Miketz 5770 – Gilayon #630
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He searched; he started with the eldest and finished with the youngest,
and the goblet was found in
he started with the eldest.
So that they would not realize he knew that the goblet was by Benjamin and did
it in order to estrange himself from them.
and the goblet was found in Benjamin's sack.
They humiliated him and called him "thief son of a thief," in
accordance with Scripture, and Rachel stole the teraphim (Bereishit 31:19) and they beat him on his
shoulders. And since they suspected him incorrectly, he merited having the
Shekhinah dwell in his portion of land, as it is written: and He dwells between his shoulders (Devarim 33:12).
When it is written, and they tore their
clothes, this includes Benjamin, and since they suspected him while he
was innocent, he took a crown for that, for from him came Mordechai, who tore
his clothing for Israel, as it is said, and Mordechai tore his clothing (Esther 4:1). But they
deserved this, for they caused their father to tear his clothing, as it is
said, and Jacob tore his clothing (Bereishit 37:34). This is a matter of poetic
justice (mida keneged mida), both as to the punishment and the reward. Joseph's
brothers tore their clothing because of Menasheh, since the verse, Then he
commanded the overseer of his house (Bereishit 44:1) refers to Menasheh [as the
overseer]. Since he [Menasheh] executed the entire business and was sent to
chase after them and torment them with the goblet and was the cause of their
tearing their clothing, that is why his portion of land was torn, half of it in
the land of Canaan, and half of it across the Jordan.
Former of Light and
Creator of Darkness
In memory of my dear
Natan, son of Yisrael
Yaakov and Shoshana
and Miriam, daughter of
Pinchas and Hannah, z"l,
who dreamt of Zion but
did not have the good fortune to settle there,
but who were interred in
Our Rabbis taught: When the original Adam saw
the days getting gradually shorter, he said, "Woe is me, perhaps because I
have sinned, the world around me is being darkened and returning to its state
of chaos and confusion; this then is the kind of death to which I have been
sentenced from Heaven!" So he began keeping an eight days' fast. But as he
observed the winter equinox and noted the days getting increasingly longer, he
said, "This is the world's course," and he set forth to keep an eight
days' festivity. In the following year he appointed both as festivals. Now, he
fixed them for the sake of Heaven, but the [heathens] appointed them for the
sake of idolatry…
Our Rabbis taught: When Adam, on the day of
his creation, saw the setting of the sun he said: "Alas, it is because I
have sinned that the world around me is becoming dark; the universe will now
become again void and without form – this then is the death to which I have
been sentenced from Heaven!" So he sat up all night fasting and weeping
and Eve was weeping opposite him. When however dawn broke, he said: "This
is the usual course of the world!" He then arose and offered up a bullock
whose horns were developed before its hoofs, as it is said, And it [my
thanksgiving] shall please the Lord better than a bullock that hath horns and
hoofs (Psalms 59). (Avodah Zara 8a, Soncino translation)
Adam was afraid that darkness was taking over
the world. Many people have feared the dark.
Since this was Adam's first encounter with
darkness, this new and unknown experience aroused extreme anxiety; he thought
the world was coming to its end. His anxiety was accompanied by feelings of
guilt and when he finally realized that "this is the usual course of the
world" he calmed down and established "festivals" "for the
sake of Heaven." Eventually, anxious days become holidays.
Adam experiences the dominion of darkness in
both the diurnal and yearly cycles. When he discovers that dawn follows night,
he offers a sacrifice; when he discovers that the shortening of days reaches
its climax at the winter solstice and then the days begin to lengthen once
more, he finally understands the cyclical nature of existence as part of the
usual course of the world, and celebrates the comforting regularity imposed by
I think there is an interesting connection
between Adam's feelings and the position of Beit Shammai regarding the lighting
of Hanukkah lamps. We read in a Baraita:
Our Rabbis taught: The precept of Hanukkah[demands] one light for a man and his household; the zealous [kindle] a light
for each member [of the household];
and the extremely zealous, – Beit Shammai
maintain: On the first day eight lights are lit and thereafter they are
but Beit Hillel say: On the first day one
is lit and thereafter they are progressively increased. (Shabbat 21b, Soncino translation)
Later in the discussion, one of the Amoraim
explains Beit Shammai's position as "paralleling the coming days."
This explanation can be understood simply,
i.e., the remaining days become increasingly shorter. However, I believe that light
becomes lessened in the course of those days. Perhaps Beit Shammai's ruling
should be understood as expressing a warning of the coming darkness alongside
its recognition of the miracle? The "coming days" are those
increasingly shorter days which terrified Adam, and Adam is actually each and
every one of us.
In his book, Keshe'okhlim im Hasatan [When
Dining with the Devil] (Am Oved, Ofakim
1989), Eli Ben Gal, a member of Kibbutz Baram, writes as follows
regarding Beit Shammai's ruling on the Hanukkah lamps:
Another ancient tradition, ascribed to the
stubborn and uncompromising Shammai, is the pietistic tradition of one who sees
the victory and also the waning light in its wake. After political sovereignty
was gained, the Sages witnessed the deification of the regime, the growing
assimilation, how the sacrifices made earlier were being wasted.
