At The End
By Rabbi Pinchas Winston
Yosef recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. Yosef
remembered the dreams he dreamed of them, and said to them, "You are
spies who come to see the weakness of the land!" (Bereishis 42:8-9)
The truth is, the posuk does not make sense. The way the posuk
reads, it seems as if Yosef's recalling of his dreams is the cause of
his upcoming actions. However, Yosef's dreams did not include
psychological torture and punishment, just his ruling over them and
their bowing down to him, both of which had already been fulfilled.
Obviously, Yosef wanted something more from his brothers, and
assuming that he was not the vengeful, sadistic type, we will have to
assume that it must have been for their own good, and part of their
According to the "Brisi Shalom," the word "meraglim" (spies) itself
hints at this, for it is spelled: mem-raish-gimmel-lamed-yud-mem,
and stands for: M'immi Rachel Ginavtem, L'Midyanim, Yishmaelim
Mechartem - from my mother Rachel you stole me, to Midianites and
Ishmaelites you sold me. Somehow, had the brothers truly been "on
the ball," then they would have taken Yosef's clue and realized on
their own who was standing before them.
This, of course, was something they could only have done had they
previously taken Yosef's dreams somewhat seriously. The fact that
they rushed to defend this out-of-left field accusation rather than
analyze it, proved to Yosef that they were the same old brothers who
had never taken him or his dreams seriously to begin with - and were
in serious need of a serious lesson about not being fooled by what
the eyes perceive.
Nevertheless, all of that is only on the level of Pshat, Remez, and
Drush. The following is on the level of Sod:
When the ten spies went out to spy the land (in Moshe's time), the
souls of ten of the tribes came into them (actual sons of Ya'akov).
This is the sod of what Yosef told them, "You are spies" (Bereishis
42:9), to allude to the fact that in the future their souls would go
into the spies. (Sha'ar HaGilgulim, Chapter 36)
First of all, to understand what this means, you have to first know a
rule about reincarnation. Not only can a soul reincarnate into a
different body later in history and be born into a person, but a soul
can even go into the body of a person who is already living.
However, how, or rather why would a soul which is the life force of a
person go into a body that already has one? The answer is, as the
Arizal explains based upon the Zohar in Parashas Mishpatim, because
though the soul you are born with is your "main" soul, you can still
gain up to three "additional" souls during your lifetime at any given
point in time. They will never be your main soul, and they can leave
a person just as easy as they came.
For the most part, such an extra soul comes as help from Heaven, as
in the case when a person wishes to accomplish a task beyond his or
her present spiritual capabilities, or it can be a way for the
"visiting" soul to achieve its own rectification through the actions
of the "host" body. It comes to help and therefore shares in the
mitzvos and good deeds, but does not participate in sins and
therefore cannot be punished for them.
Furthermore, the extra soul(s) can stay as long as it likes, which is
as long as the person maintains the spiritual improvement that the
souls worked on together. However, should the person sin, then the
Heavenly help they enjoyed will leave them, never to return again
unless the circumstances are repeated that brought the extra soul in
the first place.
Thus, according to Sha'ar HaGilgulim, the brothers that now stood
before Yosef and who were accused of spying would one day do exactly
that, sent by the future Moshe Rabbeinu on a mission in preparation
for the conquering of Eretz Yisroel. In fact, continues the Arizal:
This is also the sod of what it says, "All of them were heads of the
Children of Israel . . ." (Bamidbar 13:3), for they (Moshe's spies)
were actually the original ancestors of the Children of Israel.
Therefore, it does not call them "heads of thousands of Israel," but
rather, "heads of the Children of Israel" (i.e., the ENTIRE Jewish
(Continued next d'var Torah)
They answered him, "No my master! Your servants have come to buy
food. All of us are sons of one man, truthful people; your servants
have never been spies." (Bereishis 42:10-11)
The question is, so what? What game was Yosef playing with his
brothers by telling them information that was quite irrelevant at the
time? Let us read in Sha'ar HaGilgulim:
However, after they decided to speak evil about the land and wanted
to tell Moshe it was a mistake to go to the land, the souls of the
tribes left them. For as it is known, such an additional soul can
leave from within the person whenever it wishes to, unlike gilgulim.
This is the reason why it says, "They returned from spying the land
at the end of forty days" (Bamidbar 13:25), and then it mentions that
they went: "They went and they came to Moshe and Aharon . . ."
