Vayigash –Vayechi : Family feud finale?

The lesson of the Holocaust is not simply "we must fight to protect ourselves as Jews".  Every goy knows that. There is nothing particularly Jewish about such a lesson. The lesson is that we must stand up for one another.

Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Hirsch

Judaism Religious Jewish family (illustration)
Religious Jewish family (illustration)

 As we near the days before the Moshiach (Ikva d'Mshicha), the precious item of unity will increase in the Nation of Israel. The good deeds, insights, perspectives and אור אלוקי (Divine Light) of our Tzadikim (righteous men) are now more effective on the קדושת הכלל (holiness of the national entity, Klal) than at other times. This segulah( precious item) is a treasure hidden in quarrels and accusations - but its innermost being is adorned with a wondrous love (Song of Songs,3:7) and unity. This love and unity arouse a general ( Klalit) feeling of anticipation of the Salvation of the entire (Kulo) Nation"(Rav A.Y.Kook,  Orot Hatshuah, chapter 25).   

In Parshat Vayigash, Yosef finally reveals himself to his brothers. As I've written before, the enmity and jealousy of the brothers has many themes, all with roots in the competition of Rachel and Leah for their husband Jacob, Yaakov Avinu. Rav Matis Weinberg stresses the deep psychic sibling rivalry, with the brothers inability to view Yaakov's deep love for Rachel as anything but a childish infatuation, that "the old man (zaken) should just get over with". The brothers' attitude was purely tactical, goal-oriented, money-oriented (Ma betza- Breishit 37;26)- as in: "Tachlis, man" (See my articles "Rule of Threes", "Threes Redux", "Imagining Chanuka" on this website). This was opposed by "the Dream-man", who in the eyes of the brothers was "crazy Joe the dreamer who'll never amount to anything".  

Yet we saw in last week's parshah who was the successful one, ruling the mightiest civilization (Egypt) on earth- and who was starving. Time after time, Yosef drops hints as to who he is; but the brothers simply don't get it. Imprisoned by Imagination, they can't think out of the box, to realize that the Egyptian viceroy is not interested in their money, not interested in killing them- and only interested in their brotherly love, because he IS their brother. Only Father Jacob gets the hint, that money is not the issue here- but rather, relationship (simple peanuts- but not just any peanuts, Eretz Yisrael peanuts; and not just any old peanuts stamped "product of Israel", but Father Jacob's Israeli peanuts; Rav Weinberg, again).

With Yehudah and the brothers now ready to tear Egypt apart brick by brick, Yosef unfortunately has to reveal himself to them, before the proper time( before they come to the realization on their own). Because of the prematurity, and because of the war drums from the brothers, Yosef cries- because he knows this is only a partial rapprochement.  It's not the finale, but was replayled again and again in Jewish history. Also, as Rav Weinberg points out, Yehudah's reaction is doomed. Wardrums, even to protect a brother, never leads to a permanent solution:

Hanukkah always leads to the Tenth of Tevet, a fast day to mourn the destruction of the Temple, loss of Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael, and Galut/Diaspora. In a short time, the Hashmonean victory was followed by Rav Kook's "quarrels and accusations", as Hasmonean brother fought brother, brought in Roman intervention, battles, death and exile.  

We are still in this Ikva d'Mshicha period. Certainly, positive signs exist. A partial Salvation was attained 3,542 years ago, when Yehuda and his brothers were willing to give their lives to protect Binyamin from the evil Egyptian. Similarly, we have attained a partial Salvation and ראשית צמיחת גאולתנו (the Country Israel, the first flowering of Redemption) because we learned in 1945-1948 that Jew must protect Jew, and that the attitude "it'll be good for the rest of us to sacrifice YOU" is pure evil.  

I've written this before, but it bears repeating: THE lesson of the Holocaust is not simply "we must fight to protect ourselves as Jews".  Every goy knows that. There is nothing particularly Jewish about such a lesson. Please go to the Yad Vashem and walk to the Lodz ghetto exhibit. On the wall hangs the speech that Judenrat head Chaim Rumkovski gave on September 4, 1942, when the Nazis demanded that he hand over thousands of children and elderly, for extermination. "Give me your children and elderly ", said Rukovsky , " so that it will be better for the rest of us…I am forced to deliver this sacrifice to the altar with my own hands".  

Any Jew who, Heaven forbid, hears such a speech, better run for the hills. For if there is any lesson of the Akeidah, the binding of Isaac, it is: Jew (Abraham) does not sacrifice another Jew ( Isaac). No matter what the rationale. That's the speech of Ma Betza "brothers", and it leads to one Jew leading another to the pit (Breishit 37;24).   

Amazingly, I heard that speech with my own ears. In 2005, just after the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz, PM Ariel Sharon cynically gave that Rumkovski speech in order to rationalize the Disengagement, the tossing of 9,000 Israeli Jews of Gush Katif to the dogs, "because it'll be better for the rest of us". The exile started in 2005 the day after the 9th of Av, just as it did in 70 CE (when quarrels and Jew knifing Jew did us in).  

