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Nahar U'Pashtei: Blog2

We are approaching our last weeks of the third cycle of divrei Torah. There is thought to switch to Pirkei Avos, depending on sponsorship. Thank you to all our faithful readers. Greatness Iced With Humility

As the great Yaakov Aveinu neared his death, Yosef brought his two sons, Menasheh and Efraim to receive a blessing. After famously placing his right hand upon the younger son, Efraim; he blessed them that for all generations, Klal Yisroel would desire their children to be like these two children now in front of him. As the pasuk says: May Hashem make you like Efraim and Menasheh. But why was this the blessing that would endure for future generations? Avraham and Yitzchok were certainly greater than Menasheh and Efraim; why not bless the future children of Klal Yisroel to be like the greatest? And a second aspect to the question; if Efraim received the right hand and was placed first in the blessing because of some inherent greatness in him or perhaps in his descendants, why was there a need to include the lesser son, Menasheh, in the blessing at all? And the answer is that our greatest and deepest wish for our children is that they grow to possess the spiritual strength to continue their ascent upward no matter the circumstances. Every person will encounter challenges, each on his own level and tailored to his life’s journey. It is these pitfalls we pray that he or she can avoid, and indeed use as a steppingstone forward. Menasheh and Efraim were the only two people raised true to the Torah while surrounded by the physical lusts presented by Mitzrayim. They were unique in that they demonstrated the ability of a Yid to remain strong and pass his trials on the way to solidifying his greatness. We chose Efraim and Menasheh over the Avos because they represent our hopes and dreams for our children — unwavering dedication in the face of all odds. The question remains, though, why include Menasheh in the blessing, Efraim himself should suffice for this message? And the answer is that when Yaakov purposely placed only his left hand upon Menasheh, telling him plainly that his younger brother is more worthy than he, Menasheh did not become despondent. Menasheh understood that he was given a role in Klal Yisroal to fulfill, and he would work to that end. The success of others did not make him jealous; rather, he was joyous that Hashem’s will was being fulfilled! Menasheh lived a life content in doing what Hashem asked of him, without the issues that come when one is out for his own interests. He was therefore happy to receive what blessing was befitting him in his avodah and thought nothing if others may have different talents and responsibilities than he. Menasheh was a master in the trait of humility, where a person understands his role and is never hounded by jealousy and the pursuit of honor! And this was the reason that Menasheh was included in the blessing of Klal Yisroel’s children for all time. For it is truly important to be great, but perhaps more important is to remain humble. It is paramount to reach the heights of Efraim, but equally as important to understand a person’s purpose like Menasheh. A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Vayichi 5782
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We are approaching our last weeks of the third cycle of divrei Torah. There is thought to switch to Pirkei Avos, depending on sponsorship. Thank you to all our faithful readers. Ancient Stereotypes

