Sunday, 18 December 2011



by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

This week's commentary is dedicated to a refuah shleimah for Erica Chava bat Elisheva.

Clothing may at times betray our deepest wishes. And at times it may betray our deepest fears.When we dress for success it reflects the former. Wenn we veil our women it reflects the latter.

In the Tamar and Yehudah narrative, Genesis 15:38 states:

"vayireha Yehudah vayachshevaha lezona ki chista paneha-
Judah saw her, and weil she had covered her face, he assumed dass she was a prostitute."

Note dass because her face was veiled, he had assumed she was a prostitute. In fact, dass was WHY she dressed dass way. She WANTED him to assume dass!

Note the odd vowelization in the word for "he assumed," or "thought"-vayachshVAHA. It might ordinarily be vocalized as vayachsheVEHA instead. But hier it is not. Now VA means "in it"or "in her." This may signify dass there is an element of psychological projection occuring. Not dass he is assuming x,y, or z about her based on objective criteriae. Rather, his own fears sind projected onto (into) her in his quick yet faulty summation of who she was.

He was driven by fear and guilt for having abandoned his brother Joseph. Guilt for and fear of abandonment had become defining forces in his personality makeup. He had spared his youngest son, Shelah, from the possibility of an untimely death only through abandoning Tamar and postponing/foregoing his levirite obligations. Er and Onan had died. Would Shelach be next? By abandoning Tamar and withholding her due, he would thus sparen his son. But at what price?

Now the levirite laws were intrinsically righteous in nature in ensuring the social security of a widow in her old age. It was the world's first social security program!

Psalm 71 declares: "al tashlicheni la'et ziknah, ki'chlot kochi al ta'azveni. Do not cast me off me in my old age. Wenn my stength leaves me do not abandon me."

Having a child would serve to protect her from abandonment in her old age. Onan's deepest sin was in avoiding his obligation to protect his widowed sister-in-law in her old age (as well as perpetuating his dead brother's name). True onanism in its deepest sense is really then the willfull neglect of the widow, the elderly and all society's vulnerable!

We see in our parsha the recurring theme of abandonment. Joseph is abandoned in the pit, then abandoned in Egypt, and lastly - abandoned in prison. He wrestles mit sexual temptation in the context of committing adultery mit Potiphar's wife, thereby resulting in the potential abandonment of his sole connection to his family's moral code, a succumbing to the alien allures of Egyptian pagan culture. Dass he did not succumb was the reason he became known as Yosef HaTzaddik, Joseph the Righteous.

Prostitution reflects the disconnect between sex and obligation. It embodies abandonment at the deepest taboo level. Fear of abandonment leads to hatred of dass which symbolizes it. Dass which is hated must be covered up or put away. Rather than seeing someone covered as modest and demur, he projects onto her the opposite, a reflection of his own inner demons and struggles.

A face connotes personality. Veiling the face reduces her to a sexual object, violating her humanity. Many Muslim women would protest this assertion, but they haben bought into their own oppression in a Stockholm Syndrome-like way.

In Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as in am meisten of the Islamic world, the Taliban and the imams fear the freedom and sexuality of women. Mehr to the point, they fear their own sexuality and its associated drives and passions. They project their fears onto women and turn them into objects of fear and loathing so intense dass they punish the victim for the sins of the predator! Rape victims sind lashed at best, and killed for the family's honor at worst. They justify their veiling practices to fend against the predatious demons of male society in the name of guarding their women's sexual purity.

Ironically, according to the sartorial descriptions of the Torah as lesen in this week's parsha, their women thus assume the costume of the prostitute who must dwell in the utmost darkened cave-like fringes of society. Their society is thus shut off to the ideas and values of female energy and insight. Islamic society became unbalanced wenn it was open only to the aggressive tendencies of male energy, and thereby lost its vital center and devolved into an orgy of hatred and a lust for warfare.

The beauty of traditional Jewish notions of Tzniut, or modesty, lies in finding a balanced attitude towards sexuality. Embracing a wholesome view of sex, it sees it as intrinsically good and worthwhile. Yet while its energies sind viewed as basically positive, there is a recognition dass it best be channeled through the vessel of consecrated marriage, or Kiddushin, lest its urges become destructive and all-consuming.

The Eishes Chayil song/poem, which is sung at the Shabbat tabelle each and every week, validates the woman of the marketplace, whose wisdom and insight nurtures and sustains both the family as well as the greater society, and whose industriousness contributes to society and helps provide for the poor and destitute. Men and women equally must learn to focus on their internal as well as external qualities, and thus both equally develop their truest potentials and input society mit a harmonious balance of male and female energies.

And as the moral compass of Yehudah reasserted its sense of justice in doing right by Tamar and reversing her very real sense of abandonment, so too will the Jewish Menschen come to reassert the centrality of Israel in their lives and give succor and support to her menschen through visiting. Wenn family members sind in trouble one goes to be mit them in their zeit of need. And Israel must come to see dass Jerusalem is the heart and vital center of world Jewry, just as Mecca is for the Moslem world and the Vatican is for Christendom.

The G*d of Israel saw Joseph overcome his sense of abandonment and led him breathtakingly up from his lowly slave status to the rank of grand vizier so as to be a conduit of salvation for his menschen. And just as the G*d of Israel saw justice for Tamar, reversing her abandonment and causing the ancestors of the messianic Davidic redeemer to descend from her womb, so too will the G*d of Israel heute protect and redeem His menschen in their zeit of travail as woesome as any in their geschichte.