Where does this lead us to today? We certainly have "quarrels and accusations" aplenty, as brother rips into brother. Let me list a few: 

Obviously, the lead article has to be the trumped up charges against PM Netanyahu. Instead of our gratitude for all he's done for us- not the least is standing up to Obama in Washington, and telling the truth about Obama's weakling approach to a nuclear Iran- he's gotten no end of ingratitude. I was in the US recently, and heard one  Israeli pundit declare to large crowds in two gatherings, that "there is no difference between Netanyahu and Gantz".

Lucky thing that I was the only voting- Israeli there besides the pundit: how can one compare an MIT trained economist, who once conversed with Pres. Clinton on market dynamics for hours, with a failed general who got a contract for his startup company under false pretenses, and still ran the startup into the ground? Besides, a vote for Gantz is a vote for Lapid  ("I back the Disengagement in order to show those knit-kipa wearers that they don't run this country" - some brother), Meretz, Labor (we brought you Oslo) and the Arab Israelis (we like the PLO).  

I was recently in the US and got to hear another brother, Rav Chanan Schlesinger ,traveling  in the US to raise money for the Roots organization. He is a disciple of Rav Menachem Froman of Tekoa, RIP. Their goal is to get Jews and Arabs in Israel to sit and talk with each other, to understand each other. A noble goal, but naïve. Rav Chanan spoke at an Orthodox Shul in Skokie (SVAJ) on a Saturday night, and he brought with him an Arab compatriot named Shadi.

Shadi spoke and recounted how he has been hassled by Israeli soldiers "for no good reason". The Rabbi, Rav Ari Hart, courageously opened the Q and A with a statement:" I have to say, Shadi, that we are not used to hearing such stories about Tzahal (the IDF). This is a Shul that says the prayer for Tzahal not only only Shabbat morning, but after every morning minyan (prayers)".

I listened, and nobody asked any tough questions. So I asked Shadi: "Four or five times, you mentioned your rights. Could you please explain, what exactly are your rights?" 

In the 90's, in Pittsburgh (site of the Tree of Life massacre), a group of thirty-somethings would go out every Sunday morning after morning minyan at Poalei Tzedek, to a shooting range. Where are those guys now?
Answer: "My rights are: that I not be woken up at night by Israeli soldiers coming through my village at night (I think: they are coming in to arrest terrorists. Never mind that your damn muezzin wakes me up EVERY night at 4:45 am blaring his electronic call to prayers, while he sleeps elsewhere); that Arab (Palestinian Authority) kids can walk to school without going through an Israeli roadblock (no such roadblock exists for the Arab kids that I see going to school in Jelazoun, 0.25 kilometers from my house); that I get to wear the Army uniform, and carry a gun for my country Palestine (no way, Jose- your PA Arabs have killed enough Jews as things are, using cars, bombs and yes, guns given to you by PM Rabin and with US training) ; and  that all the refugees that ran away in 1948 be allowed back into their homes." 

The last is the end of the charade. Shadi is not talking about the maybe 10,000 still living Arabs who ran from Israel in 1948. Perhaps 400,000 did run away in 1948 - but that was IN ORDER THAT INVADING ARMIES HAVE AN EASIER TIME TO SLAUGHTER ALL THE JEWS. Of course, he wants 4-5 million descendants of these "poor" Arabs to cross open borders (progressive globalists demand them, everywhere) and inundate Israel with internal enemies.  

Shadi, go fly your incendiary kite. By the way, he is a fake: he doesn't live in his village near Bethlehem. He left it long ago, and is a successful real estate agent in Cleveland. Like the rest of the phoney "Palestinian refugees". 

I didn't donate to Roots. I also don't vote Gantz. Moreover, I don't have a great answer for the Jews of the Diaspora: 120 years ago, they called what's happening pogroms (Kishinev, etc.). However, in the 90's, in Pittsburgh (site of the Tree of Life massacre), a group of thirty-somethings would go out every Sunday morning after morning minyan at Poalei Tzedek, to a shooting range. Where are those guys now? It seems that Diaspora Jews have blasted Rav Meir Kahane, Jonathan Pollard (he did NOT commit treason), and Israeli settlers for so long, that they simply can't get their little fingers dirty with oil to clean a 22 and go out and protect themselves ("Please, Mr de Blasio, send us more cops", they whine). Also, those who say "go to Israel" are fooling themselves. Ask the Rimmel and Shnerb families, ask the Sbarro survivors- Jews are hunted and killed everywhere.  

Except here, we've wised up, hopefully, and we aren't going to vote in another Rabin-Peres team to open the door for terrorists.

We have Roi Kleins, Gabby Choters, Zvika Zimans, Yehuda Bambergers, and Noam Afters who protect their brothers, even at the cost of their own lives.

May our the holiness of our national unity bring an end to quarrels, and to Salvation and Redemption of Israel, במהרה בימינו- when all our sacrifices will be symbolic ones, in a Holy Temple.