Vayeishev 2019

Parshat Vayeishev By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron                                                           בס”ד

לשכנו תדרשו

Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land

The Prism

According to a number of commentators, the coat that Yakov gave Yosef was a striped coat, as they interpret the word “passim” as striped. This state of striped wool strongly resembles the wool of the sheep that Yakov raised in the household of Lavan in Parshat Vayeitzei. The striped wool of these sheep are mentioned in the prophetic dream Yakov had at the end of the twenty years he stayed with Lavan. This dream, instrumented by an angel, also strongly reminds us of the dream with angels that Yakov had on his journey to the house of Lavan at the beginning of Parshat Vayeitzei. [Not only this, but the “striped” theme can also be seen in the picture of the ladder to heaven, as is well known that a ladder has spokes spaced apart from one another, resembling “stripes” (also in halacha there is significance to spokes of a ladder).] If we go even further back we can find the “stripe” theme also in the stripes of the rainbow at the time of Noach. In regard to the rainbow, Noach is told, and so is also recited in the bracha on sighting a rainbow, that the rainbow is a sign of Hashem’s covenant to the world that the world will not be destroyed. In a similar way, the “stripes”/spokes in Yakov’s prophetic dream come in conjunction to Hashem’s promise/”covenant” with Yakov that He will protect him even in times/places of danger, and so is the same with the second prophetic dream Yakov has at the end of Vayeitzei. From these references, it is quite plausible that the “striped” coat Yakov gave Yosef expresses, whether cognitively or not, Yakov’s wish that Yosef be protected in the same he was protected in the context of these “stripes.” If we return to the “stripe” theme in the rainbow we notice that these stripes are formed from the refraction of pure light. Pure light in many sources represents the Divine “Light”, for light is the most “spiritual”/abstract matter that we conceive in our physical world, even though the spiritual energies themselves are definitely not mundane as physical light is. Nevertheless, the refraction of physical light may represent or symbolize the “refraction” of spiritual “light” as in a prism or a rainbow which leads to the full spectrum of colors. In our world, we conceive these colors separated and scattered from each other in the many scenes that we vision. However, the rainbow or the color spectrum, which shows all these colors together after pure light has been “broken” (refracted),  reminds us that the seemingly “scattered”/“broken”, disharmonized, and “threatening” states of creation ultimately stem from the “United Divine Light” emanating from the One God. Therefore, it becomes clear how the rainbow represents Hashem’s “covenant” and connection with the world, protecting it from destruction. Also in the context of Yosef, who is given the striped coat, the theme of the “keshet”, the term used for Noach’s rainbow, but which also means a bow (as in bow and arrow), reappears in the words of Yakov to him before his death: “his bow remained steady (Bereshit 49, 24) and Yakov also mentions giving Shechem, which he conquered by his “bow”, to Yosef. Here too the bow, as a weapon, represents protection from a distant or an aloof source somewhat similar to the Divine Aid and Protection provided in the context of the rainbow. Even though Yosef’s coat of stripes was stripped from him, nevertheless, the spiritual light and protection that these stripes represent continued with Yosef, especially when he was sent from Hebron, which means unity, where all the spiritual “colors of the spectrum” are united together. Our Sages interpret “the depths of Hebron” from which Yosef was sent towards his brothers, who subsequently sold him, to refer to Yosef’s descent to Egypt, which began with his departure from Hebron, which was pre-destined in the “deep” prophecy of Avraham in “Hebron.” This prophecy heralded that Avraham’s offspring would be in exile in a “land that is not theirs,” afterward to “leave with great possession.”  Therefore, Hebron, the City of Unity and Covenant, indeed stands as the hope, the covenant, that Hashem is with us throughout the extends of history.

 Miracles from the Holy Land:

(Continuation from previous story) “The surgery was successful, and my student was cured from cancer. However, this did not change the fact that my student’s sister had sold her apartment to save her brother’s life… Although she was discouraged by real-estate agents from attempting to buy any real-estate with just $130,000, my student’s sister decided to check out apartments in Jerusalem where she had wanted to live, with trust that just as Hashem had shown His kindness in the past, He would not forsake her in the future. She entered a five-room apartment, and when she asked for the price was answered: $310,000. She then explained that she has only $130,000, and the owner laughed. Then she added that she had sold her apartment to save her brother’s life through an expensive medical operation, but, in the end, that sum was not needed. Suddenly, the owner asked: “Is your brother’s name Orel?” [my student who had cancer] When she answered in the affirmative, he answered: “I’m the cab driver [who found the suitcase]…” He immediately called me and told me: “I inherited a villa from my parents and don’t need the apartment. If you tell me to sell (for this price), I’ll listen to you.” I didn’t want to take responsibility for such a matter, so I asked that we go to Rabbi David Abuchazera (grandson of the Baba Sali) for his guidance. Rabbi Abuchazera was amazed and told the cab-driver to settle for the price offered to him, and with that he blessed him with wealth and nachas from all his offspring…” R.Z.