Ya’akov called for his sons and said, “Gather yourselves and I will tell
you what will happen to you at the end of days. Assemble yourselves
together and listen, O sons of Ya’akov. Listen to Israel your father.”
And, gather and listen they did. But, speak about the End-of-Days, he did
not. Rather, in the end, Ya’akov Avinu skipped over that thorny issue, and
went right to the blessings themselves. If you feel cheated of such
and perhaps, life-saving information, imagine how Ya’akov’s sons felt,
especially since it was the result of God’s denying Ya’akov the prophecy to
tell, implying a lack of worthiness of Yosef’s brothers.
To clarify the matter, and to show how this week’s parsha is the basis for
the fast day of Asara b’Teves this week, we must consider the following
“Perhaps, God forbid, there is something unfit from my bed (i.e., a
unworthy child), just as Yishmael was born to Avraham, and Eisav
to my father Yitzchak?”
His sons answered, “Shema Yisroel, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem
Echad—Just as in your heart only [God is] One, so too in our hearts,
there is only One.”
At that moment Ya’akov said, “Boruch Shem kevod Malchuso l’olam vaed—
Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom forever!” (Pesachim
An unusual dialogue, true, but at least it cleared the brothers of any
wrongdoing or spiritual lacking. Or did it?
Ya’akov wanted to establish the “Mystery of Unity” below, and composed
the 24 letters of, “Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom
forever”. He didn’t give it 25 letters [like the “Shema”], since the
the Tabernacle—had yet to be built. Once the Mishkan was built
the first word was completed … With regard to this it says, “God spoke
to him from the Appointed Tent, saying …” (Vayikra 1:1), which has 25
letters. (Zohar 2:139b)
What did Ya’akov really answer his sons, who had professed their belief
in the unity of God? He seems to have been saying, “The unity of which you
speak is not complete in your minds, as you proclaim, for had it been
the prophecy would not have left me.” Indeed, we see later on that
Yosef has to remind them, once again, of their inconsistent manner of
with Divine Providence:
They ordered [someone] to say to Yosef, “Your father commanded us
before his death to say to Yosef, ‘Please forgive the crime of your
and their guilt, though they have done evil to you.’ Please forgive the
crime of the servants of your father’s God.” Yosef wept when they spoke
to him. His brothers also wept, [and] fell before him and said, “We are
here to be your slaves.” Yosef said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in
place of God?” (Bereishis 50:16-19)
Well, of course not. If so, then why did Yosef’s brothers act as if he
take revenge on them, even if God didn’t agree? For, if God did not agree,
could Yosef, in fact, have his revenge? Of course not. And, if God wanted
the brothers punished for what they had done, could Yosef interfere? Of
course not. Hence, Yosef told them, there is no need for any of this, is
The meaning of this is that He alone, may His Name be blessed, has
done everything, does everything, and will do all that will be done, for
all created things. This is the yichud of BSKML"V: everything is
His kingdom and the result of His guidance. (Sha’arei Leshem, p. 89)
This is what Ya’akov Avinu had answered his sons. It’s not the Shema
Yisroel part that I am worried about. I know that you believe in God and
He is one; I know that you take seriously that He made Creation and
it every moment of history. What concerns me, however, is how well
you have integrated that belief into your everyday lives, how much it is
basis of all that you think, say, and do. You didn’t do so well in Shechem—
twice—and now that the prophecy has left me, I have to wonder how you
are with it today.
It is the Mystery of Faith, and what is it? "God is one, and His Name is
one." God is one: "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one" is
one yichud, and BSKML"V is the other yichud, so that His Name can be
one. (Sha’arei Leshem, p. 89)
For, this is the sod of prophecy. For prophecy to work, the Upper Realm
must be connected to the Lower Realm in the minds of men. The water, that
is, the prophecy, is in the reservoir, that is, in the world above, but is
pipeline attached to it so that it can flow to the people in the world
not, then the prophecy will remain above, as it has, and the people below
will continue to thirst for it.
This is why, after 1,000 years of prophecy (2448-3448/1313-313
ended, 40 years after the Purim miracle. Until that time, some connection
between the two worlds had remained, at least in the minds of the leaders
the generations, most notably, Mordechai in the story of Purim:
“Do not imagine that you will be able to escape in the king’s palace any
more than the rest of the Jews. For if you continue to remain silent at a
time like this, relief and salvation will come to the Jews from another
place, while you and your father’s house will perish. And, who knows
whether it was for such a time as this that you attained the royal
However, exile in Babylonia had taken its toll. The people no longer
to Divine Providence on the level they had previously, evident by the
fact that many people did not appreciate what Mordechai had done to save
the Jewish people, and that most Jews never returned back to Eretz Yisroel
after the redemption occurred. Amalek, in this case, Haman, had succeeded,
somewhat, in dividing the Name of God in the minds of many Jews.
