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Shabbat Morning Class - Parasha Vayeishev

Rabbi Mansour 2011
Shabbat Morning Class
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In this week’s Parasha we read about the episode in which the brothers sold Yosef to Arab merchants, and resulted in Yosef being sent down to Egypt. This episode most definitely should not be understood on a superficial level. We must be careful not to error in thinking that the brothers were "jealous" of Yosef, just as we find cases today of jealousy that exists amongst brothers. We cannot bring the holy tribes down to our level. These were the brothers that the entire Jewish nation was founded on, and of which their father Yaakob Avinu testified that they were all pure.
In fact, we see proof in the Torah a testament to their purity. The Torah )????? ??( - when listing the lineage of the descendents of the tribes - writes; ??????? -the ?-? of Hashem’s name surrounding the name of ?????
(there is a ? before ????? and a ? that follows). These two letters ?-?
comprise the name of Hashem, and the Torah is showing us that the tribes were all pure and their lineage was untainted.
The intentions of the tribes were surely "Leshem Shamayim". The focus of today’s class is to make sense of what the Midrash tells us the brothers did with the money from the sale of Yosef.
The Midrash writes that the brothers sold Yosef for 20 silver coins. They took the money, and went straight buy shoes for themselves.
In this week’s Haftarah )???? ??? ?( we also find an allusion to the fact that the brother’s purchased shoes with the money. It says; "?? ????
???? ???? ?????? ????? ?????" -"they sold the righteous for silver and the poor for a pair of shoes".
(The Haftarot were instituted in the times of the Greeks. They decreed that the Jews are not allowed to read from the Torah. The Rabbis, in response to this decree, instituted that we read a portion from the prophets that contains correlations to the Parashat Hashavua. There are many Sefarim written on the connections between the Haftarah and
Parasha, and there are many connections between each Parasha and its respective Haftarah.
One example is in this week’s Haftarah it says; (Pasuk ?? ) "??? ???????
????? ???? ?? ?????" -"and on the prophets you commanded saying- do not prophesize". This is a reference to the brothers stopping Yosef from telling them his dreams [in the beginning of the Parasha]. The dreams of Yosef were prophetic visions, and stopping him from telling them was like commanding a prophet not to prophesize!)
How are we to understand this seemingly insensitive act! After selling their own brother we would think the brothers would feel tremendous guilt, instead we find that all of the sudden they realized they need new shoes?! Even more so, they used the very same money from the sale to purchase them!
Obviously this can’t be understood on a simple level, and the brothers must have been trying to symbolize something by purchasing shoes with the money.
One understanding is given by the ??? ?????? (Rav Bezalel Lemberg). He first asks; could it be that the brothers did not have shoes until then, that they suddenly found the need to purchase them?! Even if we think that their shoes had become worn so that they needed new ones, could it be that all of their shoes became worn at the same time?! Not only that, but was there nothing else they needed aside from shoes, that they felt they had to use this very same money they just received from selling a "poor" Sadik?!
He answers by explaining the reason why we wear shoes.
Shoes are meant to separate our feet from the earth.
Why do we need a separation from the earth?
When Adam Harishon sinned, the earth was cursed (as the Pasuk says ????? ????? "cursed is the ground"), we need a separation so as not to be connected to this curse of the ground. Shoes provide this separation
from the curse of the ground. This is why it is very important not to walk around barefoot.
There are however places that are very holy, and the ground of these places is not cursed on account of the holiness of the place.
One example is when Moshe was told by Hashem at the burning bush " "?? ????? ??? ????? -"remove the shoes from your feet" "?? ????? ???
??? ???? ???? ???? ??? ???" -"because the place you are standing upon is holy ground".
Hashem notified Moshe that he need not wear shoes here because the ground is holy, and there is no need for the separation to the ground that shoes provide.
We also find that in the Bet Hamikdash the law was that you were not allowed to enter with shoes. The reason again is that since the Bet Hamikdash is holy we need to show that the curse of the ground does not exist, and there is no need for shoes.
Now, the sin of Adam Harishon (which caused the ground to be cursed and necessitate the wearing of shoes) was a sin that our holy Avot worked to rectify. Abraham, Yishak, and Yaakob all strove to eradicate the effects of Adam’s sin, and they tried to rid the ground of the impurity stemming from its curse. Abraham and Yishak both had a child that was wicked (Yishmael and Eisav). This is compared to a dirty plate. Just like a dirty plate must be cleaned before we eat off of it, so too a wicked child had to be born in order to "clean things" before the emergence of the Sadik. Yishmael had to "clean the dirt" before Yishak was born, and Eisav had to clean it for Yaakob.
So long as a wicked child emerged, it was a sign that the effects of Adam’s sin had not been annulled entirely.
When Yaakob had his 12 children, the brothers originally felt that since all of the children of Yaakob were pure, this meant that Yaakob had "finished the job" and eradicated the effect of the sin of Adam! This meant that there was no need for shoes. The curse of the ground was gone, and therefore there was no longer a need for shoes. For this reason the brothers would actually walk around barefoot! They were showing that it was ok to be connected to the ground because the curse was gone!
However, when they sat and judged Yosef before they sold him; they concluded that Yosef was not like them. They felt that just like Eisav and Yishmael were the firstborns of their mothers and they represented impurity, so too Yosef - who was the oldest from his mother Rachel - represented this same impurity ) )?'? . As mentioned, as long as there was an impure son born this meant that the sin had not yet been eradicated!
