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 Updated  Dec. 18, 2013    

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PARASHAT VAYECHI

Genesis 47:28-50:26 - HAFTORAH: 1 Kings 2:1-12

(An edited transcript of a radio program on the Weekly Torah Portion -  A Commentary by Rabbi Avraham Feld).

Introduction


You are listening to a Bible study, presented by Kol HaTor. The KHT Vision undertakes the dissemination of knowledge, news and facts about an amazing Event predicted in Bible prophecy in what it calls the End Time – namely. the re-identifying of the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel, exiled from their Land for the last 2800 years, yet prophetically destined to rediscover their Hebraic Identity, and to return to the actual Land of Israel to re-unite with Judah (the Jews) into ONE nation, re-settled in the Promised Land. This will form the Biblically proclaimed Kingdom of the Creator G-d of Israel, Who will rule over the entire world from Jerusalem - the currently much disputed City in the volatile Middle East.

We welcome Rabbi Avraham Feld of Jerusalem, for the presentation of this special series of Bible Studies, based on the annual cyclical program of reading the Torah (5 books) in 52 weekly portions in synagogues, the world over. Each weekly portion is called a Parashat, which is followed by a reading from the Prophetic books or other writings in the Tanach. (OT)

Rabbi Feld is a founding member of KHT and has undertaken to focus his commentaries specifically for guidance and inspiration of the Reawakening 10-Tribers in their search for the Way Home to the Promised Land – as the Prophecies foretold.

Our reading today is from Parashat VaYechi (And he lived ...), from Genesis 47:28-50:26.  The very last part of the Book of Genesis - 1 Kings 2:1-12.
  
It is significant that this is the 12th Reading from our series, concluding the Book of Genesis. The fig.12, emphasizes the Message of the last few Readings from this Book which have been so explicit about the Reunification. This can only happen if the 12 Tribes are still ALIVE!

The salient Message of our reading today is RETURN – COME HOME! … To the Land of our forefathers – that portion of Land in the Middle East, the ownership of which is so ferociously contested.

This theme of the establishment of G-d’s Kingdom in Jerusalem forms the Main Message of the Bible. What is not so well known, but is currently being discovered by Bible students the world over, from different Faiths and walks of life, is that this Kingdom will be made up of Judah (the Jews) and the long lost House of Northern Israel (10 Tribes), which is currently in the process of being revealed by their return to Torah and their increasing love for the Land and its people. It is remarkable, that the current War in Gaza (Jan. 2009), seems to be sifting the people of the world into 2 camps – those who side and plead for the violent Hamas terrorist Palestinian side, and those who openly start siding with Israel. It is also remarkable, that VIOLENCE was the reason in the time of Noah, which caused G-d to destroy the world by flood – and even more remarkable, that the Hebrew word used in that Scripture in Gen. 6:13, is “Hamas”.

Our Parashat today, as Rabbi Feld will reveal, presents us also with the much needed KEY for achieving UNITY between the two greatly divided Houses of Judah and 10-Israel (also referred to in the Bible as Yoseph or Ephraim).

In its promotion of Reconciliation between the 2 Houses, the KHT Vision has found that many of the reawakening and re-identifying 10-Tribers still reject this Key.

May the contents of this Bible study bring better understanding to BOTH Houses, in order to make this Reconciliation and the establishment of the Re-United 12-Tribed Kingdom of Israel, united on Torah and under the rulership of the G-d of Israel, a REALITY.

May it yet come to pass in our Day and age – for the Glory of the G-d of Israel and for Peace in Zion!

We now call Rabbi Avraham Feld to the microphone for his commentary.

Audio - by Rabbi Avraham Feld:

Genesis 47, that's were we are today in Dr. Hertz's Bible. 

Here we are in the concluding Sidrah of Genesis. We see the sunset of Jacob's career. We behold the storm tossed soul on his deathbed blessing his children.  He is not afraid to die.  "I will sleep with my fathers" he says. He is at peace with G-d. "I will wait for Thy salvation O Lord," are among the last words he utters. He knows that he can never travel beyond G-d's care. He is at peace with man, Esav, Dina, Joseph. 

