12 December 2015

What if Joseph never forgave his brothers?

1 Tevet 5776
Rosh Hodesh Bet
7th Candle of Hanukkah

NOTE: Pray for the refuah shlemah of Gennady Chaim Noteh ben Ra'ayah Rahel, Shaul Chai ben Aviva and Rahel bat Sarah.


What if Joseph never forgave his brothers? 

During the weeks of parashioth Vayeshev, Miketz and Vayehi we learn about the bad, the ugly and finally some good in the relationship between Joseph (hereafter in Hebrew, Yosef) and his brothers. We see that as a result of his father Yaaqov’s apparent favoritism, the rest of the family grew jealous of him, with the exception of his same-mother sibling, his younger brother Binyamin, who alone did not participate in the kidnapping and sale that led him to Egypt (Mitzrayim), to be jailed due to a false accusation until he was 30, and afterward to become second-in-command (in English, usually translated as viceroy) in Mitzrayim, the superpower of the day, and the eventual reconciliation when the brothers journey “down to Egypt-land” to look for him. I know that a lot is missing in this synopsis, but my focus will soon be clear to you, my dear reader.

A search of the Internet comes up with all kinds of lessons taken from the forgiveness of his brothers by Yosef. But, what if he didn’t?

Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher of Diaspora Yeshiva, speaking at the OU Center in Yerushalayim, says that Yosef had not forgiven his brothers. Else why were the 10 greatest Sages who lived during the Roman Empire put to death for his sale? (The story of the Ten Martyrs is read every year as part of the climax of Yom Kippur during Mincha when the two goats are sacrificed (one goes to Azazel – the origin of the modern day Israeli epithet “Lech l’Azazel”) and the white smoke goes up signifying Divine forgiveness.) Also why does the blood libel persist until today? Even the Arabs continue to promote it (even though Snopes says it's false), while other nations support them. 

Although he took care of them and made sure they were safe and able to live their lifestyle out of the sight of the Egyptians who detested it, Yosef never used the Hebrew terms for forgiveness, selicha סליחה and mechila מחילה, with his brothers.

So...I had what I thought was a great idea when I heard about this from my husband last erev Shabbat, which I managed to write down afterwards and ask R’ Sprecher on Sunday: why doesn't a large number of Jews go to Kever Yosef and beg his forgiveness from HaShem. Since the rav found them to have no merit because Yosef only had his lifetime to forgive his brothers and because we should not risk more danger than we are in already, I thought and prayed again. It bothered me that there seems to be no solution whatsoever because the world will not look with favor on anything that helps the Jews! The nations prefer to slander, libel us and hold us guilty for even reasonable self-defense, to the point where, they think, we would rather choose death rather than live through the horror (I believe this is the plan of the ‘powers-that-be’ – to depress us off the planet, or have someone else kill us all off, starting with the Jews. See my series “The Conspiracy of the Mekatregim,” starting here.).

But the main thing is that we need to stop selling each other out. R’ Sprecher says that the reason we keep suffering from the blood libel is because we continue to perpetuate the sin of the Sale of Joseph — long before the Sin of the Golden Calf and the Sin of the Spies amongst ourselves.

I believe it starts at the top: The secular government calls various minorities, especially religious ones, nasty names, as others and I have pointed out before, and punishes the settlers beyond all measure, for instance equating their writing graffiti such as Tag Mehir (price tag – not even bothering to prove whether they even wrote the graffiti), with Arabs’ murder or attempted murder and jailing them for murders they have not committed (this reminds me of the onerous laws, today referred to as the Jim Crow Laws, that the United States had against blacks in the 1850s, before the Civil War). These are just a few examples; I cannot possibly list them all. The trickle-down effect, the term invented during Ronald Reagan’s presidency referring to financial benefit, in our time and place I am using to refer to the negative effect on our character and propensity to slander and libel one another, emulating behavior from the top. We need to raise our awareness of this and stop it: 

No, we will not hate Rabbi Meir Kahane, zz”l. Too many of us believe he was right.

No, we will not automatically consider all those young Jewish men you have put into detention guilty of crimes you will not reveal.

No, we will not consider all settlers — or all haredim, Holocaust survivors, Ethiopians, Russians, or Mizrahim, for that matter —  “not our brothers.” 

No, we will not regard everyone who reacts negatively to the presence of our Yishmaelite enemies among us with disgust and abhorrence. These are normal people caught in a dysfunctional situation the government demands that we accept as normal. No, it is not.  

We do not wish it on you, but if some of them make it up to your perches between Hadera and Gadera, I think you will change your tune quickly. I hope it will not take that. But for some reason you are quite calm while the southwest part of the country, whose children now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, are still taking rocket hits even though Operation Tzuk Eitan (2014; literally strong cliff; translated Protective Edge in English) is long over and has been taken over by stabbings everywhere, and while every siren anywhere near Hevron (for that matter, anywhere in Yehuda and the Shomron) means absolute trouble. You do not care about the periphery of the country and by the admission of your leftist supporters, as written by Evelyn Gordon:
In its ostensibly noble desire to ensure that no suffering goes unnoticed or unattended, it [today’s multicultural left] has abandoned the very essence of morality – the ability to draw distinctions, which is essential to make moral choices.
In other words, you cater to the suffering of others and ignore the suffering of Jews, particularly the ones in your country, that you and your spiritual ancestors caused; by so doing, you leave the door open to YOUR OWN PUNISHMENT. Won't you be shocked.

Maybe you think you will escape with your foreign passports. Should you go that route, you will find out personally just how much you are considered just as much a Jew as the rest of us, and how hated we all are. I lived there for over a half-century. I understand that it is far worse now than before I made aliyah less than ten years ago.

