Parshat Vayeshev

Parsha Story: Parshas Vayeshev / Vayeishev (for 5769)

Posted on December 21, 2008. Filed under: A Parsha Story, a Rabbi Bolton Story, a Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, Jewish Customs, Parshas Vayeishev, Parshas Vayeitzei, Parshas Vayeshev, Parshas Vayetze, Parshat Hashavua, Parshat Hashavuah, Parshat Vayeishev, Parshat Vayeshev, Rabbi Bolton Stories, Rabbi Bolton Story, Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, Story by Rabbi Bolton, The Parshah Story, The Truth, Torah, True, Truth, Vayeshev, Weekly Parsha, Weekly Parshah, Weekly sedra, Weekly Sedrah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


A Parsha Story by:

Rabbi Tuvia Bolton of OhrTmimim.Org/torah

On this week’s Parsha:

Vayeishev 5769

We’d like to apologize for:

Delay in posting this week’s Parsha Story by Rabbi Bolton.

This week we read an interesting story of how Yosef, the favorite of Jacob’s children, was hated by his brothers and fanned that hatred by interpreting two dreams to mean that everyone would bow down to him.

The Torah tells us “His brothers hated him but his father waited to see what would happen” (37:11)

This, at first glance, doesn’t make sense. If his father saw how they hated him then why didn’t he say something to them? What was he ‘waiting’ for?

To understand this here is a story. (Di Yiddishe Heim, Winter 5742)

Communist Russia was, along with Nazi Germany, the worst possible place on the globe for Judaism. After the revolution of 1917 the ‘Party’ began closing Synagogues and forbidding the learning of Torah and in the early 20’s only the old Jews and the Chassidim dared look ‘Jewish’ in public. Only card carrying Communists could get normal jobs (which could mean starvation) and anyone caught doing a Jewish ritual even in private would lose any position of importance.

In such an environment occurred, in the city of Gomel in 1924, a sensational trial with a Jewish theme; a high-ranking Communist official who happened to be Jewish, discovered that his wife, without his knowledge, had their baby son circumcised eight days after he was born and was suing for divorce.

The Communists made sure it was well-publicized; they wanted everyone to see how outdated religion was and courthouse was overflowing; even the standing-room bleachers and public galleries were full to capacity.

The judge, who happened to be Jewish, sat austerely in a large chair behind a thick table and before him stood several burly young ‘Yevsektsia’ (Jewish movement sworn to destroy Judaism) ‘security’ ready to keep order.

The first to take the stand and testify was the husband.

“I came home to find my child crying. When I went to change his diaper I saw that he was bandaged up. ‘Circumcised’ she says! Just like that. I was surprised, disgusted and angry at once. Then she insisted that she had nothing to do with it which, even if it’s true, it still makes her at fault! Isn’t she supposed to guard the child? And, frankly, I don’t believe her. I mean, comrade judge, can one possibly live with a woman tells lies because her mind is too small to accept the new order?! I want a divorce!!”

The judge thanked him, told him to step down and called the defendant; his wife. She was red-eyed from crying and as she passed her husband he turned his head in disgust so as not to look at her.

“Comrade Judge.” She said trying to choke back her tears and occasionally dabbing her eyes. “I am innocent. I swear I am a loyal Party Member and a good wife but my husband will not let me explain. What happened was like this. A few days ago I had to go out shopping to buy some food. I have no baby sitter, so I waited for the baby to go to sleep, locked the door and ran to the market. Anyway, I when I came back home, it couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes later, maybe twenty my door was open and the baby was gone!! Gone!!!”

She wept uncontrollably for a few seconds, blew her nose with a small kerchief and continued.

“So I ran into the streets asking people, searching like a crazy woman asking everyone if they saw my son until about a half an hour later I see my parents and in-laws walking in the distance. So I ran to them yelling and crying and what do I see? They are carrying my baby! They just had taken him for a walk!! That’s what they said. I was so relieved and happy!! But when I got home I saw what had happened! He had blood on his diaper!! Oy!! How could my own parents have mutilated my baby!!! MY BABY!!” And she began wailing so loudly she had to be escorted from the witness stand.

