These are classes I gave this past Sunday.
Towards the end is a very special meditation finding Yaakov inside ourselves
Yaakov has been separated from his son Yosef for twenty two years, after revealing himself to his brothers as the king of Egypt Yaakov descends to Egypt and is reunited with Yosef. Yaakov’s life apart from Yosef was one of pain and sadness, and he knew no rest. The divine presence was not present with him; he did not attain prophesy. In Egypt where Yaakov lives for seventeen years he was full of joy and tranquility; the divine presence was with him, and he was (according to a hidden Zohar text) in a state of the highest levels of prophesy.
Yet, the Midrash Rabah teaches that Yaakov was not able to teach his children of the vision he saw of the end of days, and the life of Yaakov in Egypt represented the beginning of the exile, which truly took more shape when he died. Surrounding Yaakov at this time was not tranquility, but uncertainty. Not brighter days, but dark clouds of forewarning. The Midrash Rabah teaches that Yaakov was in such bliss because the troubles of the world were hidden to him. How are we to understand the Tzaddik Yaakov being in such a removed state from the reality of the world around him? How can Yaakov allow himself to be blind to the pain of the creation? It seems as if Yaakov is only bothered by his pain; when Yosef is lost from him for twenty two years he suffers tremendously, although the world is not in calamity, but when the world is heading for darkness he is tranquil and blissful, because he has Yosef. Is the Tzaddik we want to emulate one who only feels for his personal issues?
Of course we must understand that we cannot judge Yaakov, but rather learn from him. I am reminded of the story of Rabbi Akiva who upon witnessing a fox on the site of the recently destroyed temple in Jerusalem laughs. He laughs because this is the fulfillment of an ancient prophesy and he realizes that just as this prophesy of utter destruction is playing out fully, so too the prophesies of redemption will be in their time. Yaakov reconnecting to Yosef was the guarantee of redemption, and therefore all the pain of the thousands of years of exiles and sufferings were somehow not worth being sad for, or even became sweet. There is a secret that even the most painful, horrible tragedies will all be for the good.
Yaakov wanted to teach his children how it will be good, when will it finally be good. He wanted to write it down so that I could look and say to my children “don’t worry mashiach is coming very soon”, but he was seemingly forbidden to do so. I would also like to tell my clients sometimes the perspective that would open up their stories of suffering to redemptive light, but to do so would be unproductive. We cannot be shown the answer until we are ready, we need to do the work of exile, and development of Tikkun Olam ourselves. We can only imagine God longing and yearning to tell us “it’s OK, I love you, it’s goin to be alright”, but he holds himself back so that we might be adult enough to take responsibility and rectify our world. This is the secret of all the pain of the world.
The sweetness of redemption was never totally hidden, the righteous Tzadikim are here to whisper God’s comforting messages to us. The Torah tells us to wait just a little longer, and even in our Parsha the first words are Vayechi Yaakov Bieretz Mitzrayim – And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt, Yaakov lived! He lived joyfully, he lived in bliss, because he saw the redemption, and it so good.
Dating & Marriage 101
– When an issue comes up during dating or during marriage ask can I accept the other even through this. Is this something we can grow together through working it out. Block out the pain of the moment by recognizing the sweetness that comes from overcoming together.
Once my wife and were in a painful disagreement and called up or Rebbe, he brought salve and salvation with the words: “You are arguing, because you love each other so much”.
Chanukah Sameach, Happy Chanukah! In this week’s Torah portion Yosef is called out of prison. The impetus for this is the king of Egypt’s dream. The Pharaoh has a dream which perturbs him and he cannot find a satisfying interpretation for it.
The portion starts with the line: וַיְהִ֕י מִקֵּ֖ץ שְׁנָתַ֣יִם יָמִ֑ים וּפַרְעֹ֣ה חֹלֵ֔ם וְהִנֵּ֖ה עֹמֵ֥ד עַל־הַיְאֹֽר׃
After two years’ time, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile.
These two years Yosef had been in prison.
What is the significance of these two years?
The Midrash explains that this two year period was a set period of time decreed by God because Yosef had asked the servant of Pharaoh to intercede with the king and free him. Yosef showed a lack of belief in God’s will to redeem him by asking the servant for assistance, and therefore remained in prison for two more years until the dream catapulted him out.
Now, this answer should be very bothersome! Yosef showed lack of trust in God, because he asked for human assistance?! How are we to draw a lesson for our own lives? Should we not use worldly measures to help us achieve? Are we to only rely on divine interference; on miracles?
The Midrash then brings another explanation: God kept Yosef in prison these two years so that Yosef would be redeemed by a dream. The king’s dream.
Explanation: Yosef, the man of dreams… perhaps he had lost his dream. Perhaps he was desperate….He asks the servant for help. Nothing comes of it. Yosef’s desperation was generated by his lack of belief in himself. Yosef lost touch with his innate value, his mission in the world.