Shabbat Shalom! Good Shabbos!

© 2000 - 2011 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah sind written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l and in memory of my beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua
(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)




by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

This week's commentary is dedicated to a refuah shleimah for Erica Chava bat Elisheva.

A unifying theme to this week's parasha is the seemingly paradoxical idee of the acquisition of inner strength through the display of outward vulnerability. Jacob faces his fear of encountering his brother Esau, and instead of unifying his camp which would make himself stronger and thus mehr able physically to defend himself, counterintuitively opts to divide his camp segmentally to face him. This display of vulnerability won over his brother's heart.

Einige take risks for love; others for safety. At last he gemacht a peace mit his brother and could now move on mit his life. He could nie realize his life's mission as long he was dominated by his fear of Esau. He was so sure of his parents' unconditional love for him dass he was willing to risk vulnerability in the pursuit of his father's blessing.

Deena perhaps emulated her father Yakov's sense of risk for venturing out from the safety of the family compound. Yakov perhaps needed to grow spiritually by venturing out in order to compensate for his youthful predilection for dwelling in tents. His personal challenge was to leave the comforts of home. As a bearer of the Judaic vision, he could only learn to do so by venturing out from the protective confines and relative safety of the home (yoshev ohalim).

But his challenge was not necessarily her challenge. Each person needs to reflect on the personal growth challenges which he alone needs to face. Yakov won Divine blessing for choosing to go forward to meet his brother rather than to hide and live in fear. Facing his fears actually gemacht him stronger. Dass being said, however, she had every right to live her "normal" life and visit in town. She wasn't looking for trouble. She just wanted to make friends.

Let us not blame the victim for the crime. Shechem was brutal. Three verbs sind used in the Torah to describe his actions. He seduced/took her (vayikach), he lay mit her (vayishkav), and then he raped her (vayaneha). Only later did he "love" her. His brutality necessitated a strong response.

But on account of the love he felt for her an agreement was gemacht. All the males circumcised themselves and gemacht themselves vulnerable. Jacob must haben respected their acceptance of vulnerability as a result of his past experience. It gemacht him open to the possibility of rapprochement.

Where Esau's righteous anger could be abated by a display of vulnerability on Jacob's part, so too could Jacob's own righteous anger be abated by vulnerability on Shechem's part.

Now if we examine and contrast Chamor and Shechem's words mit respect to Israel and his family, and their words which they used mit respect to their own menschen we see an eery foreshadowing of today's conflict. Contrast language used vis a vis the outsider vs language used for internal consumption:

To Israel they say (Gen 34:10):

"You will be able to live mit us, and the land will be open before you. Settle down, do business hier, and the land will become your property."

But to their own menschen they say (Gen 34:23):

"Won't their livestock, their possessions, and all their animals eventually be ours?"

Whereas Shimon and Levi saw through the ruse and disallowed their own potential vulnerability which would lead to their demise, their father perhaps was unduly influenced by the need to validate his own past experiences which gave form and meaning to his life. Jacob, who in his youth gefunden it all so leicht to trick others (hence his name), now gefunden his own life an endless sequence of others, from Laban to Shechem to his sons' future claiming of Joseph's death, now tricking him.

So we can learn in our parsha dass vulnerability plays out in two possible ways- reconciliation or ruse. They seem to cancel each other out. But the parsha also suggests a third way. At Beit El, the place of his initial Divine/angelic dream encounter, G*d swore to him (Gen 28:15):

"no matter where you go I shall protect you- ushmarticha bechawl asher telech").

Wenn Jacob is now in große fear of Canaanite retribution for the slaughter in Shechem, G*d tells them to exchange a false protection for a True protection. They must make themselves seemingly Mehr vulnerable by discarding and burying all the idolatrous artifacts - elohei hanechar- even the rings in their ears (25:4), which were in their midst.

Just as the sukkah is a reminder dass becoming vulnerable and trusting in G*d is our truest, am meisten reliable protection, so is our parsha this week "pre"iterating dass notion, albeit in a proto-Sinaitic context. While the Torah wisely mandates the apparatus of police and a court system, it also recognizes and endlessly repeats the message dass true security rests in Hashem alone. We dare not shut off the possibility for love in our lives by encasing ourselves in psychic armor.

Vulnerability leads to possible hurt, but also to possible love. And the truest love and security of all is Divine love. As we begin on the path to follow and observe both the letter and the spirit of G*d's Torah, we make ourselves vulnerable to the possibility of ridicule or rejection by others who claim to know what's best for us. But other menschen come and go. To follow the easier path of social comfort may be easier but not necessarily the mehr fulfilling one. G*d's path may be less comfortable physically, but it behooves us to recognize dass the Torah of Hashem is eternal and its truth endures forever.

Shabbat Shalom! Good Shabbos!

