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Are You Afraid of Your Power?

An Individual Is a Community: Why Ephraim Can Bring a Shabbos Sacrifice

    Rabbi YY Jacobson

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  • June 4, 2020
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  • 12 Sivan 5780
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Class Summary:

In the listing of the offerings brought by the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel, in dedication of the newly erected Sanctuary, the seventh leader is from the tribe of Ephraim.                           

Yet here we face a fascinating question. The leaders of the tribes began offering their contributions on the first day of the month of Nissan, the day the Sanctuary was erected, which was on a Sunday. This means that Ephraim brought his offering on the seventh day of the week, on the Shabbos. But on Shabbos you are not allowed to bring an individual offering? On Shabbos you may not slaughter an animal, nor can you place meat in a fire, nor can you cook meat—all components necessary for an offering in the Sanctuary?!

The Midrash answers, that Ephraim was a son of Joseph. The tribe of Ephraim carried the genes and legacy of Joseph. Joseph observed the Shabbos in Egypt. So G-d said: "Joseph! You kept Shabbos even before it was given, I will pay you back such that your descendant will offer his sacrifice on Shabbos!” 

Yet this is so strange. What is the logic behind saying that since Joseph kept Shabbos, and prepared for Shabbos on Friday, his great grandson would bring a sacrifice that ordinarily violates the sanctity of Shabbos? 

I will present to you one answer, based on an address by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, presented on Shabbos Parshas Metzora, 7 Nissan, 5741 (1981) and on 19 Kislev 5721 (December 8, 1960).

Dedicated by Rachel Shlomo, in memory of her father Yeshayahu Yosef ben Yaakov Leib, for the yartzeit, 12 Sivan. And for a Refuah Sheleima for Yosef Yitzchok ben Perel.

The Nuremberg Trials

In the film "Judgment at Nuremberg," American judge Dan Haywood sentences Ernst Janning, an important legal figure in Germany even before the rise of Hitler, to life in prison for condemning an innocent Jewish doctor to death in 1935. Janning pleads to Haywood that he was unaware of the magnitude of the Nazi horror and that he would have never assisted Hitler had he known what the monster was scheming. 

"Those people, those millions of people," Janning begged for his freedom, "I never knew it would come to that. You must believe it." 

To which Judge Haywood replied: "It came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent."

100 Million? Big Deal

The story is told that before Mao-Tse-Tung (1893-1976), the founder and leader of the People's Republic of China, brought the Revolution to China and installed the Communist system there, he was warned that millions of Chinese could starve until they got things working properly.

 To which Mao responded, "If I have to lose 100 million Chinese peasants for the revolution, then it's worth it."

Indeed, during his leadership, from 1949 to 1976, it is estimated that 70 million of his own people perished.

This is one type of leader: one who can give up 100 million people, as long as his goals are accomplished. Joseph was taught by his father a vastly different message: One person is the world. Taking the life of one person is extinguishing the light of the entire world. 

This message is conveyed with astounding depth in the weekly Torah portion, Naso.

The Seventh Day

In the listing of the offerings brought by the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel, in dedication of the newly erected Sanctuary, recorded in detail in Naso, the seventh leader is from the tribe of Ephraim.

נשא ז, מח: בַּיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י נָשִׂ֖יא לִבְנֵ֣י אֶפְרָ֑יִם אֱלִֽישָׁמָ֖ע בֶּן־עַמִּיהֽוּד.

On the seventh day, the leader was of the sons of Ephraim, Elishama the son of Ammihud.                             

Which begs a great question:

The leaders of the tribes began offering their contributions on the first day of the month of Nissan, the day the Sanctuary was erected, which was on a Sunday.[1] This means that Ephraim brought his offering on the seventh day of the week, on the Shabbos. But on Shabbos you are not allowed to bring an offering. On Shabbos you may not slaughter an animal, nor can you place meat in a fire, nor can you cook meat—all components necessary for an offering in the Sanctuary! 

To be sure, when the Sanctuary stood in the desert, and the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, the korbanot (animal and meal offerings) offered on its altar came under two categories: A) “Individual offerings” (korbanot yachid) brought by private citizens, such as the “generosity offering” brought as a donation, the “thanksgiving offering” brought to express one’s gratitude for a personal salvation, or the “sin offering” brought to atone for a transgression. B) “Communal offerings” (korbanot tzibbur), such as the daily morning and afternoon offerings brought by the collective nation of Israel from a fund to which every Jew contributed an annual half-shekel.

Torah law forbids the bringing of individual offerings on Shabbat, but permits and obligates the bringing of communal offerings on the holy day.[2]

The offerings brought by the leaders of the tribes were individual offerings, brought by private citizens, paid by their own money, based on their own volition, not communal offerings which are always brought on behalf of the entire people.[3] So, here we face a fascinating question! How then can the leader of Ephraim be allowed to bring these sacrifices on Shabbos?[4]

The Midrash Rabah on this verse raises this enigma.

במדבר רבה נשא יד, א בסופו: דָּבָר אַחֵר, וְאֶפְרַיִם מָעוֹז רֹאשִׁי, מְדַבֵּר בִּנְשִׂיא אֶפְרָיִם, שֶׁהִקְרִיב קָרְבָּנוֹ לַחֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי נָשִׂיא לִבְנֵי אֶפְרָיִם וגו', מִנַּיִן שֶׁיּוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת הָיָה, לְפִי שֶׁכְּבָר אָמַרְנוּ אוֹתוֹ יוֹם שֶׁהִתְחִילוּ הַנְּשִׂיאִים יוֹם רִאשׁוֹן הָיָה, מִכָּאן אַתְּ לָמֵד שֶׁיּוֹם שְׁבִיעִי לְהַקְרָבָה שַׁבָּת הָיָה, שֶׁלֹא תֹאמַר הֵיאַךְ חִלֵּל אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת וַהֲלוֹא אֵין קָרְבַּן יָחִיד דּוֹחֶה אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת וְזֶה הִקְרִיב בַּשַּׁבָּת, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לֹא עַל פִּיו עָשָׂה, שֶׁאֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי לְמשֶׁה (נשא ז, יא) נָשִׂיא אֶחָד לַיּוֹם נָשִׂיא אֶחָד לַיּוֹם יַקְרִיבוּ אֶת קָרְבָּנָם לַחֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ בְּלֹא הֶפְסֵק יַקְרִיבוּ זֶה אַחַר זֶה, הֱוֵי: וְאֶפְרַיִם מָעוֹז רֹאשִׁי, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי נָשִׂיא לִבְנֵי אֶפְרָיִם וגו'. 

במדבר רבה נשא יד, ב: דָּבָר אַחֵר, מִי הִקְדִּימַנִי וַאֲשַׁלֵּם, מְדַבֵּר בְּיוֹסֵף שֶׁהוא הִקְדִּים וְשִׁמַּר אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת עַד שֶׁלֹא נִתָּנָה, וּטְבֹחַ טֶבַח וְהָכֵן (מקץ מג, טז), אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן עֶרֶב שַׁבָּת הָיְתָה וְאֵין הָכֵן אֶלָּא לַשַּׁבָּת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בשלח טז, ה) וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי וְהֵכִינוּ וגו'. אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, יוֹסֵף אַתָּה שִׁמַּרְתָּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת עַד שֶׁלֹא נִתְּנָה הַתּוֹרָה, חַיֶּיךָ שֶׁאֲנִי מְשַׁלֵּם לְבֶן בִּנְךָ שֶׁיְּהֵא מַקְרִיב קָרְבָּנוֹ בַּשַּׁבָּת, מַה שֶּׁאֵין יָחִיד מַקְרִיב, וְעָלַי לְקַבֵּל קָרְבָּנוֹ בְּרָצוֹן, הֱוֵי: מִי הִקְדִּימַנִי וַאֲשַׁלֵּם, וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁכֵּן הוּא, מִמַּה שֶּׁאָמוּר בָּעִנְיָן בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי נָשִׂיא לִבְנֵי אֶפְרָיִם וגו'. 

