Tuesday, October 16, 2012

#156 - Which Son of YOSEF?

Today is 30 Tishrei, the last day of the month of Tishrei.  However, this would not be complete without mentioning that today also is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, for this month, we celebrate two days of Rosh Chodesh.  Now to think of it, the phrase Rosh Chodesh literally means Head of a Month.  So, if this is the case, then why are we calling the end of a month Rosh Chodesh?  The answer is that in truth, if we were to presently be performing the Mitzva of Kiddush HaChodesh, which was the sanctification of the new month by the Beit Din (Jewish court) by declaring it as such following the testimony of two witnesses having seen the new moon, then if the new moon would have been witnessed by two witnesses and their testimony delivered on the 30th day from the 1st day of Tishrei, then this day - instead of being the date of 30 Tishrei, with the declaration of a new month, this day instead would be the date of 1 Cheshvan.  It was only if the new moon was not yet sighted or their testimony was not delivered on time, then it was only the following day that became the date of 1 Cheshvan, being the official day of Rosh Chodesh instead.  In commemoration of this in our present fixed Jewish calendar, we observe two days of Rosh Chodesh when there are 30 days in the outgoing month, the same way that two days of Yom Tov (Jewish holiday) is observed outside of Israel in commemoration of how it used to be outside of Israel when some communities were not aware of which day Rosh Chodesh was declared in Israel in the wake of an upcomimng Jewish holiday before messengers from Israel were able to inform them.

With this said, there is something unique pertaining to the connection between this outgoing month Tishrei and  this ingoing month of Cheshvan.  You see, the 12 months of the Jewish calendar correspond to the 12 Tribes of Israel.  There are various opinions as to which month corresponds to which tribe, but the correct version is what is found in the Chasidic Sefer Bnei Yissaschar, which is based on the undisputed Kabbala of the holy Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria), which states that Tishrei corresponds to the Tribe of Ephraim, and Cheshvan corresponds to the Tribe of Menashe.  Being that Ephraim and Menashe are the two sons of Joseph, it seems that there has to be some special connection between these two corresponding months.

In any case, today being the last day of the month of Tishrei and the first day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, is thus the bridge between these two months.  Moreover, being that in this year, Cheshvan consists of 29 days (while in some years, Cheshvan consists of 30 days), today - 30 Tishrei - is the exact middle day between the first 29 days of Tishrei and the month of Cheshvan of this year.  Hence, at least symbolic,ally, this is the one day in the Jewish calendar that Joseph's sons are closest together as brothers.

Now, there is a good reason for me to say this more than just mentioning symbolisms, signs, or dates.  But first, let us mention a bit of Jewish history that has happened, or will happen, during these two months.

The construction of the first Beit HaMikdash (Temple) under the auspices of Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon) began in the month of Iyar, and was concluded in the month of Cheshvan.  Yes, the dedication of the Temple honored neither of these two months, having waited nearly a year following the end of its construction, but rather, taking place in the month of Tishrei.  Now technically, Cheshvan should have been honored with the dedication being that the Temple was concluded on this month, but for some reason, did not happen at that time, the same way that the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was concluded during the month of Kislev, but being its dedication did not take place in this month, but rather in Nissan, so Hashem made it up to Kislev by honoring it with the future holiday of Chanuka.  Accordingly, as explained beautifully in Bnei Yissaschar, the future dedication of the third and everlasting Temple will take place during Cheshvan.

Now, this is all nice as far as the months are concerned.  But, could it be that the dedications of the first and last Temples in these months have something to do with their corresponding tribes who are brothers, the two sons of Joseph?

There is a most interesting story of how the site on which the Temple was going to be built was the place that was chosen by Hashem to be as such.  There were once two brothers who each owned fields of grain, except that one was poor with a wife and children, and the other was a rich bachelor.  At one point, each of them came up with the idea to give his brother some of his own grain - the rich brother wanted to help support his poor brother with his family, and the poor brother wanted to be friendly with his brother being that he was lonely.  Somehow, both of them managed for a while to deposit grain to each other's field, but each morning, both of them scratched their heads wondering how they wound up with the exact same number of bundled grains.  Finally, in the middle of the night, both brothers were on their way to each other, until...they met each other carrying their bundles of grain.  Both realizing what was happening, they hug each other with the greatest brotherly love, and it was on this very spot that was chosen by Hashem for the Temple to be built.

