Divine Revelation — How Moshe Merited His

[The following are a few verses from Parshas Shemos, where it talks about G-d’s first revelation to Moshe. Chapter 3, first four verses.]

Passuk Alef -1:  And Moshe was pasturing (tending) the sheep of Yisro, his father-in-law, kohen of Midian and he led the sheep after the desert and he brought them to the Mountain of Hashem Chorev. 

Rashi:  After the desert – why did Moshe take the sheep so far?  To get far away from stealing so that he sheep would not graze in the fields of others?  In Tehillim, King David asks  us “Mee Ya’aleh B’Har Hashem” who gets to “go up to the Mountain of G-d” and King David answers, “Nekee Kapayim” a person whose hands are clean.  One must be an honest person in order to get close to G-d.  Moshe went to great lengths so that even one blade of grass he would not steal.

Seforno:  says that Moshe also chose this place to come to because he wanted to do Hisbodidus and daven here.  An introduction to Hisbodidus.  At times people need to take time to be with Hashem alone and figure themselves out.  We need to schedule time where we reflect on who we are, what we should be doing and how well we are doing it.  Time alone to make a Cheshbon HaNefesh [accounting of our soul], to figure ourselves out and to find out how to improve is very important to service of G-d.  In the hustle and bustle of society and living, often we are marching to the tune of others, blocked from really knowing our own true inner core and truths.

Pasuk Bays-2:  And an Angel of Hashem appeared to him in a flame of fire in the middle of the bush and he looked and he saw, behold a bush burning with fire and the bush is not being consumed.  

Rashi:  From the middle of a bush – why a bush?  And not another tree?  To show “eemo anochi B’Tzara” G-d is, so-to-speak, suffering with the Jews and doesn’t show off with majestic things when they are suffering.

Even Ezra tells us that what Moshe was seeing is a Mashal-parable to the Jewish people.  We are forever being put through fires of anti-semitism, but the bush doesn’t get consumed by the fire, there are always Jewish people – we will always survive as a nation.

We must always remember in life, even in the midst of struggles and tribulations, with G-d within us, we are never “consumed” by our troubles.

Passuk Gimmel -3:  And Moshe said, I will turn aside and I will see this great sight why the bush is not being burnt.

Many people see amazing miracles or amazing things such as unbelievable events in nature, and ignore it, too busy to sit and think about it.  That is what stops them from becoming close to Hashem.  Look at Moshe, he saw something amazing, something that didn’t make sense in the natural order of things.  Instead of going, “interesting, la dee da, let me go on with making money” he said “I will turn aside and contemplate it and think.  I will try to figure it out and learn from it.”  That is what we must do, notice the things Hashem does in the world and become closer to Hashem from viewing life, history and nature.

Passuk Daled-4:  And Hashem saw that he turned to see and G-d called to him from the middle of the bush and he said Moshe, Moshe, and he said, I am here.

If you remember from when you learned about Avraham, Hashem calling out a name twice, shows love.

Seforno:  Hashem didn’t call out to Moshe until Moshe turned away from his daily business and turned toward the bush.  “Habah L’Taher M’sayin Ohsoh” we are taught, which means, someone who comes to become better, gets helped by Hashem.  Don’t expect Hashem to strike you with lightening to get your attention.  Hashem expects YOU to take the first step toward Him and toward becoming a better person.  Once you take that first step, then, okay, Hashem says, now I’ll call out to that person.  Moshe had to make the decision to contemplate the miracle and become better through seeing what he was seeing, and when he took that first step, Hashem called out to him.

 So the recap of how Moshe got revelation:  he was honest, he took time to figure out himself (without the blocking noise of society), he contemplated that which he saw, and he turned toward G-d.  May we all have the wisdom to try to imitate him, so that we, too, can merit Divine Messages.