The grandparents took the stand. The four of them stood before the Judge like wax figures of thousands of years ago. The men sported long white beards and wore worn-out, long black coats to their knees while the grandmothers had their hair covered with large kerchiefs tied under the chin. The judge asked if they had anything to say in their defense.

One of the grandmothers who spoke Russian better than the others stepped forward and said in a thick Jewish accent, “Your Honor”.

The Judge cut her short and said authoritatively, “‘Your Honor’ is an out-dated title of the old regime. You are to call me ‘Comrade’.

“You Honorable Comrade” she said as a few snickers came from the crowd. “Although I don’t see what’s so bad about our einikel (Yiddish for grandson) having a ‘Bris’ (circumcision) like everyone but I want you to know that we didn’t mean to do it….. It just happened.”

There was a second of total silence and then like an explosion, the crowd burst into howling laughter repeating the words ‘Just happened!’ Haa Haaaa! Just happened!! Hooo!!’ Even the Judge had to turn his face to a side until he could regain enough seriousness to pound his gavel and call for silence.

The old lady was obviously lying and when things returned to normal he leaned forward, narrowed his eyes and asked her sarcastically. “Happened?! And how, Babushka, can such a thing as a circumcision just ‘happen’?”

“I tell you Your Comrade Honorship.” She continued as though talking to someone on the street. “We went to our daughter’s house to take the baby for a long walk for his health. My daughter doesn’t take him for enough fresh air. Anyway she wasn’t home but we have a key. So we took him, our little sweetie, and went for a long walk. Then suddenly from nowhere some man walks over to us that we never saw before and asks if we want our einikel to be a Jew. We answered, what’s the question? So he takes out a knife, makes a B’racha (blessing) and that’s it! Circumcised!!”

The crowd was already on the edge of pandemonium and this was it! The laughter was like thunder and it just got louder and louder. The judge pounded on the table, screamed for silence, stood up and stamped with his feet but nothing helped. People were in tears, holding their stomachs and a few actually fell into the isles! Totally out of control.

The Judge motioned to the Yevsektsia thugs and when they turned to the crowd and gave a few menacing glares the crowd became silent.

“But you should know, Comrade Honorable Judge,” The old woman continued as though there had been no disturbance. “We are happy.”

“Happy?! Who is happy?” exclaimed the Judge in exasperation. “And about what!?”

“Ahh, we are all happy that our dear Einikel is one hundred percent Jewish….. Just like you, Your Honor! Aren’t you proud and happy you are circumcised?”

That was it! The crowd went wild! Whistling and hooting! Even the Yevsektsia toughs couldn’t control the waves of sheer glee. The Judge didn’t even try. He had no choice but to wait for the noise to subside, tell the grandparents to be seated, call the husband back and try to bring this fiasco to an end.

“Tell me, dear Comrade. I see from your record that you are a good, loyal hero of Communism and hold a very responsible position. Is there any other reason, that is, do you have any other reason for divorcing your wife?”

“No, Comrade Judge, none whatsoever; she cooks my meals, cleans my shirts and is a good wife. Except for this!”

“Well” The Judge continued “If I tell you that she is not guilty and has no part in this terrible act would you consider returning to her and dropping the charges?”

“Yes, of course Comrade Judge, if that is the decision of the court.”

“If so, the decision of this court is that your wife is innocent of all the charges. It is totally the fault of your superstitious parents and in-laws for allowing this act to be perpetrated. They will be fined 50 rubles and you may return to your wife. Case dismissed!!

No one in that room including the Judge (except for a few religious friends of the family) had any idea that it was all a staged trick! The couple wanted to have their son circumcised and still retain their government positions and this was the only way they could do it.

The name of the ‘Mystery Mohel’ that circumcised the child from nowhere was Rabbi Chonya Shagalov was one of the thousands of Chabad Chassidim of the time that risked their lives daily just to do a favor for someone else and whose offspring are Chabad Chassidim throughout the world still risking everything to help others.