Indeed, the first Temple was destroyed due to the sins of idolatry, adultery, and murder, which tells us that two of the three sins that caused the Temple's destruction had to do with a breakdown of relationships.  However, being that when people are suffering being enslaved by another nation, there isn't much of a chance of fooling around between sleeping with other partners or killing each other, the reasons for the destruction of the Temple were no longer relevant after 70 years of exile, and then had a rebuilt Temple.  However, the destruction of the second Temple was caused by baseless hatred, the spiritual disease that hasn't left us until today, though shortly, we will have the Redemption, but the only question is in whose merit this will take place.  In any case, we are not talking about open destructive behaviors that is openly murdering people or sleeping with other people's wives, which are crimes that don't take long to perform, and then everyone is back to what they were doing unless the criminals are caught and punished accordingly.  However, hating people and showing them hatred on a daily basis becomes a part of some people's daily lives, and certainly defeats the whole purpose of why the Temple was built where it was, being the anti-thesis of all what the Temple is supposed to represent - not just as a Beit Hashem "House of G-d", but the place where the entire Jewish nation assembled three times a year, aside from the Jerusalem hospitality that was afforded to the non-Jerusalem residents visiting who stayed rent free during the Shalosh Regalim (Three Pilgrimage Festivals) of Pesach, Shavuot, and Succot.

So, it is hardly surprising that the dedications of the first and third Temples occur on the two months that correspond to the two brothers Ephraim and Menashe.  After all, when their father Joseph asked Grandfather Jacob to bless them, even though Jacob showed preference to the younger Ephraim with the greater blessing over the older Menashe with the lesser blessing, since Ephraim was the greater Torah scholar of the two; nevertheless, we see no negative reaction from Menashe, and in time, together with Ephraim, became two of the 12 tribes that inherited the land of Israel, their inheritance being named after them.  In Joseph's own life, not only at the end did he not hold a grudge against his jealous brothers who first attempted to have him killed by being thrown into the pit with snakes and scorpions and then sold him marking him a slave that eventually landed him in prison for 12 years; but quite the contrary, he supported his entire family in Egypt in the wake of the famine.  And so, it is hardly surprising that the Mishkan began being built during Tishrei that corresponds with Joseph's son Ephraim, but the Mishkan resided in Shilo, a city in the territory of the Tribe of Ephraim for 369 years.  And even when the Temple was chosen to be in the territory of a different tribe, the first Temple was completed in Cheshvan that corresponds to Josephs's son Menashe, and will be the month in the future for the dedication of the Temple.


As especially related to this Hebrew year 5773, it has been the first time in 14 years that the sixth day of Succot, on which the Biblical Yosef, the Ushpiz (Heavenly Guest of the Succah) who is represented on this day, fell out on Shabbat.  And if this was not enough, this was also the first Shabbat on which Masechet Shabbat (Tractate Sabbath) of the Babylonian Talmud, of the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi (daily learning of a folio of Talmud) was learned worldwide.

According to Kabbala, the seven Heavenly Guests of the Succah - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David (in this order according to Kabbala, not like some other versions who place them in a little different order which is incorrect) who are also called the Seven Shepherds in the Zohar, each correspond to one of the Jewish holidays of the year - Pesach, Rosh Hashana, Shavuot, Yom Kippur, Succot, Shabbat, and Rosh Chodesh - respectively (there is a different type of relationship of the three Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob corresponding respectively to Pesach, Shavuot and Succot, but I am not going to get into explaining the connection or the difference of this in contrast to the holiday connection with the Seven Shepherds).  So as you can see, it is Joseph of the Chosen Seven who corresponds to the weekly holiday of Shabbat.  For in fact, not only is Shabbat called the head of the Jewish holidays, but is also the holiest of the holidays, even more than Yom Kippur, for as we see, there are a mandatory minimum of seven Aliyot for the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) reading on Shabbat (besides the Haftara Aliya), onlike on other Jewish holidays when there are less amounts of mandatory Aliyot.

