Monday, June 10, 2013

Sources for Tonight's Class: The Wolf


The wolf is saying, "For every matter of iniquity, for the ox, the donkey, the lamb, the garment, for every lost item which he says, 'This is it,' the matter of both of them shall come before the judge; he who the judge finds guilty shall pay double to the other." (Exodus 22:8)

Genesis, Chapter 49

3. Reuben, you are my firstborn, my strength and the first of my might. [You should have been] superior in rank and superior in power. 4. [You have] the restlessness of water; [therefore,] you shall not have superiority, for you ascended upon your father's couch; then you profaned [Him Who] ascended upon my bed.

Rashi - superior in rank: You were fit to be superior over your brothers with the priesthood (…)
 and superior in power: [i.e. superior] with kingship (…)

[You have] the restlessness of water: The restlessness and the haste with which you hastened to display your anger, similar to water which hastens on its course. Therefore- 

you shall not have superiority: You shall no longer receive all these superior positions that were fit for you.

27. Benjamin is a wolf, he will prey; in the morning he will devour plunder, and in the evening he will divide the spoil."  

Rashi - Benjamin is a wolf, he will prey: He is a wolf for he will prey. He (Jacob) prophesied that they were destined to be “grabbers” : “and you shall grab for yourselves each man his wife” (Jud. 21:21), in [the episode of] the concubine [who happened to be] in Gibeah (ibid., chs. 19-21);

Genesis, Chapter 31

19. Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and [meanwhile] Rachel stole her father's teraphim [idols used for divination].  

20. And Jacob concealed from Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing. (...)

30. But now, you have gone away, for you longed for your father's house, [but]why have you stolen my gods?"  

31. And Jacob replied, and he said to Laban, "Because I was afraid, because I said, 'Lest you steal your daughters from me.' 

32. The one with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our brothers, recognize for yourself what is with me, and take [it] for yourself." For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.  

Genesis, Chapter 42

29. And they came to Jacob their father, to the land of Canaan, and they told him all that had befallen them, saying,  

30. "The man, the lord of the land, spoke to us harshly, and he accused us of spying on the land.  

31. And we said to him, 'We are honest; we were never spies.  

32. We are twelve brothers, the sons of our father; one is gone, and today the youngest is with our father in the land of Canaan.'  

33. And the man, the lord of the land, said to us, 'With this I will know that you are honest; leave one of your brothers with me, and [what is needed for] the hunger of your households, take and go.  

34. And bring your youngest brother to me, so that I will know that you are not spies, that you are honest; [then] I will give you your brother, and you may travel around in the land.' "  

35. And it came to pass that they were emptying their sacks and behold! Each one's bundle of money was in his sack; they saw the bundles of their money, they and their father, and they became frightened.  

36. And their father Jacob said to them, "You have bereaved me-Joseph is gone, and Simeon is gone, and you want to take Benjamin! All these troubles have come upon me."  

37. And Reuben spoke to his father, saying, "You may put my two sons to death if I don't bring him (Benjamin) to you. Put him into my hand[s] and I will return him to you."  

38. But he (Jacob) said, "My son shall not go down with you, because his brother is dead, and he alone is left, and if misfortune befalls him on the way you are going, you will bring down my gray head in sorrow to the grave."

Genesis, Chapter 44

1. Then he commanded the overseer of his house, saying, "Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man's money into the mouth of his sack. 

2. And my goblet, the silver goblet, put into the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his purchase money." And he did according to Joseph's word, which he had spoken.

3. The morning became light, and the men were sent [on their way] they and their donkeys.  

4. They had exited the city, but had not gone far when Joseph said to the overseer of his house, "Get up, pursue the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid good with evil?

5. Is not this the one my master drinks from? Why, he even divines with it! You have done evil by the way you have acted.' "  

6. He overtook them, and he said these words to them.

7. And they said to him, "Why should my master say such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do a thing like this!  

8. Behold, the money we found in the mouth of our sacks we returned to you from the land of Canaan; so how could we steal from your master's house silver or gold?

9. Whichever one of your servants with whom it is found shall die, and also we will be slaves to my master." 

10. And he said, "Now indeed, so it is as you have spoken. [But] the one with whom it is found shall be my slave, and you shall be cleared." 

11. So they hastened, and each one lowered his sack to the ground, and each one opened his sack.  

12. He searched; he started with the eldest and finished with the youngest, and the goblet was found in Benjamin's sack.

Arrival at the Doorway to Jewish Destiny
By Rabbi Pinchas Winston

As the rabbis are quick to point out, the brothers were against Yosef not out of petty jealousy, but, because they saw a dangerous potential within Yosef, one that could lead generations of Jews in the wrong direction. The truth be known, they had not been so wrong about this, for, it was Yeravam ben Nevat, a descendant of Yosef who helped split Shlomo HaMelech's kingdom into two parts, after which he blocked the path to the Temple for his constituents, and then set up golden calves for worship!

However, Yosef himself had posed no personal threat to anyone, and if anything, he proved to be their redeemer in the end. Thus, no matter how the brothers justified their actions, they had been, in the end, choshaid b'kasherim - they had falsely accused Yosef. And, according to the Talmud, this is no small crime: Anyone who falsely suspects an innocent person will physically suffer. (Shabbos 97a)

Instead, says the Talmud, everyone had an obligation "to judge a person to the side of merit ..." (Shabbos 128a). And because the brothers had not, Yosef wanted to fix this up, and this was the principle intention behind everything he had done in concealing his identity. It was all a set up to create a similar scenario since complete repentance requires being in the exact same position again, and then doing the right thing instead. Hence, by putting the cup into Binyomin's sack Yosef had created the opportunity for the brothers to decide whether or not Binyomin had in fact stolen the goblet. If they could overlook the evidence and absolve Binyomin of his apparent theft, then this would prove to Yosef, and more importantly, to G-d, that they had repented completely for what they had done to Yosef.

Alas, the midrash tells us what they had really thought:
When the cup was found with Binyomin, they said, "You thief, the son of a thief! You are just like your mother who stole from her own father (Rachel stole the idols from Lavan; Bereishis 31:32)!" (Bereishis Rabbah 92:8)

I Kings - Chapter 19

9. And he came there to the cave, and he lodged there. And behold! The word of the Lord came to him. And He said to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?"  

10. And he said: "I have been zealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts, for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant. They have torn down Your altars and they have killed Your prophets by the sword, and I have remained alone, and they seek my life to take it.  

11. And He said: "Go out and stand in the mountain before the Lord, Behold! the Lord passes, and a great and strong wind splitting mountains and shattering boulders before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake-not in the earthquake was the Lord. 

12. After the earthquake fire, not in the fire was the Lord, and after the fire a still small voice. 

13. And as Elijah heard, he wrapped his face in his mantle, and he went out and stood at the entrance to the cave, and behold a voice came to him and said: "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

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