Saturday, December 1, 2012

#162 - "This little One Will Be BIG"

Sounds familiar?  Perhaps if you see it in Hebrew - "Zeh HaKatan Gadol Yihyeh", which is recited immediately after the second mention of the newly circumcised baby's Hebrew name in the baby naming prayer.

In my previous post, I mentioned how the word Katan (little/small) is associated with the concept of disgrace, as being disgraced is being belittled making one feel that he or she is not worth anything.  Particularly, Ham the son of Noah who sexually disgraced his father, is in turn disgraced by the Torah for his immoral act, as he is called "the young son" of Noah, but not before he is previously called the "father of Cana'an", and we already know that Ham is listed as the last son of Noah when their names were first mentioned earlier in Parshat Noach.  This is why Rashi notes at this point that HaKatan is defined as the unfit and disgraced one.

However, when it comes to Jews or good non-Jews, the word Katan can denote rather something good.  In terms of non-Jews, we see that Ever's son Yaktan, based on the word Katan, is named as such, because as our rabbis tell us, he was a humble person, and hence merited to have 13 sons.  (Note: The Yukatan Peninsula derives its name from him, as his descendants were living in this location).

Now for Jews, the word Katan can mean a good thing.  We already know that Jacob is called by this title when his mother Rebecca dressed him in his older brother Esau's clothes in order that his father Isaac should think that he was Esau, as Isaac intended to give the birthright blessings specifically to Esau, as Isaac's eyesight no longer was able to help him see who was who, and so he would not know the difference, and it is in this context that Easu is called "her big son" and Jacob is called "her little son" (Genesis 27:15).  Now, the question can be asked, we certainly know by now who was older or younger between these two brothers, so why particularly here is this mentioned?

But as we see, this verse was the determining point for Jacob to receive the blessings in lieu of Esau from Isaac, as it was Esau's clothes that Rebecca dressed Jacob in that made the physical difference, as Isaac knew that Esau wore this type of clothing in his hunting expeditions, and as Esau as the moment was out hunting game for Papa Isaac, he obviously had more than one pair of such clothes.  And even though Esau tehcnically was supposed to have been the one to receive the birthright blessings as the firstborn "the big son", due to his evil ways, he lost out on this, and it was thanks to Rebecca's sharp thinking and quick actions that allowed Jacob, though he was "the little one", to receive those blessings instead.

Following the above in Parshat Toldot, the following Parshat Vayeitzei mentions the story of Jacob coming to the town of Haran where his uncle Laban resided.  In the midst of this story, the Torah mentions that Laban had two daughters - the older one was Leah and the younger one was Rachel (Genesis 29:16).  As it turns out, Jacob fell in love particularly with Rachel, and despite working for Uncle Laban to win Rachel's hand in marriage for seven hard breaking years, he was completely fooled thinking that he was marrying Rachel when he was at the age of 84, when in reality, the covered face bride was Leah.  In time, ironically, it was Leah who provided Jacob with half of his 12 sons, the future tribes of Israel, even though he had no intention of marrying her, and it was after several years of not having children due to being barren, Rachel finally gave birth to Joseph, and after several years, gave birth to Benjamin as she was dying.

Even though I usually use the English translation of names, following this in this post, I will call Benjamin as the Hebrew name Binyamin, and for good reason.  You see, after nearly 2,000 years, Hebrew is the revived speaking language of Israel, something that hasn't happened with any other language.  Meaning, once a language in world history is stopped being spoken for the most part, it is a thing of the past along with the once world leading nation that has also dwindled, including Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, and Rome, whose empires have long since vanished.  However, we Jews as the smallest and most abused, with constant attempts of annihilation and having been scattered to the four corners of the earth, most ironically, have stayed together as a nation, and a large segment of Jews have returned to our homeland despite the sacrifices involved in sharp and stark contrast to the good life in the United States.  Accordingly, Israel's language of Hebrew was part of the package deal.

This is all fine and dandy, but does this have to do particularly with Binyamin, Jacob's youngest son?  You see, he was the ONLY one of Jacob's sons who was born in Israel, making him the sole Sabra of his brothers.  In fact, his very name as Ben-Yamin "son of right", referring to the direction that Israel is located in terms of the other countries west of it, represents the special connection that Binyamin has with Israel.  Hence, it is only fitting that we refer to Binyamin to his name in Hebrew specifically, the same that we do for Israelis who are born in Israel today.

