|Back to this week's Parsha||
by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
|Archive of previous issues|
And Yoseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him; and he cried, "Take every man out from me." And there remained no man with him when Yoseph made himself known to his brothers.
Rabbi Moshe Galanti was a great tzaddik. He lived in Damascus and was fluent in all of the "seven wisdom's." There was no one as wise as he, except for one Arab sheik, who also knew the "seven wisdom's." In fact the sheik knew one area of wisdom which Rabbi Moshe Galanti did not. Whenever he was asked to pray for the recovery of someone who was ill, the sheik would isolate himself for half an hour and would then return and accurately predict whether the person would live or die.
When Rabbi Galanti heard of this, he was greatly astonished at how a gentile could be holier and purer than he. How could he possibly know who would live and who would die? Didn't he, Rabbi Galanti, serve G-d day and night, learn Torah and keep all the mitzvos constantly? Yet he was unable to do what this sheik could do. This troubled Rabbi Galanti greatly, and he decided to go to the house of the sheik and try to convince him to reveal the secret of how he had obtained this special power.
Rabbi Galanti summoned the president of the Jewish community and told him to go to the house of the sheik and say to him, "Rabbi Moshe Galanti has heard of your good name, and wishes to meet with you. Will you allow him to come?" This was the only way to approach the sheik, who was very important among the ministers. Anyone who desired an audience with him had to bring many gifts before being allowed to see him and receive his blessing. The sheik did not leave his house and was never seen in public.
When the president brought the request before the sheik, he replied, "I also have heard of Rabbi Moshe Galanti and his great wisdom, and I wish to see him. Therefore go and tell him that he should come here without delay."
Upon hearing the sheik's reply, Rabbi Galanti went immediately to see him. As soon as the sheik saw him, Rabbi Galanti found favor in his eyes and was received graciously and with great honor. He was given a place to sit beside the sheik and they began to converse.
As they were speaking, the sheik said to Rabbi Galanti, "I have heard that you are very wise. Do you know the wisdom called . . .?" When Rabbi Galanti replied that G-d had granted him some knowledge in that area, the sheik began testing him. He very quickly discovered that the rabbi was fluent in that wisdom. Previously, the sheik had believed that he was the only one acquainted with this area of wisdom. Upon seeing his great wisdom, he became very fond of Rabbi Galanti and they became good friends. The sheik said to him, "My dear brother, I must tell you that you have gladdened me with your wisdom. Therefore I request that you come to visit me at least once a week, so that I can enjoy your wisdom." Then the sheik sent Rabbi Galanti away with great honor.
After only two days had passed, the sheik could not wait any longer and felt a strong desire to see Rabbi Galanti. And so he sent a special messenger to bring him. When the rabbi arrived, he was received with great honor and the sheik said to him, "I must tell you that I could not wait for your next visit, since I have become so fond of you, and so I have called for you to come today. Now, tell me, do you have knowledge in the wisdom of . . .?"
Once again, as soon as the rabbi began to answer the sheik's questions, he could see clearly that Rabbi Galanti was full of wisdom in that area too. The sheik was delighted, and he decided that from then on Rabbi Galanti should come to visit him twice a week. At each visit, he would test Rabbi Galanti, until he saw that the rabbi was completely versed in all the seven wisdoms.
Although the sheik was also versed in the seven wisdom's, he nevertheless lacked the preface to the seventh wisdom. Since without the preface it is impossible to fully understand this wisdom, the sheik asked Rabbi Galanti if he knew the preface. When Rabbi Galanti responded that indeed he did, the sheik fell to his feet and begged him to teach him the preface.
"Since I paid a high price to learn the preface," answered Rabbi Galanti "I cannot teach it for free."
The sheik said, "I shall gladly pay you any price you name. I will give you as much gold or silver as you want."
Rabbi Galanti replied, "G-d forbid that I should sell this wisdom for money. The price I ask is some of your wisdom in return."
"But what can I teach you?" asked the sheik. "Is there any wisdom that you do not know? You are well-versed in all of them."
"Yes, there is one that I do not know," replied Rabbi Moshe Galanti, "and it is far from my conception. You know whether an ill person you pray for shall live or die. If you teach me this wisdom then I shall teach you the wisdom you lack."
"You have made a very difficult request," said the sheik. "I cannot reveal this wisdom to anyone in the world."
"Neither can I reveal my wisdom," retorted Rabbi Galanti. "But to learn another wisdom one is allowed to reveal one's own wisdom since one must pay for wisdom with wisdom. You too may do the same."
The sheik said, "Very well. But I am afraid that you will not be able to fulfill the conditions necessary for me to reveal this great secret to you."
"I am ready to accept any condition, no matter how difficult, and all that you shall ask of me I will do," answered Rabbi Galanti.
