Monday, December 21, 2009

My Shabbat Dvar Torah

We had three guests for Shabbat, in addition to my father-in-law (89 and four months old). Two Catalans and one Great Neckian.

So, here's my dinner introspection:

Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica, the author of Mei Shiloach, who is described as "the person who may well be the single most important Jewish teacher of modern and postmodern Jewish theology of the last five hundred years", comments, in Vol. II, on the verse Genesis 43:29:

And he lifted up his eyes, and saw Benjamin his brother, his mother's son, and said: 'Is this your youngest brother of whom ye spoke unto me?' And he said: 'God be gracious unto thee, my son.'

that what is the essence of the use of the word 'grace' חן is that God agrees with the acts of the man granted this 'grace' (not the Christian theological implication) and provides him with a defence even though there are those who seek to detract from him and accuse him. The Hebrew word for immunity or pardon חנינה shares the same root.

He refers to the Midrash Bereisheet (*) which explains that when Yaakov extended the value of grace to his sons, there were only 11 born at that time.

And when did he do that? When meeting Esav, Genesis 33:5:

And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said: 'Who are these with thee?' And he said: 'The children whom God hath graciously given thy servant.'

Benjamin was born only afterwards. Lacking in this characteristic of 'grace', of being favored, Yosef stepped in and provided it for his younger brother Benjamin.

Yosef did so because he was able to perceive that in a later period, all the tribes would gather together against Benjamin. The Izibitze Rebbe notes the affair of the Concubine of Givah (as related in Judges 19-21) and suggests that Yaakov declined to extend to Benjamin 'grace' but his brother, son of the same mother, did so, for Yosef was also a Tzaddik and as the Zohar claims - Yosef is called the the Upper Tzaddik and Benjamin is the Lower Tzaddik (in the portion of Vayeitze, Par. 133 in the Sulam division or p. 153B).

The Affair of the Concubine in Givah was resolved here in the valley beneath Shiloh.

And so, we can close the circle.

As we live in Shiloh today, recalling our past and the spiritual and physical contentions, may we gain strength from our forefathers and their example.



ה] יוסף מארח את אחיו בביתו]
וישאל להם לשלום וגו' ויאמרו שלום וגו'
רבי חייא רבה חמא, חד בבלאי אמר לו:
מה עבד אבא?
אמר לו: אמך שאלה בך.
אמר לו: אנא אמר לך כדין, ואת אומר לי כדין!
אמר לו: שואלים על החיים ואין שואלים על המתים.
כך, השלום אביכם, זה יעקב הזקן.
אשר אמרתם, זה יצחק.
ויאמרו שלום לעבדך לאבינו וישא עיניו וירא את וגו'
אמר רבי בנימין: לפי ששמענו חנינה בי"א שבטים, ולא שמענו חנינה בשבט בנימין.

והיכן שמענו?

כאן שמענו, ויאמר: אלהים יחנך בני, וימהר יוסף וגו'

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