And so, Binyamin, as the youngest son of Jacob and Rachel, who are both called "the little/younger one", inherits this title in his genes.  You see, when Jacob's sons came to Egypt when the worldwide famine first hit, Jacob refused to let Baby Binyamin to come along with them, for fear that he would loose the only alive son of his from his favorite wife Rachel, being for all that he knew, Joseph was no longer alive for some 20 years.
In fact, the brothers, when they faced Joseph as the viceroy of Egypt, not knowing that he was their long sold brother (rather than their long lost brother for they knowingly sold him), told him that "the young one" is with their father (Genesis 42:13).

Though Binyamin was the youngest of the 12 brothers, it is kind of funny that he was referred to specifically as "the young one", for it wasn't afterwards when Binyamin among the entire family who move to Egypt, had 10 sons, ironically more than all of his older brothers (the Torah only mentions a handful of daughters in the family, so there is no way to know about how many daughters they had).  But then again, the letter Yud, as the numerical value of 10, is unique in that is is the smallest of all the Hebrew letters.  This also points out to the significance of Yaktan, whom we mentioned above about being a humble person, for in fact, his name is comprised of the letter Yud - the smallest letter and Katan "small", and amazingly, the Torah, like it does for Binyamin, mentions the names of all of Yaktan's 13 sons.

Now, as Binyamin was the youngest of Jacob's 12 sons, we see an interesting Gematria here.  Oh sure, Binyamin's name is the Gematria of 162, and this is my 162th post.  However, I am referring to what I wrote at the beginning of this post, where I mentioned that we recite as the boy's baby naming - Zeh HaKatan Gadol Yihyeh - "This little one will be big".  The word Zeh (this) is the Gematria of 12, this is in effect saying "This 12th one is the youngest", as hinting specifically to Binyamin, ancestor of Saul, the first king of Israel, saying that Gadol Yihyeh "will be big".

The truth is that in history, though Binyamin started out as having 10 sons, and in the laws of inheritance, the land goes according to the man of the house, as this is how the land of Israel was apportioned, this tribe was close to extinction at one point.  You see, in an incident near the end of Sefer Shoftim (Book of Judges), due to the Tribe of Binyamin's refusal to denounce a crime perpetrated by some thugs of its tribe against a lady, the maidservant of a guy who cut her body into 12 parts following her dropping dead after a night of being raped, and sending them to various parts of Israel, the rest of the Jewish nation fought the Tribe of Binyamin, and though originally the other tribes were badly defeated, the Tribe of Binyamin was eventually defeated to the extent that only 600 men of this tribe were alive being that they escaped.   So in fact, though Jacob's fears of losing his own son Binyamin in terms of the brothers travelling to Egypt were not materialized, it seems that he had a premonition that as some future time in Jewish history, Binyamin's descendants would be close to be exterminated, which happened specifically through the descendants's of Jacob's other sons.

With the above said, just as Israel as a nation has been despised by all the other nations of the world, despite the Jewish people's vast contributions in the materialistic world, we see a precedent of this pertaining to the two sons' of Jacob's favorite wife Rachel; for first, we see that Joseph incurred the jealousy of his brothers to the extent that they nearly murdered him and it was only at the last moment when they saw a caravan of spice peddlers that they thought it would be a good idea to sell him as a slave to them instead of cold blooded murder.  And then later in history, it was like 11 tribes against the one tribe of Binyamin in the above mentioned war, the latter who was nearly exterminated, including all the women and even the innocent little babies, save for 600 men who had to marry into the other tribes who members killed theirs to continue the Tribe of Binyamin dynasty.