The answer the Midrash gives is intriguing, if enigmatic.

Ephraim was a son of Joseph. The tribe of Ephraim carried the genes and legacy of Joseph. When the brothers of Joseph came to Egypt to obtain food from him, he told the caretaker of his home to “slaughter a slaughtering and prepare a meal,”[5] which the sages understand to mean that he should cook and prepare all the food on Friday to be ready for the Shabbos.

Rabbi Yochanan states that it was Friday afternoon and Joseph told his people to prepare a Shabbos meal. [The word "hachen," prepare, refers to a Shabbos meal, as Moses tells the Jews in the desert: "And it will be on the seventh day, they should prepare, v'heichinu, ahead of time, that which they will bring".[6] Thus, in the entire Torah, Joseph is the first person who is described as preparing a Shabbos meal ahead of time. This was before the Torah was given. So G-d said: "Joseph! You kept Shabbos even before it was given, I will pay you back, that your descendant will offer his sacrifice on Shabbos, which is not the case of ordinary individuals who cannot offer private sacrifices on Shabbos."

Yet this is so strange. What is the logic behind saying that since Joseph kept Shabbos, and prepared for Shabbos on Friday, his great-grandson would bring a sacrifice that ordinarily violates the sanctity of Shabbos?[7] If anything, Joseph should be rewarded by descendants who increase in the sanctity of Shabbos.

What is more, the sages teach that all the Patriarchs observed the entire Torah before it was given, including Shabbos.[8] What then was the uniqueness of Joseph? 

I will present to you one possible answer, based on an address by the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Shabbos Parshas Metzora, 7 Nissan, 5741 (1981) and on 19 Kislev 5721 (December 8, 1960).[9]

The Test

For this we have to recall the fateful story of Joseph and the uniqueness of his observing Shabbos in Egypt.

Joseph, an extremely handsome young man, Genesis tells us, attracts the lustful imagination of his master's wife. She desperately tries to engage him in a relationship, yet he steadfastly refuses her. Then came the fateful day, "When he entered the house to do his work and none of the household staff was inside. She grabbed him by his cloak and pleaded 'lie with me.' He ran away from her, leaving his cloak in her hand, and he fled outside."[10]

Humiliated and furious, she used the cloak as evidence that it was he who attempted to violate her. Her husband, Potiphar, had Joseph imprisoned, where he spent the next twelve years of his life until, through an astonishing turn of events, he was appointed Prime Minister of Egypt. That is when his brothers came for food and he has the Shabbos feast prepared on Friday, since he observed the laws of Shabbos. 

The Face of Jacob 

The Midrash[11] explains the meaning of the phrase that Joseph "entered the house to do his work and none of the household staff was inside." What type of work did Joseph come to do?  

The Midrash says that the "work" Joseph came to do was to yield to the advances of his master's wife. After all of her unceasing pleas, Joseph at last succumbed. However, as the union between them was about to materialize, the visage of his father, Jacob, appeared to him. This caused Joseph to reject the powerful urge. He left his garment in her hand and he fled outdoors.

What was it about Jacob's visage that inspired Joseph to deny the temptation?[12] 

The Lonely Slave 

Let us reflect more closely on the psychological and physical condition of Joseph during that day when his master's wife lured him into a relationship. 

Joseph was a 17-year-old slave in a foreign country. He did not even own his body—his master exercised full control over his life, as was the fate of all ancient and modern slaves. Joseph had not a single friend or relative in the world. His mother died when he was nine years old, and his father thought he was dead. His siblings were the ones who sold him into slavery and robbed him of his youth and liberty. One could only imagine the profound sense of loneliness that pervaded the heart of this lad.

This is the context in which we need to understand Joseph's struggle. A person in such isolation is naturally overtaken by extremely powerful temptations, and is also likely to feel that a single action of his makes little difference in the ultimate scheme of things. 

After all, what was at stake if Joseph succumbed to this woman's demands? Nobody was ever likely to find out what had occurred between the two. Joseph would not need to return home in the evening to face a dedicated spouse or a spiritual father, nor would he have to go back to a family or a community of moral standing. This act would not harm his prospects of getting a good shidduch (marriage partner), nor would it get him thrown out of his Yeshiva… He would remain alone after the event, just as he was alone before it. So what's the big deal to engage in a snapshot relationship? 

In addition we must take into consideration the power possessed by this Egyptian noblewoman who was inciting Joseph. She was in the position of being able to turn Joseph's life into a paradise or a living hell. In fact, she did the latter, having him incarcerated in an Egyptian dungeon on the false charges that he attempted to violate her. If it was up to her, he would have remained there for life.

The Talmud[13] described the techniques the woman used in order to persuade Joseph. "Each and every day, the wife of Potiphar would attempt to seduce him with words. Clothes she wore for him in the morning she would not wear for him in the evening. Clothes she wore for him in the evening she would not wear for him in the morning. She said to him, 'Surrender yourself to me.' He answered: 'No.' She threatened him, 'I shall confine you in prison...I shall bend your proud stature...I will blind your eyes,'" but Joseph refused her. She then gave him a huge sum of money, but he did not budge.

Let us recall that this story took place before the giving of the Torah, when adultery became forbidden for Jews even at the threat of death. One may argue that in light of the death threats presented to Joseph by his master’s wife, it would have been halachically permissible, perhaps even obligatory, for him to engage in the union![14]

What, then, was the secret behind Joseph's moral rectitude? What empowered a lonely and frail slave to reject such an awesome temptation?

"The visage of his father Jacob"! That is what gave Joseph the extraordinary fortitude to smack his impulse in the face and to emphatically dismiss the noblewoman's lure.

But why? Jacob was living many miles away, unaware even of the fact that his son was alive. What was the magic that lay in his physiognomy? 

Adam's Moment 

The Talmud presents a tradition that the beauty of Jacob reflected the beauty of Adam, the first human being formed by the Almighty Himself.[15] When Joseph saw the visage of Jacob, he was seeing the visage of Adam as well.

Adam, we know, was instructed by G-d not to eat from the fruit of "the tree of knowledge." His disobeying of this directive altered the course of human and world history forever.[16] Though he did something apparently insignificant, merely eating a single fruit from a single tree, this minuscule act still vibrates through the consciousness of humanity to this very day. 

Why? Because every single human being is part of the fiber in which heaven and earth are interlaced. “Each person is responsible to say for me the world was created,” says the Mishnah.[17] What this means is that there is something in this world which only I can repair and accomplish. 

G-d's dream was not to be alone but to have mankind as a partner in the continuous task of healing the world. Each of us was given our particular mission, and on this task the whole world depends. By whatever we do, we either advance or obstruct the drama of redemption; we either reduce or enhance the power of evil. Something eternal is at stake in every decision, every word, every deed performed by every single man, woman or child.[18]

When Joseph saw the visage of (Jacob which reflected the visage of) Adam, he reclaimed an inner unshakable dignity; he remembered that he was a candle of G-d lit on the cosmic way. Seeing the visage of Adam reminded Joseph how a single act, performed at a single moment by a single man, had the power to change history forever.