The truth is, that is really what the destruction of the Temple in 3338/4
BCE represented, the “snapping” of the connection between Heaven and
Earth, between the Temple above and the Temple below. Already, in advance
of the exile to Bavel, more and more of the Jewish people begun to
live lives that contradicted their belief in God, that He sees everything,
attention to everything, and cares about all of it.
In other words, though the people at the end of the First Temple Period
may have believed that God overtly runs the world, what we call “Hashgocha
Pratis,” they lived as if He only runs it covertly, that is, through nature
alone, except for the occasional miracle here and there. This level of
Providence is called, “Hashgocha Klallis,” or “General Divine Providence,”
and it “runs” the world outside of Eretz Yisroel.
Hence, for intellectually exiling themselves from the Providence of Eretz
Yisroel to that of the Diaspora, measure-for-measure, they were eventually
exiled, physically, from Eretz Yisroel to Bavel. It is a word that
and it was a remembrance of the tower once built by mankind to
challenge the Providence of God in everyday life. Every physical exile
with a spiritual one.
After that, it was only a matter of time until the unthinkable occurred:
destruction of the Temple, on Tisha B’Av, 3338/423 BCE. The event was so
profound and final that many Jews thought it represented the permanent
severance of the relationship between Heaven and Earth, between God and
the Jewish people, forever. The prophet Yeshayahu had to assure them that
this had not been the case, just that, like an errant spouse, they had been
pushed out for a time.
And, why on Tisha B’Av specifically? Because, that is day that the Spies
of Moshe Rabbeinu’s time came back from their mission, and convinced the
people not to go up the land (Ta’anis 29a). Acting as if God couldn’t even
hear what they were saying, they told the people:
They brought an evil report of the land which they had spied to the
of Israel, saying, “The land which we spied is a land that consumes
its inhabitants and all the people that we saw there were of great stature.
We saw giants, sons of Anak, who come from giants. If in our eyes we
were like grasshoppers, then certainly we were the same in their eyes!”
And, the root of the Spies’ inability to unify the upper and lower realms?
The tribes themselves, as the Arizal explains (Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Ch. 36).
This is why, the Arizal revealed, Yosef called his brothers, “Spies!” as
stood before him in search of food during the famine (Bereishis ?4?2:8). He
was warning them: If you don’t learn to unify the upper and lower realms
now, then your descendants will be unable to do so later, causing exile to
themselves and the rest of the nation.
What about today? It is pretty much the same thing. Jews talk about
God’s control over Creation, and His involvement in history. However, their
lives do not necessarily reflect this belief, as they fail to trust God as
as their belief dictates they ought to. Furthermore, many speak badly about
Eretz Yisroel and the idea of making aliyah, perpetuating the sin of the
without any remorse. They simply ignore the Hashgocha Pratis behind all
that is happening, and has been happening until today.
The fast days of Asara b’Teves is a good day to contemplate just how
damaging such a perspective can be.
But, it won’t exist for much longer. For, the events about which Ya’akov
Avinu wanted to tell his sons at the beginning of our history are starting
tell us about themselves now, at the end of days. The upper realm of Yud-
Heh is beginning to join up with the lower realm of Vav-Heh, ending the
damage of thousands of years of exposure to Amalekian thinking (Rashi,
The involvement of God in the affairs of man is becoming increasingly
more prevalent, and difficult to deny.
 A Kabbalistic concept referring to the supernatural revelation of God to
will occur during the days of Moshiach. Then, just as God is revealed in
the world above,
His reality will be clear to man below as well, unifying both the upper
and lower realms.
 That is, the last part of the first verse of Vayikra, in reference to
the Mishkan, has 25 letters.
According to the Zohar, once the Mishkan was completed the spiritual root
of the light to
which the second verse of the Shema alludes was able to emanate its light
and draw down
the Divine unity that Ya’akov intended to cause. This is why the Mishkan
on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev. Furthermore, says the Zohar, this is
why thirteen materials
were used for the Mishkan, and twelve stones were put into the Ephod—to
make a total of
25, alluding to the sublime unity that was to be achieved.
 The roshei teivos of Boruch Shem kevod Malchuso l’olam va-ed, formed
first letter of each word.
Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and Torah.org.