Yosef fell asleep. For two years he slept. God woke him up…with a dream. The dream of the King of Egypt. Meaning that Yosef needed Pharaoh to dream in order for Yosef to dream himself, and be freed.
We are dreamers. We dream of the destiny of our elevated, lofty, holy souls. We dream of making a difference, and changing the world. We dream of all we are capable of.
Then we fall asleep. Something happened, something frightening, sad, we feel alone. We hide from our dreams, and we fall asleep. When we are asleep we want to escape the loneliness, but nothing works, because we have no dreams. We cannot reenter the light until we wake up. Even were someone to wake us up, we need to still wake ourselves up.
What can wake us up?
A dream. A story. When we hear a story that contains our own story we can wake ourselves up. Hearing the story of our soul’s imprisonment, and the struggles and longing for freedom and greatness can inspire us, and wake us up.
Seeing someone else asleep to their dream; to their greatness is a tragic experience, and sadly many, many parents, teachers, and friends go through this.
Chanukah is the story of a miracle that was small, we did not gain sovereignty over our land, we did not merit the miracles of the first temple, we were not accomplishing anything significant, but….it woke us up. The dream of the Maccabees has inspired us in our own dreams for the past two thousand years. It gives us a story of light shining through darkness that helps us tell the story of our own souls in our own struggles.
This Chanuka be open to being awoken. Be open to dream. Your potential is limitless.
Rabbi Dovid Baars
Yaakov settled in the land of his fathers, the Land Of Canaan.
Bereishit Rabah teaches: Like a man who is sitting amongst a pack of wild dogs. He was sitting amongst the descendants of Eisav.
Further: He was following his fathers path of teaching students; of bringing Torah into the world; of bringing his Chachma down into the world. Migayeir Geirim (Converting others) is similar to Migurei Aviv (The land of his fathers).
Fearful of the growth of his mighty brother Yaakov strengthened himself with spreading Godly light; wisdom. With this he built his own camp.
Rebbe Natan Breslover teaches that Yaakov wanted to serve Hashem, as his fathers did……..and that we all find ourselves in this stunning verse, we are all looking to serve Hashem like our fathers…………
We are so connected to our parents. I believe this is a special type of Teshuva to go back to the Torah of our fathers. Sh’ma B’ni Musar Avicha, V’all Titosh Torat I’mecha, My son, listen deep to lessons of your father, and beware of abandoning the Torah of your mother.
The father gives us our first concept of God. Our mother, our first concept of the All Loving Shechina.
Take a moment to heal and bring the light of Hashem into our relationship with our Father and Mother.
Our beliefs and minds were imprinted first by our parents. From them we received trust, acceptance, personal space, the goodness of people, the beauty of our souls.
And remember Chazal teach that we picked our parents. They are the most perfect parents for you.
Eleh Toldot Yaakov Yosef, (These are the offspring of Yaakov, Yosef)
We all know that Avraham had Yishmael, Yitzchak – Eisav, but Yaakov? He had a Yosef……. psshhhhhhh Yosef was mamesh a copy of Yaakov. The Medrish teaches all the things they were similar. Mamesh everything that happened to Yaakov happened to Yosef.
He is like the perfection. The Torah teaches this with a mashal:
A coal man is watching a flax man riding his flax camel into the city, the coal man wonders out loud “How is the flax man with his huge flax loaded camel going to fit into the gate?” A wisecracker responds “One spark from your coals can reduce the mountain of flax to nothing”.
Eisav is the flax, Yaakov the coal, and Yosef the spark.
So we something very strange though…. The Torah also teaches (Bereishit Rabah) that Yaakov wanted to live in peace, so the fury of Yosef was sprung on him! Rashi explains – Tzadikim want to live in tranquility, Hashem therefore rules that they have so much good in the world to come it is not fit to have such tranquility in this world.
What does this mean? Was Yaakov looking for an easy life?
This really the same thing. We all want to serve Hashem, to do teshuva, to be whole with our parents, to change the world. We want to be great! Mamesh Great!
The only way is through a Yosef. Yosef goes down into slavery – Yosef goes into the deepest work that there is to be done in our souls!! Tzadikim want the next world! – They totally want the will of Hashem. They have already made it, but they need the Yosef going in this world through all the darkest places.
What is the most important character trait to look for in a spouse?
To answer first consider another question.
What is the mission statement of marriage?
I.e. what is the goal of marriage?
Yaakov is mamesh the highest, he is the most shalem, he is emet – truth, he is so whole and perfect and the midah that expresses that into the world is Yosef. Yosef is Yesod, foundation, purity, finding security in Hashem.
When we marry we are completing ourselves. We are taking ourselves to the place where we can be whole. The goal of marriage is the goal of our lives – to be great. To be our highest selves.
As Rashi teaches when we want to be whole (following the Torah of our fathers), living in tranquility, then the fury of Yosef jumps on us.
So then the most important trait is the willingness to grow through challenge. To be wrong, to stand corrected.
My suggestion is to marry someone ready to grow.