The sheik then gave him the following orders: "Go to your house and prepare yourself. In the evening begin a fast, which will last for two consecutive days. After the fast, do not eat meat or drink wine. After the meal immerse yourself in water, and wear white clothing. For the next two days, immerse yourself morning and evening, and remain in a state of repentance, since 'there is no righteous man who does only good and does not sin.'"(1)
When Rabbi Galanti heard what the sheik had to say he was enthusiastic, and immediately consented to all the terms. The sheik continued, "Go home, and on the third day I shall reveal the great secret to you."
Rabbi Moshe Galanti went home and did everything the sheik had demanded, and even took upon himself an added condition, that he would not eat even after the two-day fast. On the third day, when Rabbi Galanti returned to the sheik, he was told by him, "Come in. Blessed are you by G-d. On your face it is visible that you have done all that I have commanded you."
"I am still fasting," said Rabbi Galanti.
"Excellent," replied the sheik. "Now come with me and I shall show you the great secret."
The sheik led Rabbi Galanti to a room to which no one but himself had access. He took the key out of his pocket and opened the door, allowing them both to enter. Then he locked the door behind them so that no one else could enter. They walked through the room and entered a beautiful orchard with a pool in its midst, with a spring that flowed from the rivers of Amana and Parpar.
Beside the pool was a bench with two white garments lying upon it, one for the sheik and one for Rabbi Moshe Galanti. The sheik said to Rabbi Galanti, "Let us immerse ourselves before we enter the holy place." They both immersed themselves in the pool, changed into the white garments and walked to the edge of the orchard.
Rabbi Galanti was waiting to see what would now happen. He saw a house of fantastic beauty. The doors were pure silver, with engravings so beautiful that they could not be found even in the houses of kings. When the sheik went to open the door he said to Rabbi Galanti, "Be careful to enter this place with awe and trembling, and do exactly as I do."
When the sheik opened the silver door, there was another beautiful house, and opposite its door was a small cabinet of unparalleled beauty, which had upon it a curtain [paroches] with precious stones embroidered onto it. The sheik entered the house with great awe and bowed down seven times. Rabbi Galanti feared that there was an idol in the cabinet, and knew that he would not be able to bow down to such a thing.
Rabbi Galanti closed his eyes and said, "I put G-d before me always."(2)Then he bowed down as the sheik had done, and a great sense of fear fell upon him.
The sheik said to him, "Go to the cabinet and open its door, and there you will find that which you have been awaiting." He uttered these words in a low voice and with a broken heart.
Rabbi Galanti approached the cabinet and opened its doors, which were made of pure gold encrusted with precious stones. What did he see inside? A beautiful plate that had a gorgeous portrait of a menorah. Above it was the caption, "I put G-d before me always." The letters of G-d's name were very large. When Rabbi Moshe Galanti saw this he was overjoyed that there had been no idol in the room when he had bowed, and he retreated with his face forwards, bowed again, and left.
Once they were out of the room, Rabbi Galanti said to the sheik, "You told me that my request would be fulfilled here, but other than what I saw, nothing was revealed to me."
The sheik replied, "My brother, you should know that those large letters you saw are those of 'He Who spoke and the world came into existence' the Creator Himself! Let me reveal the secret to you. When someone comes to ask me to pray for an ill person, I immerse myself and enter this house, and I pray with awe and fear before the cabinet. After my prayer, I open the cabinet. If I see that the letters of G-d's name are shining, I know that the person will live. But if I see a cloudiness around the letters, then I know that he will die. Now you see how fond I am of you, my brother, since I have revealed to you what I would never reveal to any other human being."
Rabbi Galanti returned to his house and burst into tears. He said, "What shall become of me on the Day of Judgement? This gentile who knows G-d's name, how much honor he gave to Him, how much fear he had when he entered the place of His name, and thus he was rewarded by G-d with such great honor. It was more fitting for a Jew to have such a level of holiness, especially since we mention His name daily. How much more careful should we have been with His name."
The sheik felt great love for Rabbi Moshe Galanti and was willing to reveal his deepest secret to him. This is the kind of love which should exist between children and their parents, and among siblings.
Why did Yehudah feel so responsible for Binyamin when the other brothers should have shared this responsibility? What logic could there have been in Yoseph's offer to compensate Yehudah, when Yoseph had no obligation towards him, and when he supposedly suspected Binyamin of being a thief? Why did Yehudah pledge such a weighty guarantee that he was willing to lose both this world and the World to Come to assure his father of Binyamin's return? Why is the World to Come referred to as "days?"