With this said, it is not simply a nice relationship between Joseph and the Sabbath, but in fact, we see in the Torah that Joseph has special respect for the Sabbath - even in the idol filled country of Egypt.  You see, when Joseph's brothers, before he revealed himself to them as his brother following 22 years of separation, came for a second time to Egypt to restock their food supply, he arranged to have a reception lunch with them.  As the verse states UtVoach Tevach Vehachein "Slaughter an animal and prepare it" (Genesis 43:16) - Joseph's instructions for his meal with his brothers.  As the Da'as Zekanim M'Ba'alei HaTosfos explains, we see from here that Joseph observed the Sabbath before the Torah was given, as indicated by this verse of him wanting to prepare a tasty Shabbat meal, which is part of the Mitzva of honoring the Shabbat eating delicious meals, basing this proof on another verse in the Torah in reference to the manna that the Jews ate in the desert - "On Friday (the sixth day), they shall prepare what they will bring"  (Exodus 16:5), as the manna didn't fall down on Shabbat, and instead, a double portion of manna fell on Friday morning, half of which was prepared on Friday for eating it on Shabbat.

Now, before I continue with the words of this commentary on the Chumash (Penteteuch), I want to note that just as the above seven Biblical personalities correspond to the various Jewish holidays; so too do these seven in the same order correspond to the seven days of the week, as they also correspond to the seven active Sephirot.  Hence, Joseph actually corresponds to the sixth day of the week, while it is King David who in fact corresponds to the seventh day of Shabbat.  And hence, the question can be asked - what day of the week does Joseph really correspond to?  And so, the answer is that it depends on what context of spirituality that we are talking here.  You see, in relationship to the seven days of the week, Joseph corresponds to the sixth day, the preparation day for Shabbat, for while of course, the ultimate spiritual goal of the week is Shabbat, it is necessary that we prepare for the big day of the week, which for the most parts is done on the day before.  However, in terms of the various holy days of the year, it is Joseph of the seven Biblical personalities who corresponds specifically to the weekly Shabbat.

In terms of Joseph corresponding to the sixth day of the week, it is his descendant who is known as Moshiach Ben Yosef who is the preparation for Moshiach Ben Dovid, the main Messiah, who is the descendant of King David who corresponds to Shabbat.  But in another sense, he is unique among these seven righteous people.  For as we see, while all of the others correspond to Jewish holidays that are dependent on time in terms of the month, Joseph corresponds to the holiday of Shabbat that is strictly weekly based.  For in fact, while Shabbat is the holiest of the holidays, it is ironically within the context of the routine week, when we work six days a week, and only then do we take our weekly holiday brake.  Similarly, in Joseph's life, he was the most challenged in terms of spiritually within the context of both physical bondage and luscious materialism.  Unlike some of the others who may have run away into exile to escape being killed, Joseph had no free choice as being sold as a slave, and hence, not in complete control of himself in a free state.  However, this did not necessarily dictate Joseph's state of spiritual freedom, for while he was challenged at one point by Master Potiphar's evil wife who daily tempted the young lad to sleep with her, Joseph passed a major test that none of the other six righteous ones went through.  And then, even in his materialistic standing as second to Pharaoh, it didn't distract him from his spiritual goals, and maintained both his belief and observance of Judaism, which included the Sabbath.  True, he had his weekly work as one busy viceroy of Egypt, but he took time off for Shabbat, something that he had done for the last 80 years of his life, as opposed to the other six who at least were able to live the latter part of their lives in a more spiritual setting.  And hence, being second to the Egyptian king corresponded to his spiritual goal of specifically preparing for Shabbat, just as his descendant Moshiach Ben Yosef is the spiritual preparation for the main Messiah - Moshiach Ben Dovid, descendant of King David, for it is the Sephira of Malchut (Kingship) that corresponds to the day of Shabbat.  But as the end result, in the context of all the Jewish holidays, Joseph corresponds to Shabbat, a relationship that he rightfully earned as a result of his preparations for Shabbat, while King David corresponds to Rosh Chodesh, based on which determines when the other Jewish holidays, other than Sabbath, fall out on what day of the week, as King David was not only a physical king, but also the king in spirituality via Moshiach his descendant.

