Shalom and Bracha!
The portion Vayigash continues the narrative of Yoseph and
his brothers. Yoseph had created a ruse in order to be
certain that his brothers had repented for selling him into
slavery. Once he was certain, he revealed his identity to
his shocked brothers. Immediately, he made one of the most
powerfully intense statements in history: “Do not worry that
you sold me… G-d has sent me before you to sustain you… it
is not you who sent me here, but rather G-d… and He has made
me a ruler in Egypt.
Let us think for a moment what Yoseph endured. His own
brothers wanted to kill him. Then they threw him into a
perilous pit. Then they decided to make some money and sold
him. What could be more traumatic? Now his brothers were in
his hands. Who could avoid venting anger and frustration?
Yoseph saw things through different eyes. Yoseph understood
that everything that happens to us in this world is the hand
of Hashem. As such, when he was thrown in the pit, and sold
as a slave, and imprisoned in Egypt, he attributed it to the
decree of Hashem. He may not have known why Hashem put him
through all of this, but he knew it came from Hashem. Either
he deserved it, or it was part of a greater plan, or both,
but it came from Hashem. As such, he cleansed himself from
anger and malice. As Hashem’s plan unfolded, he fully
understood his mission. As such, he truly bore no malice or
anger and immediately through himself into caring for his
father and brothers.
The Talmud teaches that anger is like serving idols.
Further, it causes us to forget and do and say things which
we later regret. Malicious feelings stain our souls and
burden our lives. Imagine freedom from all anger, vengeance
The Tanya says that we all must learn from Yoseph. By
perceiving everything as an expression of Hashem’s will, we
are cured us from anger and stress. The Baal Shem Tov
teaches that creation is constant. Hashem is involved in
every detail of our lives, and the goal of each trial and
tribulation may be revealed many years later or remain a
mystery to man. Although the perpetrator is responsible for
his acts, the recipient is in the hands of Hashem. When we
internalize this as Yoseph did, we can free ourselves of
anger and free the world of strife. Each step in
internalization cures our distress and brings peace to our
Strife brought the destruction of the Temple and any step
towards unity hastens Moshiach’s coming and the Temple’s
Asara B’Tevet-Guarding the Gates
Shalom and Bracha!
Thursday, January 5th marks the tenth day of the Hebrew
month of Tevet. The tenth of Tevet is a fast day that
commemorates the beginning of the siege against
Yerushalayim that concluded with the destruction of the
Temple on Tisha B’av. The fast is observed from daybreak
until nightfall. In New York the fast ends 5:13 p.m.
Every fast has its unique lesson. Unlike all of the
fasts for the destruction of the Temple, there is an
opinion that the tenth of Tevet is so severe that we
must fast even were it to fall on Shabbat. In our times
it never falls on Shabbat. The reason for the severity
is that the tenth of Tevet was the opening of all of the
problems. The further tragedies were only the
continuation of the course. This teaches us a tremendous
lesson concerning our own lives and the education of our
children. The destruction of the Temple serves as a
parable for our failures. When we see ourselves
beginning to develop a negative trait or go on a
negative path, we must use all of our energies before it
develops. Once a bad trait or path has begun, it is very
hard to break. Anytime a negative temptation arises we
should nip it in the bud. Later is much harder.
Similarly, from the earliest moment we must guide our
children on the right path. Early memories are ingrained
in a child and early errors are very hard to erase.
The Rebbe has recommended that in every synagogue time
be dedicated during Asarah B’tevet afternoon services to
discuss returning to Hashem by avoiding negative paths
and more significantly undertaking positive paths in
following the Torah. Those who cannot attend Synagogue
should set aside time on Thursday to reflect and
rededicate themselves to Torah.
All of the fasts for the Temple also have one central
theme. As we mourn the destruction, we yearn for the
rebuilding. We are told that the destruction of the
second Temple was because of wanton hatred and that
Ahavat Yisrael will bring Moshiach. Sometimes we wonder:
it’s very tough to give up our grudges and self-centered
behavior and to truly and unconditionally care about
others. The answer is that if we realize that the entire
world and Hashem Himself are waiting for us, we can
overcome our pettiness.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe has assured us that our generation
is the last generation of the exile and the first
generation of the Redemption. Moshiach is ready to come
and is only awaiting acts of good and kindness. Let us
use out this day of commemoration to affect the
Redemption. May we merit that this fast be transformed
to the rejoicing of Moshiach’s coming.
Have an easy and meaningful fast,
Dedicated in memory of Gittel Ilka Bas Shalom Fessler
A project of Chabad of Great Neck 400 East Shore Rd.
Great Neck NY 11024
516 4874554 fax 516 487 4807