At that moment, Joseph remembered, that Adam was not one man; Adam was the entire world. If something would happen to him, if he would die, humanity would die with him. Each decision he made impacted the planet. He could not deceive himself that his actions were unimportant. One move this or that way would define the destiny of mankind. 

This is what gave Joseph the fortitude he needed to withstand temptation. This is how he could keep Shabbos as the Prime Minister of Egypt, all alone, with no family or community support. For he realized the depth and significance of his life and decisions.

The greatest mistake in life is to think of yourself as insignificant. Not to realize the centrality of your existence in the cosmic plan. Not to appreciate the truth that you are G-d’s personal ambassador to the world. You are never alone, and you are never merely one small individual. 

In the words of the Reb Yosef Yitzchak, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe (1880-1950): [19]

יעדער יחיד איז א רבים, ער איז בכח צו מאכן א רבים און באלעבן א רבים.

Every individual is an entire community; he can create a community and bring life to a community.

Does one need better proof than Joseph’s eventual story? Here was one man who saved the entire world from famine!

Your Light

Marianne Williamson's remarks on the subject have become justly famous. She wrote:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Nuclear Jew

Rabbi David Lapin, from South Africa, once shared this experience.

As soon as I entered the rabbinate of South Africa, I became concerned about retaining my intellectual independence – something I am fiercely protective of – while serving as a community rabbi at the will of a synagogue’s board of directors. Therefore, I believed that I also needed to secure an independent source of income. And so I first went to work for an international commodities trading company, and later I founded the leadership consulting firm which I currently lead.

At about that time, an opportunity arose to join a company of commodity traders in Johannesburg, and this is what I did. But I was not sure I was on the right track. Was I right to divide my time between my business and my rabbinic duties? It seemed as if I had two full-time jobs and my family was paying a heavy price as a result.

There came a time when I felt I needed the opinion of someone much wiser than me, someone who had a global perspective that embraced modernity, history and the future. I decided to seek the advice of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

In 1976 I came to New York, but I had not realized that to see the Rebbe one had to make an appointment many months in advance, and at first I was turned away. Only when I wrote a letter to the Rebbe in which I made the argument that my questions impacted the larger Jewish community – and which I insisted be presented to him – did he invite me to wait until he finished his appointments for the night when he would make time to see me.

I will never forget meeting the Rebbe. I recall that he got up from his chair as my wife and I came in, greeted us and insisted that we sit down. At that moment, I realized that we were going to have a real conversation – this was not going to be just a symbolic encounter.

Indeed, the meeting lasted about fifteen minutes, during which time I felt that he was looking right inside me and communicating with me on a level that transcends the mind, getting straight to the heart and the essence of being. In addition, I sensed a kindness and warmth – all at once I was in the presence of a great man, an intellectual genius, a leader of the Jewish people, but also a grandfather who cared about me. In short, it was an amazing experience.

I asked him about the responsibilities that I faced and the limitations that I felt, which seemed overwhelming. How could I manage it all? What should I give up – my business or my Torah teaching? Where should I direct my energies?

His answer to me was that I should give up nothing and continue working in business while still teaching Torah. I do not remember his exact words, but the gist of it was that my being in business increased my ability to bring people closer to Judaism; my profession increased my influence and was a vehicle of kiddush Hashem, of sanctifying the name of G‑d. He stressed that I would have greater impact if I was involved with both business and Torah.

I was still very young, and I couldn’t imagine how I could continue to do both. So, I burst out with: “I don’t think that this is realistic. I’m already up to here… I feel very humbled and very honored that you would even talk to me this way, but it just isn’t realistic!”

I remember clearly his response to my outburst. He said: “I’ll tell you what your difficulty is. You think that human interaction is like a chemical reaction. But it isn’t. In a chemical reaction, there are two elements which interact with each other, and they result in a third compound. But people aren’t chemicals. When people interact, the result is a nuclear reaction. A nuclear reaction occurs at the core and then it radiates in a spherical, rather than a linear, way. As the outer rings of your sphere get bigger and bigger, the number of people you are touching gets bigger and bigger – indeed, there is no limit.”

“When you touch the heart of one person, there is a nuclear reaction because that person in turn touches so many other people. So, each person you touch – even if it is a moment’s interaction – represents a nuclear reaction in terms of impact. That’s what it really is.”

He was right of course, and way ahead of the research that, since then, has proven his words to be true. For example, the Framingham Heart Study showed that people’s mood affects others three times removed – that is, one’s friend’s friend’s friends. We impact people not just with our words but with our moods and our energy.

Rabbi Lapin concluded:

“I remembered this whenever I stood in front of a class of fifty people. I contemplated that these fifty could in turn be impacting at least one hundred and fifty others. This meant that, both in my work as a rabbi and as a business person, week after week I was affecting tens of thousands of people without realizing it. That’s what the Rebbe tried to get across to me. He was talking about the huge amount of holiness that I had the potential to bring into the world.

“I got it. Indeed, he changed my entire mindset when he said, “Don’t underestimate what each person is capable of doing. Just remember that when you touch one person you are causing a nuclear reaction.” And that’s something that I’ve never forgotten.”

The Public Offering

Now, at last, we can appreciate the words of the Midrash.

Joseph, who kept the Shabbos even in Egypt, who remained connected to truth and morality even in depraved Egypt, can do so only because he understood the truth that an individual is really the entire nation and the entire world. So G-d says, when it comes to your offering, it is not an offering of a private citizen; it is an offering of the entire nation. Hence, it can be offered on Shabbos.

No Despair

During our lonely moments of misery, when we, too, may feel that nobody cares for us and we are alone in a large indifferent universe, we ought never fall prey to the easy outlet of immoral gratification or despair. We must remember that something very real and absolute is at stake at every moment of our existence and in every act we do.

You may view your individual actions in the privacy of your bedroom as insignificant. Yet from the perspective of Judaism, these decisions create history.

If you only open your eyes, you will see the visage of your father whispering to you through the silent winds of history that you are not an isolated creature in a titanic world whose behavior is inconsequential. At this very moment, G-d needs you and me to bring redemption to His world.

Or as one WhatsApp clip quipped: It took only one man in China to create the coronavirus; and only one man in Minnesota to stop it. 
 


[1] Shabbos 87. Of course, the question comes up regardless of which day of the week they began their offerings. With twelve leaders offering each day, one of them had to violate the Shabbos!

[2] This is the reason for the debate about the Passover offering, if it can be brought on Shabbos. While most offerings belong completely to one class or the other, the Passover offering straddles both categories. On the one hand, it possesses certain features which would define it as an individual offering, such as the fact that it is purchased with private funds and eaten by those who brought it; on the other hand, there are qualities about it that are characteristic of the communal offering, such as the fact that it is brought en masse by “the entire community of the congregation of Israel.” When the 14th of Nissan—the day on which the Passover offering is brought—falls on a Shabbat, the question of its categorization becomes crucial. Torah law forbids the bringing of individual offerings on Shabbat, but permits and obligates the bringing of communal offerings. Should the Passover offering be regarded as an “individual offering” which cannot be brought on Shabbat, or as a “communal offering” whose obligation supersedes the prohibition of work on the day of rest?

