torah Yaakov had learned in the many years he had spent in the yeshiva of Shem.

For that reason Yaakov chose him to be the leader of the family. The Sforno explains that the coat Yaakov made for Yosef was to be a sign that he was in charge. The brothers were to listen to him in matters of the household. They were to follow his direction in of business. His was to be the final word. Clearly, Yosef was brilliant.

Yet the Sforno points out that despite his brilliance, Yosef did something quite foolish. Whenever he found his brothers doing something wrong, he would immediately report it to his father. Because he was young, he didn’t focus on what his brother’s reaction to him would be, and this caused them to resent him. This, explains Sforno, is why we don’t seek advice from those who are young.

This Sforno is difficult to understand. If Yosef was so brilliant, how is it possible he overlooked something as elementary as thinking about what his conduct would lead to? Didn’t he recognize his actions would cause his brothers to hate him?

The answer to this can be best understood with an observation about maturity.

Understanding the Child

In the past hundred years, psychologists have come to understand that children aren’t simply grown-ups with short bodies. A child’s way of thinking, his frame of mind, and his entire emotional operating system are unlike those of an adult’s.

One of the manifestations of an adult’s viewpoint is the ability to see consequences. What will this lead to? How will I feel about this five years from now? How about ten years from now? The more immature the person, the more he lives in the immediate present. To a kid, there is nothing more valuable than that shiny red fire truck with the working siren and whistle.

Ask a five year old, “Would you rather have a thousand dollars or the fire truck?” It’s not even a contest! Many a well-intending grandparent has met with disappointment at his grandchild’s reaction when the child found out that this year’s Chanukah present was an investment in a mutual fund. The child doesn’t care, because he isn’t thinking about the future. He lives completely, totally, now. Tomorrow is too late, next week will never come, and the summer might as well be a million years away.

As a person matures, he is able to see more into the future. He can see himself in other settings and in different roles. He begins to understand that the very same person who sits here now will one day be responsible for making ends meet. That sense of seeing the future as if it were here now and recognizing emotionally that it really is going to happen is a function of maturity.

Maturity isn’t dependent on intelligence or education. A child prodigy might have a very high IQ and be capable of performing brilliant mental feats yet still behave like a kid. Maturation is a process, which occurs over time. Like a fine wine that ferments, the human mind acquires a certain ripening with age – a widening of scope. With maturity often comes wisdom.

One of measures of wisdom is how far into the future a person can see – not in a clairvoyant, supernatural manner, but as a consequence of insight. If you do this, it will lead to that, which will lead to this, which will lead to that…

The Brisker Rav, Rav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik, was once lamenting the loss of his father, Rav Chaim “The world doesn’t know what it has lost. My father could see fifty years into the future, and me, I can barely see ten years forward.”

This seems to be the answer to the question on the Sforno. At seventeen Yosef was brilliant. But it was the brilliance of youth. The wisdom that comes with age wasn’t yet there. As a result, he did things that lacked foresight. He acted in a manner that was unwise because he wasn’t focused on “what this will lead to.” On an intellectual level he might have been gifted, but he lacked the vision to see the consequences of his ways.

Vending Change

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Yosef, Gad and Benjy headed down to the dining hall in their high school. As they walked along the corridor they noticed a new vending machine had been installed. The three admired the machine, and eyed its beckoning display of treats.

“I wonder whom the machine belongs to?” asked Yosef. “Do you think it belongs to the school?”

“I doubt it,” said Gad. “Look, the name of the company that owns the machine is on a label. Let’s return after lunch and get a snack for desert.”

After they finished eating, the three boys returned to the vending machine. They browsed the selections: candies, chocolates, cookies, gum, potato chips, and other nosh.

“I’m going to get a large chocolate bar,” declared Yosef. “We can all share it.”

Yosef inserted two dollar-coins in the machine and made his selection. The chocolate bar fell to the bottom, and he heard two quarters drop into the change compartment, “Clink, clink.” He reached in to take out his two quarters and was surprised to find two additional quarters there.

“Wow! There’s extra change,” he exclaimed. “That saved me fifty cents!”

“Who says you can keep it?” asked Gad. “You need to place a sign for hashavas aveidah.”

“What’s the point of hashavas aveidah?” asked Benjy. “There’s no identification on the money, anyway.”

Other students joined in the discussion, debating whether Yosef could keep the money.

“Maybe you should give the money back to the vending operator,” added Benjy. “Someone said he comes on Tuesday mornings to restock the machine.”

A bit of a commotion began.

While they were arguing, Rabbi Dayan walked by. “What’s going on?” he asked. “Sounds like an earnest debate!”

“I found extra change in the vending machine,” said Yosef. “We were arguing what to do with the money?”

“It is usually permissible to take the change for yourself,” replied Rabbi Dayan, “but in some limited cases, it is proper to contact the vending operator.”

“Why can I keep it?” asked Yosef.

“At first glance, this seems to be a case of hashavas aveidah (returning lost property) to the previous customer, who lost his change,” explained Rabbi Dayan. “Since we presume the customer already became aware that he left his money, and likely does not know the exact permutation of the change or abandoned hope of retrieving it (yei’ush) – the finder is permitted to keep it.” (See Hashavas Aveidah K’halacha 12:8)

“Wouldn’t the vending operator automatically acquire the lost money that sits in his machine?” asked Benjy.

“A person’s property can acquire a lost item on his behalf, even without his knowledge,” said Rabbi Dayan. “However, this is only if the property is secure and the owner is likely to find the item left in his property. [C.M. 268:3] Here, the change compartment is not secure, nor is the operator likely to find the money, since it will probably be taken by someone else first.”