Now, continuing on with the above commentary about Joseph's preparation of his meal with his brothers for Shabbat, it mentions this in the context of the Nasi (leader) of the tribe of Ephraim bringing his offerings on behalf of his tribe "on the seventh day".  According to tradition, this seventh day is Shabbat, as the dedication of the Mishkan (tabernacle) took place on the first day of Nissan, which was also on the first day of the week.  In any case, although normally, it is forbidden for offerings of individuals to be sacrificed in the Temple on Shabbat other than the Korban Tamid (two daily burnt offerings) and Shabbat offerings.  However, in reward of Joseph honoring the Shabbat by eating meat, a descendant of his was allowed special permission to bring his animal sacrifices (although they were on behalf of his tribe, they came from his personal funds) on Shabbat, the only time that this was ever allowed on an individual basis. (By the way, this is one out of several proofs that vegetarianism based on having "mercy" on animals is forbidden by the Torah).  And then the question can be asked - why particularly the leader of the tribe of Ephraim, rather than the leader of the tribe of Menashe.  Now, while this commentator does not ask this question himself, he does mention that in the very first battle waged by the Jewish people led by Joshua, a descendant of Ephraim, in Jericho, the actual war, followed by six days of spiritual preparation by circling the city one time each and seven times on the seventh day, took place "on the seventh day" which Rashi also notes, was Shabbat.  Now the truth is, the event with Joshua took place after the offerings of the leader of the tribe of Ephraim.   However, it must be borne in mind that the offerings of the leaders of the tribes on the first 12 days following the dedication of the Mishkan corresponded to various themes of their corresponding tribe, which included events both past and future.

And in terms of the Daf Yomi of Tractate Shabbat in this present cycle, it actually began on the sixth day of the week, the day before Shabbat of the sixth day of Succot that corresponds to Joseph.  Moreover, the tractate begins with the words - Yetziot HaShabbat (refers to carrying things in and out between a private and public domain which is forbidden on Shabbat), beginning with the letter Yud, which also begins the name Yosef.  Moreover, this Talmudic tractate contains exactly 156 Dafim, and the Gematria of Yosef's name is 156 (and is the number of this post)!  And the concluding word of this tractate is the Aramaic word Ana (I), which is the Gematria of 52.  Amazingly, in Jacob's blessings for his 12 sons, the only one which does not begin with the name of the particular son is Joseph, beginning rather with the word Ben (son) - Ben Porat Yosef - "Joseph is a fruitful son", (in English though, it is translated differently than the order of the words in Hebrew) which is also the Gematria of 52.  Having said this, the word Ben, in a different context of Gematria in which the five letters that only appear at the end of a word - Chaf Sophit, Mem Sophit, Noon Sophit, Phei Sophit, and Tzadi Sophit - having corresponding Gematriot of 500, 600, 700, 800, and 900, is the Gematria of 702, as the letter Noon Sophit in this instance has a numerical value of 700, and Beit is the numerical value of two (2), which is the same Gematria as the word Shabbat!

However, this would not be complete without mentioning a story about another Yosef  in terms of Shabbat - actually, two people by the name of Yosef, both mentioned within this Talmudic tractate of Shabbat on the very same page (119a).  A rabbi known as Rav Yosef used to split wood in preparation for Shabbat.  And then it mentions the famous story of Yosef Mokir Shabbat (Joseph who honors the Sabbath) who was especially known by this title even by non-Jews due to his special honor for Shabbat by buying special delicacies for Shabbat.  Anyways, there was this rich non-Jew in town who was warned by astrologers that his positions would be taken over by the Jew known as Yosef Mokir Shabbat.  Fearing this prediction, he sold all of his possessions for a precious pearl which he placed in his hat that he was wearing.  Then one day, he passed by a river, and puff...the wind blew his hat into the river, which was swallowed by a fish.  Before long, fisherman were attempting to catch some fish at the river on a Friday, and after waiting long for their efforts, they came up with a big fish.  However, it was rather late in the day, and the Jews in town already had made their Sabbath purchases, and so there was no special demand of fish at this time of day (there was no refrigeration the way that we have it today, and hence, were afraid of loosing a day's work worth of fish).  Then, someone suggested "Hey, we know of the perfect customer - Yosef Mokir Shabbat".  Upon this, they wasted no time coming to his door with the prized fish, which he gladly paid for.  He then opened up the fish in preparing it for Shabbat, only to find that pearl that the rich non-Jew lost; following which, the Jew sold it for 13 attics full of gold dinars, making him a wealthy person.  Now, the story does end off with who is believed to be Eliyahu HaNovi (Elijah the prophet) who encountered him, telling him what the rabbis say that one who borrows to honor the Shabbat, the Shabbat repays him back, and we can all learn from this story when it comes to having faith in Hashem in terms of honoring the Shabbat via our finances.  But additionally, being that this we are presently within the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi, it is interesting to note that the particular number used in reference to Yosef Mokir Shabbat becoming wealthy as a result of his honoring the Shabbat is 13, and perhaps is even the basis, along with what I have mentioned in the past, as to why non-Jews consider the number 13 a most  unluckly number, while we Jews consider this a most lucky number.  And to think of it, this story of the fish took place on a Friday.  Indeed, following the story of the non-Jew loosing his wealth to a Jew who became wealthy on Friday and sold the pearl for 13 measures of gold, it is no wonder why non-Jews have a superstitious crush on Friday the 13th.