(Ibid. 26); it should only have mentioned that they came. For though
Chazal explain according to Pshat that their 'going' was similar to
their 'coming' (Sotah 35a), according to Sod, the 'going' refers to
the souls of the tribes that left them when they returned from spying
the land with an evil report. (Sha'ar HaGilgulim, Chapter 36)
In other words, the word 'coming' used in reference to the spies'
return from Eretz Canaan, refers only to the spies themselves who
came back without the souls of the tribes. However, the Arizal
explains, Caleiv and Yehoshua retained their additional souls:
Ephraim ben Yosef was in Yehoshua and Yehudah was in Caleiv, since
they did not sin.
This is what the Torah says, "Yehoshua bin Nun and Caleiv ben Yefuneh
survived from these men who went . . ." (Bamidbar 14:38), that is:
these remained alive with the level of the souls of the tribes of
their fathers who were in them; they did not leave them after they
returned. Just as they were with them when they had gone, so too
were they with them upon returning. This is what "survived from the
men who went" means.
What was it that caused the spies to err with respect to Eretz
Yisroel? As the Talmud says, they spoke about things that they did
not really see, and saw things that they did not speak about. In
other words, they spoke about the negative qualities of the Land that
were not really there upon deeper understanding, and ignored the
miracles they did see and saw them as too insignificant to tell the
It was not different with respect to Yosef's brothers and their
relationship to him. As the Torah reports, all that Yosef did was
evil in their eyes, when in fact, upon deeper investigation, it was
far from that. However, the miracles that happened for Yosef,
including his own dreams, they saw as being childish and unimportant.
Yosef's message to his brothers:
If you don't change your attitude regarding perception and
understanding, it will cost our ancestors in the future - BIG TIME.
It seems from that future, that the message didn't quite get
integrated, because other than Yehudah's and Yosef's descendants, the
rest of the spies didn't make it. As we have seen before, even
Caleiv required special help that he received by being the
reincarnation of Eliezer, the trusted servant of Avraham Avinu.
The timing of this week's parshah and its message could not be
better, for it is really the message of Chanukah itself, and the
olive oil we light over the eight days of the holiday. It is
increasingly becoming the message of our everyday lives as history
becomes more turbulent and less clear for those who choose to live
only on the level of Pshat.
He said, "It would be a profane thing for me to do this. Rather, the
person with whom the goblet was found shall be my servant, and you
can go in peace to your father." (Bereishis 44:17)
Yosef made it sound so simple and so fair, and played as if he had NO
idea whatsoever that Binyomin meant everything to the father he
wished to have live in peace. However, he knew everything and was
only working the entire episode to its crescendo of redemption, which
follows in next week's parshah, G-d willing.
As we saw last week, that is Yosef's historical role - to pave the
way for redemption, even at the cost of his own life. In fact, the
pattern was first established in Egypt, as the Talmud states:
Why did Yosef die before his brothers? Because he acted with
rabbanos. (Brochos 55a)
On this the Maharshah says, this is only true if the person usurps
authority and exercises it over people who do not want him. However,
Yosef was a tzaddik and that was not the case with him, for he did
not want to be ruler over his brothers. More likely, this will not
be his descendant's, Moshiach ben Yosef's failing either.
The true answer as to why Moshiach ben Yosef must die in the process
of heralding in the redemption, says the Vilna Gaon (Kol Hatur), is
that - he does NOT have to die, and it really depends upon us. In
fact, says the Gaon, we are supposed to pray that he does not die in
the process. If so, then what does it depend upon?
It depends upon how willing and able we are to receive the light that
he is destined to draw down to earth in advance of the Final
Redemption - a period which, for all we know, has already begun. The
"mother" (in this case Moshiach ben Yosef himself and the situation
that brings him) need not die giving birth to Moshiach ben Yosef,
like Rachel did at the age of the thirty-six in Ya'akov's
thirty-sixth year away from home.
In other words, the "death" of Moshiach ben Yosef may only be a way
of describing the destruction that can take place in advance of the
Final Redemption, vis-a-vis the War of Gog and Magog. However, if we
merit it, and we certainly can, then the re-birth of the Jewish
people need not come through the death of the previous existence of
the nation, or even of a fraction of it. That is a choice that we,
the Jewish people make for ourselves. It may be easier to do than we
Since Rebi Shimon bar Yochai and his students are from the level of
the Chassadim . . . therefore, all the secrets of the Torah were
revealed and explained to them without any suffering (unlike the Ten
Martyrs). This will not occur again until the Generation of
Moshiach, as mentioned in the Zohar in many places. (Sha'ar
HaGilgulim, Chapter 39)
Let's just hope that enough of us will merit it in time to warrant
Heaven sparing "Moshiach ben Yosef" - whoever he is, and whenever he
comes, may it be speedily in our time.