In time, the Jewish people received a big surprise - their very first king came from the tribe of Binyamin - King Saul.  After all was said and done up to that point in history, it is hardly surprising that when the prophet Samuel informed King Saul that he was to be king, Saul wondered why as coming from the youngest of the tribes, that he should be chosen to be king of all.  But though Saul was at first quite righteous and humble, his humbleness was misplaced with the divinely appointed position as king of Israel, and led to his downfall.  You see, though he himself had a hard time understanding why he should be so "cruel" as to kill even the little babies of the nation of Amalek that Samuel ordered him to wipe out, even as his excuse for not following the directions to the tee by allowing its king to remain alive and sacrifice some Amalekite animals to G-d is because he "listened to the people", there was in fact truth to this.  For following his excuses to Samuel for not exactly following the orders of Hashem, Samuel first told him that while "being the head of the tribes of Israel may be a small thing in your eyes...", thus indicating that since Saul didn't feel that he was worthy enough of being king to the extent that it affected his sense of strong leadership, to whatever extent, he in fact did listen to the people as he admitted pertaining to not totally annihilating Amalek.  And so, though he may have seemed to be tough at times, when he felt that he had an element who felt that something should be different, despite knowing what Hashem really wanted, he let himself rationalize since after all, it wasn't his own decision, it would be O.K. to let the people have it their way.

Before I go on in Jewish history, let us rewind the tape here to the birth of Binyamin as we just read about on this past Shabbat in Parshat Vayishlach.  We see that as Rachel was dying, she named her newly born son Ben-Oni "son of my mourning" (Genesis 35:18), for she knew that she was dying, and that her son's date of birth would also be the date of her passing.  It is also quite possible that in fact, she was blaming her son for causing her death, especially after she waited several years following being barren until she finally first gave birth to Joseph, and then after several more years, finally gave birth to Binyamin, while her older sister Leah gave birth to six sons within several years with no trouble.  Now, it seems that Jacob, knowing what his deceased wife Rachel named their son, gave a name similar in sounding to what Rachel gave, but on a rather much more positive note.  In any case, it seems that Rachel too in a premonition had a feeling about mourning in terms of Binyamin, because his future descendants were nearly wiped out.  And indeed, the words of the righteous, even if the circumstances under which they said those words never come into fruition, as the reason for the words that they say didn't happen; nevertheless, their words do become fulfilled in some way for the lips of the righteous don't speak falsehood; for in fact, it is though it is Hashem who is saying the same words, and we know that Hashem is all about truth, and everything against falsehood, and the righteous are the ultimate representatives of Hashem.  In fact, it was because of Jacob's very statement to Laban who complained about his idols being stolen - that whoever stole his idols would die - that caused Rachel's early demise, as she was the one who stole the idols, unbeknownst to Jacob, and so since the words of a righteous person come true, even a curse due to not realizing something, they become true.  Of course, this is one more example of why we have to be careful of what we say, because at times, even the curse of a wicked person can G-d forbid come true, but this is not the post to get into detail about this subject.

Then amazingly, when Samuel shopped for the future king of Israel following Saul's failure of being a good king of Israel, we find a similar factor.  He came to the home of Jesse, parental descendant of the Tribe of Judah, to pick one of his sons as the future king that Hashem already had in mind".  Following all of Jesse's seven sons in the house who didn't fight the criteria, Samuel asked if Jesse happened to have another son.  Jesse replied "Oh yes, there is the little one who remains who is shepherding the sheep".  In reply, Samuel said that he isn't going anywhere until this son - the future King David - would be brought, and the rest is history.

Now, the question can be asked.  If Jesse, who was a big Torah scholar and righteous person, as our rabbis tell us, was visited by the prophet Samuel, wouldn't you think that for that reason alone, he would have had ALL his children, nay, his entire family, be present for the presence of the prophet Samuel?  So what is this thing that Jesse said about "the young son", as though he didn't count like his older sons.  And in case one gets the impression that he was a young boy, according to how the years of Jewish history is reckoned, King David as this point was in his late twenties.  Moreover, he wasn't an ignorant shepherd, and was himself among the greatest Torah scholars in Jewish history, something that his father Jesse, more than anyone else, would have most appreciated?