Why did Yoseph suddenly turn his suspicions upon all the brothers, when previously he had suspected only Binyamin? What did Yoseph wish to gain by asking Binyamin to swear that he had not stolen the cup, when Yoseph himself had ordered that the cup be planted in Binyamin's bags? What is the idea behind swearing by Yoseph's absence, and what was Binyamin trying to say when he swore in such a way? Why did Binyamin name all his children after Yoseph, when it is customary to call only one child after someone who has passed away? Why did Yoseph reveal himself only after hearing of his father's pain, when it was obvious that his father had been in pain all the years of his absence?
Yehudah answered, "Nevertheless, I must be the spokesman, since none of my brothers has a real connection to this matter."
Yehudah felt particularly responsible for Binyamin, as it was he who had guaranteed Binyamin's safe return. The reason for this may be that Yaakov had lost faith in the brothers who were older than Yehudah. Reuven was the oldest and yet he had failed in his responsibility, as the verse attests, "And he [Reuven] returned to his brothers and he said, 'The child is not here, and where shall I go?'"(4) This may also be the reason Yaakov did not accept Reuven's guarantee when he offered it so that they could return to Egypt to get more food.(5) Shimon was the second son, and he had disappointed his father during the incident in Shechem where he and Levi had killed all the males and brought back Dinah.(6) Therefore Yehudah felt that he was the next in line to take responsibility for Binyamin.
Yoseph, in offering to compensate Yehudah monetarily, even though he had no obligation towards him, was showing that although he had the right to take Binyamin as a slave, he was still willing to compensate the family for losing a son by paying the price of the guarantee. Yoseph was pretending that he actually wanted to have Binyamin as a slave. He therefore was saying that although he would not simply pounce on Binyamin; now that Binyamin had stolen his cup the law allowed him to take him into slavery. On the other hand, Yoseph felt that because Yehudah had guaranteed Binyamin's return, and since Yehudah had not really done anything wrong, he deserved to be compensated.
Yehudah understood that the family's situation of living with famine was perilous to their lives. Therefore he was willing to give his father such a weighty guarantee in order to assure him of Binyamin's safe return. Yehudah knew that Yaakov was still so grieved over his previous loss that he was unwilling to allow Binyamin to travel, and so they would all die of hunger. Thus Yehudah felt that he had no other choice in such a situation but to give his father a guarantee that he could not refuse.
The reason the World to Come is referred to as "all the days" is that it is a place where a person spends "all his days." In other words, the World to Come is eternal and has no end. This may be the explanation that Rashi intended on this verse.(7) Thus, the description of "all his days" is applicable.
But the midrash seems to be saying that we can deduce from the word "days" alone, without the addition of the word "all," that Yehudah was referring to the World to Come. The explanation of the midrash may be that our lives in this world are temporary and we do not really know if we will be alive tomorrow or even if we will be able to conclude this day. Therefore the word "day" applies to a true day, which is only found in the World to Come, where the days are real days, since there is no doubt that they will be concluded.
Yoseph Questions Binyamin's Integrity
Yoseph said to Binyamin, "Swear to me that this is true."
The reason Yoseph suddenly turned his suspicions against all the brothers, and not just against Binyamin, is that Yoseph had already heard Yehudah, and was assured of his devotion to Binyamin. He could now send Binyamin back with Yehudah and be sure that no harm would come to him. But he still did not know how the other brothers felt about Binyamin, and feared that perhaps one of them would harm Binyamin when Yehudah was not watching. Therefore he purposely turned his suspicions against all of the brothers. Would they try to protect themselves and deny Yoseph's accusation, or would they accept the accusation and take the consequences upon themselves, so that Binyamin could be freed and returned to his father? Yoseph wanted to test what their reaction would be.
Yoseph demanded that Binyamin swear that he did not steal the cup, even though he had himself planted the cup in Binyamin's bags. Yoseph did this because he wanted to know how serious Binyamin was about accepting the blame upon himself. He could easily have said that he was just a messenger for the brothers, and that they had sent him to do the job. This would have diverted the blame from him, and he would have gotten off with a lighter punishment.
But if Binyamin had been willing to place the blame on them, it would have shown that there was hatred between him and his brothers. The verse tells us that, "Just as the water shows a person's image, so does one person show his heart to another person."(8) This means that the way a person feels about another person will cause the other person to feel the same way about him. If the brothers had hated Binyamin, this would have caused Binyamin to hate them in return. This test would have been a sure sign that Yoseph could not send them back together to bring Yaakov, since that hatred might cause harm to Binyamin. Only if the brothers and Binyamin were willing to take the blame upon themselves jointly would Yoseph have proof that they truly loved one another and would not harm Binyamin.
By swearing by the absence of Yoseph, Binyamin was trying to say that the most precious thing in the world to him was his brother Yoseph. Just as a person swears by the Tanach, which is the holiest thing there is, Binyamin was swearing by Yoseph and saying that just as it would have been so terribly grave a sin to have harmed his brother Yoseph, so would have been the sin of stealing the cup.