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Shmos — Growing Up Means Seeing Others’ Needs

Moshe grew up in the house of Paroh and became an adult.  Verse 12:  “and he saw them [the Jews] in their suffering.”  RASHI:  He made himself aware of it.  He could have been oblivious, busy with partying and shopping.  He went out and looked for it, to be aware of it.

When we talk about Moshe growing up, we see two verses that seem to repeat that fact.  In the second verse when it tells us that Moshe grew, we are then introduced to the fact that he went to see the suffering of his people.  The second verse is not talking about physical development – it is talking about Moshe becoming a mature adult.  A child and a teen are very egocentric – focused on themselves, their needs, their wants.  We know someone is growing up and maturing when they are able to see other people’s sufferings and want to help other people.  When your focus is outwards not inwards, when you worry about the other person and not yourself, that’s when you know you’ve finally grown up.


And, if you want to see this concept explained in a way more profound way, get the book Holy Woman by Sara Yocheved Rigler. http://www.sararigler.com/books-holywoman.php



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Shmos – What’s Your Blessed Name?

A girl I tutored once dragged me to an event at her friend’s apartment.  Someone came over and introduced himself, then asked me what I did as work.  I answered, and then returned the question, and he told me he was Vice President of the X company.  I said politely, “oh, that’s nice.”  He looked at me with narrowed eyes, anger apparent in every pore of his being and hissed, “That’s just the second largest record company in the world that I work for, for your information!” and stalked away.  Oops, I had offended his royal highness by being so out of pop culture that I had no clue to be impressed when he told me the company where he worked.  Here, he wanted to be big shvitzer, but his attempt was lost on an uninformed rube.  But had I known the prestige of the company and been impressed, why would that be good for his ego – that was the company he was working for, not him.

Another friend came back from Israel and told me, “It was strange to see the difference between us Americans and the rest of the world.”  “How so?” I asked.  She explained she had been at a Shabbos table with folks from all over, and they had been asked to introduce themselves.  She found it fascinating that the Americans were the only ones who introduced themselves as their job, “I’m Jacob and I’m a lawyer.” “I’m Sarah and I’m an accountant.”  The rest of the folks introduced their name and said something of their families or travels or thoughts.  She was blown away that here we value folks based on their careers.  And folks value themselves and identify themselves by that, too.

This week’s Torah portion starts with a listing of names.  [1:1] “And these are the names of the sons of Yisroel.”  Rashi asks the question of why the listing of names.  After all, the names are enumerated in last week’s Torah portion.  Then Rashi gives the answer:  “To show how beloved they are, that they are comparable to the stars, like it says He takes out by number the legion, to all He calls them by name.” Basically, the names are repeated here, as the brothers died, to show that G-d loved each one of them and he called them back to Heavens by name.

Seforno:  Each one of them worthy to be remembered by name to show their individual value that they did not lose their identities “lo yatza l’tarbus ra’ah”.  Further on Seforno elaborates on the leitmotif of names (3:13) explaining that a name points out the reason for individuality in relation to the unique actions of the one named.

When a person is born, the person is given a name that promises potential, that hints of the greatness that such a person can achieve.  Whether or not the person will go ahead and fulfill that potential and promise remains to be seen.  When a person dies, if he has done his mission in this world, then G-d personally calls the person by name, attesting that the person lived up to his potential.

When you first meet a person, you are just another person they met.  Then, after they get to know you, hopefully, they love you and appreciate you.  They use your name familiarly, not the same way they uttered it that first day you met.  When you are born, your name is not yet familiar, it is a promise.  Hopefully, when you die, your name is beloved in the Heavenly spheres.