Israeli government, are you listening? Did you not just convict Jews for the burning of the house in Duma and the murder of most of its inhabitants, for no reason? If there is a reason, why have you not revealed all? Why are you keeping it a secret?

Rav Alexandri on concluding his prayer used to add the following: Master of the Universe, it is known full well to You that our will is to perform Your will. What prevents us? The yeast in the dough and subjection to the foreign powers.
(Brochos 17a)

We all have the ‘yeast in the dough’ – that is the yetzer hara’ – the evil inclination. Each of us must deal with that.

Who keeps us subjected to the foreign powers? Those who believe in and trust natural law rather than the One who created it and completely dominates it: These dominate the government we now have. Those of us who grew up with Greco-Roman philosophy (what we call ‘secular’ today) have a more difficult challenge when we encounter the Torah view. It is easier, but by no means ‘a piece of cake,’ to find evidence that our Creator runs the world here in Eretz Yisrael. 

Just one example: Low-casualty wars, like the ones we have had, are NOT the norm in the rest of the world. Our enemies acknowledge that HQB”H holds them back in their war against us. When we become too used to His protective miracles, we think the whole world experiences them. No, it does not – and, with the exception of those of us who experience the opposite, has v’shalom, we tend to take it for granted. We need to wake up and turn to Him. The time of His anger would be over by now if the majority of Jews, both within Israel and without, did that. 

Let us cry out to HaShem and beg Him not to harden our hearts anymore, as he did (l’havdil) with Par’o. We must not be as adaptable to our situation as we have been; it may worsen before it gets better (I say it this way because I don't claim to know exactly where we are in the process.). But it will get better and He will save us! We must cling to this hope! More on this, next post, be"H.

More reading:



Myrtle Rising said...

Incredible post.
And now I understand why your posts are so consistently compelling: you discuss the issues with God first. Kol hakavod.
Every point was rich with meaning.
Your suggestion is very intriguing. I'd never thought of it, but it makes so much sense to go to Kever Yosef and ask for forgiveness.
I also very much agree with your point about how God holds back our enemies. For example, it really makes no sense that ISIS is at our border, but has not even tried to cross it, chas v'shalom, may our Compassionate God continue to protect us. But like you said, there are many examples of this.
Yashar koach.

HDG, Yerushalayim, E"Y Shlemah said...

Thank you, Dassie! Good to hear from you. ;)

Anonymous said...

Interesting; but maybe this is a slight flaw in Yosef. Maybe even with his great tzdkus, he knew he was special and had just a bit of arrogance which Yehudah didn't; thus, the kingdom is Yehuda's. Forgiveness for such a nature is not easy. We also must not say that he did not really forgive his brothers. He did, but was also human. The leader of a nation must put his people first even in his heart.

The suffering we endure today is due to the unJewish leadership. Do not believe that we need to ask forgiveness from Yosef; we need to ask forgiveness from H'. The Jewish people have sinned greatly by throwing off the yoke of Torah and assimilating with the nations which has caused all the tzarot. As long as there is unJewish leadership in the Land of Israel, our problems remain.

We need a modern day Yosef to do what needs to be done, thus, ushering in Moshiach Ben Dovid.

Neshama said...

Excellent, CDG. I must read this over to make comments, because it is rich with meaning. B"H your messages are getting more compelling with each post.

Neshama said...

Each year when we arrive at the saga of Yosef and his brothers, I get all emotional. Because I have trouble with the thoughts and actions of Yosef’s brothers. These parshios are so complex and staggering. To me it can only mean that it has trickled down through our history and has yet to be reconciled. NOW you come along and propose, “What if Joseph never forgave his brothers?” While I believe he did, the fallout from these sequences of events is surely still with us. Hence,

Yes I agree with this. R’ Sprecher says that the reason we keep suffering from the blood libel is because we continue to perpetuate the sin of the Sale of Joseph (me: the aspect of Sinas Hinam) — long before the Sin of the Golden Calf and the Sin of the Spies — amongst ourselves.

“And NOW it was not you who sent me here, but G-D, he has made me father to Pharaoh, master of his entire household, and ruler throughout the entire land of Egypt.”

And now. Joseph emphasized the now. Until this moment he had surely blamed them for an inhuman betrayal, but now he understood they had been tools in G-D’s hands (Vayigash 45:8).

Jewish End of Days wrote: So long as the Jews fail to learn the simple message of the brothers selling Yosef – that the brothers were absolutely wrong to do it, and that it was the seminal manifestation of sinat hinam – we’re toast. Justifications and rationalizations for this terrible deed prevent us from learning the message, and worse, condemn us to repeat it.

We are NOW in the End of Days awaiting Mashiach, and the loose ends of history are being collected, presented, and corrected.

I also believe the nations slander us because we slander each other. The sin (the straw that broke etc) that destroyed the Second Beis HaMikdash was Lashon Hara. An aspect of sinas hinam is like stabbing the ‘other’ with a knife, when lashon hara is spoken behind someone’s back. Hence Jews are being stabbed in the back and neck.

One can learn from mussar from one’s enemies. I also see our enemies’ actions against Jews as a siman of the mussar necessary to our behavior. Every nation we sojourned in too long, was like a boomerang of anti-semitism because we forgot (Exodus 19:6) you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a Holy Nation. One could consider it comprehensible taking into account the hardships and/or excesses experienced in those nations. The most recent wave of anti-semitism is now growing in America, and will become more evident as ISIL/ISIS creates more havoc.

I wrote about the issue of punishing ‘settlers’ in (prefer citizens of Yehuda and Shomron), A Modern Maccabee. Dafka as you declare in your “NOs”.

CDG: Each of us brings to the events we are living through with the baggage we collected along the way. You wrote a thought provoking post and PLEASE keep up the great work. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

ps I tried to code all the 'nows' in italics, but it would not take so I made them caps.