Look, I am not here to make predictions.  However, there are amazing resemblances of Joseph corresponding especially to this Hebrew year; and this is aside from what I mentioned about the Daf Yomi in relationship to Joseph and Shabbat in this year.  What I am about to reveal here relates to both a verse in the Chumash and another tractate in the Mishna.

Let's being with the Mishnaic tractate called Sota.  The word Sota refers to a married woman who is accused of having an affair as testified to by (a) witness(es), and in order to determine her innocence or guilt, goes through the ordeal of drinking what are called bitter waters which would kill her if she indeed slept with a guy outside of her marriage.  Now, among the steps that led to this procedure (in Temple times) was her husband warning her not to seclude herself with the guy that she was found to be hanging out with.  The beginning word of this tractate, which describes this very action of the husband, is HaMekanei, which halachicly means "One who warns", though the root of this word carries quite a few meanings, including Kinah (jealousy), and it is true that one who is into another relationship arouses the jealousy of the siginificant other with whom he or she, who is seeking an alternate relationship, has his or her relationship with.  The reason that I mention this particular alternate meaning, though not the main halachic sense of the beginning word of this tractate, is because the word Kinah has the same Gematria as the name Yosef - 156.  In fact, we see that Yosef incurred the jealousy of his brothers due to the multi colored garment that Jacob robed him with in his preferential treatment of his son Joseph in contrast to his other sons.  Following this, his brothers wound up selling him as a slave, and at the age of 17-18, was faced with the daily temptaton of his master's wife attempting to lure him for sex with her, but amazingly didn't give in to his hormones.  The reason that I word it like this, is because the Midrash tells us that Joseph at one point was in fact ready to fall into temptation, but then the face of Jacob appeared in his mind, warning him of some spiritual benefits he could loose out if he were to give in to temptation.

Having also mentioned earlier that the sixth day of Succot corresponds to Joseph, there is a custom among a group of Jews to learn a chapter of Mishna on the seven days of Succot that corresponds to the daily Heavenly Guest, mentioning the name of the Biblical personage of the day somewhere in the corresponding chapter.  For the sixth day of Succot, they learn the first chapter of Sotah, as it mentions near the end of the chapter about Joseph buring his father, and in reward for this bearing in mind that Joseph put himself on the line to convince Pharaoh to allow him to bury his father Jacob who passed away in Egypt to be buried in Israel, it was none other than Moses who carried Joseph's bones out of Egypt.

In any case, it seems that it is in fact the entire tractate Sota that corresponds to Joseph, even as the latter part of the tractate deals with other topics, such as the topic that begins the ninth and final chapter of this tractate which are the words Egla Arufa, the calf that was decapitated by the Jewish court as a result of seeing a person found murdered, but whose murderer had yet to be found.  Our rabbis tell us that this was the last Torah subject that Jacob and Joseph were discussing before their separation of 22 years; and hinting to this, Joseph sent food and other items on Agalot (wagons) as this Hebrew word for wagons is very similar to the word Egla (calf), in order that Jacob would know for a fact that it was Joseph who sent these items to him, assuring him that his long lost son Joseph was well and alive.

Now, let us turn to the Chumash, and check out the 5773th verse, being that we are presently in Year 5773.
"They (the Jews) have been faithless to Me with a non-god, they have angered Me with their vanities; I, in turn, will be faithless to them with a non-nation, I will anger them with a nation without feeling gratitute." (Deutronomy 32:21).  Now, the beginning Hebrew words of this verse are Heim Kinuni - "They have been faithless to me", and as you may have noticed, the word faithless in another meaning that is related to the beginning word of Tractate Sota - HaMekanei.  In fact, there is something even more amazing here.  Look carefully at the FIRST five letters of this verse which are within two words - these five letters together make up the FIRST word of Tractate Sota!

