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Nahar U'Pashtei: Blog2


Hidden amongst the pesukim of Parshas Vayeishev is a most astounding lesson. We know how Yosef was deemed a rodeif by the majority of his brothers and ended up being sold and brought down to Mitzrayim. Perhaps Yehudah thought to sell him better than leave him inside the pit as Reuven had wanted because he feared for the future, as the wrath of the brothers had not dissipated. Whatever the case, Hashem ordained that Yosef arrive in Mitzrayim ahead of us. He became a slave to Potiphar and was wondrously successful at whatever he endeavored. So great was he at running the estate and growing its assets that Potiphar placed Yosef in charge of everything. Now, the pasuk tells us what I think is a most unusual reality. And Yosef found grace in his eyes, and he served him; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand, and further: He left all that he had in the hand of Yosef and he did not concern himself — given his presence — with anything! The Torah tells us that Potiphar was so confident in how Yosef took care of his money that he left everything up to Yosef! Potiphar had finally become extraordinarily affluent; therefore, he gave everything over to others! We find this phenomenon prevalent today where wealthy people hand their estates to money managers who make investments and decisions for them. It is the manager alone who makes the determinations where and how to invest the owner’s fortune; the owner himself knowing very little about where his money is. The wealthy man is content to receive a monthly check and an occasional report which he probably doesn’t really grasp; he is fine having no real say in what his hard-earned money is doing! On a smaller level the same applies to any manager of a large business. Although the business owner is in “charge,” he often has no idea how to run the business or how to motivate his employees to profit the most. The manager is the one on the floor who essentially runs the operation and grows the profits. And people love to be in this position of “owner.” They love that they have reached a plateau in their quest for wealth that they can have others do the “dirty work.” But what jumps out at me is that the eternal lust for money that society has fallen prey to has again shown its colors! A person runs after money, makes unheard of sacrifices for money, lies and cheats and steals for money, all the while hoping to get to a place where he can let someone else be in charge of his money! If money and its responsibilities were a good and enjoyable thing for a person, why do the rich seek to live free from its clutches?! How can it be that a person works all his life to be in charge, and then he hurriedly hands it off to someone else! Rather, have some bitachon. Hashem will send a person exactly the amount of money that is right for him, not a penny more and not a penny less. This endless pursuit of wealth brings only hardship and pains. A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Vayeishev 5782
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Yes You Can

People sometimes think that the middah of anavah requires that a person ignore his own potential and his accomplishments, and constantly put himself down, belittling his value in his own mind. A person must not be a baal gaavah, and often it is posited that the way to do so is to subconsciously nullify any victory he has in the ever-present battle he is fighting. It is interesting that the Gemara in Sotah tells us that a Talmid Chacham should possess an eighth of an eighth of the trait of haughtiness. Now, if this is to be taken at face value, the instruction remains unclear! How are we to measure this eighth of an eighth; what is full gaavah that we can use this to measure the given fraction with? Furthermore, why not simply tell us that we must have one sixty-fourth of gaavah? Rather, I would like to present the novel explanation cited in the name of the Gr”a. With the expression an eighth of an eighth the Gemara means to reference the eighth pasuk in the eighth parshah of the Torah; which happens to appear in our sidrah. Yaakov Avinu begged Hashem to save him from Eisav, saying, I have become unworthy of all the kindness and of all the truth which You have done with Your servant. The Sages are in fact teaching us that we should be so devoid of gaavah that we feel as Yaakov Aveinu did when he suspected that he was no longer deserving of Hashem’s kindness. If this pasuk teaches us how we are in fact meant to act, with no haughtiness at all, it stands to reason that we can learn from here the definition of true anavah! Did Yaakov express how terrible he was, or how his many accomplishments amounted to nothing? Did he say that he was unworthy to be saved because of his inability to fulfill Hashem’s will? Certainly not! His sole concern was that perhaps he had sinned and deserved to be punished through Esav! He did not, however, express the tiniest doubt in his abilities. This is true humility. One should never restrict himself with feelings of inability and worthlessness. These feelings only cultivate despair and prevent a person from reaching his true potential. True humility is to realize full well who you are and what you can become, yet never attribute your successes to your own strengths. A true anav will always look to improve, and will always feel humble, because perhaps he has not completed the will of Hashem to the fullest; but he will never underestimate his potential. This is a lesson that we can all relate to. Many times, a person will not do something or push himself further; thinking, “Who am I to do such a thing?” This is mistakenly characterized as humility, but is in fact actually merely an excuse. We must not hide from our purpose! We must not shy away from Hashem’s goals for us. A person must realize his full arsenal of strengths and utilize them wherever possible. Many good opportunities are unfortunately passed up because people think they are being humble. We must learn from Yaakov, that humble never means “This is beyond me”. A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