The Talmud relates (Pesachim 66) that one year when Nissan 14 fell on Shabbat, the leaders of the Sanhedrin (the highest court of Torah law) were unable to resolve the question of whether the Passover offering should be brought. Hillel, a scholar newly arrived in the Holy Land from Babylonia, demonstrated that the communal aspect of the Passover offering is its more dominant element, meaning that it should be offered also when its appointed time coincides with Shabbat. In recognition of his superior scholarship, the leaders of the Sanhedrin stepped down and appointed Hillel as their head. (See at length Likkutei Sichos vol. 18, Behaaloscha and references noted there.)

[3] Communal offerings will always be obligatory. Individual offerings are sometimes obligatory and sometimes voluntary. The offerings of the leaders of the tribes were voluntary contributions. 

[4] The Even Ezra here concludes that it was not pushed off to Sunday. On the seventh day no one brought an offering. But the straightforward reading of the verses seem to indicate that the offerings were brought on consecutive days. The Rogatchover Gaon explains it based on the view that each tribe of Israel is defined as a “kahal,” as an independent community (See Sichas Shabbos Metzora 5741, and references noted there.) But this would still raise the problem according to the other views.

[5] Genesis 43:16

[6] Exodus 16:5. This is the usage of a “gezeira shavah,” since these words coming from Joseph seem superfluous. In addition, only Shabbos and Yom Tov meals have to be “prepared” in Jewish law, due to their prominence. See Rashi Beitza 2b. (Shichas Shabbos Parshas Metzora 5741) 

[7] Perhaps we can suggest the following explanation. If anyone else brought their offering on Shabbos, it could be construed as a lack of respect for Shabbos. But since the descendant of Yosef performs this, he is obviously not disrespecting Shabbos, so it is permitted. But still the question remains, why does G-d want to honor the Shabbos by appearing to desecrate it? As the words of the Midrash state, “Says G-d, in the merit of your keeping Shabbos before the Torah was given, your child will bring his Korban on Shabbos, even though an individual Korban is not brought on Shabbos.” There is very clearly some connection here that requires explanation.

Here is an answer presented by the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum (1887-1979). Since the private offering was in preparation for the altar that eventually would host the public offerings, this very act of preparation (even though it was a private offering now) for later public offerings was already considered like a public offering. It was already imbued with the importance of a Karban Tzibur. This is based on the principle that "hazmanah milsa hi" – preparation counts and has importance in and of itself.

This is the "measure for measure" reward that Yosef was granted. You, Yosef, prepared for Shabbos. You instituted the concept that preparation is important. Therefore, I will accept your grandson's offering – even though it is private – on Shabbos. It too is preparation – preparation for a Public Offering, and Joseph has taught us the value of preparing for a great thing to come. 

[8] Yuma 28b. End of Kidushin.

[9] See an entirely different explanation in Likkutei Sichos vol. 23 Naso; vol. 20 Miketz (all from Shabbos Metzora 5741). The answer inside is based on a few talks of Shabbos Parshas Metzora 5741. 

[10] Genesis 39:11-12.

[11]Bereishis Rabah 87:7. Tanchumah 8-9. Zohar Vayechi 222a. This is also the opinions of two Talmudic sages, in Talmud Soteh 36b, quoted in Rashi to Genesis ibid.

[12]The Talmud in Soteh ibid. relates that Jacob warned Joseph that if he consorted with her, his name would not appear with those of his brothers on the breastplate of the High Priest. That is what led Joseph to resist her importunities. But from the Midrash and Zohar cited in the previous footnote, it appears that it was Jacob's visage per se that inspired Joseph to abstain.

Even from the wording of the Talmud it seems that it was not only Jacob's warning but also the very appearance of his countenance that caused Joseph to reject his master's wife. Here one must wonder what was the power of Jacob's visage?

[13] Yuma 36a

[14] See Benei Yissachar Maamarei Nissan; Pardas Yosef to Parshas Vayeishev; Sichas Yud Tes Kislev 5721.

[15] Bava Metzia 84a; Bava Basra 58a. Cf. Tanya Igeres Hakodesh chapter 7.

[16] See Genesis 3:16-24. Talmud Eiruvin 100b. Likkutei Torah of the Arizal Parshas Bereishis. The writings of Kabbalah and Chassidism are actually full of this theme of how Adam and Eve's partaking of the forbidden fruit altered human history for eternity.

[17]Mishna Sanhedrin 37a. Cf. Tanya chapter 41. Sichas Shabbos Vayigash 5729

[18] Mishnah Sanhedrin 37a. Tanya chapter 41. Sichas Shabbos Vayigash 5729.

[19] The Rebbe, whose first name was Yosef, said this on Pesach 1949, a few months before his passing in 1950. See the following letter of his successor and son in law, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe:

מכתב יוד ניסן תש"י: הורו לנו נשיאינו בכלל ונשיא דורנו, הוא כ"ק מו"ח אדמו"ר הכ"מ בפרט, אשר צריך להשתדל בטובה - גשמיית ורוחניית - גם של יחיד בכל תוקף ועוז. ומובנה הוראה זו, כי הרי אין אתנו יודע איזה יכשר ואם כלם כאחד טובים. ומלבד זה שנפש אחת מישראל עולם מלא היא מצד עצמה, הנה נתבאר בשיחה הנדפסת בקונטרס [שיחת אחרון של פסח תש"ט]... אשר יעדער יחיד איז א רבים, ער איז בכח צו מאכן א רבים און באלעבן א רבים.זאת אומרת, אשר גם אם נמצא בין המושפעים שלו איש אשר בטבעו מתבודד הוא, א פארזיך'דיגער, הרי אין זה אלא מצד טבעו קודם העבודה בעצמו, ומי יודע באיזה מעמד ומצב יהי' מחר ולאחר זמן. ובפרט שידוע מרז"ל (ירושלמי כתובות פ"א סה"ב) אשר פסק התורה משנה את הטבע. ואם יקשר את היחיד המתבודד שיהי' באתרי' דרבי, ובאתרי' דרבי, הרי הלכה כרבי, יפעול ויחי' יחיד זה את כל סביבתו. והשתדלותו אשר השקיע בו תביא גידולין וגידולי גידולין עד סוף העולם - ל' העלם.

 

 

Please leave your comment below!

  • B

    Bracha -4 years ago

    Thank you Rabbi Jacobson for this article and the many articles you have written in the past weeks.

    I enjoy your classes in the videos very much because you explain Torah so well to the Jew of the 21st century, whether he is new to yiddishkeit or has been frum all his life. 
     
    Yet your written word is more accessible to me because firstly I'm a  visual person and secondly because I can print and then read on shabbes.
     
    I especially enjoy the fact that your articles are much longer. I very much value and always scrutinize your footnotes.
     
    I hope you will soon bundle all your articles into a book.
     
    Thanks to your teachings I have been able to inspire the Dutch speaking world in the Netherlands and beyond through mainly my weekly long parsha articles in Dutch and some classes as well.
     
    Please continue writing....a lot!
     
    Hatslacha raba!

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  • N

    Nicole -4 years ago

    Outstandingly inspiring Thank you Rabbi YY! Shavuah tov ! You have inspired countless others and I am so grateful for your divrei Torah that I share regularly with the women I learn with! Yasher koach!

