This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayeishev is being co-sponsored by Rabbi Elozer Dovid and Esty Gluck (Rabbi Elozer Dovid is Rosh Kollel of Kollel Misilot B’Halacha and Artist: Gedolim Paintings) dedicated as a Zechus for the success of their children and larger family and by Matt and Ilana Bornstein of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated dedicated Lilui Nishmas for HoRav Chaim Zev ben Avraham Aharon HaLevi (HoRav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, z”l who was niftar 23 Marcheshvan 5780). To the Gluck and Bornstein families, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Our Parshat Vayeishev vort begins by citing this posuk in Torah:
“And he [Yisrael/Yaakov] said to him [Yosef], ‘Go now, look into the welfare of your brothers…, and bring me back word.’ So he [Yaakov] sent him [Yosef] from the valley of Hevron, and he arrived in Shechem.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 18, as rendered to English in The Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary”)
Rashi’s commentary on this posuk (ibid, page 417) indicates that “The Valley of Hevron” means:
From the deep counsel of that righteous one, Avraham who is buried in Hevron.
Footnote 4 [related to the posuk]: Counsel is used by Rashi for the Word of Hashem, as in Yishaya 14:27 (Divrei David)
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin poses Rashi’s question on “The Valley of Hevron” in a context written in in his sefer, “Unlocking The Torah Text” (Sefer Breish’t, Parshat Vayeishev, pages 214-215):
“Was not Hevron on a mountain?” (Rabbi Goldin citing Rashi on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 37, posuk 14)
….The Torah, therefore, introduces the story of Yosef’s sale with a reference to the “Valley of Hevron” — the deep plan rooted in Hevron.
…Rashi alerts us to a fundamental truth concerning the… tale of Yosef and his brothers…. This is not only the painful, personal story of a family in crisis. Yosef’s first steps toward Shechem are also the first steps in another journey, which will ultimately transform the patriarchal family into an eternal people.
We… experience the Divinely guided transition from the patriarchal era to the national era of our history.
Rabbi Goldin asks (ibid, page 215):
How does this narrative reflect upon the delicate balance between prescience (Hashem’s foreknowledge of events), free will and predestination: a balance which normally defines our lives?
To answer this question and to begin to understand Rabbi Goldin’s portrayal of the Divinely guided ultimate transformation of the patriarchal family into an eternal people, the transition from the patriarchal era to the national era of our history, we return to this year’s vort on Parshat Lech Lecha and Hashem’s foretelling that Avraham’s offspring will enter a strange land which turned out to be Egypt (Mitzrayim):
“…Your children will be strangers in a land not their own, where they will be tormented and enslaved for four hundred years…. And the fourth generation will return here,” (Rabbi Goldin rendering to English Sefer Breish’t, Perek 15, posuk13)
Rabbi Yehudah Nachshoni discusses Hashem’s foretelling and the use of the phrase “The Valley of Hevron” in his sefer “Studies in the Weekly Parashah”, Sefer Breish’t, pages 223-224):
Chazal in Midrash Tanchuma tell us:
“Come and see the works of Hashem; He is awesome in his plans toward the children of men.” R’ Yudan said, “Hashem wanted to fulfill the decree of ‘You will surely know that your seed will be a stranger…’ and He instituted a design for these matters, so that Yaakov would love Yosef, and his brothers would hate him and would sell him to the Yishmaelites [ultimately], who would bring him down to Egypt.
…The first cause of all the events which occurred later was when Yisrael said to Yosef, “Your brothers are tending their flocks in Shechem. Go and I will send you to them.” From then on, the events follow one another by themselves, as it were, until finally, he went down to Egypt, against his will, by [Hashem’s] word.” The “word” referred to here is the word of Hashem at the Bris Bein Habesarim, but it was fulfilled through Yaakov speaking to Yosef.
Chazal look at this in hashkafah terms and see the unity of events when they say: “And he sent him from the valley of Hevron” — with the guidance of the Tzaddik buried in Hevron, to fulfill what had been said to Avraham…, “For your seed will be a stranger.”
Yaakov was forced to do what he did. That did not take away from his free will, says Abarbanel, because the events did not have to unfold in the sequence in which they unfolded. The exile would have occurred in one way or another. And even if the details would have developed in a different fashion, the decree would still have been fulfilled. The way things actually happened, with the free will of all concerned, helped in the realization of the decree, through the events described in the Torah.
The hatred by the brothers was a warning for future generations as to the terrible consequences that can emerge from hatred among Jews. It is true that the results here were decreed by Hashem, but the fact that they occurred through the hatred of the brothers is a moral lesson to us as to the connection between cause and effect.
Rabbi Goldin concludes (“Unlocking The Torah Text”, Sefer Breish’t (page 217):
We must accept that, one way or another, out ancestors were destined to spend a period of time as strangers persecuted in a strange land. The story, however, did not have to play out exactly as it did. If sibling hatred and jealousy had not been the catalysts for our exile, perhaps the exile itself would have been less painful.
In this author’s view, these are thoughts worthy of focusing on by all, including governmental leaders, politicians, the media and intelligencia, as well as Rabbanim of all sectors, and all of us.
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — which can only occur when he is home in Israel and carrying for his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone 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 Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.