By Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
This parsha describes Yosef, even in his bondage in Egypt, as a “successful man.” The Midrash translates the word for “successful/matzliach” as “jumping in joy.” This translation is based on the interpretation, found in Breshit Raba 86, 4, of the verb root “tzalach” to refer to jumping as it is used in the context of the verse “tzalchu et haYarden” (Sam. II 19, 18), I.e they “jumped” over the Jordan River. This matter teaches that the secret of success is joy at all times, allowing one to “jump over” all the obstacles. Therefore, we have brought here one of Rw Nachshon’s paintings that deals with joy, a continuous joy – “tamid”, even at difficult times, such as Yosef dealt with.
The letters of the central sentence in this painting “mitzva gedola etc.” are painted in yellow-green, associated with the Kabbalistic sefira of tiferet – “beauty”, with taints of white and red, associated with the sefirot hesed and gevura (kindness and justice) respectively. Hesed and gevura are also considered the two components that comprise tiferet. Indeed, Tiferet is considered the “third uniting concept,” and in this painting we see many threes or multiples of three. In addition, the Arizal sees the main theme of this painting, the concept of joy – “simcha” – to entail a unity that has been achieved.
We see Six dancing in a circle. Three more figures are dancing with fires in their hands as was in simhat beit hashoeva at the Temple on Sukkot. Three are blasting a shofar, with a fourth form also blasting but in the form of a gazelle. We see also another two figures blasting trumpets, and with them we have six figures blasting. Three hasidim are dancing next to the word simcha. Three figures can be seen at the extremities of the painting/ lower side of painting (two to the far left and one at the very bottom). Three figures are seen as if emanating from the shofar, which has three prongs. Three figures are in the distance all dressed in yellow red garb. Altogether tese are 27 figures perhaps corresponding to the 22 letters of alphabet + the five “final letters” (mem, nun, tzadi, peh, kaf) which are grouped into three groups of nine according to the Kabbalah. .There are in addition two pairs of figures alongside the central shofar by the blower and the shofar itself perhaps hinting to spiritual lights that come “alongside”, a concept in Kabbalah called “makifin” – “encircling lights alongside a vessel”. All this is on the human level.
On the animal level: We see seven fish with an eighth fish which is bird-like next to the Temple, which seems to echo the teaching that the eighth concept is considered supernatural, similar to the heavenly Temple. We see twelve birds, six perched and six in the air, which seems to echo the Arizal’s teaching that there are six masculine months of the year, associated with the heavens/sky, and six feminine months, associated with the earth, in the year..
On the vegetative level: We see Eighteen purple trees. Seven trees on rocks. Five on the rocks/walls of a house at the far right, altogether twelve on rocks. Six broshim. Six adjacent and surrounding the six dancing men, as the Torah hints “man is like the tree of the field.” There are two small trees with trunks and a third enormous tree at the right. The rest seem to be bushes, as they are without trunks, and they are also difficult to discern/differentiate and count.
On the inanimate level we see that there are three floating fires. Each one is pronged by a yellow fire of three prongs. Each one has five fires and five drops within each fire perhaps corresponding to the five aspects of kindness – water, and judgment – fire. The Arizal says that the sefira of yesod is comprised of five aspects of kindness and five aspects of judgment times three corresponding to three levels of this manifestation at the sefirot of Da’at, the five sefirot of hesed till hod, and at the yesod itself which receives the fore-mentioned manifestations. The yesod is considered the bridge between heaven and earth [ki kol =yesod bashamayim uva’aretz] and this is associated with the Temple which bridges between heaven and earth. We see seven fires above the Temple and in Kabbalah seven and three are two distinct levels that comprise the ten sefirot. Also there are ten protrusions of the wall of the Temple. We see three crowns at the Temple each with three prongs. We see ten clouds and an eleventh cloud at the Temple perhaps hinting to the Keter sefira sometimes considered aloof from the other ten sefirot, just as the Temple is aloof from the rest of earth. We also ten reddish brown openings of gates, the tenth being adjacent to the Temple and an eleventh that is not red but blue, again perhaps hinting to the ten/eleven sefirot intricacy we just described.
Again, we see lots of multiples of threes here, and three is associated with unison (the third concept unites between two separate and divided entities), and the concept of simcha-joy achieved through the unification of spiritual lights together, according to the Arizal. Indeed, so is Hebron City of the three Patriarchs the City of Unity – hibur – Hebron!