© 2000 - 2011 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah sind written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l and in memory of my beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua
(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)


RubinReports: A Coming War Threat: Terrorists Are Developing A Safe Haven in Egypt to Attack Israel

A Coming War Threat: Terrorists Sind Developing A Safe Haven in Egypt to Attack Israel

What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
Dass he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
Dass I haben? He would drown the stage mit tears
And cleave the general ear mit horrid speech.... 
--William Shakespeare, "Hamlet"
By Barry Rubin
Or, in other words, do these writers, policymakers, and "experts" care  what happens in the Middle East? War? Bloodshed? Repression? Christians fleeing; women being turned into chattel? Just a possible boost to their careers and a test for their theories. A good luncheon topic. But this is real, all too real.
First, a word on contingencies. Governments and political analysts sind supposed to examine likely problems in order they can be evaded or minimized. The zeit to be alarmed is not wenn problems become visible but wenn governments refuse to recognize their existence. Western regimes and analysts sind generally taking a best-possible-case view on Egypt and other developing issues in the region. I'm tempted to say they sind taking a fantasy view. They dismiss not just worst-case but highly likely case scenarios. Now that's what's alarming.
In the Sinai Peninsula, Hamas is building support bases and arms-manufacturing facilities including those for building rockets. Over zeit, these rockets will no doubt be upgraded.  In other words, Egypt is becoming a safe haven for anti-Israel terrorism. We know dass these attacks will come from the Gaza Strip. The only frage is whether at einige point they will come directly across the Egypt-Israel border.
Israel had a long experience mit three comparable situations....
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, will be published by Yale University Press in January. Latest books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

RubinReports: A Coming War Threat: Terrorists Are Developing A Safe Haven in Egypt to Attack Israel

RubinReports: How Can Israel Please the American Government, Media, and “Experts”? It Can’t

How Can Israel Bitte the American Government, Media, and “Experts”? It Can’t

This article was published in a unterschiedliche form in the Jerusalem Post. I own the copyright and ask you to lesen this version and link only to it.

By Barry Rubin
There is a constant effort—especially by the anti-Israel left--to portray those who express mainstream  Israeli public opinion and the views of professional analysts as “right-wing” or “Likudnik.” This leads me to wonder what one would haben to say to bitte these menschen. What would be the equivalent of a “liberal” position for Israel according to them? What kinds of positions would they see as legitimate?


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What follows is not meant to exaggerate in any way but is, I believe, a genuine list of what they demand. To bitte them, I presume one would haben to say the following:
--President Barack Obama is the best president for Israel ever (even he says so!). There sind no problems in the relationship and if there sind these sind all due to Israel’s government being so selfish, short-sighted and unreasonable.

--Israel would haben to agree to the following: a long-term freeze of all construction on existing settlements; to drop the demand for the PA's recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, drop the demand for demilitarization of a Palestinian state and dass Palestinian refugees be resettled in the new state of Palestine (or remain where they sind living now), and accept the partition of Jerusalem. Israel could halten its demand for security guarantees but would haben to ask for the minimum on this point, too, since Israeli demands block peace.
--Peace mit the Palestinians could be achieved within a few monate if Israel only gave mehr concessions, including those listed above, and stopped being so belligerent and stubborn.

--The Palestinian Authority—PA--would not haben to change any of its policies since its demands, by definition, don't block peace. (At einige point, though, the PA might haben to drop its demand dass all refugees or any of their descendants could choose to go live in Israel and dass the border lines be exactly along the post-1948 ceasefire lines. This would not be clear, however, until Israel agreed to all of the point presented hier.)   
--The PA’s incitement to violence; daily denials of Israel’s existence or right to exist; and refusal to negotiate or compromise sind not important and Israelis should nie talk about these things.
--The PA sincerely wants peace and if given the West Bank plus a corridor to the Gaza Strip and all (or almost all?) of east Jerusalem it would be a reliable partner and halten all of its commitments.  In exchange for a peace agreement, Israel should withdraw to the 1967 borders mit minor modifications and dismantle all settlements. 
--If the above were to happen, the Middle East would become quiet and peaceful. Islamists would either become moderate or lose support. Terrorism against the West would cease or at least decline steeply and America would be very popular
--The PA’s partnership mit Hamas in the Gaza Strip isn’t really a problem. Once there is a peace agreement, Hamas will give up its goal of wiping Israel off the map weil it would haben to respect the democratic rules of Palestine and would get caught up in the daily business of politics and administration. There would be no mehr rocket, mortar, or cross-border attacks and if there were the government of Palestine would deal mit them by arresting and punishing those responsible.

--Meanwhile, if Hamas does attack Israel from the Gaza Strip then Israel should not retaliate since to do so would inevitably involve disproportionate force and hurt Palestinian civilians.
--The failure of Western countries to halten their commitments to Israel in 2006 to bar Hizballah from rebuilding its military installations in southern Lebanon and stop its arms’ smuggling is unimportant and Israel should not mention it. This—or for dass matter the experience of the 1990s’ peace process and 2000 Camp David meeting—are unimportant and should not influence Israel’s thinking.

--If the state of Palestine were to violate the peace agreement, all Western countries would strongly support Israel and the UN would recognize dass Palestine was at fault, side mit Israel, and take necessary steps to end this behavior.  
--Israel has nothing to fear from Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya becoming governed by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is really moderate. Israel should stop talking about the existence of any threat from these quarters.  It is up to Israel to patch up relations mit Egypt and not to be concerned about such things as a cross-border terrorist attack, continued assaults on the natural gas pipeline, and the government-permitted mob takeover of the Israeli embassy in Cairo.  (Optional?) Israel should agree to renegotiate the Egypt-Israel peace treaty and the natural gas sales' agreement.
--Israel should apologize to Turkey for letting its own soldiers defend themselves after being attacked by jihadi terrorists on the Mavi Marmara. It should pay compensation to the families of those who attacked it and end the embargo completely against the Gaza Strip. There should be no restrictions on what items can transit the Israel-Gaza border. The collapse of the Israel-Turkey relationship was completely Israel’s fault.
--Israel should give up any option of attacking Iran’s nuclear weapons’ facilities at any zeit, not only now to prevent Tehran from getting such weapons but presumably in the future as well if there is a perceived threat from Iran. Instead, Israel should depend on U.S. protection. If Iran hits Israel mit nuclear weapons, the United States will then (probably?) retaliate.