vayishlach 5782
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Gratitude Protects

It is truly amazing to behold the perspective of Lavan’s sons and to compare it with the viewpoint that Rochel and Leah espoused. The pasuk tells us the thoughts of the Imaos; they said, Are we not considered, etc. and has also devoured our money. For all the riches which Hashem has rescued from our father is ours and our children’s etc. The great wealth which Yaakov Avinu had accumulated in Lavan’s household was completely from Hashem. Lavan had not even provided a wedding dowry for his daughters; he instead essentially sold them to Yaakov in exchange for years of work! Now, when Yaakov fulfilled this arrangement by working for Lavan, the result was great prosperity among Lavan’s flocks. Lavan knew that all his success came from Yaakov, so he begged him to stay longer, drafting one false contract after another to try and steal away any real compensation from Yaakov. Rochel and Leah saw that their father’s intention was only to further his own wealth and that he did not even respect them enough to give them their deserved dowries! All in all, the wicked Lavan tried his best to take away Yaakov’s money, while Hashem would not allow it. This was the perspective the Imahos shared, and was the reality of the situation. And yet, When the Torah reveals the feelings of Lavan’s sons, it states, And he heard the words of Lavan’s sons, saying: Yaakov has taken away all that was our father’s etc. This was inconceivable! Lavan’s sons saw all of Yaakov’s wealth as rightfully their own! They posited that Yaakov was merely a parasite feeding off of Lavan’s fortune, which they felt was rightfully going to be their own. How one can twist his mind and distort the facts in his own favor to such a degree is a lesson in and of itself, but what I would like to focus on here is the underlying indecency that allowed Lavan and his children to pervert their way of viewing what was truly happening. Lavan and his following lacked the basic middah of hakaras hatov. Basic manners would have instilled inside them an everlasting gratitude toward Yaakov for making them wealthy in the first place! Before Yaakov came along, they were regular people. Now, they had made it big. How disgusting that Lavan and his sons had the audacity to turn against the person who did so much for them! We too must learn this lesson well. A person commonly finds himself in a position where he needs the aid of others. Before a person has mastered the intricacies of his chosen craft, he is always looking for advice and for help. Along one’s journey in life there are usually quite a few people who he can point to and recognize them as the people who helped mold who he became. We must learn to cultivate our feelings of gratitude to steer us away from ever being susceptible to adopting the attitude of Lavan, even many years down the road of success. And this evil can go even deeper; this mistake can actually plague one’s relationship with Hashem as well. Proper gratitude toward Hashem for all the kindness He showers upon us is a key motivating factor in our avodah. While a person is going through something, he will beg and plead with Hashem, realizing with clarity that it is He alone who can alleviate his pain. But then, after things have been resolved, a person is often inclined to attribute the yeshuah to his own efforts, or that of others in his life, and to overlook the fact that Hashem has answered his prayers and sent him salvation! We must take care not to allow the attitude of Lavan and his children to sink in and water down the gratitude we feels toward Hashem. We apologize for the delay. The Rosh Yeshiva is bH doing well. A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

vayatzai 5782
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