Chanukah & The Wonderful World of Thirty-Six
Installment #3: Chapter Three: Noach, Chayn & Yonah
G-d said, "I will wipe out man which I created from the face of the
earth -- from man to beast to crawling creatures to birds of the sky,
because I regret what I made." Noach found favor (chayn) in the eyes
of G-d. (Bereishis 6:7-8)
Adam never answered the question "Aiyekah" sufficiently enough to be
permitted to remain in the Garden, and the ten generations which
followed moved even further away from the purpose of creation. This
made G-d "regret" His having created them and this warranted
annihilation. Only Noach merited to survive Divine retribution,
because as the posuk says, he "found chayn in the eyes of G-d."
What was this merit that Noach had - what was this "chayn" that he
found in G-d's eyes, so-to-speak? The Torah says regarding the birth
and naming of Noach:
Lemech lived 182 years and fathered a son. He called his name
"Noach," saying that he would provide relief from the work and toil
of our hands caused by the ground which God cursed. (Bereishis 5:28)
He provided relief from the toil of their hands; for until Noach was
born they had been without the plowing implements which he made for
them. Furthermore, the ground used to produce thorns and thistles
when they sowed wheat because of the curse of Adam; in Noach's day
there was relief from this. (Rashi)
Whatever Noach's merit was, it had to do with chesed, and this was
enough of a fulfillment of the purpose of creation for G-d to let him
survive. For this reason, Noach also became a conduit of sorts for
the Hidden Light of creation, binding him conceptually to the spirit
of the chayn of Chanukah, which falls out on the twenty-fifth day of
Kislev, as the following reveals:
He [Noach] waited another seven days and again sent the dove from the
ark. Then, toward the evening the dove returned to him carrying a
plucked olive leaf in its mouth. (Bereishis 8:10)
G-d said, "The olive brought light to the world," as it says, "then,
towards the evening the dove returned to him carrying a plucked olive
leaf in its mouth." (Vayikra Rabbah 31:10)
"He [Noach] waited another seven days and again sent the dove . . ."
. . . into the exile of the Greeks who blackened the faces of the Jews . . .
". . . the dove returned to him carrying a plucked olive leaf in its
mouth . . ."
. . . Had G-d not enlightened the wise to light the candles with the
oil of olives, the remainder of Yehudah would have been lost forever
. . .
"a plucked olive leaf in its mouth."
. . . From the moment the leaf was plucked off in her mouth
"twenty-five" was made to dwell upon the Jewish people - the
twenty-fifth of Kislev. (Tikunei Zohar 13)
Thus, we see that the entire episode of Noach and the yonah (dove)
was really a prelude to events of the future - a future that was
built upon a nation that had yet to exist. However, that was only
physically-speaking, because conceptually-speaking, it says:
How is the Jewish people like the "dove"? When Noach was in the ark,
the dove came to him with an olive branch. G-d said, "Just as the
dove brought light to the world, so too will you (the Jewish people)
bring olive oil and light it before Me." (Tanchuma, Tetzaveh) 5
However, the Greek exile did not occur until, the THIRTY-SIXTH
century from creation - almost eighteen hundred years after Noach
stepped off the ark. Yet, the midrash insists on paralleling the
actions of Noach with the events that led to the redemption and a
holiday celebrated by lighting thirty-six lights of olive oil.
What is the parallel, and just how profound is the connection? What
does all this have to do with chesed?
From the beginning of time, when all the world stood still,
Darkness pervaded, with little purpose to fulfill.
But in a supreme act of will, light emerged to create day,
To master the darkness, to illuminate the Way.
But for only thirty-six short hours, did its brilliance remain free,
You hid it within darkness, where it remains to be.
However, You also made it possible for the penetration of the mind,
To pierce the awesome darkness, to open the minds of the blind.
Yet, the challenge is so great, as it was always meant to be,
To look beyond the obvious, and through the mind's eye come to see.
Perhaps that is the mystery, and the beauty of the light,
That for only those who seek it, it becomes a brilliant sight.
Have a great and illuminating Chanukah,
And a Great Shabbos,