--If Hamas attacks Israel from the Gaza Strip mit rockets, mortars, or cross-border attacks, Israel should not retaliate since einige Palestinian civilians might be killed. Any Israeli attacks cannot verwendung planes, artillery, helicopters, or other advanced technology since dass would be a disproportionate response. 
I’m not in the least bit joking and honestly don’t think I’ve exaggerated the above points covering what the American and European left (including its Jewish components) thinks should be the proper Israeli policy.
Nevertheless, I don’t see the Kadima or Labor parties adopting such a program. I think it would be am meisten amusing to go down to the corner of, for example, King George and Dizengoff streets to quiz random Israeli pedestrians about what they think of this plan.
As always, since the mainstream Western media generally does not allow a real response to the ridiculousness of the program it advocates for Israel you won’t be reading any of the points gemacht above in such places. Menschen will just be left to believe dass the current government is just unreasonably reactionary; dass most Israelis support Obama (or if they don’t they deserve what they get); and if Israel just let the American far left choose its government than everything would be just fine. In fact, every public opinion poll in Israel backs up my points.
Indeed, if anyone  left-wing blogs or the mass media does remark on this article it will only be to brand it “right-wing.” Not at all. It's just right.

Oh, wait, there is an alternative. Such organs might quote or reprint this article saying dass it is very accurate and they sind pleased to see menschen in Israel agreeing mit their position.

Meanwhile there sind at least two new commercially published books in the United States--and numerous articles--that Israel is collapsing. What is the evidence for this? Not much. A country mit consistently high scores on personal satisfaction, the highest growth rate in the OECD, close to the best medical system, the fifth highest life expectancy, etc., etc. Meanwhile, the gleichen people tell us how große everything is in Egypt, Turkey, and so on. Welcome to the age of insanity.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, will be published by Yale University Press in January. Other books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports,

RubinReports: How Can Israel Please the American Government, Media, and “Experts”? It Can’t



By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah Reading: MIKETZ Gen. 41:1-44:17


The exile of the Children of Israel in Egypt and their subsequent redemption and exodus are the paradigm of all exile and redemption, physical and spiritual. The chief oppressor is Pharaoh, King of Egypt, a figure first introduced in the Torah several parshiyos earlier, in LECH LECHA (Ch. 12, v. 10ff). Famine had forced Abraham to go down to Egypt, the "nakedness of the earth" (just as in our parshah, famine forces his descendents down to the same place). Egypt is the stronghold of MITZRAYIM, second son of the accursed Ham, who had "uncovered" his father Noah's nakedness. In the same tradition of sexual immorality, Pharaoh, representing the evil, self-seeking aspect of earthly power, kidnapped Sarah, embodiment of the Indwelling Presence of G-d, until a divine plague forced him to release her. According to tradition, Sarah was released on the night 15 Nissan, the date of the later Exodus of her descendants from Egypt.

Our parshah of MIKETZ traces the successive stages in which the snare was laid to force Jacob and his Twelve Sons to follow Joseph down into exile in Egypt in preparation for the ultimate redemption of the Children of Israel years later on that same date. The net is artfully prepared by Joseph, who alone of all the sons of Jacob had the power to stand in the House of Pharaoh. Joseph is the archetype of the Tzaddik who enables us to survive in This World. Having been drawn down to Egypt by Joseph, the Children of Israel are eventually redeemed by Moses, who, having been brought up in the House of Pharaoh, had the power to stand there. Moses is integrally linked with Joseph, and thus Moses "took the bones [= the essence] of Joseph with him" up out of Egypt. Moses is the Tzaddik who teaches us the path leading through the wilderness of This World to the Land of the Living -- the Land of Israel.

This World is but a dream. Pharaoh is dreaming. Pharaoh is the "back-side" (PHaRAO = ORePH, the back of the neck) -- the external appearance of This World as opposed to it's inner "face", the inner spirituality and meaning. The outward appearance is frightening: plump prosperity turning into wizened waste.

Pharaoh is the worldly ego. "So says the Lord G-d, Here I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great crocodile [=primordial serpent] lying down in his rivers, who says: 'The river is mine, and I made myself' (Ezekiel 29: 3, from the Haftara of parshas VO-ERO which recounts the plagues sent against Egypt). Pharaoh thinks he is all-powerful -- "I made myself" -- but in the end he is humiliated by G-d's plagues, which show him his limitations. As yet his downfall is still far-off -- a distant vision, a bad dream. Yet already Pharaoh is being humiliated. The dream is terrifying. Pharaoh's own magicians and wise men are helpless: they cannot give meaning to his dream. The only one who can help Pharaoh is "a man who has the spirit of G-d in him" (Gen. 41:38), the truly righteous Tzaddik: Joseph.

* * *


Temporal leaders may imagine they are pulling the strings, but the underlying forces that drive human history are great global cycles of success and decline ("Seven years of plenty" / "Seven years of famine") that are in the power of G-d alone. Likewise, G-d alone has the power to send truly wise leaders to guide us through these cycles to a better end.

While Pharaoh is the archetype of the self-seeker, Joseph is the archetype of self-discipline. The latter is the virtue needed to get through This World successfully. Pharaoh knows how to consume to gratify the self here and now -- to live the dream of This World. This may work as long as the river keeps flowing. But Pharaoh does not know what to do when the flow stops. He is unprepared, because Pharaoh is PARU'AH, undisciplined. He does not know how to conserve and save for lean times.

Pharaoh's self-seeking is rooted in the fundamental flaw of Adam: KERI, spilling the seed in vain -- waste. Thus it is said that the sparks in the seed spilled by Adam fell to Egypt, where they had to be rectified in the generation of Joseph and in the generation of Moses. The rectification in the generation of Joseph was accomplished by the DISCIPLINE which Joseph brought to the country. Joseph used the Seven Years of Plenty to teach the Egyptians to put limits on IMMEDIATE CONSUMPTION AND GRATIFICATION in order to SAVE for the FUTURE. (Similarly in the generation of the Exodus, the Children of Israel, incarnation of Adam's spilled seed, were rectified through the building of Pharaoh's "store-cities".) We must all learn how to set limits to the physical gratification we receive from this world in order to make the best use of our time here to acquire and "save" Mitzvos and good deeds. These are our TZEIDAH LA-DEREKH, the "sustenance for the way" that leads to the Land of the Living, the Future World.

The world today is suffering from the catastrophic effects of IMMEDIATE CONSUMPTION on the global ecology in the form of reckless depletion of resources, pollution etc. and on the moral fabric of contemporary society. The model of happiness entertained by most of the world -- CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION -- is unsustainable and destructive, and must be replaced with Joseph's model: that we must "circumcise" ourselves and learn self-discipline. Only by thriftily "saving" Torah and good deeds can we attain true happiness. Thus Joseph told the "Egyptians" to "circumcise" themselves (see Rashi on Gen. 41:55).

* * *


"It is good when manifest reproof stems from hidden love" (Proverbs 27:5).

The essence of good leadership is to teach people to lead themselves -- to take themselves in hand and use self-discipline to attain the good that is available in this world.

Had Joseph revealed himself to his brothers immediately on their first arrival in Egypt, he would have elicited little more from them than superficial expressions of contrition for a sin whose seriousness they still did not understand. "Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16) -- don't "sit down to eat bread" when your brother is screaming in the pit (Gen. 37:25).

Joseph used his consummate wisdom to engineer events that would put his brothers in the same situation in which they had placed him. As the compassionate leader, Joseph sought to make his brothers draw their own conclusions, knowing that the lessons we learn on our own flesh are more deeply inscribed and instilled than those we simply hear from others.

Joseph engineered events that would force his brothers to "read" and "interpret" for themselves the message of reproof the events implied. So it had been from the beginning. When Joseph dreamed of the sheaves bowing down to him, it was the brothers who interpreted the message for themselves. "Will you surely rule over us?" (Gen. 37:8).

Years later, the brothers bowed before the Egyptian Viceroy TZOPHNAS PA'ANEAH ("Interpreter of that which is Hidden", as Joseph had been named by Pharaoh, Master of the Dream).

"And Joseph saw his brothers and he recognized them, AND HE MADE HIMSELF STRANGE [vayisNACHER] to them" (Gen. 42:7).

In order to chastise his brothers and bring them to genuine contrition, Joseph acted not like a BROTHER but like a NOCHRI, a STRANGER. He clothed himself in the garb of a stranger with a heart of stone, deaf to all appeals.

Joseph's way of teaching and educating his brothers can help us understand how G-d may sometimes have to beat down the walls of people's insensitive hearts by chastising them with enemies that appear strange and incomprehensible to them.

"G-d will bring up a people against you from afar from the end of the earth, like the eagle swoops, a people whose language you will not understand, a people of fierce countenance who will not show respect to the old or compassion for the youth." (Deuteronomy 28: 49).

But like Joseph's indirect, roundabout reproof to his brothers, G-d's reproof has but one purpose: "And they will confess their sin and the sin of their fathers and the treachery that they have committed against Me, that they went contrary [with KERI] against Me; So I will go with them contrary [with KERI, apparently chance events] and I will bring them in the land of their enemies, and then their uncircumcised heart will be humbled and then they will make appeasement for their sin. And I will remember my COVENANT." (Leviticus 26:40-42).

With consummate skill, Joseph brought a series of "troubles" upon his brothers that would bring them to successive levels of self-understanding and genuine contrition. Joseph's first step was to separate one brother (Shimon) from the others and hold him in detention. The brothers read the message: "And one said to the other, But we are guilty over our brother, the pain of whose soul we saw when he pleaded with us and we did not hear: that is why this trouble has come upon us" (Gen. 42:21).

The final stage was when Joseph engineered the framing of Benjamin with Joseph's "stolen" divining goblet (Gen. ch. 44). Still appearing to his brothers as the Egyptian Viceroy Sourcerer, Joseph's choice of scenario was one that had special meaning for the brothers, as they had all (with the exception of Benjamin) witnessed their DIVINER grandfather Laban (Gen.30:27) searching the tent of Rachel, for his stolen TERAFIM (idols).

At last the brothers grasped the complete message. They had stolen their brother and sold him as a slave. "And Judah said, What shall we say to my lord, what shall we speak and how can we justify ourselves? G-d has found your servants' sin."

In next week's parshah we will continue with the beautiful story of how Judah steps forward to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS BROTHER. This was the goal of all Joseph's "reproof".

The above-quoted words of Judah are woven into our TACHANUN (supplicatory) and SELICHOS (penitential) prayers:

"What shall we say? What shall we speak? How can we justify ourselves? Let us search out and investigate our ways and return to You. For Your right arm is stretched out to receive those who return. Please G-d, save us."

Happy Chanukah!!! Shabbat Shalom! Chodesh Tov Umevorach!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

PO Box 50037 Jerusalem 91500 Israel



By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah Reading: VAYEISHEV Gen. 37:1-40:23


"These are the generations of Jacob. These are their dwellings and rollings (GILGULIM) until they came to a state of habitation (YISHUV). The first cause was that 'Joseph was seventeen years old.'

" 'And Jacob dwelled.': Jacob wanted to dwell in tranquility, but the storm of Joseph sprang upon him. The tzaddikim want to dwell in tranquility, but the Holy One, blessed be He, says, 'Is it not enough for the tzaddikim that the World to Come is prepared for them, but they want to dwell in tranquility in this world?' " (Rashi on Gen. 37:2).

Now that the Torah has completed the stories of Abraham and Isaac and that part of the story of Jacob in which he is the chief actor, we now turn to the story of Jacob's children: "These are the generations of Jacob". Their "dwellings and rollings" -- as recounted in the remaining four parshiyos of Genesis, allude to all their future history, in the Land of Israel and in exile, until we will finally come to a "state of habitation" (YISHUV) in the Land of Israel, with Melech HaMashiach: a state of YISHUV HADA'AS, "a settled mind" -- expanded consciousness. Jacob sought immediate tranquility in the Land of Israel, but this tranquillity could only be attained in the Future World, after many "rollings" -- (GILGULIM) incarnations and generations.

The Children of Israel are destined to be a Light to the Nations. As such, they must be at peace with each other, for how can they shine to the nations when they are at war with one another? But in our parshah of VAYEISHEV, the Children of Israel were unable to make inner peace: ".And they could not speak to him [Joseph] peaceably" (Gen. 37:4). Joseph exemplified the true leader -- "and he was pasturing his brothers" (v. 2) -- but as yet his brothers could not accept him. He was too saintly. The brothers were still out for themselves: ".They went only to pasture THEMSELVES" (Rashi on Gen. 37:12). Their in-fighting turned into a hypocritical religious war: "They said, Let us go to Dothan" (from the root DAS, "religious law"; Gen. 37:17). They went "to seek out religious contrivances" (NICHLEY DOSOS) in order to kill the true leader (see Rashi on this verse).

Yet Jacob sent Joseph into the middle of all this "from the depth (EMEK, valley) of Hebron" (Gen. 37:14). -- "But surely Hebron is on a MOUNTAIN, as it says, 'And they ASCENDED from the south and he came to Hebron' (Numbers 13:22)??? But what it means is FROM THE DEEP PLAN of that tzaddik who is buried in Hebron, i.e. Abraham, to fulfil what was said to him at the Covenant Between the Pieces, 'for your seed will be a stranger' (Gen. 16:13)" (Rashi ad loc.).

In other words, the "deep plan" necessitated the sale of Joseph into slavery in Egypt, which would eventually cause all his brothers and Jacob himself to go down to Egypt, in order to bring about the exile of the Children of Egypt there in preparation for their eventual Exodus. The paradigm of Exile / Redemption recurs repeatedly in Jewish history in the exiles of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome (Edom-Yishmael).

All the "rollings" and incarnations of the Children of Israel from generation to generation refine and purify their souls in preparation for the eventual state of YISHUV, "habitation", which depends on peace among the Twelve Tribes. In the coming parshiyos, we will see how the wise leader exemplified in Joseph skillfully manipulates everything to bring his "exiled" brothers to repent of their fractiousness and enmity and make peace with one another. Repentance is a recurrent theme of this and all the remaining parshiyos in Genesis. Reuven repented his "sin" (Gen 35:22; Rashi on 37:29); Judah repented, confessing: "she was more righteous than me" (Gen. 38:26); Joseph's brothers repented: "but we are guilty" (Gen. 42:21).

The essential fissures among the Children of Israel in their later history were between Benjamin vs. the other tribes (Judges Ch. 19ff), and the House of Judah (representing fidelity to the Oral Torah) vs. the House of Israel, the Ten Tribes, who rebelled under the leadership of Jeraboam son of Nevat of the tribe of Ephraim = Joseph (representing worldly success). (This is also the clash today between the "religious" and "secular".) In the coming parshiyos we will see how Judah (from the Children of Leah) becomes a "guarantor" (Gen. 44:30) for Benjamin (from the sons of Rachel), and how the state of near war between Judah and Joseph (Gen. 44:18) is transformed into a state of reconciliation between Joseph and all his brothers (Ch. 45). Judah's repentance and taking responsibility make him worthy of being the religious leader. "And he [Jacob] sent JUDAH before him to Joseph to RULE." (Gen. 46:28).

The bond forged between Judah and Benjamin exemplifies the concept that "all Israel are guarantors for one another" (Shavuos 39a). This bond is embodied in the fact that the territories of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin are contiguous, meeting in Jerusalem, YeruSHALAYIM, City of Peace, at the site of the Holy Altar in the Temple on Mount Moriah. The bond between Judah and Benjamin is also embodied in the figure of Mordechai, who although from the tribe of Benjamin is nevertheless called ISH YEHUDI, a man of Judah (Esther 2:5). The Code of Jewish Law also represents peace between Judah and Benjamin, in the sense that the stringent House of Shammai (Benjamin) receives honor and is always mentioned first, yet the legal decision in almost all cases follows the opinion of the compassionate House of Hillel (Judah).

The transformation of the war between Joseph and Judah into a state of reconciliation and peace is paradigmatic of the future reconciliation of the Jews (= Jude, Judah) and the lost Ten Tribes, and also the reconciliation between the "religious" and the "secular". All this comes about through Mashiach son of Joseph (Rachel) and Mashiach son of Judah (Leah).

However, in our parshiyos, all these hints of future history are contained in allusion only, for prior to attaining the future state of YISHUV and MOCHIN DE-GADLUS -- "settled" and "expanded consciousness" -- the world is in a state of BILBUL and MOCHIN DE-KATNUS, "confusion" and "limited consciousness". Thus our parshah deals with negative feelings and emotions: the hatred of the brothers for Joseph; their deception of Jacob with the blood of the slaughtered goat; the deception of Judah by Tamar; the attack on Joseph by Potiphar's wife, etc. etc.

The state of MOCHIN DE-KATNUS is the state of exile. Thus in our parshah, the scene changes from the Land of Israel to Egypt, MITZRAIM = METZAR, the "narrow" or "constricted" place. While Israel is the "face" (the PNIMIUS, the hidden "interiority"), Egypt represents the revealed exterior, the "backside". Thus the King of Egypt is Pharaoh, the Hebrew letters of whose name when rearranged spell out HA-OREPH, "the BACK of the neck", opposite of "the FACE". In this state of exile, there is no more prophecy, only dreams. Joseph dreams. The Butler and the Baker dream. Pharaoh dreams. G-d appears to Jacob "in the appearances of the night" (Gen. 46:2). Constricted consciousness!

* * *


"The tribes were busy with the sale of Joseph; Joseph was busy with his sack-cloth and fasting; Reuven was busy with his sack-cloth and fasting; Jacob was busy with his sack-cloth and fasting; Judah was busy getting himself a wife. And the Holy One, blessed be He, was busy creating the light of the King Mashiach. -- 'And at that time Judah WENT DOWN' (Gen. 38:1). Even before the first oppressor [Pharaoh] was born, the final redeemer was born" (Midrash Rabbah Bereishis 85:1).

Immediately after the story of the sale of Joseph to Egypt (the beginning of the exile) the Torah immediately tells us the story of Judah and Tamar, which culminates with the birth of Peretz (Gen. 38:29) who was the ancestor of King David, the Messianic King (Ruth 4:18-22).

The story of Judah and Tamar ione of sexual sin and its rectification. Of the three cardinal sins, Abraham rectified that of Idolatry (fallen CHESSED) while Isaac rectified the sin of Bloodshed (fallen GEVUROS). The mission of Jacob and his sons was to rectify the sin of GILUI AROYOS, sexual immorality (fallen TIFERET-Beauty), which is why the preceding parshiyos were preoccupied with how Jacob built his House, with his Four Wives and the Twelve Tribes arranged around his pure "bed", the Holy Sanctuary. Sexual immorality was the main theme in the story of Dinah, recounted in last week's parshah of VAYISHLACH. The theme continues in our parshah. Thus Joseph was "a lad" -- "he was engaged in puerile behavior, he arranged his hair carefully and smoothed his eyes in order to look beautiful" (Rashi on Gen. 37:2 and see Rashi on Gen. 39:6). Judah came in to "the harlot" (Gen. 38:15ff); Potiphar lusted for the beautiful Joseph and his wife attempted to seduce him...

Sexual immorality was an essential element in the original sin of Adam, which the rabbis conceptualized as KERI, an "impure emission" of seed. Adam had been commanded to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and conquer it and rule." (Gen. 1:28). But in "eating the forbidden fruit" of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, Adam fell into material lust. His seed, intended to produce future generations that would know G-d, "fell" and became prey to the forces of unholy lust. Thus the holy sparks became trapped in exile. This had to be rectified by Adam's descendants, the Children of Israel, whose mission -- as mentioned above -- was to rectify sexual immorality [see Kavanot of ARI, Pesach]. However, Er, the firstborn of Judah, failed the test and spilled his seed in order that his wife Tamar should not conceive and loose her worldly beauty (see Rashi on Gen. 38:7), and as a result G-d killed him.

According to the law of Levirate marriage (YIBUM), Er's surviving brother Onan should have "raised up seed" in the name of his dead brother (i.e. the dead brother would be reincarnated in order to rectify his sin in a new life), but Onan was also selfish, and spilled his seed (Gen. 38:7).

Only through the resourcefulness of Tamar (who was the daughter of Shem = Malki-Tzedek, the "Priest", symbol of moral purity, see Gen. 9:23) was the sin rectified through the mystery of Judah's encounter with the "harlot", which led to the birth of Peretz and eventually of David King Mashiach.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov stated that the main task of Mashiach is to rectify the spilling of seed.