That is why in my kibbutz, as in most
kibbutzim and state schools and in the other public celebrations of Hanukkah, a
full Hanukkiya of eight candles plus the shamash is lit on the first day
of the festival, as was ruled by Beit Shammai. Later I remove one candle each
day in order to warn myself and to recall what happened then and what might
Political Zionism's great victory was
supposed to lead to the next stage of exaltation, rejuvenation, and unification
towards the creation of an original Jewish civilization. Now we have reached a
dead end. Nationalistic zealotry or assimilation on the one hand, Haredi
extremism on the other. The light in our lives really does seem to me to be
waning. According to Zionism, Judaism cannot survive under the conditions of
the 21st century without a state. I agree, but I also think that the
existence of a Jewish State without Jewish content is unnecessary and hopeless.
As long as Jews light candles in
commemoration of the revolt and warn themselves that the light is not
guaranteed, that it is waning and may be extinguished, it can continue to
generate light. Such is the power of freedom.
Of course, the halakhah adopted the ruling of
Beit Hillel, perhaps because the Sages, despite their qualms regarding the
Hasmonean dynasty, viewed the "miracle of Hanukkah" and the struggle
for cultural and spiritual autonomy as a foundational event. The Sages of the
Talmud and the halakhic authorities made certain events of Jewish history into
milestones without any connection to historical circumstances.
This approach expresses hope based upon the faith
that if we were saved from a danger that threatened our physical, cultural, or
spiritual existence in the past, it can happen again and that we must believe
that the Eternal of Israel will not lie. This does not mean that such a
hope must lead us to passivity and the belief that such salvation is guaranteed
to us at any price and without any connection to our deeds. However, this
approach does foster faith in the reversibility of processes and can encourage
us to avoid despair and take action for a better future.
Despite the fact that the halakhah follows
Beit Hillel's ruling, there may be room to consider the truth found in the view
of Beit Shammai and Eli Be Gal's interpretation of it: every victory brings the
danger of exaggerated euphoria. Is Eli Ben Gal correct to say that the light is
waning in our lives?
There are certainly moments in a person's
life when this is the dominant feeling. Sometimes a person feels there is more
"darkness" than "light" in his life. Sometimes, observation
of Israeli society can produce the impression that the days "are getting
gradually shorter." Since reality is apparently complex, much depends on
the eye of the beholder and what he chooses to focus on; it is perhaps really a
world in which light and shadow are mixed.
It may be possible, however, to read Beit
Shammai's ruling differently in light of the following story about Rabbi and
Rabbi and R. Hiyya were once going on a
journey. When they came to a certain town, they said: If there is a rabbinical
scholar here, we shall go and pay him our respect. They were told: There is a rabbinical
scholar here and he is blind. Said R. Hiyya to Rabbi: Stay [here]; you must not
lower your princely dignity; I shall go and visit him. But [Rabbi] took hold of
him and went with him. When they were taking leave from him, he said to them:
You have visited one who is seen but does not see; may you be granted to visit
Him who sees but is not seen. Said [Rabbi to R. Hiyya]: If now [I had hearkened
to you] you would have deprived me of this blessing. (Hagigah 5b, Soncino translation)
I find the sentence, "You have visited one who is seen but does not
see" amazing in that it speaks of an experience that seems to subsume both
revelation and hiding simultaneously. The experience of connection with the
blind scholar and the "visit" result in a blessing which allows
revelation (to visit Him who sees but is not seen).
Perhaps this spiritual experience becomes possible precisely in the wake
of an encounter with someone who seems to dwell in "darkness."
This may also be the point of Beit Shammai when they urge us to
experience the dwindling light in order – on the one hand – to warn us against
dangers which await us, but perhaps on the other hand also in order to make use
of the darkness in order to "see" the great light which we can yet
discover if we are not blinded by the existing light.
Pinchas Leiser, edtior of Shabbat
Shalom, is a psychologist.
Who Gives Light to
Thus Scripture says, for
you light my lamp (Proverbs 18:29). Israel
said to the Holy One, blessed be He: "Sovereign
of the Universe! Do you ask us that we should give light before You? You, surely, are the Light of the universe, and
brightness abides with you, as is written, The
light dwells with Him (Daniel 2:22)! Yet
You say, The lamp shall give light in front of the
8:2)!" This explains, For You light my
lamp. The Holy One, blessed be He said to them,
"It is not because I require your service, but in order that you may give
Me light even as I have given you light. For what purpose?
That you may rise in the estimation of the nations, who will say: 'See how
Israel give light to Him who gives light to the whole world!'" This may be
illustrated by a parable. To what may it be compared? To the
case of a man who could see and a blind man who were walking on the way.
