Torah Can Go A Long Way

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Torah Can Go a Long Way

In Breishit Rabbah Perek 2- 4, (also in 16-4, 44- 17, Vayikra Rabbah 13- 5, 16- 9, Yerushalmi- Chagiga- Perek 2 Halacha 2) it says that the Greeks tried to trick the Jews into assimilating. The Jews were commanded to write onthe horns of their oxen that they have no part in Elokei Yisrael- no connection with Hashem. We need to try and understand exactly what the Greeks were trying to do. Simply it was like an advertisement, just like we advertise today on busses, they were forced to advertise on their oxen(they thought it would sink in eventually). The Eitz Yoseph says the pointwas that it should be publicized- the horn of the ox was to hint to the sin ofthe egel hazahav, that after the sin they lost their connection toHashem. Another possible connection is that the keren ha'shor refers toYoseph (as can be seen in Zot Ha'bracha 33- 17 where Yoseph is compared to anox). The Greeks claimed that just like Yoseph was in Egypt and wasinvolved in many ways in society, the Jews now should also join theGreeks. To attain a proper understanding of this idea, we need to lookinto the character traits and actions of the Avot, their wives, and theirchildren.
The Avot showed us the 3 fundamental ways of serving Hashem. chesed, gevurah, and a combination of the 2. Avraham was chesed- this means Avodah she'ba'chutz". It means to use all aspects of life to serveHashem- to go out, do, and give. In Parshat Vayeira we see Avraham who is 100years old, 3 days after his bris (chole she'yeish bo sakana), running toserve 3 "Arabs". We also know that Avraham converted people (- ha'nefesh asher asu bi'Charan- Rashi). Yitzchak was the mida of gevurah, that is, "Avodah she'bifnim". Separating yourself from the world and focusing on yourself-
defeating your yetzer ha'ra. Not everything from this world should be used to serve Hashem (the gashmiut). We see that Yitzchak was very isolated from this world. When Rivkah saw Yitzchak for the first time she didn't know who it was. The Midrash says that Yitzchak looked like an angel and forthat reason Rivkah didn't know who it was. Also, after the Akeida, Yitzchak didn't come back with Avraham, he stayed on top of the mountain isolated from the world. Yaakov had both character traits, chesed and gevurah
(as explained in Michtav M'Elyahu chelek 2, Sefer Ha'clalim- clalim rishonim 32, Eiunay Haftarah on Va'yigash, Shmuot Ha'raaya, the Zohar- these sources are also for the characteristics of the Imahot and the transmission of character traits).
Thewives of the Avot had to have the opposite character traits. This is explained in Breishit Perek 2 Pasuk 18- Ezer ci'negdo- The Netziv explains that the wife should be opposite to him (in the things where it will help for her to be opposite- so that he doesn't go too far in one direction- for a balance). We see that Avraham's wife was Sarah, who had thetrait of gevurah, opposite to Avraham. Rivkah was chesed, opposite thetrait of Yitzchak (that was precisely the character trait that Eliezerwas testing for when looking for a wife for Yitzchak). Yaakov hadboth chesed and gevurah, which is why he had 2 wives. Leah was the mida ofgevurah and Rachel was the mida of chesed. Rachel was "alma d'atgalya"- the physical world- chesed- using everything to serve Hashem. Leah is
"Alma d'atkasya"- the spiritual world- gevurah- being isolated. Rachel's son was Yoseph. Yoseph was chesed. Leah's son was Yehudah. Yehudah was gevurah. We seethat Yoseph went to Egypt and took care of everything. He solved the famine, he knew the
language, everything was under his control (Breishit 39-6), everything that was done there, he would do (Breishit 39-22). Yehudah and Yoseph argued on how to be an "or la'goyim". Yehudah (gevurah) held that you are supposed to stay separated from the outside world and that when the goyim see this society of Jews, which will be the light to the goyim. Yoseph (chesed) held that you are supposed to go out into the outside world and from the way you run your life while being with them, that will be the light to the
goyim. This explains why it was shevet Levi that fought against the Greeks in the time of Chanukah. Levi was from Leah. Levi and Shimon were the most extreme in the character trait of gevurah (we see this when they are the ones who wipe out Shchem). So when the Greeks got too close, when they crossed the line it was Levi who started fighting- started the war. In Yechezkal 37 Pesukim 15-17 it speaks about the final geulah- that there will be 2 trees, one to Yoseph and one to Yehudah. We should bring these 2 trees close together so that they are one. It is combining the physical and the spiritual, the chesed and the gevurah, Yoseph and Yehudah together.
In Parshat Va'yeshev Perek 37 Pasuk 3 it says thatYaakov loved Yoseph the most because "ben zikunim hoo lo". Its simple meaningis that Yaakov had him when he was old, but we know that Benyamin was younger than Yoseph. Rashi brings Unklus to give the reason. 1) The Torahthat Yaakov learned from Shem and Ever he taught specifically to Yoseph. 2) That Yoseph looked like him. If we look into these 2 answers we can see an unbelievable insight into Yoseph being in Egypt. Who was Shem? Hewas the son of Noach. He grew up in the world when almost everyone was corrupt. He knew what it was like to live with the goyim. That is what is so special about the Torah of Shem and Ever. This Torah had in it how to cope while living in that way. Yaakov knew that Yoseph was going to go down to Egypt and that is why he taught this Torah specifically to Yoseph and not the other brothers. The second answer of Rashi shows us that Yoseph had a
connection to his father, to Torah and a Jewish way of life. He had a sight connection. A person who is out in the world needs that connection. The Gemarah in Zevachim 112 amud 2 talks about where one is allowed to eat "kdoshim kalim". If you are in Yerushalaim you can only eat it while you are within the walls. If you are in Shilo you can eat it "b'chol ha'roeh". Rashi explains that this means that as long as you can see Shilo, even if you are far away from Shilo, you are allowed to eat the kdoshim kalim and
ma'aser sheini. We know that Yerushalyim was in shevet Yehudah and Shilo was in the land of Yoseph. This now makes sense. Yehudah was gevurah-therefore you had to eat inside the walls- set apart from the outside, notmixing with the outside. Yoseph was chesed, going into the world- but onlywith certain conditions- you need the connection. So to eat the kdoshim kalim in Shilo you need the sight connection to Shilo and then you can eat the kdoshim kalim. The Greeks saw that Yoseph was in Egypt, involved in society. They did not see what he was there with- the Torah of Shem and Ever and the connection to Yaakov- to Torah and fear of Hashem.
(Built on a sicha given by ha'Rav Rivlin Shlita- Mashgiach of KBY)
By: Ezra Hahn

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