And so, what is the message for this Year 5773?  I say that on a national level, we Jews have to be more careful than ever when it comes to forbidden sexual relationships, for shortly, we will be in the midst of the final stage of the war of Gog U'Magog shortly, and while in the end, Hashem will take his vengence on the evil nations for all the anti-Semitism that we suffered from their hands, this will also be a refining period for the Jewish nation, and all those who refuse to repent of their evil deeds will be done away with during this time period, while the rest of the Jews will survive (the prophecy in what is called the New Testament of 144,000 Jews surviving this period may very well be true, for even though this prediction came from the forces of the side of evil, it is nevertheless a prophecy, the same way that the evil non-Jew Bilaam who attempted to curse the Jews wound up blessing them instead along with prophecies of the future, including the End of Days.  This is only around one percent of all Jews living on this planet today - a frightening prophecy about Hashem's Chosen Nation, even though there are more than 144,000 "religious" Jews, but how we live as "religious" Jews and what Hashem defines as religious are apparently quite different, and so we need to do some serious soul searching, and truly repent of our misguided ways, even in what we call our "religious" way of living).

And of course, this would not be complete without mentioning the meaning of the name of Tractate Sota, which is based the meaning of "turning aside/away", which in the faithless, adulteress wife, it means both turning away and cheating on both her husband and G-d.  Similarly, when we turn aside from what we are supposed to focus on in serving Hashem and instead are more concerned on which baseball/basketball/football team won the game on Sunday wasting several hours on the tube watching others making the millions, and feel terrible if "our" team, as belonging to the town that one is from or lives in - instead of living in the REAL OUR TOWN in Israel even though we may not be living in the land that G-d ordered us to live in - looses the game, then in fact, we have the lost the big game in effect, for we failed to realize our true purpose in this world, and is especially disturbing to Hashem that the ones who should know better, and learned in their youth what Judaism requires of a Jew, does not act accordingly, justifying themselves by praying in the synagogue daily, which for many if not for most, it means talking to their buddy about non-holy matters or gossip during the services, which is the ultimate Hutzpa that a Jew shows to Hashem, aside from the terrible punishments in this world and the next world that occur to such a person who publicly defies the King of Kings.  And as for Jewish education of one's children, the good Torah education that they receive in the Jewish day school is often highly diluted as a result of one sitting in front of the tube watching one's favorite team instead of opening up a Torah book, which results in his children being able to better recount the names and game scores of non-Jews on game cards than the names and Yeshivos of the true heroes of the Jewish people, which of course are the righteous and Torah scholars.

And there there is what is called the political level in Israel, which is currently dictated by Prime Monster Binyamin Netanyahu, who is the antithesis of everything that his name means and stands for, bearing the name of the original Binyamin, the only one of the Jacob's 12 sons who was born in Israel, while constantly attempting to figure out ways of giving away more land to our bloodthirsty Arab enemies since his handing over of 97% of Hebron to them, including keep running overseas to Islam follower Barack Obama to vainly convince him that Israel wants to make peace with the Arabs; turning away his right eye while secretly giving orders to former Prime Monster Ehud Barak to evict Jews from their own built homes on "loose settlements" which are no more illegal than the hut structures in Arab villages that Bibi turns his left eye away from, submitted his vote to throw the Jews out of Gush Katif; doing all too little to have American and Israeli hero Jonathan Pollard released from his illegal imprisonment in the States since his giving in to the Wye Accords despite Clinton's broken promise to release the true hero of Israel; and brokeraging a deal a year ago to have over 1,000 Arab terrorists,including the murderers of Rabbi Binyamin & Talya Kahane- may Hashem avenge their blood, to be released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, who by the way, came back home on the sixth day of Succot which is especially related to Joseph, instead of threatening to kill the several thousand jailed Arab terrorists over five years ago if Gilad Shalit wouldn't be released immediately.  And for the cherry on top, he also vainly attempts to convince the world that it is to their benefit to be rid of Iran, putting on a nice act of being strong and bold in words, but is sorely afraid of this very world who will be ready to pounce on Israel the moment that it dares defend itself by attacking Iran; in short, more afraid of what everyone else will say than the actual possible attack from Iran, G-d forbid.

Indeed, this is also quite the antithesis of everything that Benyamin's full brother Yosef stood for, which included his love for Israel, and made his brothers swear to him on his death bed to take his remains with them upon their future redemption from Egypt, so he could be at least be buried in Israel, since he was sold into slavery, leaving Israel at the young age of 17, and only returned to Israel to have his father Jacob buried, and then returned to Egypt to resume his duties as Egyptian viceroy.  Actually, one does not have to go to far in the Bible to see how Joseph was a Zionist, even though he lived most of his life outside Israel.  In fact, his name Yosef has the same Gematria as the name Zion - 156.