Said the man who could see to the blind: "When we enter
the house, go and kindle this lamp for me and give me light." The
blind man replied: "Will you be good enough to explain? When I was on the
road you supported me. Until we entered the house you accompanied me. Now,
however, you tell me: 'Kindle this lamp for me and give me light!'" The
man who could see answered him: "The reason why I asked you to give me
light is in order that you might not be under an obligation to me for having
accompanied you on the road." Thus, the man who could see represents the
Holy One blessed be He, as it says, The eyes of the Lord, that run to and
fro through the whole earth (Zechariah 4:10);
and the blind man is Israel; as it says, We grope for the wall like the
blind (Isaiah 54:10). The Holy One,
blessed be He led them and gave them light; as it says, And the Lord went
before them by day in a pillar of cloud… and by night in a pillar of fire, to
give them light (Shemot
13:21). When the Tabernacle was erected, the Holy One, blessed be He, called to Moses and said to him: "Now give you
light to Me," as it says, When you raise the lamps; implying; in
order that you may be elevated.
(Bamidbar Rabbah 15:5, after the Soncino
Memory of Sin – the
Internal Punishment – is the Most Severe Punishment
And I shall stand
guilty before my father forever (Bereishit
44: 32). This phrase is quite precious, since it points to something not
explicitly stated in the Torah, which is that there is no punishment but the
sin itself. For Divine justice, the sin is itself the punishment – and it takes
the place of reward and punishment, that is why Judah says, And I shall
stand guilty [literally stand in my sin] before my father for ever.
(R. Eliyahu Ben Amozeg, Em Lamikra)
and Alternative Exegesis
A Hebrew youth was
there with us, a servant of the chief steward; and when we told him our dreams,
he interpreted them for us, telling each of the meaning of his dream.
Youth – a
Hebrew – who
does not even know our language
and it is written in the laws of Egypt that a slave may not rule nor wear the
clothing of an official.
(Rashi ad loc)
A Hebrew youth… a servant – Each detail
adds more astonishment: he was an unschooled boy; a Hebrew – so he did not use
the power of magic; a servant – who is not allowed to enter the houses of
wisdom. In that case, it is Divine perception, for it is known that the family
of the Hebrews is above the nature of other human beings, and things more
exalted than the common way of the world are not beyond them, and so the matter
has no end or boundary.
(Ha'amek Davar, ad loc)
Dreams "Go After
the Mouth": the Freedom to Interpret and Understand a Dream's Significance
….R. Akiva said…
reporting a certain elder – and who was this? R. Bana'ah: There were
twenty-four interpreters of dreams in Jerusalem. Once I dreamt a dream and I
went round to all of them and they all gave different interpretations, and all
were fulfilled, thus confirming that which is said: All dreams follow the
mouth. Is the statement that all dreams follow the mouth Scriptural? Yes, as
stated by R. Eleazar. For R. Eleazar said: Whence do we know that all dreams
follow the mouth? Because it says, and it came to pass, as he interpreted to
us, so it was. Rava said: This is only if the interpretation corresponds to the
content of the dream: for it says, to each man according to his dream he did
interpret. When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good. How did
he know this? R. Eleazar says: This tells us that each of them was shown his
own dream and the interpretation of the other one's dream.
(Berakhot 55b, Soncino translation)
The Dream which
Endangers and the Dream which Restores
It was only because of his
dreams that Joseph was sold, as it is said: Here comes that dreamer… now
let us go and kill him… (Bereishit 37:19-20). And he was restored by a dream: After
two years' time, Pharaoh dreamed… (41:1).
As it is written: But I will bring healing to you,
and cure you of your wounds [literally: cure will come from those which
strike you] (Jeremiah 30:17).
said: He who sees a well in a dream shall see peace, for it is said: And
Isaac's servants dug in the wadi, and found a well of
water there (Bereishit
ben Levi said: He who sees a river in a dream should
say upon awakening, I will extend to her peace like
a river (Isaiah 66:12) before he says
any other verse [such as] when the oppressor comes as a river (59:19).
And may the Almighty God grant you compassion
before the man, and he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin, and
as for me as I am bereaved, I am bereaved.
your… brother: This is Simeon.
Holy Spirit [of prophecy] was cast into him to include Joseph.
(Rashi ad loc)
And he will send away your other brother, and Benjamin: It
seems that according to the plain meaning of Scripture, Simeon was not wanted
by his father because of what happened in Shechem. Therefore it is not written
and Simeon, my son, and Benjamin. He is not mentioned by his name. When they
left Egypt for many days, and there was not a famine in their home, and he had
not sent yet Benjamin, they would have left him in Egypt.
Rashi wrote The Holy Spirit [of prophecy] was
cast into him to include Joseph. Bereishit Rabbah (92:3), also states: And he will send
away your other brother, this is Joseph, another, this is Simeon.
The truth is that he thought that at the time that he prayed for the other
perhaps he is still alive.
(RaMBaN Bereishit 43:14)
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