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The Weekly Share – 22 Kislev

The Weekly Share – 22 Kislev

Food For the Soul

Serenity or Struggle?

We often hear that the goal of life is personal serenity. We can all relate to this. No problems, no difficulties. Every day is peaceful and calm. The sun is always shining. It sounds good! “But — wait a minute,” you say. “What if a person has things to achieve in life? Can you always be calm and peaceful? Might there not be something worth struggling for, worth striving for? Isn’t there something we want to achieve?” Of course, there is! First, there is the struggle and the effort — then comes the tranquillity. You worked hard, you achieved something, and now you have earned your right to take it easy!

It sounds simple and clear. Yet [the Parsha Vayeshev ] gives a different view. Let us see how.
Jacob had been away from his home for many years. During his time in Laban’s house, he had faced many difficulties. However, he had fathered many children. Then on the journey back to the Holy Land, his beloved wife Rachel died. When he reached his home region he thought at last he would be able to live in peace. At this point, however, came the upsetting events with Joseph. The conflict between Jacob’s sons led to Joseph being kidnapped and sold. Jacob’s contentment turned to grief.

On this, the Midrash comments: Jacob wanted to live in calm serenity — but instead came the anguish about Joseph. The righteous people want to live in serenity in this world: is it not enough for them that they will enjoy the World to Come?

We live in a world of struggle. Personal victory lies in making the right step at the right time and facing each situation in a true way. It is a drama with many ups and downs. It also never ends: even if one lives to 120, spiritually one never retires and one never grows old. Instead of finally sitting back and taking it easy, there is fulfilment of the deepest, most important kind: facing the challenge, and taking another step forward!

Dr. Tali Loewenthal

Shabbat Shalom

Proudly Jewish, no matter what

As the “Black Death” plague decimated Europe, Christians accused the Jews of causing the plague by poisoning the wells. This Shabbat commemorates that terrible time in history. On the 23rd of Kislev 5109 (Nov. 15, 1348), Rudolph of Oron, bailiff of Lausanne, sent a letter to the mayor of Strasburg informing him that certain Jews of Lausanne had “confessed” under torture that they together with their coreligionists had poisoned all the wells in the Rhine valley. This resulted in the masses persecuting and killing tens of thousands of Jews throughout Europe. (Visit for a history of anti-Semitism.) As repugnant as anti-Semitism is, Rabbi Yossy Goldman writes: “in a strange, perverse way it may have contributed to the stubborn determination of Jews over many generations to identify Jewishly, stand up for their convictions, and live by the principles of our faith no matter what.”

Observing Shabbat and the upcoming holiday of Chanukkah are important ways to stand up and be counted as proudly Jewish, no matter what. Chanukah begins Sunday evening, December 18, 2022 and continues through Monday, December 26, 2022

Mind Over Matter

Go Down Like Joseph

You are Joseph. Your soul descended into a world that overwhelms you with its bigness, its coldness, and its apathy to change. It’s only natural to feel that you have been sold as a slave, or even surrendered as a prisoner. That you are no more than a victim of circumstances. Yet the reality is that your descent into this body in this world was carefully planned in the heavens. That, as you descend, you are empowered to rule.

To make change from within—which is the only lasting change. To make of this world a Moshiach kind of world, a world that recognizes the divine wisdom it contains is, after all, an inside job. What is your strategy?
Do the same as Joseph: Wherever G-d has planned for you to be, whether managing a home, sitting in a prison cell, or strategizing a plan to head off an environmental crisis, do your job as a proud Jew, with integrity, with lots of mitzvahs, and with G-d’s name on your lips. Then, as Joseph, in all you do you will succeed.

From an article by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Moshiach Thoughts

When she gave birth, there were twins…

“When she gave birth, there were twins… and he called his name Peretz, and afterwards his brother… and he called his name Zarach.” (Veyeishev 38:27-30)

Peretz is the direct ancestor of King David and Moshiach. The Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 85:1) notes: “Before the first enslaver of Israel-Pharaoh-was born, the ultimate redeemer of Israel (Moshiach-Peretz) was already born.” With the birth of Peretz, our sages note there, the Almighty created the light of Moshiach. G-d thus brought about the remedy and cure before the affliction-before the Egyptian exile and all the exiles that followed thereafter, including our present one. This “light of Moshiach” confers upon Israel the strength and ability to succeed in their exiles to “break through” all obstacles and impediments in their service of G-d, until their good deeds will effect the coming of Moshiach of whom it is said, “The poretz is gone up before them.” Zarach, Peretz’s twin, also alludes to the redemption. His name means “shining forth.” The Messianic Kingdom will shine forth and illuminate throughout the world. All mankind will benefit from its bright light, as it is written: “Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by the brightness of zarchech (your shining forth)” (Isaiah 60:3).

From an article by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet

Have I Got A Story

The Child In The Pit

While Reuben was away, the brothers sold Joseph into slavery. When he returns to rescue him, the boy is gone and he rends his garments in grief. But where was Reuben when the sale took place? Why wasn’t he there with his brothers at the time? Where did he suddenly disappear?

Rashi gives two possible explanations: 1) It was his turn to go and serve his aged father. The brothers had a roster, and Reuben’s time had come, so he was back at the ranch. 2) Reuben was busy doing teshuvah (repentance), with sackcloth and fasting, for the sin of interfering with his father’s marital life (as per Genesis 35:22).

I remember hearing the Lubavitcher Rebbe ask: According to the second opinion, Reuben left Joseph in the pit to go and busy himself with “sackcloth and fasting,” i.e. his own repentance for his sins. So let’s take a look and see what happens as a result. Reuben is absent, so Joseph is sold into slavery and taken down to Egypt. There he is imprisoned on false charges and, one day, rises to sudden prominence by successfully interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams. He becomes viceroy of Egypt, then meets his long-lost brothers when they come searching for food during the famine. After revealing his true identity, he brings his father Jacob and the entire family down to Egypt, where he supports and sustains them.

And that is precisely how the Jews became slaves in Egypt. It all started with Joseph being taken from the pit and sold to the Egyptians. Why? Because Reuben decided to be busy doing teshuvah! I remember the Rebbe thundering, “The whole Egyptian exile can be traced to Reuben’s ill-timed teshuvah! When a young Jewish boy is languishing in the pit, this is not the time to be worrying about your own spiritual state. That is the time to save a Jewish child!”

Of course, teshuvah is a wonderful mitzvah. In a way, it is the greatest mitzvah of all, because it can repair the damage done by failing to observe all other mitzvahs. And yet, there is a time to do teshuvah and a time to save lives. And when a life is in danger, even teshuvah really must wait.

The analogy of the Jewish child in the pit resonates powerfully today. It is about saving lives not only physically, but also spiritually. How many millions of Jewish children are at risk spiritually? And how many Jews, indeed how many rabbis, are preoccupied with their own personal spiritual upliftment and ignore the plight of young people “in the pits”?
It is a sobering thought, and one that demands a response.

From an article by Rabbi Yossy Goldman

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