December 19th, 2020

4th of Tevet 5781


One who Lives in Peace Lives with a Great Light

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"It happened at the end of two years to the day: Pharaoh was dreaming" (Bereishit 41:1)

The Midrash tells us, "This is the meaning of, "He sets a limit to the darkness" (Iyov 28:3). A portion of time was fixed for Yosef Hatzadik, how many years he would spend in darkness and obscurity in prison. Since that time limit expired, without any delay 'Pharaoh was dreaming'."

One can explain this idea by saying that when there is unfounded hatred and man behaves with hostility towards his fellow man, seeking his detriment and condemning him, this is a form of darkness and obscurity. For when he comes face to face with this fellow, a type of darkness springs up since his hatred makes it hard for him to be in his presence. But once he reconciles and restores the peace, the light immediately returns and shines inside him. He is able to rejoice in his friend's happiness and judges him favorably, and peace is thereby restored.

This is the meaning of the above Midrash that tells us that now the darkness of hatred that was present between the holy brothers, came to an end. For until this moment, the brothers hated Yosef Hatzadik because of the dreams that he had about them. But now, despite Yosef not yet revealing himself to them, certainly the hatred was a thing of the past, and they began longing to see him and considering where he might be, out of genuine concern for his welfare.

The truth is that Yosef Hatzadik on his part, also forgave them for their deeds, for he understood that 'All that the Merciful One does is for the best'. In this Parsha, their hearts had already drawn closer, and that is why it says, "He sets a limit to the darkness". Until now, due to the hatred, they were shrouded in darkness, but once peace was on the horizon, the light was revealed and the darkness of hatred and division that stood between them, departed.

This is the implication of the verse (Bereishit 1:5), "And there was evening and there was morning". Chazal say, "The word 'ויהי', there was, always denotes anguish". What was the distress here in this verse? The darkness of hatred between man and his fellow. The word 'ערב', evening, can be re-arranged to spell 'בער', senseless, as David Hamelech said (Tehillim 73:22), "And I was senseless and unknowing". This implies that if one feels hatred towards another, it is as if he is living in the darkness of evening and he is considered 'senseless' and lacking wisdom. One can also say that the word 'ערב', evening, is derived from the term 'ערבות', guarantee, referring to the fact that 'All Yisrael are accountable and responsible for one another'. But when this responsibility is blemished and man does not like his friend or even, G-d forbid, hates him, he is enveloped in the darkness of evening.

But in contrast, when a person makes an effort to ensure peace and intensifies unconditional love between him and his brothers, this is the concept of 'ויהי בוקר', 'and there was morning' for dawn breaks and brightens the day for him. According to this, it is appropriate that the word 'בוקר', morning, contains the same letters as the word 'קרוב', close, for one who feels close to and united with his friend, for him everything shines. He is always in a state of 'morning', for he is surrounded by the great light of peace and unity.

It follows that hatred transforms light into darkness, while in contrast, loving one's friend and as much as possible doing acts of kindness for him and trying to benefit him, intensifies the light which prevails over the darkness, even transforming it into a great light. And even when night falls, his soul still shines with a powerful light, the light of the Shechina. This is why even when we lie down to sleep we recite Kriyat Shema and accept the yoke of Heaven upon ourselves. For when reciting the verse, "Hear, O Israel: Hashem is our G-d, Hashem, the One and Only", we must also have in mind to fulfill the positive commandment of "Love your fellow as yourself". This means that whoever wholeheartedly loves others, even when he goes to sleep at night, for him it is day and the light shines for him.

Therefore, the wise person will take heart when reciting the bedtime Shema, when he recites the words "I hereby forgive anyone who angered or antagonized me", that these words should not be lip-service and really deep in his heart he still hates his friend, for if so his words and his heart are not one and his mouth is lying. Rather, he should forgive his friend with his entire heart, judge him favorably and love him sincerely, and then Hashem will light up his way, for when he loves his friend and removes hatred from his heart, he is fulfilling the verse, "He sets a limit to the darkness", and this unconditional love inserts a life of light and brightness in a person's heart and eliminates the darkness from him.

