Rabbi Dr. Meir Tamari
The following midrash illustrates how the religious tasks and spiritual
qualities of Yehudah and Yosef are the key to understanding the clash
between the brothers which is the crux of this sedrah and the one that
preceded it. "There was a deep well with clear and sweet water, yet
because of its depth nobody could benefit from this water, till a person
came along and tied a bucket to a rope, thereby drawing up its water". The
deep well is Yosef and the wise one who was able to draw the water from its
depth is Yehudah. Yehudah, in his repetition of all that had been said and
done by Yosef since the brothers had come to Egypt, finally broke down the
secrecy and the veils behind which Yosef had hidden himself till we read,
"and Yosef could no longer restrain himself. and made himself known to his
brothers "(Bereishit, 45:1).
After Yosef had secretly sanctified the Name Of Heaven, he was rewarded
with the addition of one letter of the name of Hashem to his name [ιδερσ]
Psalms, 81). Yehudah who sanctified the Name of Heaven in public, had all
the letters of the Holy Name in his name (Sotah, 10b). Yosef had the name
changed to include three of the letters of the Name after he had done
certain acts. Yehudah's name, however, was unchanged and contained all the
letters of G-d's Name from the day of his birth.
From this we may learn that the midrash refers the whole method and nature
of their divine worship and holy service.
The whole avodah of Yosef was sanctification in secret. Rashi tells us that
he busied himself with his curls and the Zohar adds that he bothered with
his clothes that they should be elegant and orderly; all this in order to
hide his righteousness and spirituality. This is the pattern of all the
descendants of Rachel. When they went to find Saul he was hiding amongst
the baggage, while the story of both Esther and Mordechai was hidden
beneath clothes, banquets and coded messages as befits hidden miracles.
This is why the midrash sees Yoseph as the power that can oppose Eisav,
since it is the way of all evildoers to hide their intentions and to cover
up their real selves. Eisav, whose evil is disguised, is like the pig, that
has only one sign of kosher food, the cloven hoof, but lacks the other one,
chewing the cud. So it sleeps deceptively with its foot outstretched but
with its mouth closed. Eisav kept his hatred for Yaakov and the intention
to kill him in his heart, while Haman did the same with regard to Mordechai.
In contrast, the nature and merit of the work of Yehudah is that
sanctification is public and visible and is therefore able to affect even
external and practical actions. " Your brothers will acknowledge you-
therefore he merited sanctifying HaShem in public" (Rashi, Bereisheit, 49,
8). So he acknowledged in public that Tamar was justified. His descendant
Nachshon was the first to plunge into the waters of the Red Sea in full
view of all of Israel. David is able to confess publicly his sin and dance
before the Aron HaKodesh.
Each of these two ways of worship has a special greatness and merit of
their own. That of Yosef, conducted in secret and hidden from the sight of
others, has a special power and strength. We see that the Maharal (Or
Chadash) teaches that which is hidden has extraordinary power in the
Heavens above that are themselves hidden. With the power of his avodah that
is secret and hidden, Yosef is able bring an abundance of spirituality and
sanctity from Heaven done to earth. In contrast, Yehudah, whose avodah is
in public and completely revealed through actions, brings the World, even
in its lowest spiritual form and even when it is completely material, up to
the Heavens. The merit of Yehudah brings the world to the Kingship of
Heaven as he is the chariot of the King of Kings. This leads to a desire
and a yearning down below on earth for the spirituality, truth and splendor
expressed through songs of praise and prayer, as we see in David. Simcha
Bunem explained the use of shirei zimrah in Yishtabach, that are 2 words
that describe the same thing, as describing the extra yearning that comes
after the first level of prayer is reached.
The midrash commenting on the verse, "and the ploughman shall overtake the
harvester " (Amos, 9: 13), relates the ploughman to Yehudah and the
harvester to Yosef. In his dream Yosef describes he and his brothers
binding sheaves, while the verse tells of Yehudah plowing the field of
Efraim. The Avnei Nezer explains that the Talmudical comment (Moed Katan
(2b) that the physical purpose of plowing is to heal the soil, corresponds
in the spiritual world to cure and soften the heart. So this is the role of
Yehudah to break open the hearts through practical actions and mitzvot so
that the seeds of spiritual growth and religiosity can enter, even as
material seeds fall in the furrows and take root there. Yehudah, the king,
is the heart of Israel and through his service the verse, "and I will
remove the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel, 36: 26)
may be accomplished.
In the same way we should understand that there is a spiritual parallel to
the physical work of the reaper. The Eglei Tal regarding work on Shabbat
explains, that anything that is attached to the ground is considered as
ground, so that one who reaps destroys this attachment.
One who is devoted to the bodily and the material is considered to be like
them, while one who is able to separate his intelligence and mind from
material things and devote them to the spiritual and heavenly things does
the work of the harvester. This is Yosef, who is the mind and wisdom of Israel.
The theme of the hidden tzaddik is a common one and is not limited to
Chassidic thought. However, in view of the central role played there by the
Tzaddik, it is obvious that the nature of his Avodah assumed special
importance, indeed being central to the specific type of Chassidut that he
developed. In the Pshyscha school there does not seem to be such a
tradition of the hidden tzaddik . Perhaps this is because they saw the main
purpose of the Tzaddik to provide spiritual guidance and Torah learning,
widely defined, rather than the material, economic and social assistance
that characterizes almost all of popular and mass orientated chassidut.
This orientation of the Tzaddick was something that they shared with the
founder of Chabad Chassidism.
Copyright © 2003 by Rabbi Dr. Meir Tamari and Torah.org.
Rabbi Dr. Tamari is a renowned economist, Jewish scholar, and founder of the Center For Business Ethics (www.besr.org) in Jerusalem.