What a world of strife and suffering and anguish did each of these tragedies bring him?  And yet, he dies blessing.  Starting at the beginning,  remember, as this pure, innocent, plain man dwelling in the tents of learning. He grew and he possesses the rare art of extracting good from every buffeting of destiny.  He may err, or stumble,  but he ever rises again when the anvil of affliction, his soul is forged.  This is the covenantal personality of Jacob.  And this is the covenantal personality of each and every one of Judah and each and every one of 10-Israel.

Rabbi Dr. Hertz continues and he points out that the first verse says: "And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt", right!  So, of how few men can we repeat a phrase like "and Jacob lived."  When many a man dies, a death notice appears in the press.  In reality it is a life notice, because, but for the death notice, the world would never have known that that man had ever been alive. Only he, who has been a force for human goodness and abides in hearts and souls made better by his presence during his pilgrimage on earth, can be said to have lived.  Only such a one is heir to immortality.  And participation in G-d's Torah, participation in G-d's Covenant, participation in the Commandments gives a person immortality. Little frail, nothing human being from dust to dust becomes part of the past, present and the future, every time he is involved in any of the Commandments. He becomes one with all the generations that were before, and becomes one with all the generations that will be after.  It’s a very important point to remember.  It applies to all the mitzvot (commandments).

 

As 10-Israel,  I see you are getting more and more into observing the Commandments.  More and more into embracing the Commandments.  I have feedback that they feel more and more part of eternity, and are part of the golden chain that stretches through the millennium. We see that right away, from the way the Torah describes Jacob. We are reading about his death, yet the Torah doesn’t use the word death, and it doesn't use the word dying, and it doesn't use the word that he passed away, it just speaks of his life.


Something else I want to point out, is that we have here 12 parashiot, twelve little sections. Seven are open and 5 are closed. In a real Torah scroll, there are spaces between different sections, little spaces, and that’s what we mean by ‘open and closed’. There are 85 verses in this week’s Parashah, there are 1158 words and 40,448 letters, and we know how that ranks in regards to all the other Torah readings. For example, 85 verses rank 44th in the Torah and it's the 12th in the book of Genesis. None of the 613 commandments are found in this week’s Torah reading. I’m just reminding you how exacting every single word is weighed and loved and cherished and interpreted and expounded by the Rabbis and Sages and the Scribes, from then until today. 


We have a fellow from Beth El, one of the brave settlements or Jewish communities in the ‘liberated territory of the hills of Judah’ - his name is Akiba Taylor. He is also a scribe, so he comes and teaches kids. He is a 4th degree black-belt in ju-jitsu and an outstanding horse rider. He has 6 children and is a Torah scholar and he is a scribe. He brought a little child to our program to read a letter on some parchment which he had written. Because he wrote a yud (the yud is the 10th letter in the Hebrew alphabet), and he wrote the line of the yud a little longer than normal, so it's possible it could be read as a vav, the sixth letter.  So who's to make the determination?  Because you as an adult who knows Hebrew would look at the word and know what it is.  You would know what that letter is, there wouldn't be any question to you.  So you need a little child,  who is right before reading level, who doesn’t look at the letter within the word and therefore knows what the letter is, and who is only focusing on the little “black fire on the white fire."  The black ink on the white parchment. That little child has to say whether it's an elongated  yud, or it's not a yud at all -  it's a vav.  So we ask this little pure, innocent child for his opinion. The child looked at it and said, ‘O, that’s a yud’. On the basis of that child’s understanding of the letter, legally, you don't need to repair that parchment, because every letter has to be perfect.  So a little innocent child’s reading of that letter, creates the kashrut, the “kosherness” of that parchment for all us adults to use, whether it's tefillin to wear on your arms, as a sign or a frontlet, or the mezuzah on the door, or whether it's a Torah scroll. I'm just showing you ... it's amazing ... according to the Artscroll Series of the Chumash, the Stone Edition, from Rabbi Nosson Scherman, Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz,  ... I want you guys to buy this book ... all these books to build an authentic, Jewish library.


