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Parashat Vayeshev

Donated: L'ilui Nishmat Mr. Sasson Ben Shlomo & Leah Shalam [A “ H ] and Mrs. Sarah Bat Avraham & Flora Shalam [ A”H ]

This week’s Perashah begins with the Pasuk, "Yaakov dwelt in the land of his father's sojournings, in the land of Canaan. These are the chronicles of Yaakov: when Yoseph was seventeen years old, being a shepherd, he was with his brothers with the flocks..." The Torah is telling us that Yaakov finally settled down. Yaakov is now looking forward to living in one place with his family and building Am Yisrael. But Hashem has a different plan for Yaakov, because the lives of Tzadikim are never intended to be a life of relaxation and leisure in this world; that will be reserved for them as their just reward in the Olam Habah. This world is intended for the accomplishment of goals. The Perashah goes on to say: V’yisrael ahav et yoseph mikol banav ki ben zekunim hu lo, v’asah lo ketonet passim. "Now Israel loved Yoseph more than his other sons, since he was a child of his old age, and he made him a fine woolen tunic". S’forno states that the tunic (k’tonet passim) that Yoseph received from Yaakov was meant to symbolize his new position of leader. Yaakov received a Nevuah (prophecy) that Yoseph would need to know how to survive in the outside world on his own, as he had had to when he was escaping from his brother Esav. Yaakov learned this in the Yeshivah of Shem and Ever, for fourteen years before his arrival at the home of Lavan that he taught to Yoseph. Rabbi Elimelech Biderman quotes a midrash on the words “Yaakov remained alone” (Pasuk 32:25, Parasha Vayeitzei): "On that day, Hashem will stand alone, just as Yaakov was alone". The Baal Shem Tov, explaining this midrash, teaches that someone who has enemies must believe that it is not by chance that people are against him. It was pre-destined from above. Nothing happens without Hashem's decree. If we can understand this concept, the Baal ShemTov taught, our enemies will disappear! The Komarno Rebbe, Rabbi Eisik of Komarno, who expounded the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, explains this through a parable: “A father wanted to teach his son not to be afraid of wild animals in the forest, so the father dressed up in bear skins and went over to his son and made growling bear sounds as if he were a bear. If the child recognized that it was his father, then he would take off the bear suit, because there was no longer any purpose to wearing it.” Similarly, when we acknowledge that the source of all challenges and hardships that we go through come to us from Hashem, there is no longer a need for Hashem to disguise himself. He can remove the disguise, and as soon as he does this, our problems will disappear. We can now understand this midrash better, "On that day, Hashem will stand alone, just as Yaakov was alone." Yaakov was alone and his life was in danger. But he remembered that Hashem stands alone in the world, because everything comes from Him. When he remembered this, he was saved! In this way Yoseph overcame all the trials and tribulations he experienced, secure in the comfort of knowing that everything is from Hashem! Yaakov sent Yoseph out to look for his brothers to inquire about their welfare. The brothers saw Yoseph from a distance, and wanted to kill him, but Yehudah spoke up and said, "What gain will there be if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?" So Yehudah then convinced the brothers to sell Yoseph to the Ishmaelites as a slave rather than to kill him. The brothers returned to their father Yaakov with a fabricated story that Yoseph was killed by a wild animal and they brought their father Yosef’s beautiful robe, which they dipped in goat’s blood as a sign that he was killed by a wild animal. It was Yehudah's idea, so he was the one who brought the coat to Yaakov and said the words haker na: "Do you recognize this?" Later in the Parasha, when we read of the story of Yehudah and Tamar, we see the very same words used by Tamar in her defence to Yehudah when he confronts her: haker na, "Do you recognize this?" Yehudah recognizes his signet wrap and staff, and admits his guilt. A direct positive consequence of this is that Yehudah was elevated to the status of king over his brothers and eventually over Am Yisrael. We learn two great lessons from this episode. 