For the answer to this, we have to turn to the Midrash for what is behind the scenes.  You see, there is a Mitzva (commandment) in the Torah that "An Ammonite or a Moabite may not enter the congregation of Hashem" (Deutronomy 23:4), which means that even one of the nations of Amon or Moab who convert to Judaism is forbidden to marry a born Jewess, but only a convert as he or a Mamzer, who is born from a forbidden union.  Now the reason for this is because as the Torah states, not only did they not provide food for the Jews as they left Egypt, but they went out of their way to hire Bilaam to curse the Jews.  In any case, though in fact, this law about a convert from one of these two nations is applicable only to a male convert, but not a female convert, it seems that this law wasn't so clear in Jesse's days, though he thought all along that this indeed applicable only to a male convert.  Now, the reason why this was a concern to him was because his grandmother Ruth, who converted to Judaism, was a descendant of Moab; and despite what he knew the law was all along, he had feelings that perhaps, the law was misinterpreted and hence, it would apply also to a female convert from Moab, which would then make Jesse himself, despite the fact that he was a big Torah scholar and already had a whole family, ineligible to remain married to his wife.  Following this, he separated from his wife, and thought to be conjugal with his Canaanite maidservant (who obviously has to have converted to Judaism already in order for this to be permitted as a Jewish woman).  However, Jesse's wife wasn't so quick to drop the gun.  She made a deal with the maidservant to make it look like that Jesse would be sleeping with the maidservant, when in fact, it was to be Jesse's wife, considering the fact that Jesse would  not know the difference in total darkness.  The next thing that Jesse knows, his son David is born, and though he obviously expected him to look more dark like his Canaanite maidservant, he saw him to be similar in color to his other sons.  Hence, out of shame, both of David's parents, along with his brothers, treated him with contempt, and was looked down in society to the extent that he was falsely accused of stealing things for which he was forced by the Jewish court to pay for.  Indeed, it was not for naught that King David notes in Tehillim "For my father and mother deserted me..." (Psalms 27:10)

So as you can see, when Jesse replied to Samuel when he asked him if he had any more sons, Jesse was treating King David as though he didn't count as part of the family "the young one, who is shepherding the sheep", as though that was all that his son David was good for.  But though Rashi doesn't comment on this, and understandably so, since Rashi was a descendant of King David, I will, for now, it makes sense to say that when Jesse said HaKatan that is typically translated as "the young one" which was literally true, he also meant by this term, along with the rest of his reply to Samuel, that he was the "despised one" of the family, just as it is explained in terms of the evil Ham.  Perhaps Jesse explained to Samuel his dilemma, or perhaps not, but Samuel was unfazed by this, even as Samuel himself, as the righteous judge of the generation, must have known the truth of the law about the constrictions of marriage for a convert from Moab being only a male, and not a female.

Now, back to the phrase - Zeh Hakatan Gadol Yihyeh.  We see that in Jewish history, Binyamin - the 12th of Jacob's sons, bearing in mind the Gematria of the word Zeh (this) is 12, became great - as his descendant Saul became the first king.  However, due to Saul's unworthiness, it later became exclusively Gadol Yihyeh, as the word Yihyeh (will be) is the Gematria of the name Yehuda (30), the ancestor of the King David, who became the ancestor of the permanent of the Davidic dynasty, which includes Moshiach.  Now, why should this be hinted specifically with Judah's name?

As mentioned in this week's Parshat Vayeishev, Judah slept with Tamar unknowingly that she was his past daughter-in-law twice, until the death of his two oldest sons.  The next thing he knows, she was the pregnant prostitute of town, and condemned her to the death penalty.  Realizing what was happening, Tamar hinted To Judah of their one night stand without openly embarrassing him.  Now, while many others would turn away from responsibility and rationalize their own actions in 101 ways, despite Judah's faults, this was not one of them.  As soon as he was reminded of his one time affair, he confessed that she was pregnant from him, and one of the twins that she was carrying was the ancestor of King David.  And indeed, though Jacob scolded his three oldest sons for their misdeeds on his deathbed, he treated Judah very different, even though ironically, he was the very one who suggested to sell Jacob's favorite son Joseph as a slave, but as we see in this case too, at the end, he showed much remorse and responsibility to the extent that he put his eternal reward on the line to prevent Binyamin, Jacob's only other son from Rachel, from even becoming a slave for the "stolen" goblet that Joseph planted in Binyamin's sack to see how far his brothers were remorseful for selling him as a slave.  Hence, second to Joseph, Judah received many blessings from Jacob, which included the eternal dynasty of King David.