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  • R

    Rachel -4 years ago

    As history unfolds, some of my thoughts:

    Everything really started way back, in the beginning.... But I’ll start towards hopefully the end of history as we know it!  I’ll begin my thoughts with the late wave of anti-semitism in the horrific massacre in October 2018 in Pittsburg at the Tree of life synagogue which was followed not much after with the horror in the Shul of Poway and then again last Chanukah we witnessed a repeat of the unthinkable. Tragedy and horror were back again right in our own backyards. In response to the new wave of terror we locked our Shuls and our schools with combination locks and armed security guards, allowing us to continue to remain more safely inside our Shuls and study halls and continue to bask in the light and warmth of Torah and mitzvois.
    But then COVID 19 arrived. To protect ourselves from this deadly aggression we were told that we needed to be locked out of our Shuls, study halls and schools. This was a different kind of enemy attacking us, that no combination lock or armed security guard would be able to keep us safe from. Now safety was found between the walls of our own home and social distancing. We needed to remain under complete lockdown in our own homes.
    We watched in horror as COVID19 brought so much tragedy and devastation, ripping apart the lives of so many. With brutal vengeance it was snatching away the life’s of the best amongst us. The most saintly, the most precious and the most learned amongst us were lost. Here yesterday, today just a memory. Our dear and loved ones were left languishing in hospitals and dying. Many dying from this dreadful disease but also dying from thirst, hunger and neglect. Dying all by themselves, like helpless forgotten dogs.
    Oh! Alas they all died in solitude! All the bereaved are sitting shiva alone without comforter....” Hashem is my portion” says my soul “therefore I have hope in Him”.
    (Eicha). How many people, orphans and widows sat shiva all alone these past few weeks? How many grief stricken in our community got up from shiva to now deal with the unbearable pain and void left by a dear and loved one gone?  A devastation and tragedy of such scale no words can be adequate to describe the indescribable.
    The only way we can defend ourselves against this invisible but giant killer virus, is if we become the same eager willing united participant in this fight as we were when we had to fight the enemy without. We all agree to fight and defend our right to live safely, by putting in place locks and armed guards at the entrances of our schools and shuls.
    Now again we can protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities from this dreaded disease. It’s the responsibility and obligation of each one of us to step up to this challenge and do everything possible to bring the maximum protection and safety to our community. But for this we must live in reality and realize the seriousness of the situation. We must gaze at what is happening in our midst and not allow denial to distort and distract us from facing this reality: we have the power to stop this epidemic and it’s our responsibility to do everything that is in our power to halt this devastating disease. We can’t hide from this truth by surrendering into victimhood and just have bitochon. We can’t allow our mind to tell us don’t confuse me with the facts of reality, Hashem will save me. That distorted thinking is the Yezer Horah. We have to look in the eye of the epidemic and listen to the message it sends: go home and save lives. We cannot afford to live in Lalaland or in denial on the expense of human life.
    Perhaps a prerequisite to geulah is to be present, to live in reality and this might be our challenge now in finding the strength to not hide behind denial.

    When the Mizriim were running after Klall Yisroel, just before Kriyas Yam Suf and Klall Yisroel started to panic and some wanted to surrender, etc. Hashem instructed the Yidden to look back at the reality of what Mizraim was, and it says: “...For as you have seen Mizraim this day you shall not see them again anymore forever”. if you gaze now at Mizraim you will never need to see it again. We must not fear to gaze at the truth of the situation. Avoiding that confrontation with truth and instead live in denial is what keeps us stuck in a situation. Back then God didn’t want us to surrender into victimhood and just lean on bitachon. God told us now it’s the time to take action even in the face of impossibility we needed to move forward. We have to take responsibility for our safety and well-being, we can’t shrug that off. When we move into our day by doing our hishtadlus then God comes and splits the sea for us.

    What if COVID 19 would be a human instead of a virus. A human that would create the same pandemonium and heart wrenching circumstances we are experiencing right now. How hellish unfathomable and unbearable such a thought would be. In reality both are shuluchim from God.

    The wave of anti-semitism started with human and now it’s a virus that wiped out so many of us. I’m saying this to help me gain a true perspective of Elokus. I’m never at the mercy of any other force, my destiny is always in the hands of my God my beloved compassionate and loving Father. Wether it’s the Nazis in the Holocaust or this virus, in the ultimate reality everything is the same. God is the Director and whatever comes our way is sent directly from above. That understanding never takes away the pain, though it can lessen the suffering of living with so much chaos, unknown and uncertainties. May Hashem have rachmomonois on us and redeem us once and for all with the ultimate Geulah, Amein!

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    • M

      Moshe -4 years ago

      Rachel. Very well written. I'm feeling inadequate. 

      There was a human virus. His name was Hitler,  ym"S. 

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  • A

    abe -4 years ago

    It could be the crowd you're addressing won't relate to it and that's why you made those decisions, or it's something that you are just not aware of given the community and world you live in (I saw this personified this week when my brother sent me pictures of his son bringing lunch to the police officers of the 71st precinct (who were protecting their community, of course, and should be applauded), completely oblivious to what the protestors are doing and why they are out there. Many of them are not just bored, but are actually decrying injustice just as our prophets of old had done, and just as we, Jews, have asked the world do for us all these years). Or maybe it's something else.
     
    In any event, the pain of the Black community is real, and their grievances raw and painful (looters aside), and I think that if any real change will happen in this fractured world, it will most prominently come about by leaders reaching the people who don't realize there's a problem.
     
    I would recommend reading "The New Jim Crow," and watching "The 13th" on Netflix.
     
    Thanks for your prolific output. It's quite extraordinary.

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    • Anonymous -4 years ago

      Points well taken.
      But I do think there is an issue less popular to discuss. The horrific breakdown of family structures, values, bonds,  and devastating crime rates, by them. Due to lack of any real leadership or inner leadership on how to deal with challenges and crises. How to go from victimhood to owning your life, and how to take responsibility for yourself even when life is tough.
      And while everyone must take responsibility for their part, I wonder if this absence in the conversation does not really hurt our brothers and sisters in the black community.
      It would be like the only conversation by Jew would be: they hate us, they hate us, the world is evil. Sure, it must be part of the discussion; but most conferences must deal with growth and empowerement. 
      I saw yesterday an 18 min clip of a black woman, which I thought was very intelligent and probably much more beneficial for the black community to focus on. 
      I also want to mention that in all my years in America I never once saw a display of racism toward blacks. 
      Yes, growing up in Brooklyn, I ran away when I saw a group of black teens coming, but not because the color of their skin, simply because so many of us kids got beaten up. Due to very large crime rates in that community. 
      Never did I see someone discriminating against a black person due to his or her color, rather than behavior. But that's just me.
      Never did I internalize a message, from any parent, educator, or community member, that a person should be judged based on their color, rather than their behavior and conduct.
      If I see a white criminal, a rapist, thug or killer, I do not feel more surprised than if I see a black doing a crime. Nor do I feel that behavior has anything to do with color. 
      I think most people who grew up like me feel more or less the same; even if we did observe crime in the black community growing up it does not translate into a racist sentiment of seeing people of color inferior. 
      My love and blessings!

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      • C

        chaim -4 years ago

        Sharing a convesation I had this week.

        I am sure it was not your i tent, but though you may not have explicitly compared your/our/Orthodox Jews', values or behavior with those of African Americans who are protesting injustice. However the criticism and comparison are implicit, as you are writing this in the context of current events. This can and does come across as smug and insensitive at the least, uninformed, and possibly callous. In my opinion, this can lead to a chillul Hashem. Regardless, as rachmanim bnei rachmanim, it is a frum Jewush value to express empathy and compassion in the face of any suffering, not to pass judgement. This is my opinion. I acknowledge I may be mistaken, but felt I need to share it, innthe hopes that we, as a community, especially in galus, can be more sensitive. 