And so we find in the Gemara (Berachot 9b), "From what time can one recite the morning Shema? Some say from the time a person can recognize his friend at a distance of four amot." The Mussar contemporaries zt"l expound on this that only since a person feels love for his friend, and when he notices him even from afar he recognizes him and already wants to benefit him, this is the person who can recite the Shema and accept upon himself the yoke of Heaven. For without loving one's friend and fulfilling the mitzvah of "Love your fellow as yourself", he cannot accept the yoke of Heaven.

May it be His will that Hashem merits us to see the attributes of our friends and not their faults, and in this way, we will intensify the light of Torah and holiness inside us, Amen v'Amen.

Guard Your Tongue

It is forbidden to speak negatively about someone even if it is clear to the speaker that the person being spoken about does not mind.

As we have already explained, actually speaking negatively about one's friend is considered as lashon hara, even without taking into consideration the feelings of the person being spoken about. Speaking lashon hara stands in direct conflict to the elevated status of man who is the only creation that was created in the image of G-d. This concept is binding and cannot be altered by receiving 'permission' to speak negatively.

Walking in Their Ways

A Kiddush Hashem from Kiddush

I was asked to be present at the sickbed of Mr. Moshe Ben-Naim, in the hospital. He was unconscious and dying due to a severe brain disease. His family and friends stood around his bed and many seemed far removed from a Torah lifestyle. As I entered, I heard hostile murmurings: “Why did the Rav come here? Does he really think he can do something?”

In the face of their antagonism, I prayed with all my heart to Hashem and asked Him to perform a miracle. This would bring glory to His Name, and all the non-believers surrounding the sick man would clearly see that there is a Creator and start to believe in Him.

I ended my prayer and took a glass of water in my hand. I walked over to the comatose man and called out to him, “Moshe, get up and make Kiddush. You surely remember how you used to make Kiddush every Friday night, if so do this now!”

In a most stupendous way, the sick man opened his eyes. He took the glass and recited the entire Kiddush from start to finish. When he reached the words of the blessing, “Who creates the fruit of the vine,” I instructed him to replace it with the blessing over water, for the cup in his hand was filled with water and not wine, as he was accustomed on Shabbat.

He took a few sips and then immediately lost consciousness once again. Shortly afterward, his soul ascended heavenward.

During these few moments, an enormous kiddush Hashem took place and all those present were inspired to believe in a Creator despite their previous convictions. The miracle tore down all barriers between themselves and their Creator.

To this day, Mr. Ben-Naim’s daughter and her husband, Mr. Ben-Gigi of Paris, recount this wonderful tale. Each time anew they are moved by the miracle that occurred to their father before his death.

Many attempts were made to bring his coffin from France to Morocco. It finally reached its destination late on a Friday afternoon and he was buried close to the arrival of Shabbat in the cemetery of Casablanca.

Upon reflection, I saw a direct connection between the Kiddush this man recited and the time of his burial, for his reciting Kiddush had caused a great kiddush Hashem.

Words of the Sages

The Tzadik who Eulogized the Donkey

"G-d has uncovered the sin of your servants" (Bereishit 44:16)

The sefer 'Lehitaneg B'taanugim' relates the following story: A Rav found himself in a certain town and wished to learn its true nature so he could advise its citizens of the correct way to conduct themselves. He approached one of the townspeople and asked him, "Please tell me, my friend, what is the state of the townspeople with regard to Torah and mitzvah observance? He replied, "Rabbi, about us the verse was said, (Yeshaya 60:21), 'Your people will all be righteous'. We do not have even one bandit or thief among us, neither a murderer nor one with corrupt middot." The Rav thanked him and continued on his way. He met someone else and asked him the same question, to which he replied, "Rabbi, 'They are all beloved; they are all flawless'. Not one person will offer false testimony about his friend, nor covet his friend's money, nor raise his hand against his brother. Were all of the Jewish people like us, Mashiach would have come long ago." The Rav was impressed and asked him, "Please tell me, what about mitzvah observance - prayer, Tefillin, Shabbat, Chagim?" The man grew slightly uncomfortable and replied, "Why indict, Rabbi? It is enough to say that we desist from sins as much as we are able, we are pleasant to others and modest in our way of life. Why demand more than this?"

