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    Shalom and Bracha!

   In this week’s portion, Vayeishev, the Torah begins describing the prelude to the Egyptian exile. Yaakov’s favorite son Yosef was sold by his brothers into slavery and was brought to Egypt. He quickly rose to the highest possible position in his master’s house. Thereafter, because of a false libel, he was imprisoned. Even in prison, the head of the prison entrusted him with running the prison and he had great success. The portion concludes with two prisoners having dreams that they understood had a prophetic meaning. Yosef interpreted the meaning of the dreams and his words bore to be true.

   Egypt was the first exile of the Jewish people. The experiences of Yosef in Egypt are lessons to each of us as to how to act and to succeed while we are in exile. Before Yosef went to his brothers, the Torah relates that he was sent “from the Emek (valley) of Chevron.” Based on a topographical conflict, Rashi explains that this Emek in this verse is translated not as the valley but rather the depths, and that the verse is not telling us the location from whence he was sent, but rather the underlying cause of his mission. Hashem had told Avraham, who is buried in Chevron, that his offspring would be enslaved in a strange land before inheriting the land of Israel. The Torah teaches us that Yosef was sent from the depths of this covenant with Avraham. Often, we seek to understand the tribulations that we undergo. Just as the exile in Egypt was a necessary step to receive the Torah and receive the land of Israel, this exile is a necessary preparation for the coming of Moshiach and the great revelation we will have at that time.

   In explaining Yosef’s promotion in his master’s household, and his master’s relying upon him fully, the Torah says that his master Potiphar saw that “Hashem was with him.” Rashi explains that this means he constantly accredited Hashem (Thank G-d, G-d willing etc.). Similarly, the head of the prison saw “that Hashem was with him” and fully entrusted him. The Egyptians were idolaters. Nevertheless, when they saw that Yosef was imbued with his faith in Hashem, they trusted him. Often in Galut (exile) we feel that by compromising our religious practice and toning down our religious fervor we gain respect of our gentile neighbors. The narrative of Yosef shows that the opposite is true; gentiles respect us when we are what we are without shame or pretense. When they see that we are sincere in our Judaism, they trust and respect us more.

   Before the libel that landed Yosef in jail, the Torah says that Yosef was beautiful in form and appearance. Rashi explains that the libel was a punishment for Yosef’s expressing vanity when his father was suffering not knowing Yosef’s whereabouts. This is also a lesson; however successful we may be, we must never be complacent about the Galut- our Father awaits every day that we should finalize the preparations for Moshiach’s coming and return to our home!

  May Hashem finally answer our beseeching and may we celebrate this Chanukah with the Menorah of the Third Temple!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated to Monika Lalezarzadeh and David Amirian on the occasion of their engagement. May Hashem grant them a wonderful and joyous life together imbued with the love of Torah.

A project of Chabad of Great Neck

The Chanukah lights increase from day to day. Wouldn’t it be great to convince one more Jew each day to light a Menorah?


 
   
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