There is an old Chassidic Mashal apropos:  A drunken fool came to a hotel one rainy night and requested a room.  “I’m sorry,” said the clerk, “there are no rooms left.”  “Oh, but it’s so cold and wet out there.  Can’t you find me one bed?”  The clerk looked uncertain so the fool kept begging.  Finally, the clerk said, “I do have one bed, but it’s in the same room as a very important priest.  If I let you in, you must tiptoe in and not wake the priest as he wanted his own private room.  Then, tomorrow morning, early, early, I will wake you up and you will tiptoe out so the priest will never know you slept there – is that fine?”  Since the fool had no intentions of sleeping in a downpour, he agreed to the deal.   He tiptoed into the room, got undressed and slid under the covers of the empty bed.  AH, sleep, blessed sleep.  Next morning, before the sun was even up, he was shaken awake by the clerk.  Quiet as a mouse, the man grabbed his clothing and slipped them on.  He left the hotel and continued on his travels even before the sun had hit the horizon.  Soon it was daybreak, and as people passed the fool, they kept tilting their caps respectfully to him.  He could not understand why such respect was warranted until he looked down – and saw he was wearing the priest’s clothing.  Slapping his head in frustration, the fool said, “Oh no, the clerk woke up the priest instead of waking me!”

Are we the same fool, identifying ourselves with our jobs, cars, friends or designer clothing?  Who are YOU?!  Do you identify yourself by…your real Etzem, the reason for your creation, your name, making sure it lives up to its potential?

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Yaakov’s Brachos for His Offspring (Parshas Vayechi)

Yaakov first blessed two grandsons, Efrayim and Menashe. Friday nights, there is a long-established custom for fathers to bless their children.  Those who do so use the same Brachos/blessing that Yaakov used for Efrayim and Menashe.

In this week’s Torah portion, Efrayim and Menashe were not the only ones to receive blessings.  Each and every one of the twelve sons got one.  Therefore, we must ask, why is the Bracha that Efrayim and Menashe got, the one that is used through the generations?

I’ll share with you two profound reasons.  The first is because the circumstances of how Efrayim and Menashe were raised.  They were the first two Jews born fully in Galus/exile and raised in isolation there – and, yet, they were solidly frum.  So, through the generations, when the Jews have to go from exile to exile, we draw strength in knowing two special Jews were raised in exile and were righteous.  We, therefore, use the blessings bestowed on those two for our own children and hope our children will be as frum as those two.

Another reason we utilize this blessing for our own children is that when Yaakov gave the Bracha, he switched his hands and put the prominent hand on the younger of the two brothers’ heads.  Igra D’Kalla notes that even though Efrayim was younger, when Yaakov put his right hand on Efrayim’s head, Menashe did not become jealous or feel threatened.  Furthermore, Efrayim did not become boastful and conceited from this extra honor.  Both brothers stood side-by-side there respectfully, happy they were both getting the Bracha, with no ill feelings between them.  That is why we use their Bracha for our children – we want every member of the Jews to be able to live that way – without jealousy, without arrogance, happy for our fellow Jew when they get something good.  And not conceited if we get an extra blessing in our lives.

Now, each and every one of the conversations/missives Yaakov gives to his children, each one personalized and tailored to him, has multiple meanings and prophecies.  Here, with brevity, I will just gloss over some small tidbits on these utterances of our father Yaakov.

Reuven, supposed to be the Bechor.  Alas for him, he messed up.  Amazingly, he doesn’t falter or feel bitter.  Wish I could be that able to let my losses due to my mistakes not eat me alive with bitter regret.  Now we hear, for the first time, Yaakov addressing Reuven’s wrong doing.  It is years after the event, actually.  However, Yaakov did not say the Mussar/admonishment until now because he did not want Reuven to be ashamed to face him.  Yaakov kept his silence to ensure Reuven was not put into a position of wanting to run away from home.  We have to remember that “telling someone off” is not a very good idea if it makes the person ashamed for years to come.  If Yaakov kept quiet about a wrong that Reuven did for years just so not to harm him, how much more so should we keep quiet.  My father always told us, not everything a parents sees or knows about his child should be used in confrontation with the child.  Parents have to know when to keep their mouths shut.

