By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
I Am Yosef
As we mentioned two weeks ago, the Midrash states that “everything that happened to Yosef happened to Zion.” Since this Midrash sheds a unique light on the connection between Yosef and Zion we would like to discuss four resemblances this week and four resemblances mentioned in this Midrash next week which culminates the life of Yosef, among the 26 resemblances mentioned in this Midrash. Of course, we will also discuss how these resemblances touch Hebron, since the Arizal says that “Zion” is synonymous with Hebron.
The Midrash says: “It is written of Joseph: And Joseph was of beautiful form and fair to look upon (Gen. 39:6), and of Zion it is stated: Beautiful in situation, the joy of the whole earth (Ps. 48:3).” Three weeks ago we discussed the value of internal beauty as representing a harmony and unification of diverse qualities. It seems that it is Yosef’s ability of unification that unites the brothers in this parsha when he bids them not to quarrel about selling him. The ability of unification also lies with the ability to discern a common element in seemingly different matters. Therefore, Yosef’s solution of Pharaoh’s two different dreams as being indicative of one process is also a sign of Yosef’s ability of unification. Similarly, Zion, either Jerusalem or the Land of Israel, unites our People in a beautiful way, for “only the People residing in the Land are called an Assembly” in regard to the “Assembly of the People” who practiced an erroneous Torah ruling issued by the Sanhedrin, thereby obligating the Sanhedrin to bring a specific offering for their atonement (see Rambam Shgagot 12). With the same token, Hebron means unity [hibur], indicating its unifying ability.
The Midrash continues: “Concerning Joseph it is written: He is not greater in this house than I(Gen. 39:9), and of Zion: The glory of this latter house (this refers to the Second Temple which was of greater (physical) grandeur than the First) shall be greater than that of the former (Hag. 2:9).” The “greatness” and superiority of Yosef, both when a servant in Egypt (which is what the Midrash is referring to) and also in relationship to his brothers, can be seen to be indicative of Yosef’s name. “Yosef” means to “add to”, hinting to Yosef’s added advantage and supremacy. Similarly, Zion, the Temple and the Land of Israel compared to the Temple (for example see Hulin 92), have the quality of “adding” onto their previous state in a developmental process, so that the “latter “house” (the Temple or Land) shall be greater than that of the former.” With the same token, Hebron is described as having supremacy over Zoan of Egypt in the verse “Hebron was built seven years before Zoan of Egypt.”
The next resemblance mentioned in the Midrash is as follows: “Joseph: Hashem was with him (Gen. 39:2), Zion: And My eyes and My heart shall be there (II Chron. 7:15).” The deep connection between Hashem and Yosef the Righteous is indicative of Hashem’s deep connection to all the righteous and their righteous ways, for Hashem is also called the “Righteous Being of the World” (see Tanhuma Noah 7 and more). Similarly, Hashem is deeply connected to Holy Zion where His Holy Presence rests. As Yosef is also a symbol of purity, we should also note the interesting parallel between the holiness attached to the purity of the heart and eyes, as we say in parshat tzitzit “and you shall not stray after your hearts and eyes… and you shall be holy to Hashem Your God,” and Zion. It seems that measure for measure the Holy Presence resides with our holy presence in Zion: “And My eyes and My heart shall be there…” With the same token, Hebron is a focal point of the Holy Presence and also means unity, indicating Hashem’s deep connection to Hebron and its residents/visitors.
The last resemblance we will discuss this week is as follows: “Joseph: And He (Hashem) showed kindness unto him (Gen. 39:21), Zion: I remember for you the kindness of your youth (Jer. 2:2).” The attribute of kindness shown upon Yosef is also due to Yosef’s attribute of kindness, as can be seen in this parsha when he bestows kindness to his brothers who wanted to kill him. Similarly, the verse that refers to Zion here actually refers to the Holy Presence which rested in the Mishkan with Israel in the Wilderness. It is this Holy Presence which is the “soul” of the Temple which found its permanent place in Jerusalem and also of the Holy Land in general. According to this explanation, the “kindness of your youth” was the fact that the Holy Presence was allowed to rest with Israel in the Mishkan even before Israel entered the proper resting place of the Holy Presence in the Holy Land and Temple.
Therefore, from the comparison to Hashem’s kindness upon Yosef, we can infer that measure for measure Hashem bestows kindness on all those connected to the Holy Presence of Zion. With the same token, Hebron is indicative of the kindness of our Patriarchs as we say “and He remembers the kindness of the Patriarchs and brings a redeemer for their children’s children for His Namesake with love.”
Real Stories from the Holy Land #293
Continuing the light of Hanuka – “One of Simcha’s children, a son, is autistic. Simcha and his wife took their son to many doctors in Israel and the United States. They tried various treatment methods, all to no avail. Their son would not speak or make eye contact. However, their son was very attracted to the Kotel and the Cave of Machpella. He always ran ahead of his father when they went there. One day Simcha saw his son standing where the Arabs were in prayer at Maarat Hamachpela and soldiers were trying to get him out. He started to have seizures and could not move. Simcha made his way into the guarded space to be with his son. There for the first time, Simcha’s son spoke, for the first time he made eye contact with his father. He pointed to a hole in the ground and said, “light”. “Ima, Aba, light.” Only this child saw light coming from the hole. The midrash explains that when Avraham chose this place to bury Sarah, he discovered a “light” shinning in the Cave and inhaled the sweet scent of Gan Eden. Is this the “light” that this child found? The “light” that he alone saw and then started to speak? Where no doctor or treatment helped this child, his help came from the “light “, this special “light.”
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