The Rav understood that townspeople followed the outlook of being satisfied by desisting from evil deeds, but when it came to the 'do good', to the positive commandments of mitzvah observance, they were deficient. He tried to think of a way to prove to them that 'turn from evil' is not enough on its own.

He continued walking and was suddenly assaulted by a strong stench. He looked around and noticed the corpse of a donkey lying on the wayside. He immediately turned to his attendant and asked him to go and purchase a piece of black cloth. The attendant did as he was told and came back with the cloth, which the Rav used to cover the donkey. He then told his attendant, "Go and announce that we found a 'met mitzvah' on the outskirts of the town and all must go out and accompany him to his final resting place since burying a 'met mitzvah' takes precedence to all the mitzvot in the Torah. All the men should close their businesses and the woman too should leave their homes."

The attendant went and made the announcement. The Jewish residents quickly gathered in their multitudes; storekeepers closed their stores, merchants paused their business, and housewives left their homes. All came to accord the 'met mitzvah' his last honor. "Who was killed? Who was struck by the attribute of judgement?" they wished to know. The Rav began to speak in a trembling voice: "Dear Jewish brothers listen well. When a corpse is found on the ground and we do not know who struck it, the nearest townspeople are obligated to bring an 'eglah arufah' and declare, "Our hands have not spilt this blood", we have no part in this tragedy. All the more so when the deceased is a holy tzadik. He never uttered a word of lashon hara or rechilut. Moreover, throughout his life, he abstained from speech altogether."

The Rav did not give them much time to think and continued his eulogy: "The deceased lying before us was among those who are insulted and do not insult, they hear their disgrace and do not reply. Not only this, but several times he was hit forcefully yet suffered in silence. He did not partake of meat or drink wine his entire life. He constantly suffered from the cold and made do with thin clothing. He never slept in a bed, at night he would simply lie down on the ground. Woe to us, who can replace his worth."

The people wept bitterly and the foremost question in the minds of all, was: "Who is this man? We did not know that we had such a tzadik among us". The Rav called out loudly, "The deceased lies here before us, and we are obligated to ask his forgiveness for not appreciating him sufficiently." As he was speaking, he went over to the covered body, took hold of the edge of the cloth and pulled it away. The stench of the donkey's corpse made them all step back instantly, and they began murmuring, "We were misled!"

The Rav retorted, "Why are you complaining? Every word that I said is the absolute truth. The donkey suffered and lived a life of self-denial. He personally fulfilled staying far from evil to the last letter. Yet with all this, he was a donkey and remains a donkey. To be a human being and not a donkey, it is not enough to observe 'Turn from evil', one must also adopt the second section of the verse, 'and do good', by elevating oneself spiritually and studying Torah, through sanctifying oneself and observing the mitzvot. And now, townspeople, be wise enough to grasp the moral."

The Haftarah

The Haftarah of the week: "Shlomo awoke" (Melachim I, 3-4)

The connection to the Parsha: The Haftarah speaks about Shlomo Hamelech's dream and his tremendous wisdom in ruling the case of two women who claimed one living baby. The Parsha too speaks about Pharaoh's dream and Yosef Hatzadik's wisdom in interpreting it.

Pearls of the Parsha

One is Only Explicit About Something Good

"Yosef said to Pharaoh, 'The dream of Pharaoh is a single one; what G-d is about to do, He has told to Pharaoh:'" (Bereishit 41:25)

When speaking about the interpretation concerning the seven good cows, Yosef said, "He (Hashem) has told to Pharaoh", while concerning the interpretation of the seven bad cows Yosef said, "He (Hashem) has shown to Pharaoh".

Why did Yosef change the terminology?

Rabbi Shlomo Kluger zt"l explains that the reason is that the Gemara tells us (beg. Pesachim), that a good thing one mentions explicitly, while a bad thing one only alludes to or shows with one's hand. Indeed, Chazal say, "Hashem does not signalize His Name for something evil".

Due to this, concerning the dream of the good cows Yosef said, "What G-d is about to do, He has told to Pharaoh", as if Hashem Himself said it, whereas with the dream of the bad cows which symbolized years of famine, Yosef only said, "He has shown to Pharaoh".