So, in the entire Torah scroll, Vayechi, this week's reading, is unique in that there is no extra space between it and the preceding parashah, the preceding reading. In contrast to the general rule that a sidrah begins on a new line, or that it is separated from the previous one by at least a nine-letter space. So, Oral Torah describes Vayechi as setuma, closed - a condition that is meant to teach something about the mood of Jacob’s children when he died. Understand this, the open and closed sections in the Torah, how many of those little spaces are interpreted. They are there for a reason, they are not just there because the guy ran out of ink!  Or he had to go change, or get a cup of coffee. They are there from ancient tradition and that is how it is supposed to be.  So those little separations or lack of separations, in this case, have massive meaning. This is amazing, because  like a million Gentiles, and a million secular Jews  would never think that the spaces in the Bible have any meaning at all.  It's nonsense according to them!  The whole Bible is to so many people nonsense, right?  But not only does it truly have meaning, it has massive meaning! It's just not available to everyone to know.


So here in this week’s Parashah - without a space between it and the last week's Parashah,  it simply continues.  So it's 'closed'.  There is no opening.  Therefore we learn something from that. What do we learn? The Torah is teaching certain conditions that were meant to teach something about the mood of Jacob's children when he died.  At that moment, the hearts of the children of Israel were ‘closed,’ in expectation of the suffering and despair of the impending bondage. Immediately after his death, the spiritual exile began more openly, even though the physical and emotional travail of terrible enslavement didn’t commence until the death of all his sons. Another reason is that Jacob wanted to tell his children about the Time of the End, the Messianic Age, when Israel’s exile would finally end - but he was prevented from doing so because his prophetic vision was ‘closed’, i.e., it was concealed from him.


The Sages in the Oral Torah teach that the spaces in the Torah indicate that G-d paused in order to allow, for example, Moses and later students as well, to reflect upon the preceding verses. Consequently, the closure of Vayechi, this reading, implies that in the aftermath of Jacob’s death, his offspring did not have the capacity to perceive the significance, or draw the proper conclusions from the event, - according to Rabbi Gelalia Shor.


On verse 28:  Jacob makes a request of Joseph. Feeling that his death was drawing near, Jacob sent for Joseph, the only one of his sons who had power, and asked Joseph to swear that he would bring him to the land of Israel for burial in Hebron in the Cave of Machpelah.  He had several reasons for insisting on this. 

- One, he knew that the soil of Egypt would one day be plagued, in Exodus 8:12, which would have swarmed beneath his body, if he had been born in Egypt.

- Two, he knew that those who were buried outside of Egypt would not come to life at the Resurrection until they kind of, somehow passed ... or got reburied, or some essence of their souls passed through the ground to get to the Land of Israel. This is a big topic, which we can't go into now. 

- Also, Jacob didn’t want the Egyptians to make his tomb a shrine of idol worship by Gentiles. When some great  men died in the ancient world, it's not good enough that such was a great man, it's not good enough that he reached some perfection in his life; it's not good enough that he exercised discipline and justice or mercy, or wisdom.  No!  They make him a god - he becomes divine - and Jacob was terrified that they would turn him into another god also. Today, if he had been buried in Egypt, there would have been another religion in the world - another pagan philosophy, whatever emerged.  Because when people thousands of years ago saw someone of perfection, they couldn't just except that this was a human being  ... realizing his image of G-d. No! He has to be a divine creature.

 

So, Jacob wanted to avoid that and in addition, he wanted to establish for his offspring the principle that only Eretz Israel was their heritage, no matter how successful, or comfortable they might be in some other land. This was especially important then, for he saw that his family had begun to feel at home in Egypt. That they were being grasped by it.  Soon they might substitute the Nile for the Jordan. As Meshech Chochmah wrote of the assimilated Jews in the nineteenth century; “they substituted Berlin for Jerusalem.”  It was thus necessary for him to demonstrate in an impressive manner, that Egypt was not their homeland.  Rabbi Munk points this out.


And that is not some old, Biblical point; that's absolutely relevant to each and everyone of 10-Israel and each and everyone of Judah. There is 72,5 % intermarriage among Judah in the USA.  There is a similar terrible intermarriage rate in France for Judah as well.  And 10-Israel - if they don’t strive to come home, if they don't make Eretz Israel a focal point of their striving and their yearning; if they don’t put Jerusalem above their chief joy, if they don't realize that “Egypt” is not their heritage, but that the land of Israel is, if they get too comfortable in Johannesburg, or London, Paris or LA, they are going to be lost!  Just like Judah is being lost.  Jacob’s message speaks clearly and directly to 10-Israel no less than it spoke, and speaks to Judah!

