Thursday, December 24, 2009

VaYigash 5631 Fifth Ma'amar

Ya’akov Avinu’s purpose was to spread holiness in the world.  He was a conduit for holiness.  However, he lived such a spiritual existence, was so removed from the physical world that he was unable, on his own, to do so.  Yosef, on the other hand, was more connected to the physical world.  Elsewhere[1] the Sfas Emes cites the Zohar[2] that refers to Yosef as the שומר הברית/keeper of the covenant.  Conventionally, this refers to his overcoming the temptations presented to him by the wife of his master Potiphar. 

The covenant that he kept was the covenant of the circumcision.  The Sfas Emes teaches though that Yosef, as the keeper of the covenant, represents the holiness that is within the physical world.  How so?  In this world holiness is hidden by gross physicality.  The removal of the foreskin symbolizes unveiling the holiness that lies within the physical world.[3]
It was through Yosef and his ability to live in the physical world and yet unveil the holiness therein that Ya’akov was able to act as a conduit for holiness in the natural world.[4]

Descending to Egypt represented a difficult challenge for Ya’akov Avinu.  He would only be able to fulfill his purpose there by descending in levels of holiness.  However, because of Yosef this would not be necessary.

Yosef understood this.  So he sent wagons to his father Ya’akov to ameliorate his concerns.  The Hebrew word for wagon – עַגָלָה – has the same root as the word for circle – עִיגוּל.  The wagons were an allusion that everything physical circles back to its spiritual roots.  Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev writes a similar idea in Kedushas Levi. 

Yosef’s brothers as well represented different ways of spreading Ya’akov’s spirituality in the physical world.  The pasuk tells us, “וַיִּשְׂאוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־יַעֲקֹב אֲבִיהֶם .../The children of Israel carried their father Ya’akov …”  The Sfas Emes explains that they acted as a chariot to Ya’akov.  A chariot carries its rider from place to place.  Through the chariot, the rider’s influence spreads.  In this sense the tribes were a chariot to Ya’akov.  Through them, his influence would spread throughout the world.

Still, even Ya’akov Avinu’s connection to the tribes, was made possible by Yosef.  Yosef was the flame of Ya’akov’s fire, so to speak. 

It is for this reason that the Torah tells us that Ya’akov Avinu did not believe the brothers when they returned from Egypt with the good news that Yosef was alive.  Belief implies connection and attraction.  When we believe something we are attracted to that belief and feel a connection with it.  When the Torah tells us that Ya’akov Avinu did not believe the brothers, it is hinting to us this very idea.  Ya’akov was able to relate to the tribes only through Yosef. 

When he saw the wagons and realized that Yosef had sent them as a hint that Ya’akov would be able to remain on his high spiritual level and still influence the world through Yosef, he realized as well, that he would be able to influence the world through the tribes, by way of Yosef.  The tribes were thus able to “carry him”.  Through Yosef they, too, were able to be Ya’akov’s chariot, spreading his influence.

[1] Mikeitz 5631 Second Ma’amar and VaYigash 5631 Second Ma’amar
[2] Zohar 1:59a
[3]  See VaYeira 5632 First Ma’amar for a detailed discussion of this concept.
[4] See also VaYeishev 5631 First Ma’amar and VaYeishiv 5632 First Ma’amar for more detail on the spiritual relationship between Ya’akov and Yosef.


NonymousG said...

Deep stuff!

Moshe David Tokayer said...

Thanks. I revised the beginning of the ma'amar. Hopefully it's a bit clearer ;)

Unknown said...

See bnei Yisasschar on Kislev - kaf heh, SEnding Yehudah "Goshnah", concluding with the nistar of the dreidle.
Marc Engel