We learn from this a most valuable lesson in life.  Yes, we are all human beings, and yes, we will all make mistakes for all kinds of reasons.  However, wherein lies a major difference between King Saul and Judah.  While King Saul may have been a most humble person, a prerequisite for a true Jewish leader as was the case especially with Moses, he was one who because of his humbleness, didn't always take responsibility of his actions, relying on the fact that he would blame it on others "I listened to the nation" who by the way, were not punished per se for his lack of responsibility, for he was supposed to be the king to set the example, but he let his nation down, and even when Samuel confronted him of his misdeed, he still attempted to justify his misactions in a most political way, "and the rest we sacrificed to Hashem".  Oh sure, after Samuel told it all to him, then Saul felt remorse, and wanted to amend things, but too little too late.

On the other hand, while King David also did things wrong as king for which Hashem chastised and punished him, the good thing about King David is that he was quick to admit his guilt when pointed out to him, and it helped even mitigate some of the punishment that was originally meant for him to receive.  And after all, he followed the example of his righteous ancestor Judah who also was quick to admit wrongdoing when confronted.  And so, while virtually all of us sin at some point or another in our lives, including Moses, the ultimate thing that separates the men from the boys in terms of leadership is the aspect of taking responsibility of our actions.

And this is the ultimate lesson that we want to teach our newly circumcised and named son.  For even as a Jewish child may be given the name of a righteous person, even as that righteous person may have done certain sins in his life, the ultimate factor that determines a righteous person from one who is not is how one will behave following realizing his misbehavior, and what steps he will take to improve and insure that this will not happen again, rather than justifying and rationalizing one's behavior in terms of other people, or even worse, blaming others for one's own misdoing.  For once the baby's name is repeated, it is driving through the point that one is not simply given another Jewish name - it is the name that one is still to live up to.  And as we see in Judah's name, the first letter of his name is a Yud, the smallest of the letters, but it is also the first letter of Hashem's main name YKVK; and in fact, the name Yehuda includes all four letters of this Name.  For while one may come from a humble background, as King David, though he may have come from an illustrious family, himself was treated worse than dirt, but realizing at the same time that his talents and character traits are most useful in serving Hashem, rather than one is most convenient for one's comfort zone; in short, either being a leader, or being among the sheep who don't know of responsibility except for what is given to them.

Now, getting back to Binyamin, it is true that he has more letters in his name than all of the other son's of Jacob - having six letters, but it is also true that he has the only name of his brothers having two of the letter Yud.  For not only was he the youngest of his brothers, there was also the time in history when his tribe was made small down to 600 people; hence, the definition of Katan being both "young" and "small".

Speaking of even righteous people sinning, we see something unique about Binyamin and three other Biblical characters, of whom our Sages say that they never did a sin in their lives.  Now, this does not say that they were the greatest righteous people that ever lived on the face of the earth, for certainly, few have ever reached the ranks of the Patriarchs, the Matriarchs, and Moses.  However, if death were to be dependent solely on one's personal sinning as opposed to death to the world for the sin of the first couple, the ancestors of mankind, then Binyamin would have been one of the few people who might be still living today, even as righteous people greater than him would have did long ago for even one sin committed accidentally.  In fact, we see that due to Moses not listening to Hashem when He told him specifically to speak to a rock for water to come from it, but instead he hit it, he died before the Jews came to Israel, because if not for this, he would have still lived to have led the Jews into Israel instead of his disciple Joshua.

What else we see unique about Binyamin is the timing of the reading of his birth, as well as the birth of all of Jacob's sons, which we always read about during the month of Kislev, the difference being is that the birth of the first 11 sons are mentioned in Parshat Vayeitzei, and Binyamin's birth takes place separately in Parshat Vayishlach.  But the special connection here as it relates to Binyamin is that as mentioned by the Chasidic Sefer Bnei Yissaschar, the corresponding tribe of the 12 tribes for the month of Kislev of the 12 months is Binyamin.  Hence, we see a special uniqueness about Binyamin being the only one of Jacob's sons whose birth is mentioned in a Parsha by itself, and being read during the month that corresponds to his tribe.  Coincidence?