And most unfortunately, Israel has suffered much from the hands of the literal non-nation of "Palestine"
thanks to the non-god of secular Zionism which is the anti-thesis of authentic Zionism, most especially today when the definition of the fake Zionism is giving away holy land instead of conquering even more land since 1967, even as it is most contrary to logical reasons of equity and security, because it is the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) that many evil members of the Knesset are worshiping, even to the country's own detriment, because they are purposely defying the Torah, which includes the clear cut definitions of what geographical areas constitute the Holy Land of Israel.

And now for the number 73 - the last two digits of our Hebrew year, we see that this is the first two letters of the word Eglah, as in the phrase Eglah Arufa, the name of the ninth and final chapter in Tractate Sota, which is the last Torah topic that Jacob and Joseph discussed before their parting for 22 years.  Amazingly, this is also the first two letters of the phrase Eigel HaZahav, the Golden Calf that the Jews worshiped, their first national sin since the Torah was given, and nearly caused their destruction.  Of course many observant Jews ask how it was possible that Jews who just 40 days earlier, witnessed and experienced the Giving of the Torah hearing Hashem Himself speak, which included the very commandments of "I am Hashem your God" and "Thou shalt not have other gods besides Me", could turn astray so quickly.  And as we see, Moses ground the Golden Calf into ashes, and with some water, forced the Jews to drink of it to determine who were the sinners in the worship of the calf, which came with the same results as for the Sota lady who drank what is called the "bitter waters", only to quickly die as a result of her turning astray.

Yes indeed, there are many icons on T.V., literally the true American idols, that most unfortunately, even some who are called "Orthodox" Jews virtually worship, praising how well they played, how tall and handsome they look, etc, which in itself is a Torah violation of one of the 613 Commandments of the Torah "thou shalt not show them grace", though the ultimate idols- the Golden Calves - in today's comfortable lifestyle include successful careers, money, spouse with a master's degree (or many will not even consider dating if not at least with this level of college degree), T.V., spacious house with a 30 year mortgage, two cars, swimming  pool, etc., while as for Torah books, most of them are waiting for the man of the house to open them up for 20, 30, or 40 years, clearly showing quite a spiritual disproportion of the life of an "Orthodox" Jew.  Can he even recall the last words of Torah that the rabbi spoke in his weekly sermon during the past Shabbat morning services, or rather, the last piece of conversation that he had with the guy he sat next to while the  mourner's Kaddish at the end of services was being recited?  Ultimately, this depends on his priorities in life.

What can I tell you my friends?  Well, one thing that I can tell you is that regardless of how it all plays out in terms of Moshiach coming - including which Moshicah (Ben Yosef and/or Ben Dovid), the war of Gog U'Magog, and who will win the elections in the States and Israel, one thing that will be for sure is that this Year 5773 will be quite a turbulent year, and the only question(s) is/are - are we ready to make the changes necessary to be deserving of salvation for ourselves when G-d forbid, the major blow will begin this year?  Are we going to be among the one percent of the Jewish people - the 144,000 Jews living in our present generation (aside from the millions of good Jews from past generations who will be resurrected) - that will receive salvation if we decide to stop playing games and be concerned about what Hashem wants rather than what we want, even if we live in Israel; as it will be Hashem at the end who will determine the ONE PERCENT who will survive both physically and spiritually for eternity, who will be left alive to declare: Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad - the L-rd Who at one time was only our G-d (which is still literally true because even the Moslems actually worship a different god, not Hashem), is today proven to the entire world that Hashem is One and the Only One?  Regardless of whether we are more like Joseph's son Ephraim who was the Torah scholarly son, or more like Joseph's son Menashe who was the career son but still remembered no less of his obligations as a Jew, if we but turn our hearts to  Hashem, and be considered a son of Joseph, following in Joseph's ways of remaining steadfast to Hashem despite the physical and spiritual turbulences that we go through in life, just as Joseph did, include the sexual temptations that he faced daily at one point, due to which he was nicknamed HaTzadik - the righteous one, then we will certainly be on the right path to the eternal salvation, at which point, the ball games will be over forever.

30 Tishrei - 1st day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan - 5773


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