 

I would like to hop over to chapter 48:8-21. The blessing of Manasseh and Ephraim - in the Stone Bible.  Jacob now prepared to give his special blessing to Joseph’s sons. As the Torah states in verse 15, this constituted a blessing for Joseph as well, because the greatest mark of his success in maintaining his spiritual integrity in Egypt, was that his sons, born on foreign soil, were worthy of such a lofty status in G-d’s nation.  Jacob’s blessing also included an aspect that surprised Joseph; Jacob gave priority to the younger son Ephraim, for, as he explained to Joseph, both sons would be great, but Ephraim would be the greater of the two.


And as you all know,  that Jews bless their children every Friday night to be "like Ephraim and Manasseh," because one of the important things is that they didn’t have envy and hatred between them.  So, all parents want their kids to get along.

 

And secondly, they maintained their ... we would now say, their Jewish orthodox identity.  In those  days we would say their Hebrew identity, their Hebrew orthodox identity, in a land of promiscuity and paganism.  So, what greater blessing? - could children survive the agonies and assimilations and temptations and exile and yet be loving brothers to each other!  So every Friday night in every home that considers itself Jewish,  they bless their kids to be like Ephraim and Manasseh ... that is, their boys,  and their daughters to be like the matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachael and Leah.

Let's move over to verse 15; Joseph then removed them from his knees and he prostrated himself with his face to the ground.  Joseph took the two of them – Ephraim with his right hand to Israel’s left – and Manasseh with his left, to Israel’s right - he drew close to them. But Israel extended his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head. He maneuvered his hands, for Manasseh was the firstborn.  He blessed Joseph and he said, “O G-d before Whom my forefathers Abraham and Isaac walked – G-d Who shepherds me from my inception until this day: before Whom my forefathers walked, Whom Abraham and Isaac served in heart and deed." Our Oral Torah gives two similes of how the Patriarchs walked before G-d. Rabbi Yochanan likened them to sheep walking before their shepherd, meaning that they recognized that all people depend on G-d for their sustenance.  Reish Lakish likened them to elders walking before a prince, meaning that they strove to bring glory to G-d in everything they did. That is a message to 10-Israel of how we need to walk. A lot of my friends in 10-Israel are like living secret lives, because they are afraid of censure and being attacked economically, emotionally from their neighbors or family.

We don’t believe in kama kasi's and suicides;  we don't support suicidal moves, but some of my friends in 10-Israel are overdoing their secrecy. They have this amazing awareness,  this amazing enlightenment, they understand how rich Scriptures while the overwhelming majority of their peers, friends, families, neighbours and co-workers and colleagues don't - and they keep it a secret from everyone around them.  So, I am not saying ... and I don't want anyone to do anything that ruins their life. I don't want anyone to do anything that jeopardizes their safety, but our forefathers served G-d, walked with Him in heart and deed. That means that they recognized that we are dependent on G-d.  It also means that you were able to know that this was Abraham, and this was Isaac and this was Jacob. They stood out from the community.  They stood out from the other people around them. They did have a outreach program to bring light to the Gentiles surrounding them. So we, as Judah, and 10-Israel must not - imitating of our ancestors means to reach out.  I don't say you should reach out in a way that in a Muslim country could get your hand cut off.  But we have to reach out. We can’t keep our knowledge top secret; it has to go outside of us, overflow and bless others around us. We have to be willing to have a little bit of flack for what we believe in.


In verse 19, moving down the line ... Joseph wanted to correct his father. His father says: ‘Listen, I haven't lost my mind. I know what I’m doing! I know, my son, he too will become a nation, and he too will become great; yet his younger brother shall become greater than he, and his offspring’s (fame) will fill the nations."


I just want you to know why Ephraim would become great, because it is very important. Our Oral Torah explains that Jacob repeated the expression to imply the he knew many things of which Joseph was unaware. If he chose to give the primary blessing to Ephraim, it was for good and sufficient reasons.


Ha'amek HaDavar explains that Ephraim’s pre-eminence was not the result of Jacob’s blessing.  This is important. The greatness that comes out of these kids didn't come because of the blessing.  It was already in the kids. The blessing just helped to reveal it.  Rather, it was because Ephraim was destined for more greatness, that he required a more intensive blessing.  Prominent people need a blessing to carry out their mission successfully. Not Jacob’s blessing, but Ephraim’s upbringing was the source of his future greatness - for Ephraim spent his life studying Torah with Jacob, while Manasseh was Joseph’s assistant in governing the country. Thus Ephraim’s accomplishments in Torah study earned him the primary blessing.