        Please read carefully and thoughtfully. "I want to start off by saying that I have a better understanding of this people than many others who are offering their opinions here. I grew up across the street from a very pleasant black family. Last year I had a Pesach cleaning business and had a crew of African Americans so I got a better picture of what goes on there. Many of them are decent people who are in a pathetic and miserable situation not because of their lack of ability but because they are horribly misled. The fact that someone like Ben Carson (and there are many other examples) can rise from literally the ghetto with absolutely no privilege whatsoever and become a leading and respected neurosurgeon tells me clearly that they can achieve anything. Generally speaking they may not possess the same skills and intellect of “white people,” although many of them do, they have their unique talents and ways they can succeed. If it’s in athletics and entertainment so be it. Our country gives tremendous opportunity for success in those areas. It’s mentality and leadership that limits them. The left forces them into poverty by telling them they can’t make it on their own and the only way they can survive is by becoming single mothers and being eligible for government programs. You yourself described to me how degrading that felt to you and how it motivates you to seek a career in education. Well thankfully you were not a single mom and you had the opportunity and encouragement to pursue that. They don’t. They are told it won’t work and everything is stacked against them. Once stuck in single motherhood it may be true. In general it is not. How many posts do we see of black women getting their doctorates, completing law degrees etc. And yet in the mainstream you are not allowed to cite these and many other examples of black success. It’s a horrible failure of leadership.

        So where do we come in? We have tremendous leadership and have been able to overcome the many many challenges albeit unique that we have faced. And it’s precisely because we refuse to accept the loser/victim mentality. We accept that we are in galus and work with that. I don’t see what is wrong with using our success to inspire them to change their mindset. There are a new wave of black leaders (are you familiar with Candace Owens?) who are espousing the very same message. I tried very hard to make my message inspirational and not condescending, I think it’s ultimately about them accepting who they are and telling themselves they can succeed. They need to hear that message because they are too used to hearing the opposite." In his response, which echoes alot in his posts and comments, what comes across is a sense of smug judgment, superiority, the repeated use of the word "they" and "them", which is in itself biased and stereotyping, by definition. His and other Jews who comment like this on a public forum are making a huge chillul Hashem.

        Plus, I do believe he and they are absolutely wrong and clueless about American history and racism. As for Jewish trauma, you know I have written about it and its effects and feel very strongly about it. It has crippled me personally. But it is a separate issue. I understand what drives many yidden who break the law to do so, I empathize, but as a fellow Jew, it is my place to call for better behavior from my own people, who claim to, and should have, better values, if they are truly Torah observant. As for the looters. Nobody excuses them, including most of thier leaders. I can share some video clips proving that. The thing is though, that the majority of protests begin peacefully and actually remain peaceful, until one of two, or both things happen. 1. Young and criminal hotheads and/or outside agitators loot and burn and drown out the true protesters. 2. The police use military tactics like pepper spray and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters, and all breaks loose. But the people who focus only on the looting and violence choose not to notice or read about that. 3. If people who complain about the looting would have prior to that, be at least as outraged at the endless string of innocent black people (especially men) murdered by police, wrongfully arrested, sitting in jail for years, on death row then DNA proves them innocent after half a lifetime behind bars. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If they would be outspoken about that, and outspoken about racist behavior in our communities, including againzt frum Jews of color: sephardim, geirim, etc. Like our two Duvid's families, then I could believe they were sincere. Unfortunately, too many in our community are ignorant about racism at best, and actively racist, in speech and behavior at worst. Especially when it is on a public forum. Does anti semitism in the white and black communities anger and scare me? Very much so. But it is a seperate issue. To be discussed at a different time or in a different conversation. Otherwise it becomes about "what aboutism" on both sides, which is never helpful. Because you can't really listen and have empathy when you are "what abouting". Re there anti semitic blacks, sure. That doesn't change the fact that racism is ongoing and unjust, and shouldn't detract from our condemnation of racism and murder of innocent people. Nor should the criminal looters who hijack the protests. 

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      • C

        chaim -4 years ago

        Sharing a conversation I had this week.

        I am sure it was not your intent, but though you may not have explicitly compared your/our/Orthodox Jews', values or behavior with those of African Americans who are protesting injustice. However the criticism and comparison are implicit, as you are writing this in the context of current events. This can and does come across as smug and insensitive at the least, uninformed, and possibly callous. In my opinion, this can lead to a chillul Hashem. Regardless, as rachmanim bnei rachmanim, it is a frum Jewush value to express empathy and compassion in the face of any suffering, not to pass judgement. This is my opinion. I acknowledge I may be mistaken, but felt I needed to share it, in the hopes that we, as a community, especially in galus, can be more sensitive. 

        Please read carefully and thoughtfully. "I want to start off by saying that I have a better understanding of this people than many others who are offering their opinions here. I grew up across the street from a very pleasant black family. Last year I had a Pesach cleaning business and had a crew of African Americans so I got a better picture of what goes on there. Many of them are decent people who are in a pathetic and miserable situation not because of their lack of ability but because they are horribly misled. The fact that someone like Ben Carson (and there are many other examples) can rise from literally the ghetto with absolutely no privilege whatsoever and become a leading and respected neurosurgeon tells me clearly that they can achieve anything. Generally speaking they may not possess the same skills and intellect of “white people,” although many of them do, they have their unique talents and ways they can succeed. If it’s in athletics and entertainment so be it. Our country gives tremendous opportunity for success in those areas. It’s mentality and leadership that limits them. The left forces them into poverty by telling them they can’t make it on their own and the only way they can survive is by becoming single mothers and being eligible for government programs. You yourself described to me how degrading that felt to you and how it motivates you to seek a career in education. Well thankfully you were not a single mom and you had the opportunity and encouragement to pursue that. They don’t. They are told it won’t work and everything is stacked against them. Once stuck in single motherhood it may be true. In general it is not. How many posts do we see of black women getting their doctorates, completing law degrees etc. And yet in the mainstream you are not allowed to cite these and many other examples of black success. It’s a horrible failure of leadership.

        So where do we come in? We have tremendous leadership and have been able to overcome the many many challenges albeit unique that we have faced. And it’s precisely because we refuse to accept the loser/victim mentality. We accept that we are in galus and work with that. I don’t see what is wrong with using our success to inspire them to change their mindset. There are a new wave of black leaders (are you familiar with Candace Owens?) who are espousing the very same message. I tried very hard to make my message inspirational and not condescending, I think it’s ultimately about them accepting who they are and telling themselves they can succeed. They need to hear that message because they are too used to hearing the opposite." In his response, which echoes alot in his posts and comments, what comes across is a sense of smug judgment, superiority, the repeated use of the word "they" and "them", which is in itself biased and stereotyping, by definition. His and other Jews who comment like this on a public forum are making a huge chillul Hashem.