“Why did you say, ‘At first glance?…’ asked Gad. “Is this not a typical case of lost money?”

“Actually, though the change was dispensed for the previous customer, he never acquired it, since he did not take possession of it,” explained Rabbi Dayan. (C.M. 203:7) “Therefore, upon further reflection, this case is similar to a borrower who placed the money he is returning before the lender, with his permission, but the lender did not take the money. While the lender has no further claim on the borrower, what is the status of the money? R. Akiva Eiger [C.M. 120:1] writes that the money becomes hefker, since the borrower relinquished his claim to the money and the lender did not take it. Here, too, the untaken change becomes hefker.”

“In truth, the Nesivos [123:1] disagrees with R. Akiva Eiger and maintains that the money does not become hefker, but remains owned by the borrower,” continued Rabbi Dayan, “but even he would likely agree here. Since the vending operator expects the machine to dispense the change to an unsecure place, where it can be taken by anybody, he effectively renders it hefker or expresses yei’ush [C.M. 260:6, 261:4; Shach 261:3]. Thus, it is permissible to take the extra change.”

“Either way, I can take the money,” said Yosef. “What’s the difference whether it’s lost by the customer or became hefker from the vendor?”

The Refusal To Be Comforted

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

The deception has taken place. Joseph has been sold into slavery. His brothers have dipped his coat in blood. They bring it back to their father, saying: “Look what we have found. Do you recognize it? Is this your son’s robe or not?” Jacob recognized it and replied, “It is my son’s robe. A wild beast has devoured him. Joseph has been torn to pieces.”

We then read: “Jacob rent his clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned his son for a long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. He said, ‘I will go down to the grave mourning for my son’ ” (37:34-35).

Why did Jacob refuse to be comforted? A midrash gives a remarkable answer. “One can be comforted for one who is dead, but not for one who is still living.”

Jacob refused to be comforted because he had not yet given up hope that Joseph was alive. That, tragically, is the fate of those who have lost members of their family (the parents of soldiers missing in action, for example), but have no proof that they are dead. They cannot go through the normal stages of mourning because they cannot abandon the possibility that the missing person is still capable of being rescued. Their continuing anguish is a form of loyalty; to give up, to mourn, to be reconciled to loss is a kind of betrayal. In such cases, grief lacks closure. To refuse to be comforted is to refuse to give up hope.

On what basis did Jacob continue to hope? The late David Daube made a suggestion that I find convincing. The words the sons say to Jacob – “Haker na – Do you recognize this?” – have a quasi-legal connotation. Daube relates this passage to another, with which it has close linguistic parallels:

“If a man gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to his neighbor for safekeeping … If it [the animal] was torn to pieces by a wild animal, he shall bring the remains as evidence and he will not be required to pay for the torn animal” (Shemot 22:10-13).

The issue at stake is the extent of responsibility borne by a guardian (shomer). If the animal is lost through negligence, the guardian is at fault and must make good the loss. If there is no negligence, merely force majeure, an unavoidable, unforeseeable accident, the guardian is exempt from blame. One such case is where the loss has been caused by a wild animal. The wording in the law – “tarof yitaref – torn to pieces” – exactly parallels Jacob’s judgment in the case of Joseph: “tarof toraf Yosef – Joseph has been torn to pieces.”

We know that some such law existed prior to the giving of the Torah. Jacob himself says to Laban, whose flocks and herds have been placed in his charge, “I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself” (Bereishit 31:39). This implies that guardians even then were exempt from responsibility for the damage caused by wild animals. We also know that an elder brother carried a similar responsibility for the fate of a younger brother placed in his charge (i.e. when the two were alone together). That is the significance of Cain’s denial when confronted by G-d as to the fate of Abel: “Am I my brother’s guardian (shomer)?”

We now understand a series of nuances in the encounter between Jacob and his sons when they return without Joseph. Normally they would be held responsible for their younger brother’s disappearance. To avoid this, as in the case of later biblical law, they “bring the remains as evidence.” If those remains show signs of an attack by a wild animal, they must – by virtue of the law then operative – be held innocent. Their request to Jacob, “haker na,” must be construed as a legal request, meaning, “Examine the evidence.” Jacob has no alternative but to do so, and in virtue of what he has seen, acquit them.

A judge, however, may be forced to acquit someone accused of the crime because the evidence is insufficient to justify a conviction, yet he may hold lingering private doubts. So Jacob was forced to find his sons innocent, without necessarily believing what they said. Jacob did not believe it, and his refusal to be comforted shows that he was unconvinced. He continued to hope that Joseph was still alive. That hope was eventually justified. Joseph was still alive, and eventually father and son were reunited.

From the NFL to Judaism and Israel

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai and Malkah present the third segment from a crowded Jerusalem café to introduce Yosef and Emuna Murray, a couple from the United States that are in the process of finishing their conversion to Judaism and visiting Jerusalem. Yosef is the Hebrew name of Calvin Murray, an American football player (retired) who was a star college player for the legendary Ohio Buckeyes under Coach Woody Hayes and went on to play in the NFL (Philadelphia Eagles) and USFL (Chicago Blitz). The Murrays tell their beautiful story of spiritual journey from being youth leaders in a Christian church to choosing Torah and Judaism and visiting Israel.  Don’t miss this interesting and insightful segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/tv/radio/from-the-nfl-to-judaism-and-israel/2012/12/03/

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