This contrasts with the experience of the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun. Although Issachar was the tribe that excelled in Torah scholarship, while Zebulun was a merchant tribe, Jacob gave precedence to Zebulun because Issachar’s spiritual growth was made possible only because Zebulun shared his wealth with the scholars of Issachar. So, most people who supported Torah, in the eyes of the Torah, get full credit for the Torah that's being learned by those who are learning the Torah. This is something that all of religious Judah are aware of.  And it is something that 10-Israel must be aware of - this idea that just transpired.  You know, when learning Torah, the light always grows. And every year, you see more and more depth to these words.


Verse 21: Then Israel said to Joseph,’ Behold, I am about to die; G-d will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your fathers. And as for me, I have given you Shechem – one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Emorite with my sword and with my bow.” So according to this ... what's going on? Jacob referred to the city of Shechem - it became his at the time when Shimon and Levi slew the inhabitants of the city and all the surrounding nations gathered against them.  Jacob took up arms to do battle with them and triumphed in a hidden miracle. So, according to this understanding, that Jacob referred to the double portion of the first-born, the birthright became his because he wrested it from Esau who here is called the “Emorite”. If so, then “my sword and my bow” are figurative names for the spiritual weapons that gave Jacob the right to gain the privilege of the birthright and its blessings.  Remember, it's a real sword and bow, but it also has theological and philosophical implications as well. Accordingly, the sword here represents ‘sharp wisdom,’ and the bow represents prayer, which propels the supplicant’s plea to G-d. In another view of looking at this, the prayer of the righteous is like a sword because it ‘pierces’ barriers Above and Below;  it is like a bow because, just as an arrow’s swiftness, power and distance depend on the pressure exerted on the bow, so too, the efficiency of prayer depends on the degree of the supplicant's intense concentration and sincerity.


The use of these similes reveals another aspect of the righteous. To them, strength depends not on armaments and sheer physical force, but on their spiritual strength. As the Psalmist said, ‘These with chariots and these with horses, but we – in the Name of Hashem, our G-d - call out. They slumped and fell, but we arose and were invigorated’. Ps. 20:8.


We have, in our ultra-orthodox world, an attitude which parallels the attitude in some Christian Zionists and 10-Israel, namely, that we don’t need to do anything, G-d will do it all. That the issue of the Land of Israel, and the state of Israel, and redemption is in His hands. And I even had a few people insist on me, that when Jacob took his bow and sword, it only meant prayer, it only meant cutting of prayer and the wisdom of the Torah. It only meant that which is ridiculous! That's like saying  when the Torah says ... this is what some Christians would like to say ...  when the Torah says you should bind them on your arm and head it is only talking about spiritual ideas. But it is very clear that it is also talking about a physical object that is physically bound upon your arm and upon your head.

 

And likewise, Jacob had to take a physical sword and a physical bow. I really love the idea that just as an arrow’s swiftness, power and distance depends on the pressure exerted on the bow, so too, the power, the accomplishment of a prayer depends upon the degree of the supplicants intense concentration and sincerity. How he can send it upwards. It’s a beautiful idea and it is literal. For Jacob, his physical armament, his “guns”, were also spiritual tools; they were invested with sanctity. Another interesting point is that when he says “Emorite” - "which I took out of the hand of the Emorite"  the word "Emorite" could also be "with my word." The word in Hebrew which here refers to Esau is "Emorite" ...  ‘emor’ also is  “to speak”. It could also be "my speaking." - so that the same word implies Esav  ... and how did he overcome Esau?  By his speaking, by his sharp wisdom, by his sword, by his prayer. By his sharp words. This word or his pleas to G-d. This whole thing I’m talking about, actually emanates from the literal text of the Bible. As Menachem Persof said,  that this is not the general image we have of Jacob. When did he go to war? So we hear he went to war on this issue. We don’t really think of him as a warrior. This ‘Emorite’ refers to the wicked Esau who ensnared his father through the power of speech. Again "emori"  ... like from speech ... words ... he ‘conned’ his father, Jacob.  In response, Jacob employed his spiritual tools. “My sharp sword  ... wisdom ... and my bow” which can be read ... “my plea”. The Hebrew word for bow "keshet,"  the way it is put here in the Bible,  "kashti" could be read "bevakasha" in Hebrew means ‘to plea’; it means a supplication. So you see, this Oral Torah didn’t come flying down out of nowhere; it comes straight out of the literal Biblical words. From this perspective we see an assertive Jacob who fights for his sublime beliefs with all the tools at his disposal. We see a Jacob that doesn’t just ‘sit back and get pushed around’ but someone who knows how to push back. A very important message for 10-Israel today. You know, it is very complex, the relationships and the blessings of the tribes. All of it has tremendous meaning for us today.


