December 26, 1998 7 Tebet 5759
The fast of Asarah Betebet (Tenth of Tebet) will fall on Tuesday, December 29. This commemorates the beginning of the siege around Jerusalem which resulted in the ultimate destruction of the Temple.
STUDY, STUDY, STUDY! By Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"And Ya'akob saw the wagons that Yosef sent him." (Beresheet 45:27)
Rashi tells us that Yosef sent his father, Ya'akob, a sign that he still remembers the Torah that he was taught, and he reminded Ya'akob of the last subject they had learned together. When Ya'akob saw that, he knew that his son was truly alive in a spiritual sense, and he rejoiced! Similarly, when Ya'akob sent his son, Yehudah, to Egypt before the whole family, he instructed him to establish a Torah academy so that they could study Torah in Egypt. We see from here how important the Torah was to our forefathers. Although we only read of their deeds and their character in the parashah, the Midrash is teaching us how pivotal the study of Torah was to them. They were engaged in it constantly, and this is what kept them alive. Ya'akob mourned very deeply for his son for twenty-two years, yet the only thing that kept him strong was Torah study. Yosef was in a very difficult position for many years in Egypt, spending twelve years in jail, yet his faith and trust never wavered because he was constantly reviewing the Torah he learned.
This should be an inspiration for us to strengthen our Torah learning, especially when the going gets tough. The more we are connected to Hashem through Torah study, the more we can endure all of life's challenges. Shabbat Shalom.
KEEP IT TO YOURSELF By Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And [Yosef] called out, 'Remove everyone before me.'" (Beresheet 45:1)
Our perashah climaxes with Yosef dramatically revealing his true identity to his brothers. He felt his brothers had suffered enough. The time of reconciliation had at last arrived. Yosef was constantly surrounded by his men. However, it would not be right to subject his brothers to any further humiliation. Yosef sent out a clear command that all should leave and allow him to be alone with them. It is without a doubt that his security men felt it was a great risk to his safety to be alone with all of these accused spies who had openly threatened his life. Even Yosef knew he was risking a lot because they might kill him before he had a chance to identify himself. Nevertheless, Yosef clearly made a firm decision to be alone so as not to embarrass his brothers.
The book, "Penine Kedem" makes a further observation which has great relevance today. Yosef wanted to be alone because he felt that the family feud between the brothers should not be revealed to outsiders. The gentiles shouldn't know about our discord. To our great sorrow this lesson is not learned well enough.
How hurtful it is to see newspaper ads being taken out in major newspapers with one Jewish group bashing the other, and radio programs with Jewish people calling in to discuss sensitive Jewish issues on the air. This is wrong and it must stop. There is enough anti-Jewish feeling out there and we shouldn't add to it by Jews complaining about other Jews. Shabbat Shalom.
"Yosef gathered all the money that was to be found in the land of Egypt" (Beresheet 47:14)
In Talmud Pesahim 119a, the Rabbis relate that Yosef buried three treasures in Egypt. One of the treasures was revealed to Korah. The other was revealed to Antoninus of Rome, who was a friend of Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi. The third remains hidden, to be revealed in the future. While many commentators understand these words to refer to material wealth, as we know Korah was an unusually wealthy person, the Yalkut Hadrush identifies Yosef's ideas as the primary aspect of his wealth. Yosef left a legacy - three lessons to be gleaned and studied.
The first lesson is one that Korah inadvertently confirmed for us. Regardless of man's plans, Hashem's will prevails. Yosef's brothers envied and hated him. They almost murdered him, but spared him at the last minute only to sell him as a slave. He was purchased by an Egyptian priest and became his foreman, only to lose his position when the priest's wife wrongfully accused him of misconduct. He was then left to live in squalor in an Egyptian prison. He was finally released after a forgetful butler remembered the favor that Yosef had done for him two years previously. Yosef finally achieved a responsible position. If we look back, he was destined for greatness. Nothing could have prevented that from occurring. Korah confirmed this principle when, despite his schemes, he failed to wrest the Kehunah Gedolah from Aharon.
The second lesson is that it is possible to have a good working relationship with the gentile world. Yosef was a Hebrew slave in a land where Hebrews were despised. Yet, he became second to Pharaoh and a champion of the people. Admired and respected, he governed with dignity and worked in harmony with his gentile peers. Those gentiles that blatantly hate Jews are simply anti-Semites. They cannot tolerate the Jews for the most part because of unfounded jealousy or an innate insecurity that plagues so many of them. Although Antoninus of Rome was diametrically opposed philosophically to Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi, they remained close friends. Those who feel they must clash with the gentile world probably do not have the skills to get along with anyone.
The third lesson is the lesson of peace. Brothers must maintain peaceful co-existence, regardless of their differences. Vengeance and hatred must be put aside for love and forgiveness. Brothers must live together in harmony. Originally, Yosef and his brothers had far from an amicable relationship. The course of events led up to the point when their relationship reached its zenith - they made peace with one another. All nations of the world descend from Noah. One day the world will again be united in peace and harmony. We wait for that glorious day when Yosef's third treasure will be revealed. (Peninim on the Torah)
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