Next, two brothers had to be censured for acting out of anger.  When Shimon and Levi are rebuked for their anger, Yaakov says “Arur Apam” cursed is their anger.  Rashi points out Yaakov cursed the bad action and did not curse his sons.  We always have to separate an action from the person.  Most people are not cursed or bad – actions might be.    This is very important to remember for parenting..  Never call your kid bad.  If you have to rebuke your child, rebuke the behavior.  Don’t call a child lazy.  You can say, “wasting two hours on that was a  lazy act”.  This way, you are sending the message that Yaakov sent his sons – that they are good – but at times their actions were not on par to their greatness.

In the blessing for Yehuda, Yaakov said that Yehuda “crouched like a lion” — even when Yehuda made a mistake he did not bash his own sense of self, but knew he could get up again, strong as before.  We have to try to imitate Yehuda – to fix what we did wrong, but never to get crushed by our mistakes.  It’s okay to mess up.  You crouch, understand you did wrong.   But crouch like a lion, without losing a sense of the greatness you can accomplish once you move past your mistake.

In Yisascher’s blessing, Yaakov said “Yisacher, saw a resting place and the land was pleasant, and he bent his shoulder to bear” —   The Rav of Warka said that the land is pleasant when we bend our shoulder to bear – the more responsibility, usually the happier the person.

Zevulun is to become the merchant chief.  Because he undertook to support his brother Yissacher and let him learn, he has blessings in his commerce and becomes wealthy.  Don’t think that just the earners are supporting the learners.  The learners, by giving the merit to have the wealth to the Zevuluns of the world, are supporting the earners.  It is mutually beneficial.

In Dan’s blessing, Yaakov hints to the leadership of Shimshon HaGibbor, Samson who single-handedly was able to beat our enemies.  And Yaakov calls out [v. 17] “Leeshoo’uhscha keeveesee Hashem – for Your deliverance I’m hoping Hashem”  Rashi says this refers to G-d hearing the last prayer of Shimshon, which was “Zachreinee Nah..ach ha’pa’am Hazeh – please remember me this last time”.  To review that tale:  Shimshon was betrayed by his non-Jewish wife.  His hair was shorn, his eyes blinded.  He was to be killed in a public spectacle in a vast arena, with many Philistines in attendance.  Shimshon wants desperately to deal a last blow with his death to the Jews’ enemies.  He prays for one last blast of strength, and G-d allowed  him to have that last burst of energy.  Granted his request, Shimshon pulls down the marble pillars which were the balancing beams of the arena, crushing himself, along with the enemies’ troops, judges and spectators. His final revenge.  Rabbeinu Bachya points out that as Yaakov sees prophetically this mighty warrior and prays for him, at the same time, Yaakov ends off the prayer with the words “for YOUR deliverance” we are hoping.  Yes, we applaud all the strongmen who have stood up to fight for our nation.  But that is not our “tikva” hope.  HaTikva is all fine and good, but that is not our Tivka.  Yaakov, refocuses us:  G-d’s deliverance we want, straight, direct, just as he did for us in Egypt.  We’ll accept the necessary miracles here and there of human strength, but what we really yearn for is the above-and-beyond miracle.  G-d himself intervening.

Gad’s blessing is that they will be successful in bringing all their men home from battle.  [v.19] “Vehoo Ya’good Uhkayv – and his troop will “heel”.  Rashi, they will retrace their footsteps homeward.  We know Eliyahu HaNavi comes from Shevet Gad.  Using connections based on words used in verses, we look at the word, “ukhayv” and see that it is the same as the word Eykev used in Sefer Devarim to remind us that “Ve’haya Eykev Tishmah’oon – it will be when you “heel” will listen”.  The two are inter-connected.  When will we get Mashiach; when will Elijah come bring us the tidings of world peace?   When we finally understand we must retrace our steps to keep every single one of the Mitzvos.

[v. 20] “from Asher will come Shmayna Lachmoh” fat breads”, Shmayna hinting to Shemen [oil] and Shemona [eight].  Olive oil brings intelligence and beauty.  More people from Asher’s tribe knew the exact sciences of setting the calendar, which takes broad knowledge of geography, astronomy and the concepts of time.  And the daughters of Asher’s tribe would end up marrying the Kohanim who wore Shemona (8 garments).

