Parsha Vayigash 5771: Yosef, the Brothers and Real Teshuvah

Moshe Burt

There was an Israel National News report last week about how former IDF Chief Rabbi Yisrael Weiss expressed regret at having supported the expulsion, or as they call it the “disengagement.”

Rabbi Weiss expressed the following:

“Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, former IDF Chief Rabbi, has expressed regret over his role in the 2005 “Disengagement” from Gaza and northern Samaria. At the time, Rabbi Weiss came out against refusing orders, saying that IDF soldiers who are told to expel Jews from their homes by force must do so.”

“I think that many, many people, not just myself, are sorry for having supported the Disengagement,” he said in an interview with the Hebrew-language daily Yediot Aharonot.

So, what was Rabbi Weiss’s kavanah, intent in expressing regret? Was it true, genuine contrition?

The INN report goes on to say;

Rabbi Weiss did not blame himself or others for having supported the expulsion. “We have to measure things according to how they looked at that time,” he argued….

He accused then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of having lied to get his support. “I asked [Sharon], ‘Why uproot those communities?’ and he told me,

‘Rabbi Weiss, I understand defense, right? I promise the people of Israel 40 years of peace,’” he recalled.

“Today I know that he lied to me,” he added.

R’ Weiss seems to offer no real personal heart-felt contrition — only that Sharon lied. There seemed more contrition from Pete Rose regarding his baseball gambling than from Rabbi Weiss’ expressions to Yediot Aharonot. It seems that Rabbi Weiss had no concern for the fact of eviction of Jews from Jewish land, their long-term displacement, their trauma and their resultant failure to acquire employment and thus again become independent.

Further, it seems apparent and obvious from the intent expressed in his words, that if called on to help to expel more Jews, i.e. from Yehuda and the Shomron, he’d expedite it again.

So what constitutes true intent, true contrition in Teshuva?

Parsha Mikeitz records the whole affair between Yosef and the brothers when they came to Mitzrayim to buy food and were accused by the Viceroy of being spies. We learned how after hearing their story and family history, Yosef demanded that they bring their youngest brother to him and incarcerated Shimon as insurance that the brothers would indeed return with Binyamin, their youngest brother. We learn that in the middle of Parsha Mikeitz, with the imprisonment of Shimon, the brothers recognized and attributed their predicament to the sin they had committed earlier by throwing Yosef into the pit and then selling him to the Mitzriyim. Yosef heard and understood their conversation and left their presence to cry silently. (Perek 42, posukim 21-24)

Then, we learn how when Binyamin was finally brought to Yosef, the brothers were provided with food, but then it was made to appear as if Binyamin had stolen the Viceroy’s silver goblet. The Viceroy detained Binyamin under charges that he had stolen the goblet and released the other brothers to return to their father.

Our Parsha Vayigash begins with Yehuda speaking his appeal to the Viceroy on behalf of his father Yaakov regarding Binyamin’s imprisonment.

Upon hearing Yehuda’s plea regarding the special love affection which Yaakov had for Binyamin, Yosef could no longer restrain himself and revealed himself as he cried out so loudly that he was heard by Pharoh.

The brothers had shown Yosef that they had recognized their aveirah, done teshuvah and were unified in their concern for Binyamin’s welfare. Yosef embraced his brothers and comforted them and “told them not to be sad that they had sold him, for Hashem had actually sent him here to keep them alive during the years of famine.” (L’lMod Ulamed, Parsha Vayigash, page 57).

This unity was crucial for the future travails of enslavement in Mitzrayim as the Jewish nation was forged.

But, in our time, the type of unity expressed by Yehudah, and the other brothers, for their brother Benyamin is lacking amongst B’nai Yisrael. It appears as if the various sectors are sooo blinded by their pervasive disdain and hatred for who and what they are so as to not, see the abject error of their ways even as the consequences become ever clearer.

All the while, these modern-day hellenists continue their drive toward convergence, toward “land for peace (sic)”, toward the absurd, bogus concept of “2 states for 2 peoples”; all translated as nothing less than the eradication of all vestiges and expressions of Jewishness. And the vast majority of those who should know better seem unprepared to put their individual lives on hold and collectively act with unity, as one to do everything necessary to confront the evil.

We haven’t learned the brother’s lesson yet.

And further, the protexia-class hellenists have learned more than we have — they know our weaknesses intimately and they how to divide and conquer us by virtue of our machlokesim (internal disputes/disagreements). Each religious sector seems set against the other with little if any effort by any of the sectors to sit together and thrash out the unity and consensus which is crucial to overcome a Hellenistic regime and to ultimately restore Torah Halachic justice as law of the land.

When the brothers returned to Yaakov, there is a midrash which indicates that they were worried about how to break the news to him of Yosef’s survival and meteoric ascent to a position 2nd only to Pharoah. The brothers feared that the shock of the news might endanger Yaakov’s life. And so, they sent Asher’s daughter Serach, with her great spirituality and her special harp playing talent, to gently sing a melody to Yaakov; “My uncle Yosef is still alive; he is ruler over Egypt.” (The Midrash Says, Sefer Breish’t, page 426)

And from this can be learned a rule of human nature regarding breaking of important news, the old adage; “Break it to me gently.”

And so, we can look back and surmise that had all of the implications and all that has happened in the past 18 or so years been known to, derived or anticipated by the masses of B’nai Yisrael when Oslo was first hatched, the Jews would not have stood for it. And so, we were left with the soft refrain when Rabin signed Oslo, “If they’re bad boys, we’ll just go and take it back.”

And so, we’ve watched the evolution of events; Oslo, Oslo 2, Wye, leaving South Lebanon to Hezbollah, “Roadmaps”, the Expulsion from Gush Katif and the 4 Shomron Towns, the kidnapping of Jewish soldiers and lack of efforts to rescue them, the two front war of summer 2006 in Gaza and in Lebanon, the so-called “ceasefire” in Lebanon and it’s bogus UN UNIFIL “peacekeepers”, the successive bogus “ceasefires” in Gaza which led to January 2009’s inconclusive Gaza “Cast Lead” operation, the High Court’s continued demolition of the other branches of government, continuing attempts by Olmert, and now Netanyahu, to bring about “Convergence” by way of the blatant and gross humiliation of Annapolis, building freezes and much much more. Every intelligent person knows about the above, that the past at least 18 years has seriously damaged Israel on ALL levels. There are no links necessary!

They were bad boys and the government of Israel did nothing except concede more and more and more. And so I harken back to the lesson of how to boil a frog, or a lobster; turning the heat up gradually, a little at a time, each time allowing it to re-
acclimate before the final boil when the heat is turned on full and the frog or lobster dies.

Torah’s account of the teshuvah of Yehuda and the other brothers serves as a paradigm for the genuine, heartfelt contrition — including and particularly amongst the sectors of the religious, which needs to be expressed to the former residents of Gush Katif so that there can be a beginning to the binding of the national self-inflicted wounds and re-forming of an overriding national unity amongst Am Yisrael which existed through to sometime in the 1980s.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage to stand up as one to prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov
Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem, Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, —Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.