        Plus, I do believe he and they are absolutely wrong and clueless about American history and racism. As for Jewish trauma, you know I have written about it and its effects and feel very strongly about it. It has crippled me personally. But it is a separate issue. I understand what drives many yidden who break the law to do so, I empathize, but as a fellow Jew, it is my place to call for better behavior from my own people, who claim to, and should have, better values, if they are truly Torah observant. As for the looters. Nobody excuses them, including most of their leaders. I can share some video clips proving that. The thing is though, that the majority of protests begin peacefully and actually remain peaceful, until one of two, or both things happen. 1. Young and criminal hotheads and/or outside agitators loot and burn and drown out the true protesters. 2. The police use military tactics like pepper spray and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters, and all breaks loose. But the people who focus only on the looting and violence choose not to notice or read about that. 3. If people who complain about the looting would have prior to that, be at least as outraged at the endless string of innocent black people (especially men) murdered by police, wrongfully arrested, sitting in jail for years, on death row then DNA proves them innocent after half a lifetime behind bars. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If they would be outspoken about that, and outspoken about racist behavior in our communities, including against frum Jews of color: sephardim, geirim, etc. Like our two Duvid's families, then I could believe they were sincere. Unfortunately, too many in our community are ignorant about racism at best, and actively racist, in speech and behavior at worst. Especially when it is on a public forum. Does anti semitism in the white and black communities anger and scare me? Very much so. But it is a separate issue. To be discussed at a different time or in a different conversation. Otherwise it becomes about "what aboutism" on both sides, which is never helpful. Because you can't really listen and have empathy when you are "what abouting". Re there anti semitic blacks, sure. That doesn't change the fact that racism is ongoing and unjust, and shouldn't detract from our condemnation of racism and murder of innocent people. Nor should the criminal looters who hijack the protests. 

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      • A

        Abe -4 years ago

        I will respond point by point:
         
        Points well taken.
        But I do think there is an issue less popular to discuss. The horrific breakdown of family structures, values, bonds,  and devastating crime rates, by them. Due to lack of any real leadership or inner leadership on how to deal with challenges and crises. How to go from victimhood to owning your life, and how to take responsibility for yourself even when life is tough.
         
        Have you ever been a slave? Have you had 400 years of being owned, that's owned, by others, of not having any self-determination in your life, of having your wife taken from you and raped/stolen in front of you on a regular basis, of having your children sold to the highest bidder? We, as Jews, have suffered, and in certain periods, like during the Holocaust, more than most, obviously, but we were never slaves (except in Egypt thousands of years ago :)). I recommend watching James Baldwin's speech at Cambridge University in 1965. We were the Other, but we were able to relish and marinate in our Otherness (though, Jews are quite damaged from that too). Plus, this is not about comparing them to Jews. It's about calling out injustice where it exists. If the average black man is followed by security while shopping and if police smack them around because they can get away with it without repercussions, that is unjust and should stop. (my fiance teaches in Inner City Harlem, so I know a little bit about this and the community).
         
        And while everyone must take responsibility for their part, I wonder if this absence in the conversation does not really hurt our brothers and sisters in the black community.
        There has been much growth in their communities over the years, but they still have problems. This is not just something that's fixed overnight. Again, as I recommended in my original email, I suggest reading The New Jim Crow and watching The 13th. It helps put things in perspective. 
         
        It would be like the only conversation by Jew would be: they hate us, they hate us, the world is evil. Sure, it must be part of the discussion; but most conferences must deal with growth and empowerement.  
        We were never slaves.  We always had our families and our identities, and that's what kept us so strong. They didn't have an identity for 400 years, and their fathers were never able to show strength and identity since it was stolen from them and they were intentionally subdued to make sure they never rebelled. I'm asking for empathy when thinking about this issue. These issues run very deep.
         
         
        I saw yesterday an 18 min clip of a black woman, which I thought was very intelligent and probably much more beneficial for the black community to focus on.I can send it to you, if you send me a whats app. Worth watching. 
         
        I would love to see it.  
        I also want to mention that in all my years in America I never once saw a display of racism toward blacks. 
        Yes, growing up in Brooklyn, I ran away when I saw a group of black teens coming, but not because the color of their skin, simply because so many of us kids got beaten up. Due to very large crime rates in that community. 
           Never did I see someone discriminating against a black person due to his or her color, rather than behavior. But that's just me.
        Never did I internalize a message, from any parent, educator, or community member, that a person should be judged based on their color, rather than their behavior and conduct.
         
        It's hard to believe that, but I'll take your word for it. I grew up in the same community as you did, as we always referred to blacks as "Shvartzes." It was never said as an accolade but pejoratively. If that's not racists, I don't know what is. if one addresses someone not as a human (a person) but by the color of their skin,  that is quite dehumanizing and inhumane (think about what it does to us, to our souls, by referring to a whole group of people that way). Overall, the Chassidic community hardly recognizes their black neighbors. There's hardly interaction. כאילו לא היו. Dehumanization. That's the ultimate insult. (this, despite the Rebbe's declaration to Dinkins that it's "one community)>
         
         
        If I see a white criminal, a rapist, thug or killer, I do not feel more surprised than if I see a black doing a crime. Nor do I feel that behavior has anything to do with color.
         
        How many black people do you have as friends? real friends?  Do you feel more comfortable with whites than with blacks? Have you ever crossed the street when a black man approached you (btw, I'm not saying I'm any better, I'm just being more open with my inherent prejudices).
         
         
        I think most people who grew up like me feel more or less the same; even if we did observe crime in the black community growing up it does not translate into a racist sentiment of seeing people of color inferior. 
         
        I honestly feel, with all due respect, you are not being honest with yourself and with the feelings that many Orthodox Jews feels towards Blacks/African Americans. 
         
        My love and blessings!
        My love and blessings to you, and I thank you for your correspondence and for taking the time to respond, as I'm sure you get many emails a day.

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        • Anonymous -4 years ago

          I am well aware of the horrors of slavery etc. etc. etc. 
          No question about that!!!! We got it all. this is not about judgement or disdain.
          I can elaborate for years but we both agree. The horrors, the suffering, the destruction, the endless pain, abuse, lynching, 12 years a slave is a good film to depict some of it. I watched a big part of the 13th.
          Now, I say in full compassion, that I think that you and so many really really do not really help them out by obsessing on this point, not because you are wrong, but because you paralyze them! You drain them. You help them feel as victims for eternity.
          It is similar situation with the Arab world vs. Israel.
          We do 9 av once a year -- not every day. There is a wise reason for it.
          As far as my own racism. Yes, I have had have friends who were black; No, i do not cross the street. I feel PERFECTLY fine and comfortable, with black and white. I am startled to learn that you do not, and that my community members would not. In fact, when I walk in the street i say hi to almost every black person i see. women and men.
          I got nothing of what you suspect me of having.
          I do think you are making an error:
          do not confuse chitzeoneyos with penemeyos.
          They are not the same.
          It is a PR stunt, but it is false.
          If a black helpless, hungry, fine, innocent man gets lost and falls into any chassidic community, from satmar to chabad, you and I know that 99 percent of them will treat him with compassion, sensitivity, give him his needs, feed him, find him a good doctor and treat him with utmost dignity. Not one will say or even think: He is black, let him drop dead.
          That is what counts in my book. 
          All else is nice but meaningless.
          When a Jew would fall into the hands of, sadly, some members of the human race, this will not be the case for most of the people.
          And you come across foolishly liberal when you do not acknowledge the criminal acts in our communities, the murders, rapes, beatings, thievery, etc. etc. etc. in a disproportionate way from that community. You can't ignore all of this if you want to come across intelligent and honest. You have to understand that when we were walking and saw a group of black youths, we got SCARED for good reason. 
          And even after this, Jews that I know still would not inherently see black people as inferior due to color. But we do know that so many blacks sadly grow up in environments where looting and criminal acts are the norm. Do not confuse that with racism.
          Are Jews racist against Christians? No. Muslims? no. But We do know that some 50 million Muslims want us dead. To ignore that is not equlity; it is suicide and stupidity. 
          if an innocent muslim falls into the hands of Israelis, they treat the guy quite nicely.
          Warmly, YYJ

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          • A

            ABE -4 years ago

            I think we are going to be going back and forth on this a whole bunch, and it is counterproductive and I don't want to take up your time to respond to me more than you want to or have the time for as we begin moving all across the map of history, social psychology, and politics.