In essence, we see that the Tribe of Binyamin became unique in the three physical dimensions - in what we call in Kabbalistic terms - Nefesh (soul or being), Makom (place) and Shana (literally means year, but refers to time).   In terms of Nefesh - the first king of Israel - King Saul - was a descendant of Binyamin.  Next in history, though Binyamin lost out in terms of the kingship being transfered to King David and his descendants from the Tribe of Judah thanks to King Saul's misdeeds, it wasn't long before the first Temple was built on his territorial portion of the Holy Land in Jerusalem (along with parts of land belonging to Judah, but the majority part of the Temple belonged on the land of Binyamin).  And then even after the first Temple was destroyed, holding out until the Second Temple would be rebuilt, it was partly in thanks to his descendant Mordechai (who by the way was the parental descendant of King Saul, and rectified his ancestor's sin in term of Amalek to an extent) that the holiday of Purim came into being.  Thus, we see that Hashem was especially giving to Binyamin, bearing in mind that as an orphan, he never even had a chance to have his mother live for any period of time in his life, unlike all his other brothers, aside from his sinless life.  And despite the close call that his tribe had when a merely 600 men of his tribe were left alive in stark contrast to the tens-hundreds of thousands of members of the other tribes, and it was only a matter of relatively a short period of time that the tribe of Binyamin became a reasonable sized tribe once again (Note: Some say that King Saul as a young man was among the 600 men of Binyamin who remained alive).

Now, while mentioning about the Temple being in the territorial boundary of Binyamin, it should be noted that the Tabernacle was first in the city of Shilo, in the territorial boundary of the tribe of Ephraim, son of Joseph, for 369 years.  While the merit of the Sanctuary of Hashem was transferred from Joseph to Binyamin with the permanent establishment of the Temple, what we do see is that the "House of Hashem" was basically meant to be in the territorial boundaries of the sons of Rachel, who was the Akeret HaBayit, "mainstay of the house", the main wife of Jacob, whom he always loved.  For in fact, even as Leah provided Jacob with half of his 12 sons, she was really meant by Heaven to be married to Esau, but due to his evil deeds and Leah's prayers, the dice was played differently, to the extent that Leah, rather than Rachel, was the one who wound up being buried next to Jacob.  But what we do see is that just as the main ritualistic services were held in the "House of Hashem", so too, we are supposed to serve Hashem in our own houses, with our wives who are called "house", in our same devotional way, even though we are forbidden to bring sacrifices outside of the Temple.

And so, Rachel as Jacob's wife meant for him from the beginning of time, most represented the concept of the holiness of the Temple, and so, the Sanctuaries of Hashem was basically either in Joseph's or Binyamin's territories.  And as we see in the Tikkun Chatzot, the midnight prayers that the pious recite in mourning and requesting for the Third Temple to be built, it is divided into two sections, called Tikkun Rachel and Tikkun Leah.  It is Tikkun Rachel that are considered the more heartfelt prayers, with a greater emphasis on mourning the loss of the Temple, which we recite first, that puts us in the right frame to then concentrate on requesting for the rebuilt Temple; because in order for us to be worthy of this, we need to first correct our behavior, partly from realizing our spiritual loss, which is supposed to be the springboard for us to properly repent, and then, and only then, can we be worthy of the Temple rebuilding.

We see that in modern times, that we regained full access to the holiest area of the world which includes the site of the Temple, which took place on the 43rd day of the Omer in 5727 (1967).  And as I related the phrase Zeh HaKatan Gadol Yihyeh to both Binyamin and Yehuda, who share the territory of both Jerusalem and the Temple, the Gematria of the word Gadol (big/great) is 43!  And after all, even when after King Solomon's passing, the kingdom was split for 10 tribes having their following in Shechem, the tribe of Binyamin, even though ironically lost its kingdom to the Tribe of Judah, nevertheless remained loyal to the King of Judah, and thus, aside from the Tribe of Levi who served in the Temple rather than have their own official portion of land, these two troubles were the ones who always worshiped in the Temple, and it was only later in Jewish history that they turned to sin that eventually led to the destruction of the First Temple, unlike the other 10 tribes, who were basically idol worshippers, and were exiled some time earlier.