1) The reward for one who is able to admit his faults and mistakes – a trait that the vast majority of people find very hard to do. 2) The concept of how Hashem runs the world: one is judged in the very same manner as he conducts himself: Midah K’neged Midah. The exact words that Yehudah used when presenting his brother’s coat to his father reappear when he is confronted by Tamar. Hashem was clearly sending Yehudah a message regarding his guilt in dealing with his father. Yoseph was then sold to the Ishmaelites. We are told that the caravan was carrying “spices, balsam and lotus". Rashi asks why this seemingly insignificant detail is included, and comments that it teaches us about the reward of the Tzadikim. Those caravans usually carry foul-smelling cargo such as tar, but Hashem arranged for this caravan to be the exception. This was a sign to Yoseph that even in the most difficult situation, he must not despair. Hashem will always watch over him! Hashem also engineered the events in Egypt that led Yoseph from a twelve-year jail sentence for a crime he did not commit to the high position of Viceroy of Egypt. This must be looked at as a message from Hashem for us, that whenever we are in a difficult situation, we should look closely and appreciate all the good that Hashem has bestowed upon us. Its easy to get lost in self-pity but a Jew should never despair. We must always believe that Hashem has a greater plan for us. There is an amazing story that occurred to the Briska Rav. During the dark days of the Holocaust, as they were rounding up all the Jews to board the trains to Auschwitz, the Briska Rav told his family to focus only on Hashem and keep repeating en od mil’vado! "There's no one other than Hashem!" They were able to just continue walking without being captured and they escaped death that day and survived the war. We are now approaching the celebration of the great holiday of Hanukah. We will be celebrating another great miracle, when the Hashmonaim were able to fight off the powerful Greek army and protect the Bet Hamikdash. They too were not discouraged by their small numbers; rather, they relied on Hashem just as Yoseph did. So the question is asked: Why don't we celebrate that amazing victory over the great Greek army where the Jews were heavily outnumbered, but rather the fact that we found one flask of oil that lasted eight days instead of just one day? The answer is that we as the nation of lights, are supposed to be a light to all the other nations of the world and not a nation that prides itself on fighting wars. We as Jews don't fight with a sword, we defend with a sword and we fight with light! This is also the reason that the Israeli armed forces of today call themselves the "IDF" Israel Defense Forces! May we all learn how to focus on all the good that Hashem bestows upon us in good times but also know that He is present during the difficult times that we all go through. We must always remember that a Jew should never despair and realize that Hashem is always in control, and very often there is a silver lining that Hashem allows us to see in all the trying times that we face throughout our lives. Shabbat Shalom!May we all learn to focus on all the good that Hashem bestows upon us in good times but also realize his presence in the difficult times that we all go through. We must always remember that a Jew should never despair and realize that Hashem is in control and very often there's a silver lining that Hashem allows us to see in all the trying times that we face throughout our lives. Shabbat Shalom! May we all learn to focus on all the good that Hashem bestows upon us in good times but also realize his presence in the difficult times that we all go through. We must always remember that a Jew should never despair and realize that Hashem is in control and very often there's a silver lining that Hashem allows us to see in all the trying times that we face throughout our lives. Shabbat Shalom! May we all learn to focus on all the good that Hashem bestows upon us in good times but also realize his presence in the difficult times that we all go through. We must always remember that a Jew should never despair and realize that Hashem is in control and very often there's a silver lining that Hashem allows us to see in all the trying times that we face throughout our lives. Shabbat Shalom! Jack E. Rahmey with the Guidance and Teachings of Rabbi Amram Sananes Leiluiy Nishmat.... Eliyahu Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Garaz Sarah Bat Chanah Malka Bat Garaz Shulamit Bat Helaina Yaakov Ben Rachel Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher Rav Haim Ben Rivka Meir Ben Latifa Yitzchak Ben Adele Esther Bat Sarah Chanah Bat Esther Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana Moshe Ben Garaz Rafael ben Miriam