The Mask Hid Yosef's Face

 "Yosef recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him" (Bereishit 42:8)

Why did Yosef's brothers not recognize him?

Rashi says, "'Yosef recognized': because when he left them they were already bearded. 'But they did not recognize him': because he was beardless when they parted and now he had grown a beard."

Yosef was a young lad when he was sold and now when they met him, he was already a mature man with a beard. Because his appearance was different, they did not recognize him. In contrast, at the time of the sale, the brothers had already grown beards and their appearance did not change drastically from then until they met in Egypt.

The sefer 'Doresh Tzion' writes that when Yosef met the brothers he was wearing a mask on his face since that was the way of kings at the time. Due to protocols of honor for royalty, officers and laymen were not allowed to gaze directly at the king's face.

We also find this idea in Megillat Esther (1:14) where it says, "the seven officers of Persia and Media, who had access to the king (lit. who saw the face of the king)". What is the meaning of the expression, "who saw the face of the king"?

The explanation is that all the regular officers were not allowed to look at the king's face, besides these seven chosen officers who were allowed to look at him without a mask. It was the same with Yosef Hatzadik who wore a mask, which is why the brothers could not recognize him.

The True Test: Shabbat Observance

"They had left the city, had not gone far" (Bereishit 44:4)

Harav Shalom Shapira zt"l in his sefer 'Ohev Shalom' explains that Yosef observed Shabbat even before it was given to Am Yisrael at Har Sinai and due to this, he commanded the one appointed over his home to prepare the food while it was still day, meaning on Friday and not on Shabbat.

According to this calculation, it follows that the brothers who were sent away from Yosef's house the next day, set out on Shabbat day, with the goblet hidden in Binyamin's sack.

Yosef, who planned to pursue them, was afraid that maybe the delay that this will cause them, will endanger the lives of their families in Cana'an, for the brothers had come down to Egypt to purchase food and not luxuries.

Due to this, he specifically sent them away on Shabbat, while keeping tabs on them and observing their conduct. If there would be a question of danger to life from starvation, Yosef knew that his brothers would be forced to profane the Shabbat and walk more than two thousand amot on Shabbat (forbidden in the absence of an eiruv). But if they do not do this, this proves that a delay will not pose a threat to their family's welfare, for it could not be that they were literally starving for bread, and therefore Yosef could delay them on account of the goblet.

This is why the verse says, "They had left the city, had not gone far". Yosef's messengers told him that the brothers had not walked a distance of more than two thousand amot from Egypt, and thereby Yosef knew that their families were not in danger of starvation, so he immediately said, "Get up, chase after the men; when you overtake them, you are to say to them, 'Why do you repay evil for good? Is this not the one from which my master drinks?'"

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Emunah Preserves Clarity of Mind

Yosef Hatzadik merited achieving the lofty levels of 'a righteous one, the foundation of the world', despite all the hardships and troubles that surrounded him, because faith in Hashem was implanted deep in his heart. He trusted in Hashem completely and understood that all suffering and troubles that he endured were all for the good because 'All that the Merciful One does is for the good'. With the power of this faith, he succeeded in safely enduring all the crises and maintaining his clarity of mind and spiritual level. Regardless of his difficult circumstances, he did not become dejected and did not despair, despite his brothers renouncing him and feeling terrible hatred for him, to the extent that they wished to kill him. Despite all this, he never uttered a word of complaint against Heaven r"l.

Furthermore, he did not hold a grudge against his brothers for he knew that everything emanated from Hashem Yitbarach and all is for the good. It follows that not only did he not fall spiritually from all that he went through, but on the contrary, these challenges toughened him and strengthened his spirit, enhancing his faith and trust in Hashem. This spiritual level is what helped him maintain his holiness and purity even when in a foreign land.

This is also the reason why Yosef did not forget the Torah that he studied with his father. Even though twenty-two years had passed from the time of their separation, he still remembered his learning, even alluding to this by sending his father wagons, to remind him that they took leave of each other while they were studying the section of 'eglah arufah' (Rashi 45:27).

