Wednesday, January 11, 2006

אני יוסף העוד אבי חי What was Yosef asking?

Yehuda just finishes telling Yosef the whole story including that his father is alive, so what exactly was Yosef's question. In addition, Rashi quotes the medrash that this was a great תוכחה. What exactly was the תוכחה?

The Beis Halevi explains as follows. Yosef told his brothers you claim that you are so concerned about your fathers health, yet, I am Yosef is my father still alive? Meaning, he asked them if you really cared for your father how could you put him through the pain of of my disappearance. He exposed the hypocrisy of Yehuda's claim through Yehuda's own actions. Now we also understand why this is called a תוכחה as well.

The Beis Halevi says that this is what will happen as well when a person goes up to שמים after 120. Whatever excuses he gives for not doing mitzvos or aveiros will be shown to be hypocritical by his own actions. I will give 1 simple example. A person doesn't go to minyan on Sunday mornings, he claims that while he understands the importance of davening with a minyan he is just so tired he needs to sleep late. In שמים they will show him that whenever he had some other important event on Sunday morning he always managed to get up and therefore goign to a minyan was really not that important to him.


ליפא שנילצער said...

thanks a lot, its realy a nice devar torah, just curious is the example from the beis halevi or one for your own?

bluke said...

The example was one I heard many times from my 9th Grade Rebbe.

AbbaFive said...

In my wildest imagination, I can't possibly imagine my attendance at minyan on Sunday mornings making the "top ten" of issues facing me lifnei Melech Malchei Hamelachim (even if I can attest to a pretty fine attendance record).

This type of silliness - our efforts at engrandizing actions laden with social conformity over true Avodas Hashem is painfully reminiscent of 'heichal Hashem, heichal Hashem, heichal Hashem' - and it's less well know follow up pesukim as to matters truly of concern to the Ribbono Shel Olam, viayim Yirmiyah 7:3-7.
כי אם היטיב תיטיבו את דרכיכם ואת מעלליכם אם עשו תעשו משפט בין איש ובין רעהו:
(ו) גר יתום ואלמנה לא תעשקו ודם נקי אל תשפכו במקום הזה ואחרי אלהים אחרים לא תלכו לרע לכם:

AbbaFive said...

If you want to make this reading even more interesting, ask the following question: Did Yehudah already 'know' at the end of Mikeitz? In other words, did Yehudah figure out that who he was speaking to?

And then, with this reading that you put forth in hand, did Yosef then figure out that Yehuda figured it out?

Now that's interesting.

Anonymous said...

beautiful dvar Torah, Thank You

bluke said...

Abbafive, no one is suggesting that minyan attendance is one of the top ten issues. That was not my point. However, we do believe that every action that a person does will be judged including whether they go to minyan on Sunday. It was just a simple example that highlights this point.

AbbaFive said...


Thank you for your note.

First, I did not write my comment from the fringes of Orthodoxy. I'm one of the many who wakes up at 6:13 every day (except Monday and Thursday, when the alarm is set at 6:03). But, I do (it’s ever so embarrassing) sleep in on Sundays until 7:47.

Minyan, actually Tefillah Bitzibur is meaningful (to me at least), but it is a hardly 'important' - except in the context of each and every action being important. In which case, let’s refer to shaatnez or some other positive act that is not manifestly visible and so overtly self-congratulatory.

So why does this get me riled up enough to comment on a blog? After all, I actually go to minyan - what can be better than hearing yet again someone confirming that my socially conforming actions are laudatory and hold me in good stead lifnei Melech Malchei Hamelachim? Should this not bring me ‘chizuk’?

Two responses:

First, these comments, these constant efforts, are misjudged as being 'moderately helpful' or perhaps only 'harmless' - but they’re not. Emphasizing those matters that smack of externalities, and social conformity do not strengthen shmiras hamitzvos - rather these statements actually have the exact opposite effect for those thinking and doubting within our machane. See, for instance, the instructive analysis of why people leave observance in Faranak Margolese's "Off the Derech" -- thinking and serious people do not leave because mitzvos are too 'hard' -- rather because of the incessant demands of social conformity, many of which (not minyan) that are only tangentially linked to Halacha.

Second, while it's understandable for educators, and laymen also, to go after low-hanging fruit such as minyan attendance, in your words, since 'every action' counts, no doubt you see as I do that it is ever so easy to ONLY emphasize the small stuff, the trivial stuff -- the stuff that we do, as a cheap method of distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys. See, I get to go to Shamayim and tell Hashem I went to minyan. Consistency in life actions, chesed, and - here's one - true modesty in shmiras hamitzvos, well that's admittedly very hard to teach young minds, and some lamentably don't possess the talent to present that effectively.

But we're adults. We should know better. It's time to take account for simplistic (granted 'silly' may be too harsh) responses for 13 year olds being applied, and reapplied to adults.

Consistency, hesed, yirah, anavah is important. Socially conforming activity is a necessary and key element to keep us bound as a community, but it's harping emphasis on adults is a cancer upon us, that does much harm.

So I wrote a blog response.

AbbaFive said...

Sorry for following up on my follow up.

I actually think highly of your blog and - by association - of you, otherwise I would not bother writing in the first place.

I thought of a good rule of thumb for these types of examples.

When speaking of laxity in shmiras hamitzvos of a group, instead of choosing something that you personally fulfill (such as going to minyan on Sunday mornings), choose an example of laxity in observance that would apply to you also. Taking an example from your website, let's rephrase your last paragraph:

"The Beis Halevi says that this is what will happen as well when a person goes up to שמים after 120. Whatever excuses he gives for not doing mitzvos or aveiros will be shown to be hypocritical by his own actions. I will give 2 simple examples. A person is not careful about chadash, or is somech on 600,000 as shishim ribu for the purpose of relying on an eruv. He claims that while he understands the importance of chadash, it would be a tremendous burden on him and his family, as would not carrying in reliance on the community eruv. In שמים they will show him that whenever he really cared about something for business he always managed to arrange it and therefore chadash and hotzahah really were not that important to him."


Ari Kahn said...

the Netziv has the same explanation - i wonder who said it first in Volozhin???