This explains our questions.

Yosef represents the Jewish people (see Rashi on Psalms 80:2) who, like Yosef, were put into exile in order to manifest what they were ‘chosen’ for; to bring blessing, meaning and joy to the entire creation.

Yosef also represents Moshiach ben Yosef who will suffer in exile as the precursor of Moshiach ben Dovid (See Lekutei Sichot of the Rebbe vol. 35 pg. 156).

And this is what Jacob was ‘waiting’ for. He knew that his other sons would not understand, they lacked the vision and faith that both he and Josef had. But on the other hand Jacob knew that he could do nothing to quicken the process except to wait and pray that all the Jews would do their part to reveal Moshiach and take the Jews from exile ….. as the Chassidim in our story did.

And just as Communism fell in the merit of such Chassidim so also will all the idolatry and foolishness of the exile be transformed, as Yosef did to Egypt… (but permanently) and G-d will circumcise our hearts (Deut. 30:6).

We just have to do even one more good deed, word or even thought to hasten the arrival of …..

Moshiach NOW!!

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The Parshah in a Nutshell: Parshat Vayeshev / Vayeishev

Posted on December 19, 2008. Filed under: A Parsha Story, Jewish Customs, Parshas Vayeshev, Parshat Hashavua, Parshat Hashavuah, Parshat Vayeshev, The Parsha in a Nutshell, The Parshah in a Nutshell, The Truth, Torah, True, Truth, Vayeisheiv, Vayeishev, Vayesheiv, Weekly Parsha, Weekly Parshah, Weekly sedra, Weekly Sedrah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


The Parshah in a Nutshell

(A Summary of the Parsha Story)

Brought to you by:

On this week’s Parsha:


Genesis 37:1–40:23

The Parshah in a Nutshell


Genesis 37:1–40:23

Jacob settles in Hebron with his twelve sons. His favorite is 17-year-old Joseph, whose brothers are jealous of the preferential treatment he receives from his father, such as a precious many-colored coat that Jacob makes for Joseph. Joseph relates to his brothers two dreams he has which foretell that he is destined to rule over them, increasing their envy and hatred towards him.

Shimon and Levi plot to kill him, but Reuben suggests that they throw him into a pit instead, intending to come back later and save him. While Joseph is in the pit, Judah has him sold to a band of passing Ishmaelites. The brothers dip Joseph’s special coat in the blood of a goat and show it to their father, leading him to believe that his most beloved son was devoured by a wild beast.

Judah marries and has three children. The eldest, Er, dies young and childless, and his wife Tamar is given in levirate marriage to the second son, Onan. Onan sins by spilling his seed and he, too, meets an early death. Judah is reluctant to have his third son marry her.

Determined to have a child from Judah’s family, Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute and seduces Judah himself. Judah hears that his daughter-in-law has become pregnant and orders her executed for harlotry, but when Tamar produces some personal effects he left with her as a pledge for payment, he publicly admits that he is the father. Tamar gives birth to twin sons, Peretz (an ancestor of King David) and Zerach.

Joseph is taken to Egypt and sold to Potiphar, the minister in charge of Pharaoh‘s slaughterhouses. G-d blesses everything he does, and soon he is made overseer of all his master’s property. Potiphar’s wife desires the handsome and charismatic lad; when Joseph rejects her advances, she tells her husband that the Hebrew slave tried to force himself on her and has him thrown in prison. Joseph gains the trust and admiration of his jailers, who appoint him to a position of authority in the prison administration.

In prison, Joseph meets Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker, both incarcerated for offending their royal master. Both have disturbing dreams, which Joseph interprets; in three days, he tells them, the butler will be released and the baker hanged. Joseph asks the butler to intercede on his behalf with Pharaoh. Joseph’s predictions are fulfilled, but the butler forgets all about Joseph and does nothing for him.

*** Above portions were copied from ***

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