This is a major feat, for one who is in a state of pain and aggravation often loses his mind and forgets his learning, as Chazal say, (Temurah 16a), "Rav Yehuda said, Shmuel said, three thousand laws were forgotten in the days of mourning for Moshe". In contrast, Yosef Hatzadik, despite all the trials and hardships that he passed through, did not forget his learning and remained righteous and innocent, for he understood that the matter emanated from Hashem and he understood that it was all for the best. That is how he was able to persist despite all the calamities that he suffered and preserve his Torah.

Yosef transmitted this holiness as an inheritance to his holy offspring, and they too rose to lofty levels in Egypt, achieving the level of the holy tribes.

A Novel Look at the Parsha

The Ramchal, in his sefer 'Daat Tevunot', brings a wonderful principle. He writes that every force that Hashem wishes to bestow on man or the world, this good only comes from the depth of hidden counsel, therefore he will suffer pain prior to receiving it. As Chazal say (Berachot 5a), "Hashem gave Yisrael three gifts and all were given only through suffering".

These words, the Maggid Hagaon Rabbi Elimelech Biderman shlita explains, touch every Jewish soul, each person with his personal afflictions and pains. We cannot understand the ways of G-d, but one thing we must know: The concealment and torment are a preface to the good; they train a person to receive the good, and everything comes to be through His word.

Rabbi Ya'akov Shayish relates the following story: In a town adjacent to Bnei Brak, one of the residents began extensive renovations on his home, fulfilling the verse, "You shall spread out powerfully westward, eastward, northward and southward". The construction disturbed his neighbors, however, they bore it in silence and did not mention anything to him.

At the end of that year, one of the neighbors who lived on an upper floor decided to extend his apartment because his home had become too small for his growing family. Although he wished to go about the matter peacefully, the downstairs neighbor, the one who had just completed extensive renovations, began hounding him. Day and night, he gave him no rest with his complaints and demands. Moreover, several times he stopped the construction midway. All in all, the upstairs neighbor was only building on his own private property, unlike the downstairs neighbor whose extension had exploited public property. He wished to protest: "Is this the way to repay a kindness? Did you forget that just a short time ago your own building plans made a tremendous racket and disturbed all of us greatly? But we allowed you to go ahead at all times." However, drawing on tremendous reservoirs of strength, he restrained himself. He remained quiet and kept his retorts to himself.

One day, the upstairs neighbor's phone rang and on the other end of the line was a staff member from a famous yeshiva in Bnei Brak. They were looking to hire an administrator for their Yeshiva and wished to inquire about the nature of this downstairs neighbor (who for the last half-year had no source of income). His immediate desire was to slander and sully the name of this neighbor who had unjustifiably been relentlessly bothering him day and night. But once again he overcame the temptation and replied: "Right now I am busy, but you can call me back in an hour".

For the next hour, a battle waged between his mind and heart, between his Yetzer Hatov and Yetzer Hara. One claimed that in the name of honesty he must save the Yeshiva from this fellow. On the other hand, this neighbor has been struggling without a livelihood for half a year already, and who knows, maybe that is why he is hounding him. Besides, his inherent talents do make him suitable for this administrative position.

An hour later they called him back. He began extolling and recommending this neighbor. With good taste, he enumerated his positive qualities and declared that the Yeshiva will benefit greatly from his administrative talents. Indeed, this neighbor was elected as administrator, a position that afforded him a respectable wage.

There is an astounding end to this story: The 'advocate's' wife had also been looking for a job for an entire year. She had sent her resume to several institutions but each time she received the same reply: At the moment we do not have an opening.

What did Hashem do? At the exact time that the upstairs neighbor prevailed over his negative feelings, one of the distinguished institutions turned to his wife, telling her to come down for an interview. On the spot, she received a respectable job and was repaid by Hashem. They gained so much more than they suffered, for one who forgoes never loses out.

The same thing happened with Yosef, who at first placed his trust in the Chamberlain of the Cupbearers and was punished for this. But the Creator immediately prepared his salvation and that is why Pharaoh dreamt the same dream for exactly two years, every single night so that as soon as Yosef would strengthen his trust in Hashem, his salvation will be ready. He will immediately be freed from his imprisonment and appointed as the ruler over Egypt.


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