Yosef gets the bracha of no Ayin Harah, no jealous glances have impact on his descendants.  This is a direct reward of his actions.  When Eisav came out to “meet” with Yaakov, Yosef did not want Eisav leering or ogling his mother’s beauty.  Therefore, though a young lad, he stepped in front of mother and shielded her from Eisav.  Because he shielded his mother from Eisav’s eye, no ill-grudging glares or stares have any effect whatsoever on the members of his tribe.

Binyamin [v.27] “in the morning will eat a portion and in the evening will divide spoil” Rashi:  Shaul during the times in Israel “in the morning” will beat our enemies, but he left behind Agag and so “in the evening” during Galus-exile, Mordechai and Esther will divide the spoils of Haman, will do the mop-up work.  Guys, we all have a mission to do here on Planet Earth.  Mess up, and you might be leaving behind messy work for your descendants to have to cope with and execute.

Yaakov finishes the blessings with more guidance.  [v. 28] ALL these are tribes of Yisroel, twelve.”  The message in this verse is that blessings come when we acknowledge each other and join together and respect each other.  All of us, Chassid or Misnaged, Sefardi or Ashkenazi, all of us are the tribes of Yisroel.  Heaven is big enough for all of us.   Without peace amongst us, without respect to our fellow Jew, the blessing is heading into a sieve.  We have to acknowledge all our brethren and make peace amongst ourselves, for unity is the vessel which “catches” the blessings and keeps it there for us.

[v. 29] “Each man like his blessing he blessed them.”  Each person in the world is unique.  We all have different jobs and different talents.  Our goal should never be to be someone else, but to realize our own strengths and talents – and to figure out our own mission in Hashem’s work.  That is why Yaakov gave each one of the Shevatim/tribes his own unique Bracha.  And gave them exactly what they needed for what they would have to do in the unfolding of history.

May we all be blessed “like our blessing” with the requisites we need to fulfill our unique missions.

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Teves Fast Days — Three Days of Tragedy, one after the other

Three Days of Tragedy are lumped together, one right upon the other, for our people, starting today.   We only fast formally on the 10th of Teves (Sunday January  8th this year), as three days of fasting would not be feasible for most of us weak-constituted folks who need our food.  Below, I’ll do an analysis of the day-to-day tragedies whose events left pain for generations for us.

CHES TEVES:  On the eighth of Teves, many years ago, King Talmai took a group of Talmidei Chachamin [Torah Scholars] and locked them away in separate rooms to block them from communicating with each other.  He then ordered each one of them to translate the Torah into Greek.  He did this to make sure he was getting an accurate translation and that they wouldn’t hide any Torah from him.  The sages, although they could not communicate, all made the same minor changes in the translation EXACTLY as if they had discussed matters beforehand.  The changes they made were to ensure their translation would not give wrong ideas to the outside world.  For example, the first verse in the Torah, “Breishis Bara Elokim” they switched to “Elokim Bara Breishis”.  Why?  Because they realized idol worshippers might say that Braishis, the word meaning ‘in the beginning’, is the name of one of their idols and try to “prove” one of their idols created G-d by quoting the verse in that off-kilter way.  So the sages switched the verse to begin with the word G-d, to make it clear to everyone that nothing comes before G-d.  One of the other changes was to say that a certain animal “young of foot” was not kosher.  In Hebrew, the animal is not called “young of foot” but is called an Arnevet.  However, Talmai’s wife happened to have as her name the word Arnevet, so the rabbis realized she might become insulted to hear a verse saying Arnevet is not Kosher.  They, therefore, worded the name of the animal differently.

It was a complete miracle that so many rabbis, all separated from each other and  translating in seclusion, came up with the identical ideas of how to translate the Torah accurately and make the adjustments; and all of them handed in translations exactly the same.  Yet, the day on which they had completed the translation is considered a national tragedy for the Jews.  Why?

The Chasam Sofer explains that the translation of the Torah took away its dimensions.  How do we understand this?  Each word in the Torah comes along with 70 meanings.  Translating it into literal secular sentences flattens it to one-faceted text.  Let me explain a bit about dimensions.   An ant walking along the floor sees something – only in flatness – 2-dimensions.  The ant is not big enough to see height and width. A human who stands taller than the ant, can see the same object from a few angles and, therefore, sees more of its dimensions.  A scientist looking through a microscope can see even more dimensions to the same object because the scientist can see inside the dimensions we can see with our naked eyes to even more dimensions.

When we read the verse, for example of Braishis Bara Elokim, we Jews know those words mean 70 different things, such as “bishvil Raishis – for the sake of Raishis (which is the Torah) Hashem created the world.  We know the verse is telling us that Braishis Bara Elokim, G-d created the concept of time, of “in the beginning” – that time is relative to the world.  It took Einstein many years later to learn what he could have learned from this verse, that time is relative and is a creation like all creations.

Anyone learning Torah without the rich, deeper translations only gets to see one dimension, they don’t get to learn all the lessons which could be gotten from the Torah.  That is why most non-Jews and some unlearned Jews have such issues with some verses, because they don’t understand what is being said, because they only have a flat translation – just as the ant cannot understand how a dresser, a cliff and a wall are different.  The ant cannot see fully – it just sees: large object ahead = wall.  Physicists now argue we are quite like the ant, we see only a limited idea of the different dimensions to the world.  (If any of you are science minded and want to read up about some physicists’ theory to the many different dimensions we cannot see but that are there in the world, then read The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene.)

The tragedy of the translation of the Torah is that the world sees Torah as a one-dimension story book.  “And he said.”  “And she said.”  “And they went.”  That is the way they view Torah, instead of realizing  each word and letter has a soul and a lesson.   Let me give you another example.  Supposing I walk into a room and pick on a pretty girl and I say, from now on, you cannot speak or act out.  You must just sit here and smile and be pretty.  After a few years of  not being able to speak or act, that girl would be known as “the pretty girl”, but nobody would know who she really is, what she is thinking, what her personality is like, what she loves, what makes her tick.  They would see her merely as a flat, “pretty girl”.  That would be tragic, because the real person would be lost. (Which, by the way, is much of what society has done with folks.)  That is what the translation of Torah into Greek did, it made the words of Torah into “pretty words” for the non-Jews, where they could never see the personality and life of Torah.

TES TEVES:  The ninth of Teves is the Yahrtzeit [anniversary of the death] of Ezra and Nechemia who had led the Jews back from the Babylonian Exile and who had rebuilt Yerushalayim and the 2nd Bais Hamikdash [Temple].    They had been leaders the way leaders should be: uncompromising in truth (they made those who had intermarried divorce), but pragmatic about enabling folks to stick to truth (setting up cosmetic shops in all areas so Jewish women could keep their men’s attention).  They did not preach tolerance to sinners (speaking out against doing wrong), but were welcoming and understanding to those who wanted to repent (telling them not to fast, but to celebrate the reality of G-d allowing U-turns).  ‘Tis indeed a tragedy to have a dearth of leaders like that.  So, today, we can say, as G-d did to Moshe, ‘alas for those we’ve lost and aren’t here.’  We sorely miss wise leadership like Ezra and Nechamia.  And, lest you say, that’s an excuse for our generation to do the wrong thing, then take a reality check.  We only get leaders as we deserve, which means if we think our leaders are flawed, then we must be seriously flawed to have them as our generation’s leaders.

