This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Vayigash (5763)
The mystical Jewish book the "Zohar" says that this portion is one of the most important in the Torah; the meeting between Josef and his brothers (especially Judah) symbolizes and paves the way for the arrival of Moshiach and the final unification of the Jewish people.
But at first glance this is not very clear. What has one got to do with the other? Josef and his brothers were eleven individuals that lived some 3,500 years ago while the uniting of the Jewish people will involve millions of people today?
To understand, here is a story.
In the city of Leon, France there is a flourishing Chabad House. Several years ago at one of their annual dinners, one of their richest and strongest supporters took the podium and told an emotional story.
"I want to tell everyone how the Lubavitcher Rebbe made me a rich man.
"I was always proud to be Jewish and that is what connected me with Rabbi Gurevitch here in the Chabad House, but I was not always very observant.
"Then, years ago, I had this novel idea to build a hotel and in it a college for hotel management. After months of searching I succeeded in finding investors and was about to begin building when Rabbi Gurevitch suggested that I first receive the blessing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I flew to New York and that next Sunday I was standing in a line of several thousand people in front of the Rebbe's headquarters. But when I was finally face to face with him, I was speechless. The Rebbe just took two dollars from a stack next to him and said "One is for you and the other is for success in your new school." Then he added, "Just be sure that you put a Mezuzah on every door in the new building."
"I was astounded! I don't know how he knew me and my idea but he gave his blessing! I returned to France certain of success! But I was in for a bitter surprise.
"Everything started off like a dream. Within a year the building was finished. We made a grand opening with much publicity in the papers and on T.V. the biggest celebrities in France were there. But for some reason it didn't work. After five years I was millions of francs in debt and had no choice but to declare bankruptcy.
"And that is when the big troubles began. The government suspected foul play and after a few days an official inspector came knocking at my door. I opened up to see a mean-looking fellow that seemed to be a bit of an anti-Semite as well; when he entered my office and saw the picture of the Rebbe on my wall he wrinkled his nose and mumbled something, asked to see my accounts and ordered me to leave the room and close the door.
"My worst fears proved true. After several hours he left without saying a word and several days later I received a subpoena to court. I was to be tried for fraud in one month's time.
"Things looked bad but I only realized the real hopelessness of my situation when I began looking for lawyers and not one was willing to take the case. Now, all this time I wrote several letters to the Rebbe asking for help but never received an answer and I couldn't figure out what was going on.
"Anyway, the day of the trial arrived. The media had been sure to sensationalize the whole thing and the court was packed while I just sat there reading psalms, praying for a light sentence.
"The first to testify was the investigator himself. He took the podium, was sworn in, turned to the Judge pointed his finger at me and began. I sank into my seat and cringed.
"He said, 'Your honor, after thorough examination of the defendant's books I had no doubt that he was a thief and that he should be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.'
"The courtroom was silent and he continued. 'But after recent reexamination of the material I am not ashamed to admit that….. I was seriously mistaken!
"'It is now clear to me beyond the shadow of a doubt that the failure of this business was not due to fraud or even the mismanagement of the accused, but rather to an extraordinary series of events beyond the defendant's control.
"The inspector surprised everyone. He even said that for the sake of justice, of the economy and the glory of France the court should do all it can to make sure my project is reestablished, and succeeds.
"The courtroom was abuzz the Judge called him to his desk for consultation and after he returned to his seat the Judge pounded on his desk and announced, that I was innocent of all charges!
"Of course after such a dramatic turnabout from the prosecution the government had little choice other than to pay my debts, support my project and this time, thank G-d, fortune began shining.
"But two things bothered me. First, why did the business fail so miserably at first? And second, what caused that anti-Semitic inspector to change his mind?
"A month or so later I got my answer. I received a phone call one afternoon and recognized the voice of the inspector on the other end of the line. He asked me to meet him at a certain place that evening and not tell anyone about it as it would be suspicious if we were caught talking.
"We met. He had purposely picked a deserted spot where we could speak freely and he got right to the point.
"'You probably are wondering why I suddenly changed my mind about you in the trial aren't you.' He said. I shook my head yes and he continued.
"A few days before the trial he decided to go back to project and search for more evidence so I could have an air tight case against you. But as I was walking about suddenly I noticed something strange; on every door was a Mezuzah! Then he told me his secret. He looked me in the eyes and said:
"'You see, my friend, I'm Jewish. I was born, raised, married and was living in Germany until the war broke out.
"'My wife and I escaped here to France and, well we decided to erase any sign of our Jewishness. So that's how I know what a Mezuzah is. But I always thought it was for just the front door and you put them on a hundred doors! I even opened a few of them to see if maybe something else was inside but, no! They were all Mezuzahs! I thought to myself' 'If this man is a thief, why would he spend a small fortune on these commandments? I was really puzzled.'
"'So I went back to your office, looked at the picture of your Rabbi on the wall, looked into his eyes and concluded that if this is your teacher then maybe you aren't a thief after all.
"I took out your accounts again and suddenly got to thinking that maybe I made a couple of big mistakes; one about you and a bigger one about myself. I decided to return to Judaism ."
"Then he took out a bag, opened it and showed me a pair of Tefillin he just bought. He finished with the words 'Who knows, maybe that is the reason your business went bad and you had to stand trial. I can't think of any other reason'"
This is the answer to our questions, but in order to understand how, we need one more short story:
The holy genius Rabbi Josef Caro who authored the Shulchan Aruch (Jewish Code of Law) some 400 years ago, once struggled to understand a certain Torah idea. He pondered and even fasted and prayed for three days until he finally the got the answer.
As he was joyously walking home from his three day seclusion he passed by a Yeshiva (Torah academy) where young boys were learning aloud. Suddenly one of them paused and asked the SAME question he had had. "How interesting!'' He thought to himself.
But imagine his surprise when the other boy paused briefly and gave the same answer he had worked on for days!
He returned home with a broken heart, could it be he wasn't as wise as he thought?
Now Rabbi Caro was regularly visited by an angel called 'The Maggid' who would help him with Torah ideas (described in his book 'Magid May'sharim). And the angel explained what happened and told him not to worry; "Before you struggled no one could have solved that problem. Your three days of fasting, prayer and hard work opened the spiritual pipeline so that now anyone, even young schoolchildren can get that answer."
And that is what Yosef did; he opened the pipeline for brotherly love (Ahavat Yisroel).
It is known that ONLY Moshiach will succeed in uniting the Jewish people (and even bring them to Israel).
But he can't do it alone; he will need the support of the people. In fact that is one of his main tasks; to inspire the Jews to desire to be together.
But how can this be done? What common factor can unite all the Jews? What power can overcome the hatred, jealousy and competition that separated even Yosef and his holy brothers?
The answer is the Jews must see the G-dliness, the 'Chailek Eloka MiMaal', which is uniquely found in each and every one of us; that each Jew is like a miniature Holy Temple. Only then can the Jews really unite and really desire Moshiach.
And the power to accomplish this superhuman feat comes from Josef; he was the first to open the pipeline and love those who hated him because he saw only their G-dly souls.
And this opened the pipeline for the future redemption as well, signified by the approaching (YaYigash) of Judah (Moshiach will come from the tribe of Judah).
This is what the Lubavitcher Rebbe stressed time and time again is the only solution. And this is the motivation behind his massive world wide outreach program and his telling the hotel man in our story to put mezuzahs on every door: To bring Jews closer to HaShem, to one another and to the final redemption through.....
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