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Yud Tet Kislev (5765)
This week's section begins with Josef, the son of the forefather Jacob, relating a dream to his father:
He dreamed that he and his brothers were gathering sheaths of wheat in a field and when they finished, the bundles his brothers gathered stood and bowed to his bundle.
The Torah continues to tell us that when his brothers overheard this, they became so incensed with anger they designed to kill him.
Does this make sense? Why would they take a dream so seriously? Why would they want to kill him?! Weren't they holy people? And even more, what was the meaning of the dream?
To understand this, here is a story.
The first Rebbe of Chabad was imprisoned in 1789 by the Russian Government on charges of treason. Forged documents had been presented to the Czar to the effect that The Rebbe was working together with the King of Turkey against Russia and was forming a new Judaism over which he would be crowned King Messiah.
These documents were fabricated by his enemies; ultra-orthodox Jews who simply couldn't bear the Rebbe's 'Chassidic' way of thinking and called themselves "Mitnagdim" (opposers).
The Rebbe taught that all Jews; including even ignoramuses, are holy. And every Jewish soul; even of the greatest scholars, required awakening to really love G-d, the Torah and every Jew.
He taught that the Jews, each of them, are 'part' of G-d's essence while the gentiles are only part of the creation and, in this aspect, the Talmudic scholars are essentially no higher than the simple Jews.
The Mitnagdim could not bear how the Rebbe was turning Judaism 'inside out':
stressing the soul and the essence of all things and playing down their greatness in Torah.
And their lies worked. The Rebbe was taken to the highest maximum security prison in Russia and interrogated. His captors asked him a series of some twenty two questions about his goals and his 'philosophy'.
He answered all the questions, some at great length, accurately and satisfactorily. Except for one.
The last question was how he could be so brazen as to make such a provocative and false statement in the end of the very first chapter of his book 'Tanya' (that had been published some two years earlier) that Jews are completely different from gentiles; Jews can devote themselves totally to G-d while even the most religious and altruistic gentile is motivated purely by selfishness!
(And in the beginning of the second chapter of that book he goes even further and writes that the Jewish soul is a 'portion' of the essence of G-d!).
Especially when no other Jewish author, even from the most religious, ever wrote such a thing!
To this question the Rebbe did not answer - he just smiled.
This smile spelled his certain death. There was no natural way they would ignore this brazen insult to their religion which they believed to be the quintessence of mercy, good and truth!
But they didn't punish him. In fact they didn't even get angry!
And most amazingly, after a few days they actually came to his cell and told him he was free!! This was on the nineteenth day of 'Kislev' which became a major holiday for Chabad Chassidim as the day that the meaning of life was revealed to the world.
That is the end of our story.
There are several explanations of what happened.
One is; that the Czar's men realized the Rebbe was right and were afraid to hear his explanation. So they released him.
Another is, that they realized that he was right; that Jews really are completely different. And they also sensed that they could never understand it.
But they released him because they sensed that the Rebbe was a good and holy person and could do no harm.
A third explanation is that the Rebbe smiled in joy because he knew that he was about to actually die for the truth; for the ideals of the Baal Shem Tov. But precisely this joy broke their spiritual power (simcha poretzes
geder) and they, not understanding why, released him.
But I want to add another explanation.
I think he smiled because he realized he was ushering in a new era; the era of Moshiach. And they released him because they wanted to be part of it.
The Jewish people are, in fact, completely different from the non-Jews; they are 'Chosen'.
Superficially, until the Tanya was written, it seemed to mean that only the Jews got G-d's Bible, or only they would go to heaven, or only they were promised the land of Israel.
But the real meaning was buried in Kabalistic books, inaccessible to the average man and certainly to the gentiles.
The Tanya revealed and advertised the true meaning: that Jews are a different sort of creation. Jews are 'parts' of G-d, designed and 'Chosen'
to bring Moshiach and ONLY they can do it.
Moshiach will fill the entire world with meaning, blessing and joy by educating ALL mankind to worship ONLY the Creator, a feat which no Jewish leader has ever done.
This is why the Rebbe smiled.
He realized he had succeeded in making the breakthrough. He brought this truth into the WORLD; to the gentiles, for the first time.
When he realized that gentiles had read his Tanya and for the first time in history had become aware of this truth, he smiled. It was a foretaste of
And when his captors saw this joy they reacted by exonerating him from death, a foretaste of the Raising of the Dead.
This answers our question about Yosef's dream and his brothers reaction.
His brothers were great and holy people. But they only succeeded in gathering small amounts of holiness in their service of G-d, (represented by their gathering sheaves) something like the opposers of the Rebbe.
But Yosef was a forerunner of Moshiach who will come to unite and gather all the world; even the accomplishments of the holiest people. Therefore their bundles bowed to his.
And his brothers sensed this. They knew they were holy people, 'Tzadikim'
and that world depended on them (Tzadik Yesod Olom) and they sensed that Josef what something totally different.
They just couldn't conceive that anyone could be so different than themselves and not be coming to destroy everything they worked for. They couldn't accept the idea of Moshiach.
There is a tremendously deep and urgent message here: to try to see the potential good in every one, especially every Jew. especially one who tries to change the world for good.
The Rambam (Maimonides) writes that every Jew must constantly long for and do all he can to bring such a person; the Moshiach. Moshiach will be a Jew that will be incomparably 'higher' than any other Jewish leader in history who will 'gather ALL the sheaves: bring all Judaism to learn and observe the Torah and all the gentiles to serve the Creator alone.
So it's all in our hands to correct the mistake of Yosef's brothers. To follow the directives of the Lubavitcher Rebbe see chapt. 5 of Moshiach essay at www.ohrtmimim.org/torah and bring....
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