Upon concluding that Yosef was impure )?'?( , they felt that they now have a need for shoes because the curse was still upon the ground. Since Yosef made them realize that the curse still existed, they used the very same money from the sale, to purchase the shoes necessary to separate them from the curse of the ground.
Now we understand that they indeed were barefoot when they sold Yosef, and they all needed shoes immediately after. (In reality, Yosef of course was pure but even so, the curse of Adam still was not totally eradicated by the Avot).
Another approach to why the brothers bought shoes is that it was all divinely ordained in order to symbolize a future effect of the sale of Yosef.
Hashem was directly involved with Yosef’s sale, as we see from the Pesukim, that Hashem sent down Gavriel in order to direct Yosef to his brothers. Hashem had led him to be sold in order that Yosef go down to Egypt before the rest of the Jews.
Why was it necessary for Yosef to precede everyone else in going down to Egypt?
It was in order to fortify the entire Jewish nation from falling to the Egyptian immorality.
When Yosef passed his test with the wife of Potiphar, not only did he pass the test for himself, but he also imbued every Jew with the ability to withstand the temptations of immorality. The Jewish men were able to endure the 210 year exile in Egypt without any intermarriage only because Yosef passed his test. This gave them the fortitude to withstand the
tremendous levels of immorality from the Egyptians (the woman were given the strength to withstand the Egyptian men from Sarah Imenu, when she was abducted by Pharoh and would not touch him).
We find that after the death of Yaakob, the brothers approached Yosef begging for forgiveness for having sold him. Yosef responded )?????? ??? ? ???? ?( "???? ????? ??? ???, ????? ???? ????? ???? ??? ????
??? ?????? ?? ??" -"you thought evil against me but Hashem meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive".
Yosef was telling his brothers; you thought you were doing evil but in the end it worked out for the best! As a result of Yosef being sold down to Egypt he secured the future of the entire Jewish nation by preventing them from intermarriage!
The Pasuk said "????? ???" -"as it is that day", and these are the same words as when Yosef was faced with his test )?????? ??? ?? ???? ??( "????
????? ???" . Yosef was hinting to the brothers with these words, that by passing his test he saved the nation from immorality.
We now can understand why the brothers were suddenly seized with the desire to purchase shoes with the money from the sale. Yosef, as mentioned, protected the Jews form the impurity of Egypt. The impurity of Egypt was known as "???? ????" the "nakedness of the land" ?????? ???(
?? ???? ?, ?? ). We see from the Pasuk that the land itself became contaminated from the immorality of its inhabitants. Yosef thus represented a separation from the ground - a separation from the impurity of Egypt that the Pasuk calls an impurity of "the ground". This is the same function as a shoe. Just as a shoe separates the foot from the ground, so too Yosef separated the Jews from the impurities of Egypt represented by the ground.
There are times when, down on earth a symbolic act has to be performed in order to trigger a reaction in the heavens.
It is possible that the brothers did not have good intentions when they used the money to buy shoes. However, Hashem caused them to perform this "symbolic gesture" of buying shoes, in order to symbolize that Yosef would be the "shoe" of the Jews, shielding and protecting them from the immorality and impurity represented by the earth of Egypt.
Based on this we gain a deeper appreciation for the words of the Holy Arizal in "Shaar Hagilgulim" where he writes that Yosef merited the Neshama of ???? (the Sadik who lived in the times of Noah and was later transformed into the ???? ??'? ). The Pasuk says regarding Yosef : "????
???" -"and he was a lad". The Pasuk in Mishlei says; "???? ???? ?? ?? ????" -"train a child in the way he should go". We see the association between ???? and ??? )???? ????( . When the Pasuk says about Yosef ???? ??? it is hinting to us that Yosef was a Gilgul of .????
It is written that Chanoch used to stitch shoes, and with each stitch he used to exclaim "???? ?? ???? ?????? ????? ???" . He would have in mind that he was creating a barrier between man and the ground that had been cursed on account of the sin of Adam, and through this separation we would be pure and be able to proclaim the glory of Hashem.
Yosef - who possessed the same soul as Chanoch - was involved with the same mission. He too strove to "provide shoes", to provide a separation between the ???? ???? -the immorality of the land, and the Jewish people.
We see this alluded to by Yaakob Avinu in the very beginning of the episode of Yosef’s sale. Yaakob asked Yosef "???? ???? ???? ????" -"aren’t your brothers feeding their flocks in Shechem?" "??? ??????" -"come and I will send you to them". This is how Yaakob sent Yosef down to Egypt, the word ???? stand for "???? ?? ???? ??????" and the first letters of the next words "??? ??????" stand for "????? ???" . The Torah is hinting, that what was about to happen as a result of this command of Yaakob to go find his brothers, was that the glory of Hashem would be proclaimed
)???? ?? ???? ??????( by the Jewish nation. They will be saved from the Egyptian immorality much like Chanoch (whom Yosef was connected to) stitched shoes while exclaiming "???? ?? ???? ?????? ????? ???" - while having in mind to create a barrier to separate the people from impurity!
May we always "have our shoes on" and be protected from the many sources of impurity that exist today and thereby merit proclaiming Hashem’s glory Amen.

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