subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

shore.gif (51285 bytes)

Back to Parsha Homepage Archive of previous issues

Haftarah: Amos 2:6-3:8

NOVEMBER 30 – DECEMBER 1, 2007 21 KISLEV 5768

Hanukah will be celebrated from Tuesday night, December 4 until Wednesday, December 12.

Begin saying Barech Alenu on Wednesday night, December 5, in Arbit.



“They established and rendered festival days with respect to Hallel and thanksgiving.” (Talmud Babli Shabbat 21b)

In our perashah, Vayesheb, Jacob settles down, happy to be back in the peaceful environment of his ancestors. However this tranquility is shattered, this time by his own children. The children feel threatened and are sure that Yosef is using his position as Jacob’s favorite to oust them from the family. Yehudah guides them to a decision that Yosef should be sold into slavery rather than be killed. As soon as they get back home after completing the deed, the entire family is plunged into inconsolable grief.

The Torah then breaks off the story of Yosef to focus on Yehudah, who goes to find a wife. As the Midrash puts it, “Jacob is involved in his sackcloth and fasting, the shebatim (tribes) are also grieving over the mess they have caused, Reuben over his failed attempt to save Yosef. Yitzhak knows that Yosef is alive but grieves with Jacob to whom he cannot reveal the truth. Yosef is bemoaning the devastating change in his circumstances. Yehudah is looking for a wife and Hashem is involved in creating the light of the Mashiah.”

This “light of the Mashiah” whose first appearance was to be with the birth of Peretz, ancestor of King David, was almost burnt to a cinder before it even entered the world. His mother, Tamar, was condemned to death by burning for being disloyal to the family. Tamar was not prepared to shame Yehudah. She trusted Yehudah’s integrity and hoped he would pick up on her veiled message. Yehudah rose to the occasion and, true to his name, admitted “Sadekah mimeni – she is right.”

Rabbi Aryeh Carmell explains that history has proven that the ability to admit one’s mistake is the mark of a true leader. For Mashiah, the ultimate leader, this quality is indispensable. Therefore, it was vital that this trait be present when bringing about this light. Mashiah’s first objective will be to bring the entire world – including large sections of the Jewish nation – to realize that they have been mistaken about their goals and aspirations in life. It is not easy to get people to admit that they are wrong, but a leader who is prepared to acknowledge his own mistakes will find it much easier to get his message across.

Hanukah is a Yom Tob of Hallel and acknowledgement. As the Sefat Emet explains: Hodaah – thanking Hashem for our salvation, requires admitting. The word hodaah means to thank and it means to admit. So thanking Hashem for our salvation requires admitting that we had faults which brought the troubles upon us in the first place.

By living up to our name as Yehudim – those who acknowledge and admit – we will be ready to allow Mashiah into our lives. Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Reuven Semah

Though we Jews are only a small minority of the world's population, we have been assigned the formidable, seemingly impossible task of enlightening the entire world. The sages have given us a hint as to how this is possible. The halachah states that if a person lit the hanukah lights and the lights subsequently went out, he is not obligated to relight it (although it is preferable if possible). The reason is that ??????????????? - the kindling is the essence of the misvah. This symbolizes that we are charged with the responsibility to start the task of enlightening the world; G-d will see to its successful conclusion.

The lesson is that although we must do our share to promote and preserve Torah observance, and to be an example to the world, we need not be concerned if it seems that the task is not being accomplished. If we do our part, Hashem will intervene and He will see to it that the job is completed. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukah.
Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


“And he returned to his brothers and said, ‘The child is not here and where shall I go?’ And they took Yosef’s shirt and slaughtered a goat and dipped the shirt in the blood” (Beresheet 37:30-31)

Why did they wait to dip Yosef’s shirt in blood until Reuben’s return, instead of doing it immediately when they took off his shirt?

Every day one of the brothers would be home to assist Ya’akob with his needs. On the day Yosef met his brothers in the field, it was Reuben’s turn to be with Ya’akob. As soon as the brothers saw Yosef, they conspired to slay him. Reuben, being the oldest, realized his responsibility to save him. He instructed his brothers to throw him into the pit and not to place a hand upon him.

When Reuben came home, undoubtedly, his father asked him if he had met Yosef and how he was. Reuben told him that they had met and that all was well with him.

Originally, the brothers did not want to lie to their father by telling him that Yosef had been killed by a beast. Should Ya’akob ask them about Yosef, they planned to merely say, “We are not our brother’s keeper; we did not see him and we have no knowledge of his whereabouts; possibly he was devoured by a beast.”

However, when Reuben returned and saw Yosef missing from the pit, he exclaimed, “If the lad is not here, how will I be able to face my father? I have already told him that I have seen him and that all was well with him. Father will definitely suspect that we killed him and hold me responsible!”

To help Reuben out of his dilemma, the brothers then fabricated an alibi that after they had seen Yosef, he left and that apparently he had been killed by a wild beast. They said further, “The shirt substantiates this.” (Vedibarta Bam)


“And he went into the house to do his work” (Beresheet 39:11)

Potifar’s wife made every attempt to entice Yosef to sin. Hazal comment that it was the appearance of his father’s image which ultimately saved him from falling prey to her enticements. We may suggest a novel approach to the narrative of Yosef and Potifar’s wife, which has its roots in Yosef’s whole approach to the service of Hashem. Ya’akob taught his children that one should be “a simple scholarly man dwelling in tents,” and to simply maintain a low profile when associating with the rest of the world. This outlook mandates one to refrain from any form of assimilation, such as dressing in the same fashion, or following in the customs of their gentile neighbors. In contrast to this, Yosef felt that one should avail himself of the opportunity to intensify his personal trials before Hashem. One should not be apprehensive of exposure to society; on the contrary, the more difficult the test, the greater the reward and satisfaction. Until the moment that he was confronted by Potifar’s wife, Yosef led a life based upon this misguided philosophy. However, when Potifar’s wife attempted to entice him, he was shocked by her audacity in thinking that he was the “type” to be so easily persuaded to sin. It was this rude awakening which made Yosef conscious of his father’s image. He saw the saintly appearance of his father, and realized that his father had been correct. The only protection from sin was to distance oneself from the opportunities and situations which would entice one to sin. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Yehudah.

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

Please preserve the sanctity of this bulletin. It contains words of
Torah and should be treated with respect.
Past issues of this bulletin are available on the Internet courtesy of the
Shema Yisrael Torah Network. To view them or to see many other Torah items, please go to their site.
Other Torah e-mail you may enjoy:
send e-mail to and put in the message:
subscribe aram-soba

Please pass this bulletin along to a friend. You may subscribe to
this bulletin by sending e-mail to
and putting in the message: subscribe jersey-shore.
To unsubscribe, send the message 'unsubscribe jersey-shore' to

Back to Parsha Homepage | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael
Classes, send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel