Home Seniors Programs Special Needs Mommy and Me Join a Study Group Bat Mitzvah Program for Women of All Ages One on One Learning Giving
Parsha Points About Us Contact Us

Why was Yaakov so attached to the Land? Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 December 2022

After Rachel passed away, we read in Parshat Vayishlach (Breisheet 35:27):

Yaakov came to Yitzchak, his father to Mamrei to Kiryat Arba which is Hevron where Avraham and Yitzchak lived.

We don’t see Yaakov going anywhere after that so it is surprising that Parshat Vayeshev (Breisheet 37:1) begins with the following words:

Yaakov settled in the Land of his father’s residence, in the Land of C’naan.

According to the Malbim, this verse shows how attached Yaakov was to the Land. The Malbim gives two reasons why Yaakov was so devoted to the Land:

1. It was the Land where Yaakov’s fathers sojourned and he therefore saw it as his own land, birthplace and father's home.

2. It was the Land of C’naan which is conducive to holiness and Divine Providence.

The Malbim explains that Yaakov would not have picked up and left the Land due to a famine. Therefore, the only way to get Yaakov down to Egypt was for Yosef to be sold into slavery, move up the ranks and become second to the Pharaoh where he was in charge of giving out food and ultimately being reunited with his family.

When Yaakov was told that Yosef was still alive and that he was the ruler in Egypt, Yaakov said (Breisheet 45:28):

It is too much! My son Yosef still lives. I will go see him before I die.

On Yaakov’s way down to Egypt, when he came to Be’er Sheva, God appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid to go down to Egypt.

We see from here that Yaakov loved the Land so much that the only way that he would leave again was to see his son, Yosef who had been missing for so many years and only with God’s permission.

The reason that the Parsha starts out with the words “Yaakov settled in the Land of his father’s residence, in the Land of C’naan” is to show that the whole Yosef story was necessary in order to bring Yaakov’s family down to Egypt in furtherance of the promise that when their descendants would finally return, they would conquer and inherit the Land and not just be temporary residents.

May we all be blessed to feel Yaakov’s deep attachment to the Land of Israel.

Yosef’s dream is being fulfilled today Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 November 2021

In Parshat Vayeshev (Breisheet 37:7), Yosef recounts his dream to his brothers:

Behold, we were binding sheaves in the middle of the field. Behold my sheaf rose and stood up straight; and behold your sheaves surrounded it and prostrated themselves to my sheaf.

Why is Yosef dreaming about sheaves?

We also dream about sheaves!

In Shir HaMa’alot (Psalm 126) that we sing before Birkat HaMazon on Shabbat and holidays we say:

When God brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like dreamers…They who sow in tears will reap in joy. He who goes weeping on his way, bearing a bag of seed, shall come back with a joyful shout, carrying his sheaves.

During the exile, the Jews dreamed of cultivating their own fields in the Land of Israel where they could properly celebrate the agricultural holidays of Pesach, Shavuot (the harvest festival) and Sukkot (the festival of ingathering) with their own crops.

Rabbi Dr. Lionel Mirvis explains that Yosef’s dream is being realized once again in the Modern State of Israel: In an intensive and healthy agricultural economy, Jewish labor is engaged in every aspect of crop cultivation. Israel’s produce provides food for Israelis and it is also being exported abroad.

Rabbi Mirvis believes that we are getting closer to the blessing promised to us in Parshat Bechukotai (Vayikra 26:5):

Your threshing will last until vintage and the vintage will last until the sowing; you will eat your bread to satiety and you will dwell securely in your land.

Rashi explains that the prosperity will be so great that you will still be busy threshing your grain when the time comes to harvest your grapes and you will still be occupied with your vintage when the time comes to sow next year’s grain.

When it comes to agriculture, Israel has some of the best technology and amazing produce. Unfortunately, the government has not been helping the farmers enough and even worse, they have been encouraging imported produce from abroad which is often cheaper.

We must do what we can to help the Israeli farmers, especially this year which is a Shmita (Sabbatical) year where in some communities buying most Israeli produce grown by Jewish farmers is forbidden.

We must remind ourselves that Yosef’s dream and the dream in Tehillim 126 are being fulfilled. We are back in Israel, we are growing our own crops, we are fulfilling the Mitzva of settling the land and we are finding ways to observe the Shmita year according to Halacha while supporting Jewish farmers and eating the freshest produce that can be found.

It wasn’t a coincidence that Yosef dreamed about sheaves. It is the dream of the entire Jewish people that we must strive to fulfill.

Yaakov’s Troubles Print E-mail
Friday, 11 December 2020

Yaakov had a difficult life. He had to leave home because his brother, Esav wanted to kill him and then 22 years later, when he returned he was still worried that Esav would still be after him.

Yaakov lived in Lavan’s home while he was in Padan Aram. Lavan tricked Yaakov by giving him Leah as a wife even though he asked to marry Rachel and worked seven years for her. Lavan tricked Yaakov in business as well and made his life very difficult. 

Once Yaakov was back in the Land of Cnaan, he thought that things would be quiet. However, at that point his daughter Dinah was raped and Yaakov’s sons, Shimon and Levi took it upon themselves to avenge the rape and kill all of the men in the city of Shechem.

Immediately after, Yaakov’s beloved wife Rachel passed away while giving birth to Binyamin.

Yaakov’s troubles kept piling up and culminated with the sale of Yosef.

The first few words of the second verse in Parshat Vayeshev (Breisheet 37:2) are “Eleh Toldot Yaakov; Yosef…”, “This is the history of Yaakov; Yosef being seventeen years old…”

Why does the verse begin with Eleh (This is)?

According to Or HaChayim, our verse wants to inform us that in spite of all the various trials such as the life and death struggle with Esav and his oppression by Lavan which Yaakov had experienced up until that point in his life, these were all as nothing compared to what he would still have to endure through the sale of Yosef. This is why the Torah commences the paragraph with the word “Eleh”. This word is meant to put his previous problems into a new perspective.

Just one year ago on the Hebrew calendar, we celebrated Chanuka 5780.  Soon after, we began to hear news about the Coronavirus but we didn’t think that it would affect us or the countries that we were living in. And then slowly, over the next few months, Corona travelled around the world. All of a sudden, our lives were put into perspective. Many of the worries that we had before Corona, paled in comparison to how the world would change and how our lives would look just one year later.

The challenges that we overcame in the past may have helped prepare us for the very difficult situation that we are now living in. Our former troubles taught us that we must continue to forge on.

For Yaakov to lose his son, Yosef, Rachel’s firstborn, at only seventeen years old was devastating. However, Yaakov did not give up hope. Even in his darkest days he remained strong and was rewarded by later finding out that in fact Yosef was alive and they reunited in Egypt.

God’s prophecy to Avraham was that his descendents would be strangers in a land that did not belong to them. Their descent to Egypt was inevitable. However, the bright side is that Yaakov and his sons went down to Egypt in style with Yosef being Pharaoh’s second in command. They were treated well and the slavery only commenced once the generation of Yaakov and his sons died out.

Yaakov, who faced so many challenges, was able to remain tough. We can gain strength from him and try our best to remain steady during this difficult time.

When we read through the full Maoz Tzur prayer (not just the first stanza which talks about the rededication of the Temple) we see that throughout history the Jewish people have been under attack by different enemies: the Egyptins, the Babylonians, the Persians and the Greeks yet each time we were saved. We are still in the exile of Edom, Esav’s descendants (Rome) who brought about the destruction of the Second Temple and we pray that the true salvation will come and that Yaakov (renamed Yisrael) will once again prevail over Esav.

May the time come soon when our enemies will stop attacking us and may we see the end of the plague.

Comparing and contrasting Yosef and David Print E-mail
Monday, 16 December 2019

In Parshat Vayeshev, we read about the story of Yosef which bears some resemblance the story of David.

Rav Amnon Bazak points out many similarities and differences in the stories of Yosef and David including:

Both Yosef and David are shepherds, both are sent by their fathers to see how their older brothers are doing, both become leaders and marry into kingship.

Both are called “navon”, wise:

 Breisheet 41:39: “And Pharaoh said to Yosef: ‘since God has shown you all of this, there is none as discreet and wise as you.’”

Shmuel I 16:18: “Then answered one of the servants, and said, ‘Behold, I have seen (David) a son of Yishai the Beit Halachmit, that knows how to play, and a fine warrior, and a man of war, and wise in speech, and a comely person and God is with him.’”

Yosef and David are the only men who are called “yafeh mareh”, good looking:

Breisheet 39:6: “And Yosef was well-built and good looking.”

Shmuel I 17:42: “And when the Plishti (Goliath) looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth though ruddy and good looking.”

We also see some differences:

Yosef brought bad reports about his brothers, told them his dreams and caused them to be jealous of him by wearing the Ktonet Pasim (special striped coat). In contrast, David did not fight with his brothers.

At first (Breisheet, Chaper 37), Yosef is arrogant and doesn’t use God’s name, while later (39:9), we see him do Tshuva (repent) as he says to Potiphar’s wife: “How can I do such a great evil and sin against God?”

David on the other hand gives God credit in his fight against Goliath and shows strong emuna (faith) throughout. As we see in Shmuel I 17:45-46:

Then David said to the Plishti (Goliath): “You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a javelin: but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Yisrael, whom you have taunted. This day will God deliver you into my hand; and I will smite you, and take your head from you…”

David’s modesty and outward recognition of God can be looked at as a tikun (correction) for Yosef’s original self centered behavior.

We learn from both Yosef and David the importance of humble and modest leaders. Right now in Israel, we are going into another round of elections due to the fact that nobody wants to give an inch. We need strong leaders who can learn from both King David who was born humble and kept his humility throughout his kingship and Yosef who started out as haughty but quickly learned that humility and acknowledgement of God will take him a lot further. If we are ever going to get out of this mess, our leaders must learn from their mistakes in the past and gain inspiration from the good leaders who have led the Jewish people throughout history.

November 29th should not be taken for granted Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 December 2018

We are told at the beginning of Parshat Vayeshev (Breisheet 37:1) “Yaakov settled in the land of his father’s residence, in the Land of C’naan.” Don’t we already know from Parshat Vayishlach that Yaakov and his family returned to the Land of C’naan?

Radak explains that Esav was living in C’naan temporarily and once Yaakov came back, he left.

We read about Esav leaving the Land of C’naan at the end of Parshat Vayishlach, Breisheet 36:6, “Esav took his wives, his sons, his daughters, all the people of his household, his livestock, all his animals, and all his possessions that he acquired in the Land of C’naan and went to the land away from his brother, Yaakov.” Rashbam points out that Yaakov lived in the land of his fathers since he had the birthright.

In Breisheet 36:8 we read that “Esav settled in Mt. Seir. Esav is Edom.”

Wasn’t Esav already in Edom when Yaakov returned to C’naan? Parshat Vayishlach (Breisheet 32:4) opened with the words: “Yaakov sent messengers ahead of him to Esav, his brother, to the Land of Seir, to the field of Edom.”

According to Chizkuni, originally the Land of Seir belonged to Seir and when Esav married Ahlivama, he inherited the land of Seir since she was the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Tzivon, the son of Seir the Churi.

Where does Chizkuni get this genealogy from?

Breisheet 36:2 states: “Esav took wives from the daughters of C’naan: Adah, the daughter of Eylon, the Chiti and Ahlivama, the daughter of Tzivon.” Breisheet 36:20 continues: “These are the sons of Seir, the Churi, the inhabitants of the land: Lotam, Shoval, Tzivon and Anah.”

Chizkuni explains that Esav would go with his wives to Seir and his heart was drawn to the place which was later named after him “Sdeh Edom”, “Field of Edom” since he was a hunter and he spent a lot of time in the fields.

Sforno points out that Edom was in the Galil of Seir which is the area that Esav lived in since the Churi who lived in Seir had not yet been conquered by Esav’s descendents.

Even though Esav was given Seir, it was already occupied and God had to help his descendents conquer it (Dvarim 2:22) “As He had done to the descendents of Esav living in Seir, from before whom He destroyed the Churi and they drove them out and settled in their stead until today.”

Esav’s departure to his homeland reminds us of Yaakov’s journey in Parshat Vayetzei (Breisheet 31:17-18):  “Yaakov rose and lifted his children and his wives upon the camels. He led away all his livestock, and all his possessions that were acquired, which he had purchased with his own livestock that he had acquired in Padan Aram, in order to come to Yitzchak, his father, to the Land of C’naan.”

Each twin moved to the land that they would permanently inherit.

Why was it necessary to say that Yaakov settled “in the land of his father’s residence” and “in the Land of C’naan”?

According to Chizkuni, if it didn’t say “in the land of his father’s residence” we wouldn’t know which city he was living in (Chevron). If it didn’t say “in the Land of C’naan”, one may have though that it was the land that Avraham came from, Ur Kasdim.

Chizkuni explains that God’s word is upheld forever: Avraham was promised in Breisheet 17:8 “I will give to you and to your descendents after you, the land of your temporary residence, all the land of C’naan as an eternal possession, and I will be a God to them.” The fathers settled in the land as it says concerning Avraham (Breishhet 13:18): “Avram set up his tent, and he came and settled in Elonei Mamrei, in Chevron, and he built there an altar to God.”

This promise was passed down through Yitzchak to Yaakov who inherits the Land of C’naan (which is later named after him, Eretz Yisrael, Israel) while Esav inherits Seir which is later named after him (Edom).

Yesterday was November 29, Kaf-tet b’November, the date in 1947 when the UN decided to fulfill the promise of the 1917 Balfour Declaration which recognized the Jewish people’s right to a national home in their nation’s homeland.

We have come full circle. Avraham was promised the Land, Yaakov settled the Land and miraculously we are back in the land which is now called the State of Israel! November 29th should not be taken for granted!

Harassment in the workplace Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 December 2017

The Talmud, Brachot 63a teaches: “Rebbe said, ‘One should not appoint an apotropos (custodian) over his home, for had Yosef not been appointed by Potiphar, he would never have come to the brink of sin.’”

Breisheet Chapter 39 tells Yosef’s story of how he was brought down to Egypt and bought by Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer and chief executioner. Everything was going well for him. God was on Yosef’s side and he became the successful supervisor over Potiphar’s household.

In Breisheet 39:7-20 the problems begin:

After these events, his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Yosef, and she said, “Sleep with me.” He refused…Even though she spoke to Yosef every day, he would not listen to her, to sleep with her nor to be with her. It was on such a day, that he came to the house to do his work and no man of the household was there in the house. She grabbed him by the garment saying, “Sleep with me.” He left his garment in her hand and fled and he went outside…

Why was the day that Potiphar’s wife grabbed Yosef’s garment different from all of the other days that she bothered him?

According to Rashi it was a special day of merriment and idolatrous feasts when they all went to their temples. She said, “I have no day as suitable to seduce Yosef as this day.” She therefore told them, “I am ill and cannot go to the temple.”

Since everyone else was off celebrating the holiday in the temple, Yosef and Potiphar’s wife were truly alone and therefore she made more of an effort to seduce him. Nobody was there to witness what was happening.

A few lessons that can be learned from Potiphar’s wife’s behavior:

The laws of Yichud (the laws pertaining to seclusion with the opposite sex) should be taken seriously. According to Jewish law, a man may not seclude himself with a woman who is not his wife, neither may a woman seclude herself with a man who is not her husband. This is true even where the act is unlikely to lead to transgression. It is better to be safe than sorry and take the precautions outlined in the laws of Yichud as it says in the Talmud, Ketubot 13b “there is no guarantee against promiscuity.”

There is also no guarantee that if you observe the laws of Yichud you will be fully protected but if you are able to avoid being in a locked room with a member of the opposite sex you are already in a better place.

A lot of the issues of harassment that have been exposed recently have been about men harassing women but there are many incidents from Biblical times until today that prove that it also works the other way around.

Unfortunately, we have seen incidents where women looking to get attention make false claims as Potiphar’s wife did which can make women as a whole look less credible when filing claims of abuse.

Ramban comments that Potiphar doubted his wife and knew that Yosef didn’t do anything wrong and therefore he didn’t kill him but rather sent him to jail.

Breisheet Rabba states that Potiphar said to Yosef, “I know this charge against you is false but lest a stigma fall on my children I will put you in prison.”

We must all keep our eyes open for red flags in order to keep safe. 

Honesty is the best policy Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Dedicated in Memory of Chaim Marks z"l

In Parshat Vayeshev, Breisheet 40:60 we read: “And the chief baker saw that he (Yosef) had interpreted (the chief butler’s dream) well.” 

How did the chief baker know that Yosef interpreted the chief butler’s dream accurately?

According to Rashbam (quoting the Talmud, Sotah 9b), true words are recognizable.

In the story of Shimshon and Delilah we see a similar situation. The first three times, Shimshon made up a story of where he got his strength from and Delilah did not believe him. The fourth time, he told her that he was a nazir with his strength coming from his hair.

At that point, the verse states (Shoftim 16:18): “Delilah saw that he (Shimshon) had told her all that was in his heart…”

The Talmud, Sotah 9b asks how she knew that this time Shimshon was telling the truth this time.

The Talmud offers two possible explanations:

Rabbi Chanin said in the name of Rav: True words are recognizable.

Rashi comments that she saw that he never cut his hair or drank wine, so it seemed logical that he was telling the truth that his strength came from his being a nazir.

Abaye said: She knew that the righteous one (Shimshon) would not utter the Name of Heaven in vain. Since he said “I am a nazir of God”, she said to herself , “now he is certainly telling the truth.”

Yosef as well invoked the name of God when he said Breisheet 40:8: “Do not interpretations belong to God?”

According to Chizkuni this can be interpreted to mean that maybe God ordered me to interpret your dreams.

Nehama Leibowitz points out that often the more important, the more profound the truth, the greater the impossibility of proving it- it bears witness to itself.

As the saying goes, “the truth speaks for itself.”

It is not enough to use God’s name or dress in a religious fashion in order to be accepted as an honest person. Your reputation precedes you. If a person is legitimate and tells the truth then they will be looked upon as honest and believed. If they are caught lying- and liars always get caught one way or another, they will lose their credibility.

Yitzchak’s Secret Print E-mail
Saturday, 12 December 2015

In Memory of Dorothy DuBrow z"l on her 10th Yahrzeit

In Parshat Vayeshev, right after Yaakov was presented with Yosef’s bloody coat we read (Breisheet 37:34-35): “Yaakov tore his robes and placed sackcloth on his loins. He mourned for his son for many days. All his sons and daughters rose to console him (Yaakov), but he refused to be consoled. He said, ‘I will go down to the grave mourning for my son.’ His father wept for him.”

According to Rashi, “His father” refers to Yitzchak who cried because of Yaakov’s anguish, but did not mourn for he knew that Yosef was alive.

In Rashi’s comment on Breisheet 37:33, Yitzchak thought to himself: “How can I reveal the fact that Yosef is alive when God does not want to reveal it to Yaakov?”

Sforno states that Yitzchak cried because Yaakov took on an extended period of mourning and would not have the Shechina, Divine Presence rest upon him during that time.

How do we know that Yitzchak was still alive at the time that Yosef was sold? We just read at the end of last week’s parsha, Vayishlach (Breisheet 35:28-29) that Yitzchak died: “The days of the life of Yitzchak were one hundred and eighty years. Yitzchak expired and died and was gathered to his people being old and full of days and his sons Esav and Yaakov buried him.”

Rashi points out that this is a case of “Ein Mukdam U’Meuchar BaTorah”, there is no absolute chronological order in the Torah. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz explains that the narratives in the Torah need not be interpreted as having taken place in the exact order that they are related.

The sale of Yosef actually took place twelve years before Yitzchak passed away.

Here are Rashi’s calculations:

When Yaakov was born, Yitzchak was 60 years old. Yitzchak died at the age of 180 when Yaakov was 120.

Yosef was sold at the age of 17 and Yaakov was 108 at the time. 

How do we calculate Yaakov’s age?

Yaakov was 63 when he was blessed before leaving his parents home. He then hid for 14 years at the house of Ever. He was 77 when he got to Lavan’s house. He then worked 14 years for Leah and Rachel. At the end of the 14th year, Yosef was born. Yaakov was 91 at the time of Yosef’s birth and therefore 108 when Yosef was sold.

It seems that the Torah wanted to put closure on Yitzchak’s life story before it began to describe the lives of Yaakov’s children in the Land of Israel. The same was true for Avraham whose death was listed at the end of Parshat Chayei Sarah yet he only really passed away in Parshat Toldot when Yaakov made the lentil stew. There are many similar examples such as when Noach’s, Terach’s and Yishmael’s deaths are listed as well.

Why was it important for Yitzchak to know that Yosef was still alive?

Yitzchak passed away ten years before Yaakov was reunited with Yosef and he therefore would not have a chance to see Yosef again. However, at least he would have the peace of mind to spend the last years of his life knowing that everything would end up working out.

It must have been a huge burden for Yitzchak to know that Yosef was still alive yet not be able to say anything to his son. One thing that we learn from Yitzchak is that when God tells you a secret, you keep it confidential.


The Torah Wasn’t Censored So Why Are Jewish Books Being Censored Today? Print E-mail
Friday, 12 December 2014

In Breisheet Raba 87:6, a Roman noblewoman asked Rabbi Yose: “Is it possible that Yoseph at seventeen with all the hot blood of youth could act with such self restraint (when Potiphar’s wife was seducing him)?” Rabbi Yose brought out the book of Breisheet and began reading to her the story of Reuven and Bilha and the story of Yehuda and Tamar and said: “If Scripture does not cover up for adults still under their father’s authority, how much less likely is it that Scripture would cover up for one who was a minor living on his own!”

It is clear from here that the Torah is not censored.

Why do modern publishing companies feel that they have to censor the Torah and other Jewish books?

Let’s take Shir HaShirim, Song of Songs, one of the Megillot written by King Solomon in the form of a love story. Artscroll Mesorah Publications can’t bring themselves to translate the love story literally so they use an “allegorical reading following Rashi’s translation.”

In Artscroll’s Stone Chumash, they provide the complete commentary of Rashi in Hebrew. In English they provide an anthology of commentaries from the Rabbinic writings. In other words, they pick and choose which commentaries they will provide in English and which will be left out.

Recently, Artscroll put out a Hebrew Mikraot Gedolot Chumash (Czuker Edition Hebrew Chumas Mikra’os Gedolos Sefer Bereishis). This series is supposed to include all of the famous commentaries found in the regular Mekraot Gedolot as well as Rabeinu Bechaya and Chizkuni. It sounds like Artscroll is trying to compete with Mosad HaRav Kook’s Torat Chayim series. There is just one difference. In the Torat Chayim series you are receiving the full commentaries while in Artscroll’s version they censor out some of Rashbam’s commentaries that they are not comfortable with, without bothering to tell anybody!

According to Marc B. Shapiro in The Seforim Blog, Artscroll left out parts of Rashbam’s commentary on Breisheet 1:4-1:5 as well as in 1:8 and 1:31.

If the Torah didn’t leave out the stories about Yoseph, Reuven and Yehuda which would be considered R-Rated in the movies, then why does Artscroll feel that they are better than the Torah where they can cut out commentaries that they don’t agree with without letting anybody know? Are they so afraid of a difference of opinion?

Censorship is not acceptable and neither is Gneivat Daat, theft of the mind (tricking someone into buying something different from what they thought that they were buying).

Unfortunately, Artscroll’s agenda that was used in the English translations is being used in their Hebrew books as well.

Take for example the Siddur Ner Naftali, the Artscroll all Hebrew Siddur adapted for use in Israel. They conveniently left out the Mishaberach for the Soldiers and the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel.

 Need I say more?

The Sins of the Butler and the Baker Print E-mail
Monday, 18 November 2013

Sponsored by Josh, Dov, Moshe and Yehuda Halickman in Honor of Sharona’s Birthday


Chaper 40 in Parshat Vayeshev begins with the words (Breisheet 40:1-3): “After these events, a sin was committed by the Egypian King’s butler (mashkeh) and baker (haofeh) against their master, the King of Egypt. Pharaoh was enraged at the two officials, the chief butler (sar hamashkim) and the chief baker (sar haofim). He placed them under guard in the house of the chief executioner, in the prison, where Yosef was imprisoned.”


What terrible sins did the baker and butler commit?


According to Rashi, the butler brought Pharaoh a drink that had a fly in it. The baker brought Pharaoh bread that had a pebble in it.


When Yosef interprets their dreams he says that in three days, Pharaoh will invite the chief butler to come back to work but the chief baker will be killed.


Chizkuni explains that Pharaoh invited the chief butler back because a fly in the drink could have been an accident. Obviously at the time Pharaoh wasn’t happy but in retrospect it wasn’t such a big deal. On the other hand, the idea that there were pebbles in the flour which led to a pebble in Pharaoh’s bread shows total incompetence on the part of the chief baker. It could have even been placed there on purpose in order to harm the king and therefore not only was the chief baker not invited back, he was executed.


Sforno says that the butler and baker that sinned were servants who worked for the chief butler and chief baker. If you notice, the ones who committed the crimes are called the mashkeh and haofeh in sentence 1 and the ones who were punished were called sar hamashkim and sar haofim in sentence 2. Although the sarim (chiefs) didn’t directly commit the crime they were still held responsible.


We learn from here that supervisors are responsible for the work of their employees. If an employee makes a mistake, their supervisor may be ultimately held responsible.


I am Looking for My Brothers Print E-mail
Friday, 16 December 2011


In Parshat Vayeshev, Yaakov sends Yosef out to look for his brothers. In Breisheet 37:15-16 we read: “A man found him (Yosef) going astray in the field. The man asked him, “What are you seeking?” He said, “I am looking for my brothers (et achai anochi mivakesh), tell me please, where are they pasturing?”


The spiritual singer Yehudah Katz (of the band Reva L’Sheva), a religious follower of Shlomo Carlebach wrote a Hebrew song earlier this year based on these psukim. The song is called “Et Acahi Anochi Mivakesh”, “I am looking for my brothers.”


You can find the Hebrew lyrics as well as listen to the song itself at: http://www.mako.co.il/music-news/singles/Article-f5e4bbdbccd6231006.htm?fb_ref=articleSatatusBar&fb_source=profile_oneline


Below is a loose translation of the song:


I am Looking for My Brothers

Tell me where are they Pasturing?


I am looking for my brothers

A distance we have been together through ice and fire

The journey is long and difficult but I will not give up

Because I am looking for my brothers


Being partners in the journey is all that is necessary for me

I need them next to me- together

When I feel pressured

Even opposite a destroyed horizon in a canyon

I will run

Being partners in the journey is all that is necessary for me


From the depths I have called

Who is joining?

I have stretched out my two hands

Who will give a shoulder?


I am looking for my brothers

They are flesh of my flesh

Even if it is hard to guess

Part of the same rib

We do not abandon


I am looking for my brothers

I am looking for my brothers


This week, Yehudah Katz will be performing the song in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem along with Shaanan Street a secular Israeli hip hop singer (from the band HaDag HaNachash).


Yehudah Katz feels that it is important for Israelis to put their differences aside and unite.


With all of the infighting that is taking place within the Israeli community right now, it is great to hear that a religious musician and a secular musician who are so different can perform together and set an example for the next generation.


The Only Birthday Celebrated in the Torah Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 November 2010

In Parshat Vayeshev we see that the day that the chief butler was restored to his position was “Yom Huledet et Pharaoh” (Breisheet 40:20), the day that Pharaoh made a feast for all of his servants.

Rashi explains that Yom Huledet et Pharaoh was Pharaoh’s birthday, called Ginusia Day in Greek. 

Radak says that it could be either the day that a son was born to Pharaoh or the date that Pharaoh was born which was celebrated every year with a party.

Rabbi Y.L Maimon tells the story of how Rabbi Shmuel Mohilever, the Rabbi of Biyalistok and one of the leaders of the Chovevei Tzion (Lovers of Zion) organization was asked by the members of the organization if they could make him a 70th birthday party. Rabbi Shmuel refused saying: “We do not find anywhere, not in the Written Torah and not in the Oral Torah that the Jewish people make birthday parties for each other. We only find this custom in the Torah in reference to a non-Jew, Pharaoh.” Rabbi Shmuel added: “This is the difference between the Jewish people and the other nations. When a Jewish person has a birthday, they make a cheshbon nefesh- soul search of their own souls. When Pharaoh had his birthday, he did soul searching for others and decided to give the chief butler back his job and to kill and hang the baker.”

 The Jewish way to celebrate a birthday is to take stock of our own lives and celebrate how far we have come over the past year and take pride in our accomplishments as well as keep an eye out as to where we are heading and where we still need to make improvements.  

When birthday parties are celebrated in Israeli kindergartens, the teachers go around the room and ask each child to give the birthday child a blessing. Last year, when my son Moshe had his party he received blessings such as: “I wish you luck in first grade” and “I hope that the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) will be built speedily in our day”. We have come a long way from the days of “I hope that you get a lot of presents!” These Israeli children, who indeed do get a lot of presents, have not lost sight of what the real celebration of a birthday should be.

How I Love that Coat of Many Colors? Print E-mail
Thursday, 10 December 2009
In Parshat Vayeshev Breisheet 37:3 we read that “Yisrael (Yaakov) loved Yosef more than any of his sons, since he was his son born to him when he was already elderly, and he made him a ‘ktonet pasim’.”
What did this ‘ktonet pasim’ look like?
In Breisheet Raba we learn that it was a large coat with sleeves that reached up to the palms of his hands (pas yad). This could only be worn by someone who wasn’t working (or royalty) because otherwise it would get in his way.
Lekach Tov adds that it was so long that it even covered his feet.
Breisheet Raba continues that it was made out of ‘shesh’, linen which is delicate and expensive which is described in Gitin 59 as so thin that you could fold the whole coat into the palm of your hand (pas yad).
Eben Ezra’s opinion is that it is a cloak embroidered with stripes.
According to Targum Yerushalmi it was a silk coat which was nicely made and decorated (drawn on).
Chizkuni comments that it was a nice coat which Yaakov gave Yosef in order to appease him (lifayes is from the same root as passim).
Radak’s view (which Andrew Lloyd Weber adopted for the Broadway show) was that the coat was striped and that each stripe was a different color which made it look really nice and that is why the brothers hated Yosef so much.
Whatever the exact style of the ‘ktonet pasim’ was, the problem here was that Yaakov only made one ‘ktonet pasim’ which he gave to Yosef. This made Yosef’s brothers feel left out and jealous and ultimately caused B’nai Yisrael to be enslaved in Egypt for 210 years.
Reish Lakish teaches in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Azaria: A person should not give a greater gift to one of their children in order to not stir up jealousy.
As the Chanukah gift giving season is upon us, let us remember Reish Lakish’s words and do our best to treat each of our children equally.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah from Yerushalayim!
Sharona Margolin Halickman
As we enter into Chanukah and as the 2009 calendar year comes to an end we encourage you to consider making a donation to Torat Reva Yerushalayim. Torat Reva provides Torah study groups in Jerusalem for Senior Citizens as well as the special needs community and mothers with young children. Many of the members of these communities would not have the opportunity to study Torah otherwise. Torat Reva does not charge for any of its classes and the classes are funded through private donations. Please check out our website www.toratreva.org for more information about giving opportunities and how you can help.
Your contribution can be made by mailing a check to:
Torat Reva Yerushalayim,
In the US: 75 Berkeley Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10705 USA
In Israel: 12 Israel Eldad #19, Jerusalem, Israel 93399
or via Paypal, by clicking on the link below and scrolling down to the “Make A Donation” button.
We are accepting applications for Midreshet Devora's class of 2010-2011. Please pass on the word to Modern Orthodox young women completing the 12th grade who may be looking for a unique post high school program which combines serious Torah study with exposure to the land and culture of Israel. www.midreshetdevora.org
Torat Reva Yerushalayim, Inc.
US Address
75 Berkeley Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10705
718-593-4162 (US phone # that rings in Israel)

Torat Reva Yerushalayim
Israel Address
12 Israel Eldad #19
Jerusalem, Israel 93399
Phone +972 (0)52-534-6260
Fax +972 (0)2-673-1461

True Consolation Print E-mail
Friday, 26 December 2008

When Yaakov’s sons brought back Yosef’s coat covered in blood, Yaakov’s reaction was (Vayeshev 37:33): “An evil beast devoured him, Yosef has been torn to pieces.”

Yaakov then proceeded to mourn for Yosef- he tore his clothing, wore sackcloth and mourned for his son for “yamim rabim”, “many days”. In 37:35 we read: “All his sons and all his daughters rose to console him, but he refused to be consoled (vayimaen lehitnachem). He said ‘I will go down to the grave mourning for my son’.”


It turns out that those “yamim rabim”, “many days” ended up being 22 years.


How could Yaakov mourn for so much longer than the traditional shiva (first seven days), shloshim (first 30 days) and year?


Rashi explains that Yaakov refused to be consoled since a person cannot accept consolation for one who is alive, but is thought to be dead.


The Sfat Emet points out that when someone dies the consolation is that they are now with God. However, if you think that someone is dead and they are really alive, they are still in this world and there is no consolation.


This is especially felt when one is told that a person is dead yet there is no body and no burial. Without that closure, there is always a feeling that maybe the person is still alive and the family will have a difficulty being consoled and moving on.


We especially felt this last summer before we knew the fate of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Although we all knew that there was a chance that they were no longer alive, the families and indeed the entire State of Israel needed to have their bodies returned in order to move on.


We must work quickly to bring back Gilad Shalit who is known to be alive and reunite him with his family in the same way that Yaakov and Yosef were reunited so many years of being apart.

The True Meaning of our Dreams Print E-mail
Thursday, 29 November 2007

In Parshat Vayeshev, we encounter many types of dreams:

1. Meaningless Dreams:

The first dream in our Parsha is not detailed (Breisheet 37:5) “Yoseph dreamt a dream which he told his brothers and they hated him even more”. Chizkuni points out that the first dream did not come true and therefore the Torah does not waste space outlining it.

2. Dreams that are 1/60 of Prophecy (Brachot 57b):

In the next psukim (6-7) Yoseph tells his brothers about another dream: “Hear, if you please this dream which I dreamt. Behold we were binding sheaves in the middle of the field when behold my sheaf arose and remained standing; then behold your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” Radak points out just how prophetic this dream was. Because of the grain, Yoseph became the leader of Egypt (since Yoseph was the one who advised Pharaoh how to save the grain for the years of famine) and because of the grain his brothers ended up bowing down to him (since they had to come down to Egypt to buy the grain).


3. Dreams With Some Falsity Mixed In (Brachot 55 a-b)

In Yoseph’s next dream, “…Behold the sun, the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me. And he related it to his father and to his brothers; his father scolded him and said to him ‘What is this dream that you have dreamt! Are we to come- I and your mother and your brothers- to bow down to you to the ground?’ So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” Yaakov did not want Joseph’s brothers to become more jealous and therefore he said that since part of the dream will not be fulfilled the whole dream will not be fulfilled. However, Yaakov truly knew that it would be fulfilled and that is why the pasuk says that “his father kept the matter in mind’. Rashi explains that Yaakov was waiting to see when the dream would come true.

Only a true prophet knows which parts of their dreams will be fulfilled. For the rest of us we just have to wait and see!

Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov- The First Religious Zionists Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 December 2006

Last week's Parsha ended with the words: "These are the chiefs of Edom according to their places of residence in the land of their possession. Thus was Esav the ancestor of the Edomites."

This week's Parsha, Parshat Vayeshev (Breisheet 37:1) starts with the words "Yaakov settled in the land of his father's residence, in the land of C'naan."

Ramban points out that the children of Esav dwelt in the land of Edom which they took for themselves as a possession forever. Yaakov, however, dwelt as his father had as a stranger in a land which was not their own but which at the time belonged to the C'naanim. Yitzchak and Yaakov elected to live in the Chosen Land, the land of Israel. God's words to Avraham (Breisheet 15:13) "Your seed will be a stranger in a land that is not theirs" were fulfilled in Yitzchak and Yaakov, but not in Esav.

Rashbam comments that Yaakov lived in the land of Israel because that was the fulfillment of his birthright.

Chizkuni adds that God's word endures forever. God promised Avraham (Breisheet 17:8) "I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your temporary residence, all of the land of C'naan as an eternal possession and I will be their God". That promise was passed down to Yitzchak and Yaakov.

According to Ramban, we too are commanded to continue the chain and take possession of the land of Israel and hold onto it.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook's point of view is that "the establishment of Jewish sovereignty over the land of Israel is a fundamental precept of the Torah. To ensure that the land does not remain desolate, we must actively promote the development and settlement of the land, in every sphere possible."

Joseph and the City of Shechem Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 December 2005


In Breisheet 37:14, Jacob asks Joseph to go to Shechem and see whether his brothers and their flocks are okay.

According to the Gemara in Sanhedrin 102a, Shechem was a place predestined for misfortune: In Shechem Dina was raped. In Shechem Joseph was sold by his brothers. In Shechem the United Kingdom of the House of David was split.

Shechem was also an Ir Miklat, a city of refuge where an inadvertent killer would seek refuge until he would be brought to trial. The Gemara in Makot 10a says that the reason why Shechem was an Ir Miklat was bec when he and his family returned from Lavan's house (Breisheet 33:18).

The Gemara is Sotah 13b asks why Joseph's bones were buried in Shechem. The answer according to Rabbi Chama B'Rabbi Chanina is that B'nei Yisrael reasoned: The brothers kidnapped him from Shechem and it is to Shechem that we should return his lost object (his body).

The Midrash in Shmot Raba 20:19 presents a parable about a group of people who steal a cask of wine and drink it. When the owner finds out he says "I forgive you for stealing the wine, but could you at least put the empty cask back in the cellar where you found it?" Joseph asked B'nai Yisrael to rectify the sin in the place where it occurred.

Sadly on October 7, 2000, Joseph's tomb was attacked and set on fire by Palestinian residents of Shechem (Nablus). Rabbi Hillel Lieberman was killed trying to protect the tomb and the Yeshiva that was housed there.

Israeli law states that although Shechem was handed over to Arab military control, Jews are still supposed to have access to Joseph's Tomb. On June 2, 2005, over 300 Jews went to Joseph's tomb (which was almost totally destroyed) and were once again able to pray there. They were in essence reclaiming stolen property.

We must take it upon ourselves to ensure that the Jewish people have access to all of our holy sites throughout the land of Israel.