Vayeshev by Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron                                                           בס"ד

לשכנו תדרשו

Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land

Yosef the Righteous

A righteous person, i.e., a spiritual “leader,” in Judaism is closely tied to the concept of purity also associated with “keeping the covenant”/”shemirat habrit” in relationships, personal conduct, and more. One explanation of this is through the understanding that “keeping the covenant,” “covenant” representing contract and connection, represents acting as a type of channel/connection between the Divine and the earthly. When a person acts as such a “channel” in a faithful way, that person can act as a conduit of the Divine power to be manifest upon earth, thereby instilling such a person with Divinely inspired leadership upon the earth. Therefore, it is not surprising that Yosef, so associated with this attribute of purity, gained high leadership. Indeed, the Vilna Gaon (beginning of Kol HaTor) teaches us that the great leader, Mashiach ben Yosef, has three primary missions: Revealing the secrets of the Torah, ingathering exiles, and removing the spirit of impurity from the Land.

It is also not surprising that the reading of these parshiyot of Yosef always precede or coincide with Chanukah, as Chanukah celebrates the victory of the pure spirit of Israel over impure foreign forces (see the Shelah on the Torah, who also links the parsha to the time of year at which it is read). Let us remember that the miracle of the oil was not that oil was found, but rather that pure oil was found and lasted for eight days.
Why is purity such an important concept and given so much focus in Judaism, to the extent that there at least forty-five Torah commandments just on the purity of relationships? Many works have been dedicated to studying the concept of purity and its ramifications, but in a nutshell, in order to understand purity, we need to understand impurity. Unlike the concept of holiness, which is a concept independent from its opposite, the concept of purity is always used in the context of impurity (Zohar, Chukat). In the Gemara Yoma (39a), R. Yishmael connects the word “tuma,” impurity, to “timtum,” stupidity. But what kind of stupidity is referred to by the word “timtum”? In Hebrew, there is a similar word, “tumtum,” which means someone whose reproductive organs are blocked by skin or tissue to the extent that their gender is unknown. So too, we may say that the stupidity of “timtum” means a blockage (timtum) of the channels of the soul, causing the inaccessibility of truth, wisdom, inspiration, and the like. To give an example, one may have a perfectly fine radio located in a prime location where it can receive radio signals, but if there is an obstruction between the antennae and the radio device one will hear lots of static, confusing and frustrating the listener. Similarly, one who is troubled with the spirit of impurity picks up “static” that confuse him or her, making it difficult to remain focused on relationships, spirituality, or even faith in God. Now we can better understand the concept of purity. Purity means opening the channels of the soul to connect to Hashem.

The sefer Shaar Hachatzer, by Rabbi David Ben Shimon, says (section 380) that living in Hebron has the quality of Tikun habrit, rectifying the covenant, for as we see in the title quote of this parsha, Hebron is linked to Yosef, the symbol of purity and faithfulness to the covenant. Thus, we can explain that because of Hebron’s special quality of purity, one is able to “open the channels” and rectify the covenant-brit, even if impurity has taken hold because of one’s deeds. This also can help to explain the meaning of some of the halachot mentioned in the previous parsha (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 5:11): “The Sages commented: Whoever dwells in The Land of Israel will have his sins forgiven, as it is stated (Yeshayahu 33:24): The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick. The People who dwell there shall be forgiven their sins. Even one who walks four cubits there will merit the world to come and one who is buried there receives atonement as if the place in which he is buried is an altar of atonement, as it is stated (Devarim 32:43): His land will atone for His people.

In contrast, the prophet, Amos, states (7:17): You shall die in an impure land as a prophecy of retribution.” Just as living in Hebron has a special quality of purity, so too the Land of Israel has a general quality of purity. Of course, this does not mean that one can continue the ways of impurity in The Land without any ramifications. Rather, this means that coming to Hebron or The Land in general with the intent to be purified is especially beneficial, as our Sages have taught: “Someone who comes to be purified, Hashem helps him” (Shabbat 104a; Pesikta Zutreta, Shemot 15). The concept of purity is crucial for the Holy Presence to rest in our midst, as the Torah states (Devarim 23:15): “For Hashem your God (Targum Onkelos – The Holy Presence) walks within your camp to deliver you and fight your enemies, and your camp shall be holy, and He shall not see a matter of nakedness among you and thus leave you.” May the Holy Presence rest among us always.

Real Miracles:

The tactics of Gideon were employed to liberate the airport at Lydda. Seven thousand Arab troops were ready to attack. Sixteen Israelis dressed as Arabs infiltrated into the city of Lydda. Like Gideon’s band of 300, they made such a commotion during the night that the Arabs, totally confused, fired upon each other. Finally, the majority fled back across the border.
Source: Israel Nation of Miracles

Skip to content