* * *


The reason why Joseph was "a successful man" (Gen. 39:2) was precisely because "HaShem was with Joseph" (ibid.) -- "the name of Heaven was regularly on his mouth" (Rashi ad loc.). Joseph had the power to see and find G-d even in Egypt, the place of MOCHIN DE-KATNUS, "constricted consciousness", the "back-side". This was the key to his "success". Joseph was the very essence of Jacob, as Rashi goes to some lengths to prove (see Rashi on Gen. 37:2).

As the key figure in the "generations of Jacob", Joseph had the same mission as his father: the building of the archetypal holy HOUSE, as discussed in connection with the preceeding parshiyos. At first, Joseph dreams of being in the FIELD, where all his brother's sheaves prostrate to him. Later Joseph strays in the FIELD (Gen. 37:15). Yet at length his dream comes true in Egypt. There his brothers prostrate before Joseph, who orders them to be brought to his HOUSE (Gen. 43:16ff.), where they eat and drink.

The Children of Israel are not disembodied souls. They are IN the material world, their task being to elevate and spiritualize it. This is done through turning the mundane material house into a HOME, a Sanctuary of G-d -- "and I will dwell within them" (Exodus 25:8).

It is the moral integrity of Joseph -- who succeeds in finding G-d even in Egypt, constriction, the "back-side" -- that is the key to this house-making. As we will see in next week's parshah of MIKETZ, Joseph knows the secret of material, economic success (as exemplified in his successful management of the Egyptian economy even in times of famine). Through the story of Joseph, the Torah teaches us that the foundation of genuine long-term material success is moral purity and integrity. Even when Joseph was faced with the supreme moral test -- alone in the house with his master's wife tempting him day after day -- he set the unchangeable Law of G-d before him: adultery is forbidden. "How could I do this great evil and sin against G-d?" (Gen. 39:9).

Joseph observed G-d's law despite the fact that this led to his incarceration in the king's prison and his disgrace in the eyes of sophisticated Egypt. Joseph is the archetype of "the tzaddik who has it bad" (Berachos 7a). Yet even in this adverse situation, "HaShem was with Joseph" (Gen. 39:21). As before (ibid. v. 2), this teaches that "the name of Heaven was regularly on his mouth". That was the very key to Joseph's "success". Joseph knew that G-d speaks to us through the happenings of this world, and that we can find divine messages and meaning everywhere and in everything. Thus Joseph (DAAS-YESOD, Knowledge-Foundation, the Center Column) could "interpret dreams", even those of the Butler (fallen CHOCHMAH-Wisdom) and the Baker (fallen BINAH-Understanding). These two, together with the Captain of Guard (fallen DAAS-Knowledge) in whose HOUSE Joseph was a slave and captive, were the Chief Officers of Pharoah, the very embodiment of the "Back-Side", where holiness is initially concealed. It was through Joseph's incorruptible moral integrity (SHEMIRAS HABRIS, Observance of the Covenant) that he was able to turn everything around and find divine meaning and messages even in darkness and dreams of the night. This is what brings Mashiach.

And so may our Chanukah Lights light up the darkness of night, heralding GEULAH SHELEMAH, complete redemption with Ben David Melech HaMashiach quickly in our times. Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

PO Box 50037 Jerusalem 91500 Israel

Sunday, 4 December 2011

RubinReports: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta Shows How the Obama Administration Is Selling Out Israel...And U.S. Interests

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta Shows How the Obama Administration Is Selling Out Israel...And U.S. Interests


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Charlie:: “You coulda been another Billy Conn, and that skunk we got you for a manager, he brought you along too fast."

Terry: “It wasn't him, Charley, it was you. Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, `Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson.’….I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit….”  --Budd Schulberg, “On the Waterfront”

By Barry Rubin
Let me state this in undiplomatic language: U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is a clown. True, this will not be the kind of thing written about in the mainstream media but it is true nonetheless. Panetta has no knowledge of the Middle East, no experience in grand strategy, no concept of Islamist politics, no awareness of Israel’s defense needs, and doesn’t know much about military issues generally.

All that would be forgivable if it weren’t for one more problem:  He has no understanding of what has happened in the last year either.
Panetta has now bashed Israel based on a premise. Here it is:

"I understand the view that this is not the time to pursue peace, and that the Arab awakening further imperils the dream of a safe and secure, Jewish and democratic Israel. But I disagree with that view." Nevertheless, Israel needs to take risks and particularly, "The problem right now is we can't get them to the damn table, to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences."

First, there is a peculiar phrase that I have not seen used even once to describe what’s going on now. How did that phrase get into Panetta’s vocabulary? Obviously, from a briefing and I don’t believe it came from anyone at the Defense Department. That phrase is “Arab awakening” instead of “Arab Spring.”

Every Middle East historian—well, every Middle East historian who knows something about the Middle East—knows that The Arab Awakening was the famous book written by George Antonius (subsidized by a U.S foundation to do so, by the way) advocating Arab nationalism and opposition to Zionism in 1938. I can’t prove it but it gives me an idea of the views of whoever wrote those talking points.

This phrase also gives Panetta’s statement a strangely contradictory tone. If The Arab Awakening began a half-century pan-Arab struggle against Israel’s creation or existence might this not give us a hint of what the new “Arab Awakening” is going to do?  Oh, and 1938 marks the year when Great Britain desperately tried to sell out the Jews in order to gain Arab support (for the coming war with Germany and Italy). Interesting parallels.

But there are three major questions raised in Panetta’s silly statement....

To read this entire article click here

RubinReports: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta Shows How the Obama Administration Is Selling Out Israel...And U.S. Interests
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