Parshat Vayechi 2018


Parshat Vayechi
By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron


לשכנו תדרשו
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land


As we mentioned last week, the Midrash states that “everything that happened to Yosef happened to Zion (Tanhuma Vayigash 11).” Since this Midrash sheds a unique light on the connection between Yosef and Zion we would like to discuss four resemblances this week in continuation of the four resemblances mentioned in this Midrash we discussed last week, among the 26 resemblances mentioned in this Midrash. Of course, we will also discuss how these resemblances touch Hebron, since the Arizal says that “Zion” is synonymous with Hebron.

“Joseph: And he shaved himself and changed his raiment (Gen. 41:14), Zion: And Hashem shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion (Isa. 44:4).” The Midrash clearly draws upon the cosmetic and external beautifying parallels between Yosef and Zion. The significance of this external beautifying of Yosef can be seen as being indicative of Yosef’s subsequent rise to power and prestige when interpreting  Pharaoh’s dreams and offering their practical solution. In a similar way, Mordechai, in the Purim story, was clothed and featured externally in a beautiful way just before he was fully raised in power and Haman was fully overturned and his house was given to Mordechai and Ester (see also Zeresh’s comment that “if Mordechai is a Jew, then if you have begun to fall before him, you shall not succeed for you shall surely fall before him”). In a similar way, our Sages say about Zion that “when she produces her fruit in a bountiful way, you have a revealed redemption no greater than that”  (Sanhedrin 98b). This means that, although there are deeper levels of redemption after “the Land producing bountiful fruit,” nevertheless this external and “revealed” stage of redemption is indicative of subsequent redemptive stages that are about to occur… With the same token, Hebron was the first Jewish settlement in the era of the Patriarchs, and it was indeed indicative of the further Jewish settlement in Gerar, Beer Sheva, Shechem, Bet El, and other places as well. Also in our era, Hebron was the trailblazing settlement after the Six-Day-War that brought about the settlement of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza afterwards. 

“Joseph: Only in the throne will I be greater than you (Gen. 41:40), Zion: At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Hashem (Jer. 3:17).” The throne represents a conduit of power. The fact that Yosef is told that Pharaoh’s throne will be greater than him, implies that Pharaoh considered Yosef so close to full power that he needed to stipulate that still his throne will be greater. Similarly, Jerusalem will be called after the Upper Throne of Hashem in Heaven, since Jerusalem will be such a great conduit of Hashem’s Majesty and power upon earth that it will be likened to the Supernal Throne of Hashem. With the same token, just as the throne of David began in Hebron, according to Hashem’s command, and was raised to a higher level in Jerusalem, so too Hebron can be seen as the “lower throne” in relationship to the “higher throne” in Jerusalem, together being indicative of the Supernal Heavenly Throne of Hashem.

“Joseph: And he clothed him in vestures of fine linen (Gen. 41:42), Zion: Awake, awake, “wear” your strength, O Zion; wear your beautiful garments (Isa. 52:1).” The Amoraic Master Rabbi Yohanan would call his clothes “my honor.” The clothing of Yosef in fine linen was indicative of Yosef’s raised honor and rise to power. Similarly, Zion will be “clothed” with tremendous honor and beauty due to the “wearing” of its “strength.” The “wearing of strength” can be interpreted to refer to the deliverance of Torah from Zion, since our Sages interpret the term “strength” to refer to Torah in many places. Similarly, in the case of Yosef, Yosef was given honor due to his Godly wisdom similar to Torah.  With the same token, Hebron represents, according to the Zohar (Shlach) the honorable Torah scholar called a “haber.”

“Joseph: He sent Yehudah before him(Gen. 46:29), Zion: Behold, I send My messenger (Mal. 3:1).” Yakov sent Yehudah to prepare the way to be housed by Yosef in Egypt. Similarly, Hashem sends a messenger [commentators: Elijah] to prepare the way so that He shall dwell in Zion to a greater level in times of Mashiach. This messenger enacts retribution on the wicked in order to purify the state of Zion to be ready for the greater manifestation of Hashem’s Presence. With the same token, the Tikunei Zohar teaches that at the End of Days the sounds of the shofar will be sounded, which will call for the retribution upon the wicked which will occur for the sake of Hebron (see Tikunei Zohar Tikun 13 “Nigun”, Metzudat Zion on the verse there from Isaiah 24, 19).


Real Stories from the Holy Land #294

 It is said that during the first Yom Kippur after the liberation of Hebron, a very old man appeared in the shul in Hebron. No one recognized him and when they asked him who he was, he said that after Ne’elah he would take a walk with the President of the synagogue and tell him. When Yom Kippur ended, the President and the old man took a walk. The man said: “I am your great, great, great, great grandfather Avraham. I begged Hashem to allow me to pray just one time in this Holy City now that the Jews returned. I was allowed to come this Yom Kippur.” After these words the old man disappeared. 


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