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Judaism Inward Or Outward? The Great Debate #1

Yosef, Yehuda and the Chanukah Story

1 hr 41 min

The outdoor Chanukah Menorah at Namal Tel Aviv in Israel

Class Summary:

The Midrash describes an odd detail in Greek persecution of the Jews during the time of the Chanukah story: The Jew’s were forced to write a renunciation of their faith on the ‘horn of an ox.’ What on earth did the poor ox have to do with this sorry chapter in Jewish history?

Kabbalistic and Chassidic thought offers a fascinating answer to this question, by tying the story of Chanukah directly in the story of Joseph’s fierce dispute with his brothers. It is a dispute that has lasted for thousands of years, with important implications today.

The children of Jacob were divided into two factions: on one side were ten of the twelve brothers, led by Judah; on the other, Joseph, whose differences with his brothers were the cause of much pain and strife in Jacob’s family. The conflict between Joseph and his brothers ran deeper than a multicolored coat or a favorite son’s share of his father’s affections. It was a conflict between two world-views, between two approaches to life as a Jew in a pagan world.

We learn of the Greeks’ perversion of Joseph’s perspective on Judaism, the importance of oil this holiday, and how we set things right each Chanukah by sharing the light and the oil with the world around us.


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  • MAR

    Michoel Aryeh Rosen -1 year ago

    Chanukah Sameach Please remnd us the Pasuk refering to Yoseph which the Roshei Tevot spel Chanukah

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  • YP

    Yisroel Press -2 years ago

    Fascinating lecture with a deeper understanding of the divide between Joseph and his brothers. What is the Jewish perspective towards mankind.

    To survive in Galut the Joseph view is essential spread our ethics to the nations of the world is ultimate goal.

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  • Anonymous -6 years ago

    olo timnoso

    fits nicely with what u spoke earlier about  Timna was a Pilegesh. Timna from the word menia and meakev

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  • N

    Nosson -6 years ago

    The Great Debate

    Hello Rabbi Jacobson, I just listened to your shuir titled "Judaism Inward or Outward? The Great Debate # 1". What a beautiful pshat in the disagreement between Yosef and his brothers. I really enjoyed this shuir and all of your shuirim which I have heard online. I was always tremendously bothered by the כלי יקר in פרשת וישב in פרק ל''ז פסוק ג which says:
     יש אומרים שכל מה שלמד מן שם ועבר מסר לו, ולמה לא מסר לכל בניו מה שלמד, אלא ודאי לפי שכל בניו מאסו בחכמות ולא נתחברו אל יעקב לשמוע ממנו, אבל יוסף בן זקונים הוא לו שתמיד הוא פנה לו ליעקב ונכסף לשמוע מפיו מה שלמד משם ועבר על כן אהבו
    How could it be that the שבטים הקדושים could possibly be disgusted by the חכמה of the תורה? I showed this piece to many chashuva rabbonim and not received a satisfactory explanation.  After listening to your shuir, I believe that the כלי יקר is referring to this specific לימוד which you speak of, how to affect the world in גלות and how to be a light onto the nations. This חכמה disgusted the שבטים because they believed that such a מהלך would destroy כלל ישראל in the future. They were ideologically opposed to such teachings and  therefore the לשון of מאסו בחכמות can be beautifully understood. Please let me know what you think of the כלי יקר. 
    Thank you for all your wonderful shuirim. I am a big fan! 


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  • SC

    Shmuel C -6 years ago

    Self-nullification vs self-expression

    Dear Rabbi,

    You mentioned in a passing subtle way, that Yehuda and Yosef both experience a challenge with an intimate relationship, Yosef with the wife of Potifar and Yehuda with Tamar.


    The fascinating insight is quite cosmic. Yosef experiences a challenge that is at the very fabric of his ideological mission statement, accept diversity at its core and glean the unity within diversity, granted he passed.


    But Yehuda is challenged with the very ideological opinion (Yosefs) that he did not accept to embrace as the primary approach to a Jewish people who have begun the exile.


    Yehuda is now tested with a relationship that is forbidden and he must admit, retract and acquiesce in total submission and self-nullification (with tamar) that Yosefs position was in fact the correct approach for a brewing exile that had already began.


    However, Yehudas integration of a perspective and lifestyle of self-nullification and submission proves to be the ultimate path that coalesces both the path of self-expression with the path of self-nullification.


    Meaning, you can only learn to nullify yourself at the core, when you admit that the greatest self-expression has nullification and submismission at the core. Almost like "you can only forget yourself, if you really know yourself".


    Yehudas path has both paths interwoven into it, thats ultimately what the Talmud in Sanhedrin says when Hashem responds to Yeravam that the son of Yishai is at the head of the line.


    Whats fascinating is that Yosefs path was a response and direct arsenal to transend and overcome exile, yet Yehudas path is a path that weaves together redemption that retroactively animates exile as having redemption at its core because "anything that can return to its source, was never broken, and can never be broken".

    It seems to me, in my humble conjecturing opinion, that because Yehuda embraced Yosefs path, in Parshat Vayeishev, his acknowledgment and submission was to Yosefs ideological position, including his own, integrating both his own path and his brothers path with a third path that has room for both, is what cements and engraves his position to be the king for future generations and merit the kingdom of Moshiach, which is retroactively defining the unity within diversity, but through self nullification and holy integration.


    (Side note, quite intersting to mention that we can never ever fully judge anyone because between them having a struggle with adapting a moment of self expression vs self nullification, its the continuous dance of them both that needs constant vigilence for implementation. And this takes lots of awareness, humility and sacrifice.) 


    We clearly see that Yosef being the worhsip of Hashem through Torah, and Yehuda being prayer, and Yosef coming from Rachel which is the study of torah which everyone admires most, and Yehuda from Leah which is prayer, which most people stomp over and (despise) as being interwoven by the Chabad dynasty clearly, as there is a deep emphasis on prayer and a most profound admiration towards torah study.


    Staggering to see that the Kingdom of David brings together both paths.  


    Please share your thoughts on the accuracy, or point me to another class for clarification.......


    Thanks ahead,

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Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • December 6, 2015
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  • 24 Kislev 5776
  • |

Leilu Nishmat Reb Eliyahu Tzion ben Reb Chananya Niasoff ז"ל
And in the merit of our partner in Torah Yigal Yisroel ben Sofia

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