Binyamin replied, "From the names of my sons you can verify how precious he was to me, since I gave them their names according to the incidents which happened to him."
Binyamin named all his children after Yoseph to remind him to pray constantly for his brother. Our Sages say that if someone has the problem of fruit falling from his trees, he should paint these trees red. This is not a cure but rather a warning to passersby that these trees have a problem and they should pray for their welfare and for their owner's livelihood.(9) The idea behind this is that it is not enough to know that someone has a problem. Seeing a sign which draws your attention to it makes a stronger impression.
In this case Binyamin was afraid that as time passed, he would forget his beloved brother, and since Yoseph might be still alive he wished to pray constantly for his welfare. Therefore he found an ingenious method by which to remember his brother's plight. He named each of his children after Yoseph. When he would say to his son Bela, "Come here, Bela," he would remind himself of Yoseph, who was "swallowed among the nations." This would be a constant reminder to pray for his brother.
Yoseph certainly knew of his father's pain during all the years of his absence, but since he also knew that he had to fulfill the prophecy of his dreams, he had no choice but to wait for the opportunity to fulfill that prophecy. Now that he saw that the prophecy had been fulfilled, since all of his brothers had come to bow down to him, and he was also sure that there was no enmity towards Binyamin, so that he could go home safely, he understood that finally he could reveal himself to his brothers and to his father.
Cultivate Brotherly Love
Binyamin's devotion to his lost brother Yoseph is an example of true brotherly love. We should try to cultivate brotherly love among our children, and this will prevent many tense situations. We should not wait for arguments to develop among siblings. They will definitely arise. It is wise to take preventive measures by creating a loving atmosphere in the home.
Encourage an older child to help his younger brother or sister with homework or a household chore. Stress that in a family everybody works to help one another and make each other happy. Show your satisfaction when a child does something to help others.
You can also keep a chart, with stars for every time a child does something for a sibling. This will encourage each child to find ways of doing Chesed for the other family members and will prevent animosity or jealousy. You can even give a prize to the child with the most stars at the end of the week. This healthy competition will stimulate your children to find creative ways to help one another.
Make Each Child Feel Successful
Often, the source of confrontation is the success of one of the children. When another child sees this, he starts arguments because of his own dissatisfaction. Once there is a confrontation, it is very difficult to bring tranquillity back to the family. Therefore, we must do everything possible to prevent confrontations before they erupt.
Whenever one child is very successful, great care must be given to the other children, so that they will feel important too. Take time to speak to the other children in private, and explain to them that they are also successful in other ways. Tell them how much you admire them and believe in them. Hug and kiss them often. By boosting their morale, they will gain confidence and be undaunted by another child's success. This will prevent endless arguments that would have otherwise arisen.
If a child walks into the house bragging about his or her success in school, play up the success of the other children without degrading the child who has just walked in. Just mention, "Well, David did so well in helping out at home today." Or, "Sarah also got an excellent grade last week." The purpose of these remarks is to prevent the other children from feeling that they are not as successful as their sibling.
Ask the other children to prepare a dvar Torah for the Shabbos table, or to help you do something they know how to do well. By asking for their assistance, you are giving them a special position in the family. As their parent's special helpers they will feel important, and thus they will not feel threatened by their sibling's success.
Practice Smiling at One Another
There is a beautiful story of how the Arieli family were trained in chesed and brotherly love. They would take turns coming through the front door, while the rest of the family waited inside the house. When he came in, they would greet him with a big smile and much warmth. If the greetings were not sincere enough, the process would be repeated.
This is an excellent example of how to cultivate brotherly love. Every child is treated equally, and everyone is greeted enthusiastically when he enters the house.
To some such a practice may seem artificial. But the truth is that when one wishes to perfect a certain behavior, he must practice it again and again. Here the whole family is practicing together with enthusiasm the art of loving each other and learning to show each other these feelings. Such exercises will have a positive effect on children's relationships with their siblings.
Settling a Feud Between Siblings
If an argument arises between two children, we must be swift to settle it before it gets out of control.
Speak to each child privately, and explain to him the harm of arguing. Ask his advice on how the argument can be resolved. Request that he make a gesture of peace towards the other sibling. Explain to him that you believe he is mature enough not to feel resentment, and you expect him to show his maturity.
This may not be successful, since when one is angry, it is difficult to pacify him. But at least ask him not to react when he is angry, for he will regret his actions if he does.
We can learn from this week's parashah the disastrous consequences of a lack of brotherly love. It is therefore crucial to make every effort to cultivate love between siblings and to avoid situations we might later regret.
1. Koheles 7:20
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network