I wrote extensively about Malachi in my recent 159th post last month (Nov '12) as the last of the 12 "Minor" Prophets, though in Hebrew (or rather Aramaic), this book of the Tanach is called Trei Asar (Twelve).  In my previous post, I concentrated on the beginning of Malachi being the Haftara of Parshat Toldot.  Now, I am here to mention that we read the conclusion of Malachi, which is also the conclusion of the Tanach (Bible) section of Nevi'im (Prophets), on Shabbat HaGadol, which is the Shabbat before Pesach (Passover).
But as you can see - Zeh HaKatan - "This little one", and as the word Zeh (this) is the Gematria of 12, that is, the (end of the) 12th of the little/minor prophets (Note: They are called minor only in terms of the amount of textual prophecies, not necessarily the level of their spiritual greatness) is read on Shabbat HaGadol, hinted with the words Gadol Yihyeh, which can homiletically be translated as "will be read on Shabbat HaGadol", which is called "The great Shabbat".  Among the several reasons why the Shabbat before Pesach is called with this name comes from the end of this Haftara itself  "Behold I will send Elijah the Prophet, before the GREAT and awesome day of Hashem arrives".  And as related to the concept of Brit Mila (circumcision) after which, we mention the four Hebrew worded phrase, one of the prerequisites of the Jews eating the Korban Pesach (Pascal Sacrifice) was having their circumcision, since aside from the Tribe of Levi, many of the other tribes didn't have one sooner, and it was at virtually at the last moment shortly before the Exodus that they performed this.  Moreover, since Elijah's time on earth, he appears at every Jewish circumcision testifying that the Jews are loyal to Hashem, just as he appears at every Jewish Seder on the beginning holiday night of Pesach.

And by the way, there are those who say in the Talmud that Malachi, who was the last of the 12 Minor Prophets, was none other than Mordechai, descendant of Binyamin, the last of the 12 Tribes.  But whether this was actually so or not, what we do see is a parallel between the teachings or influence of the two.  For as we see at the end of Malachi - Zicru Torat Moshe Avdi  "Remember the Torah of Moses My servant", and following the Purim miracle of the Jews winning the war against their enemies, the Megilla of Esther states that Keemu V'Keeblu HaYehudim  "The Jews fulfilled and accepted on themselves and their descendants..." hinting to the fact that unlike at the Giving of the Torah when the Torah was forced on them (specifically the Oral Torah), it was for the first time in the history of the Jewish people that they officially on their own willingly accepted the Torah on themselves.

Oh, and before I forget - the LAST letter of both the names of Malachi & Mordechai is the LITTLE letter Yud.  Coincidence?


Baruch Hashem, my daughter Tamar Tzadika, who was born on 15 Kislev, is now one year old.  As the first Shabbat since my daughter's birth was Shabbat Parshat Vayeishev, and the first anniversary of her birthday took place before Shabbat Parshat Vayishlach, I see a parallel here.  For as I mentioned earlier, in the previous Parshat Vayeitze, the birth of all of Jacob's sons are mentioned except for Binyamin's.  And as I also mentioned earlier, the House of Hashem, which became eventually the permanent Beit HaMikdash, was for the most part located in the territorial land of Binyamin.  Similarly, it was only in the beginning of my daughter's SECOND year of life in this world that Parshat Vayishlach was first read, in which we read of Binyamin's birth, whose name also begins with the SECOND letter BEIT, synonymous with the word BAYIT (House), it seems that even though I named her Tamar after the righteous woman Biblical character from Parshat Vayeishev, as my daughter was born during the week on which we read this Parsha, there seems to also be a unique connection pertaining to my daughter to Parshat Vayishlach, as well as the fact that in some years, her birthday of 15 Kislev falls out during the week of Parshat Vayishlach.  This is of course aside from the fact that the concept of Bayit is especially related to the woman.  Additionally, this word can also be read as Bat (daughter) and the letter Yud, as this is the smallest letter of the Alef Beit, and a baby (daughter) is quite little...But even as my daughter did not have a Brit, I can still say, though the grammatical format of the Hebrew changes a bit - Zot HaKetana Gedola Tihyeh.  May this be the will of Hashem Yitbarach with His help, Amen

Motzoei Shabbat Vayishlach 5773

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