             
            All I'm going to say is that I'm a moderate person in general--and by nature--not taken in by the extreme politics of the Right or Left--or extremism in general. It's a big turn off for me to watch MSNBC or Fox, or listen to Rush Limbaugh or Democracy Now. They both seem like they can use some thinking and should avoid jingoism and partisanship that is so prevalent on their networks and programs. I honestly feel like I'm watching Color War in CGI when I watch them roll out their specious, ad hominem, and threadbare arguments that are so partisan and can't and won't all themselves to hear the other side--logic and rationality be damned. I feel the same way when I watch members of Congress on both sides of the aisle wantonly espousing Party Uber Ales. It's nauseating. 
             
            This correspondence started from one place, and that is that I thought it a bit tone-deaf not to mention the name George Floyd and the crisis his murder catalyzed across the country, and regarding the WhatsApp comment in the conclusion of your essay--which you said was an attempt at humor. You might disagree and think otherwise, and maybe that's where we differ.
             
            The man was brutally killed by police, and that kind of sadistic mistreatment should not be done to any human being (even if he was in prison for armed robbery in the past, as is now being reported). The chances of that happening to a Black person in custody are much higher than any other race or creed (I think that's pretty much proven statistics), and it should stop. It's not the way a civilized country should operate, it should be called out by all the unmolested when it does, and it behooves all of society to take stock of living in a society where that does happen. They should also do this when anyone else is killed that way or for any gross injustice, but there seems to be a pattern with AAs, and it should stop.
             
            If that's a Liberal view, then, I guess I am liberal in that I don't want men's lives being snuffed out by cops placing knees on their necks. 
             
            That was my intention. 
             
            I'm sorry if you felt like I was being presumptuous in my declaration of your intentions and actions. I probably was, and for that, I apologize. I don't really know you as a person (it's been a very long time since we've spoken), and I should have thought twice before writing that.
             
            Greetings and blessings,

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  • A

    Abe -4 years ago

    To not mention the name of George Floyd at all in your essay--especially with the collective/individual message you were trying to impart--and then to invoke him at the end of your essay with a flip "WhatsApp message," again, without even affording him the dignity of mentioning his name--(in addition to the fact that the assertion being made in the comment is ignorant, as the Corona Virus has hardly ended and will surely spike because of the protests) is in my opinion, an obtuse error on your part as well as irresponsible, given the platform and leadership prowess you have available to you.
     
    You could have--and should have, in my opinion given the situation our country is in and the demand for social change which his murder has sparked--framed your entire essay via George Floyd.

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  • Anonymous -4 years ago

    "At that moment, Joseph remembered, that Adam was not one man; Adam was the entire world. If something would happen to him, if he would die, humanity world(would) die with him. Each decision he made impacted the planet. He could not deceive himself that his actions were unimportant. One move this or that way, would define the destiny of mankind. "

    Fits very well with the explantaion of The Satmar Rebbe:

    "Here is an answer presented by the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum (1887-1979). Since the private offering was in preparation for the altar that eventually would host the public offerings, this very act of preparation (even though it was a private offering now) for later public offerings was already considered like a public offering. It was already imbued with the importance of a Karban Tzibur. This is based on the principle that "hazmanah milsa hi" – preparation counts and has importance in-and-of itself.

    This is the "measure for measure" reward that Yosef was granted. You, Yosef, prepared for Shabbos. You instituted the concept that preparation is important. Therefore, I will accept your grandson's offering – even though it is private – on Shabbos. It too is preparation – preparation for a Public Offering, and Joseph has taught us the value of preparing for a great thing to come. "

    Because of yosef's decision, based upon the realization of it's nuclear impact,he was rewarded by preparing the mizbeach as an individual that would effect the Public forever.

    -Would the Rabbi be able to clarify the Rebees answer on how the Shabbas desecration was a reward for his actions. I only see an answer on how the korban was able to be brought on Shabbas because it had the status of a communal offering, but why is it a reward to be able to desecrate the Shabbas?

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  • M

    Moshe -4 years ago

    Comments

    The Rambam says that we are to view the world as evenly balanced between good deeds and the opposite, such that a single act by ourselves can tip the scales.  He who destroys a life destroys all his descendants,  i.e. a world, and vice versa for  saving a life. 

    The proofs brought show that Efraim could bring an individual offering on Shabbos although this was normally forbidden.  What about Menashe, also a child of Yosef? What about Efraim on the Shabbosim in the weeks and years following that first week? The  same logic would say that he could be a similar exception again and again? What about further descendants of Efraim (and Menashe) in later generations. By the logic used,  they  too, should enjoy the benefit of the exception and be allowed to bring a private offering on any and every  Shabbos? 

      Or can we say that Efraim was permitted to do so only this one time, it being the inaugural week of the Mishksn and therefore an exception? 

     Notice that the permission to bring communal offerings on Shabbos is an exception to the rules of Shabbos. Similarly,  we may not make statuettes or images of  the keruvim, except the pair in the mishkan.  

      The Rebbe was also one man who altered history.

      The sneezer in China sneezed into a world unprepared for a virus, though there have been many. The victim in Minnesota waa was like a single little  match--only capable of triggering mass results when tossed onto a tinderbox waiting for a match to burn. There have been victims of police brutality before, but not after months of lockdown,  after illness and  death, after uncertainty and fear, after massive unemployment and financial loss,  etc. The sneeze in November on one side of the world, smoldered until the spark on Memorial day on the other side. A powerful combination, but one we will overcome. .  

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Essay Nasso/Vayeishev

Rabbi YY Jacobson
  • June 4, 2020
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  • 12 Sivan 5780
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  • 3309 views
  • Comment

Dedicated by Rachel Shlomo, in memory of her father Yeshayahu Yosef ben Yaakov Leib, for the yartzeit, 12 Sivan. And for a Refuah Sheleima for Yosef Yitzchok ben Perel.

Class Summary:

In the listing of the offerings brought by the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel, in dedication of the newly erected Sanctuary, the seventh leader is from the tribe of Ephraim.                           

Yet here we face a fascinating question. The leaders of the tribes began offering their contributions on the first day of the month of Nissan, the day the Sanctuary was erected, which was on a Sunday. This means that Ephraim brought his offering on the seventh day of the week, on the Shabbos. But on Shabbos you are not allowed to bring an individual offering? On Shabbos you may not slaughter an animal, nor can you place meat in a fire, nor can you cook meat—all components necessary for an offering in the Sanctuary?!

The Midrash answers, that Ephraim was a son of Joseph. The tribe of Ephraim carried the genes and legacy of Joseph. Joseph observed the Shabbos in Egypt. So G-d said: "Joseph! You kept Shabbos even before it was given, I will pay you back such that your descendant will offer his sacrifice on Shabbos!” 

Yet this is so strange. What is the logic behind saying that since Joseph kept Shabbos, and prepared for Shabbos on Friday, his great grandson would bring a sacrifice that ordinarily violates the sanctity of Shabbos? 

I will present to you one answer, based on an address by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, presented on Shabbos Parshas Metzora, 7 Nissan, 5741 (1981) and on 19 Kislev 5721 (December 8, 1960).

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