ASARA B’TEVES.  The 10th of Teves is the day that Nevuchadnetzer set up the siege around Yerushalayim.  The beginning of the end to the Temple and Divine revelation.  This bitter exile has stretched so long, the hatred between us is as fiery and unjust as ever, and for that, I only can say with a Krechtz, “Ad Ana Bechiya..” until when will we have to cry?  Here is the song, as sung with tons of meaning and feeling by Ari Goldwag: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tDPo4qQpVQ&feature=related

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Vayigash — Coming Close to Understanding Yehuda and Yosef’s Dialogue

VAYIGASH :  and he came close…

Last week’s Parsha the story stopped where Yosef said he is keeping Binyamin as a slave.  The brothers offered to all be slaves, but Yosef rejects that idea, saying he wants to only keep Binyamin.  At this point, Yehuda comes closer to Yosef and begins a whole dialogue trying to get Binyamin freed.

Alshich:  We know Yehuda is angry at this point.  Why was Yehuda angry at Yosef?  When tragedy happens, we always have to search into our own soul and see if it fits our crimes, if what is happening is from Hashem as pay-back for wrong we have done.  Yehuda realized the brothers were guilty of selling Yosef into slavery and maybe they all deserve being slaves.  But when he saw Yosef only wanted Binyamin and not to make slaves of the guilty parties, he knew this is not punishment by Hashem, but rather unwarranted provocation – and, therefore, he became angry at Yosef.

Mishlei:  words dispel anger.  Yehuda goes into a whole shpiel here, trying to get Yosef to not be angry at the brothers and to want to free Binyamin.  Try talking things out.  It works many times.

Yehuda says he cannot go back to his father with the boy not with him.  The meforshim [commentators] point out that should be our attitude – how can we face our Father, Hashem, if we don’t have our fellow Jews with us, if we don’t do all in our power to help another Jew come closer to Hashem.

Vayeegash — first Yehuda comes close.  Before going into any tantrums or war-mode, first always try ‘vayeegash’ to be someone who tries to come close to an adversary.  Try reason, try talking it out  – and try to explain your needs and viewpoint.

So, we understand what Yehuda is doing here.  The question is, what is Yosef doing?!  Why is he putting his brothers through such emotional turmoil?  Yosef was testing his brothers- – would they let another son of Rachel be sold into slavery.  When he saw that they were willing to trade their own freedom and let Binyamin go free and safe, he then decided it was time to reveal himself to them.

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Parshas Miketz -Pharoh’s Dream and Its Message to Us

In Paroh’s dream, he saw a group  of some contented, fat cows who end up joined at their grazing land by some skinny cows.  The verse tells us that the cows stood next to each other — fat and skinny just there.  Upon seeing the skinny intruders, the fat cows became wary, stopping their munching and staring uneasily. The skinny cows, however, just stood there, not doing anything, so the fat cows went back to grazing. As soon as the fat cows got used to the skinny ones being there, the skinny cows opened their big mouths and completely swallowed up the fat cows. Chick-Chock, all gone, faster than you can say “MOO”.

The Yetzer Hara uses the cow tactic, too. First the thought of doing wrong comes there and stands in our mind for some time, like a guest. We don’t act upon it. As a matter of fact, we would be horrified to carry out some thoughts. We stand in a place watching people do wrong things, thinking we would never do it. Yet, if we stand there long enough, or if we let a thought be in our mind long enough, the second we aren’t wary, “Gulp” — we’re swallowed by our desires, doing the things we would never, ever, have dreamed of doing. If you’re embarrassed by a thought or by watching your friends do something wrong, the shame is a warning bell. Don’t be a fat cow and ignore the warning signs. Charge at it. Get the bad thought out of your head. Get yourself away from a place where Aveiros [sins] are being committed. Get yourself on the attack…or risk being swallowed by temptation.


And that goes for not playing violent games, not watching violent shows, etc.  Do you think those two moronic evil guys who beat up a homeless man for a youtube clip were born evil?  Or those crazy folks who think they are strong when knocking down folks?  Nope — they were allowed to be exposed to evil desires, until that evil enveloped them and became them.  Do your children a favor and don’t park them in front of the TV.

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