Yaakov had learned that his beloved Yosef was indeed still alive, and he decided to travel to Mitzrayim to see him once more. At this time Yaakov was still under the impression that his visit to Egypt would be a short one, and after the famine had ended, he would return to the land of his fathers. He detoured to Be’er Sheva and offered uplifting sacrifices to Hashem. That night in Be’er Sheva, Hashem appeared to Yaakov and told him not to fear the descent to Mitzrayim, for he would become a great nation there. Hashem would stay with him in Exile, and He would bring Yaakov back to Eretz Yisroel (for burial), with Yosef being close by when he would pass away (in Egypt). Yaakov now knew that his trip to Mitzrayim would not be what he had hoped. This was the beginning of the long and arduous Galus that his children would suffer at the hands of a foreign nation. Hashem was telling Yaakov that he had indeed succeeded in instilling his children with the spiritual fortitude to sustain the Galus, and it was time for it to begin. He should go down with his children and use the remaining time he had to continue to influence them, perhaps allowing more people to eventually survive the Galus. Yosef was sent ahead to prepare a soft landing-spot for Yaakov and his children, and no it was time to settle in Egypt. Now, as we know, Pharoah’s intentions were to have Yosef’s family bolster his country’s economic prowess and build Egypt into a world power. He wanted leadership and assimilation from us, while we wanted the exact opposite. Yosef had already somehow survived many years as viceroy of Mitzrayim, successfully keeping his family separate from the Egyptian culture. One of the tactics he used to this end was that he continuously ate meat. The Torah tells us that the Egyptians abhorred those who ate meat! So why would Yosef eat meat in front of them? If he loved meat so much, he could have easily eaten it in private! Rather, Yosef specifically labeled himself as a meat-eater to distance himself socially. And when presenting his brothers to Pharoah, Yosef attempted a similar tactic. He labeled his family a nation of herders, in order to make them seem lowly in the eyes of the populace. What is interesting to note here, is that the people of Egypt were also sheep herders?! During the famine, the pasuk tells us explicitly that they traded their sheep for food! It is quite obvious then that the people in Mitzrayim did indeed herd sheep! Rather, the difference must have been that they treated their sheep like royalty; only upstanding and honorable shepherds were employed, and they attended to just a few sheep. The difference between the Egyptians and other shepherds was quite small indeed. Yet, Yosef knew that as soon as he labeled his family as shepherds, their social standing would instantly deflate! This is perhaps the first example we find of the dangers of stereotyping; where one is labeled and judged without a second thought! And how many times are we guilty of this, where we assume something of others based on a label, never looking to understand why that label was created and if it even applies to the person at hand! This too is part of the influence of the Galus around us. It is a shortsighted and self-centered view of the world that leads to stereotyping, and we must eradicate it from among us. A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

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We are approaching our last weeks of the third cycle of divrei Torah. There is thought to switch to Pirkei Avos, depending on sponsorship. Thank you to all our faithful readers. A Holy People

Let us set the scene for a moment; Yosef had planted his “magical” goblet in Binyomin’s sack, and commanded his messengers to chase after the brothers, accusing them of such. The brothers, of course, were incredulous at the accusation, citing logical proof of their innocence. If they had brought money all the way back from the Land of Canaan, how could it be possible that they had stolen anything from Yosef’s house? And indeed, only two of the brothers did not have this argument; Binyomin, who was not there at first, and Shimon, who was held prisoner by Yosef; it is quite possible that only their sacks were even checked. So sure of their innocence were the brothers, that they exclaimed: If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die, and we also will be my master’s slaves. And at that precarious moment, Menasheh responded to them something that would seem puzzling. As Rashi elucidates, he told the brothers that in truth it should be so, only that he would show mercy and not mete out the full punishment they deserved. Whomever was guilty of stealing the goblet would be a slave, while the others would be let free. Why was it that the brothers as a whole truly deserved to be punished should one of them be found guilty? Usually, the perpetrator of evil is punished, while his companions aren’t to blame! What did Menasheh mean when he said that it should be as you say? And I believe the answer is that the Torah demands of us more. A person’s very being should stand against evil and represent what the Torah demands of us. When the culture of our groups and our communities is with this elevated strength, there is little to no room for someone to sin. He feels silly, like a pariah; his ideals are rejected even before they can gain traction. This is how society is meant to function, and any deviation from the Torah perpetrated in our midst is very much our responsibility. If the goblet would have been stolen by Binyomin, his brothers were indeed to blame as well. And this must serve to teach us the same in our own lives as well. In every circumstance a person finds himself in, whether it be a classroom, an office, a Yeshiva; the underlying values must seep into the atmosphere and thereby reject any thoughts of counter-Torah ideas! Our commitment and our courage must speak for itself and all wrongdoing be automatically discouraged. We are responsible! Turning a blind eye not only doesn’t help, but it is also contrary to the true level the Torah asks of us. Part of adhering to Torah and mitzvos is to cultivate it in this way that an aura of Kedushah ensues! Our schools, our gatherings, and our simchos should be holy places devoid of spiritual pitfalls. The sense of right and wrong must be almost tangible! Let us all work together to master this art and gather as one to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu, Amen. A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Mikaitz 5782
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