But I just want to introduce this to everyone here. We are not trying to go into an in depth seminar at this moment. I very much debated whether or not to share one idea here. Maybe if it's too radical, OvadYah can edit it from the class. Here in this week’s Torah learning is one of the spots that we actually learn, that it is permissible to exchange the truth for the sake of peace. How can we possibly learn that from this week's parashah?  Remember, after Jacob was buried, right!  What happened?  The kids, his brothers say to him, “Your father gave orders before his death,  saying: “Thus shall you say to Joseph; ‘Oh please, kindly forgive the spiteful deeds of your brothers and their sin, for they have done you evil. So now, please forgive the spiteful deed of the servants of your father’s G-d.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.


He cried, because he was so disturbed that his brothers really would think that he was going to do them harm after all they had been through. He reaffirmed to them; “Fear not, for am I instead of G-d?  Although you intended me harm, G-d intended it for good, in order to accomplish – it is as clear as this day - that a vast people be kept alive. So now,  fear not – I will sustain you and your young ones. Thus he comforted them and spoke to their heart”.


What do you learn from here? That you can change the truth for peace. Jacob never even discussed this issue with them. Jacob never gave them such instructions. They were just afraid and they made up the story to protect themselves from what could have been a possible death sentence cast against them. When the angel repeated to Abraham that Sarah laughed, the angel deleted something.  Sarah also said: "How can I conceive, I am an old lady! But my husband is also an old man." The angel edited Sarah's words. Because he didn't want to get Abraham upset with Sarah, that she would call him an old man. It may disturb their peaceful relationships. And we have many other examples in the Scriptures, where it could be possible to change the truth for the purposes of peace. 

 

Of course,  to save your literal life, you are allowed to lie.  Just as you can break the Sabbath for saving someone's life, even if there was a doubt.  Likewise,  you can lie, to save someone's life. But here we are talking about something in addition and for peace. Sometimes it can be permissible to change the truth. And I believe that 10-Israel has to get over some of their hang-ups when it comes to dealing with the State of Israel, which is not being run according to the Bible. They want to cut the umbilical cord from Jews and Judaism with a modern, secular, humanistic state of Israel.  And you have to know that because you are warring for the unification of the Tribes, you may have to change the truth a little bit for peace, or possibly to save your very lives. Don’t get all pedantic and confused on this topic. One of the most dramatic moments in the whole Bible was when Abraham was offering up Isaac. And what was the climax of the story?  Isaac lives! And the Bible says that you should live by the Commandments.  And the Oral Torah adds 'and not die by them'. You need to live for the Commandments. Life is a very big priority, even if we need to change the truth to get things to succeed.


You know, if you want to understand how Judah thinks of Jacob, and how Judah thinks of King David, think about how Christians think about Jesus, whether they deify Jesus or they just think of Jesus as some Nazarene as a Messiah figure. Whether it is the Messiah of David or the Messiah of Joseph. But just think of the way they feel of the Nazarene. This passionate love ... but guess what?  Jews feel that way about Jacob, they feel that way about Moses, they feel that way especially about  David. You know Orthodox Jews can cry about these guys. Do you know that orthodox Jews don’t    say, “Good Sabbath” with the commencement of the Sabbath afternoon, because king David died on the Sabbath.  And they don't say  "Shabbat shalom",  they just nod their heads to each other. That's amazing right?  That's how real King David is in our lives.

 

We have a meal, following the Sabbath, for King David.  His meal escorts the Sabbath out. The Queen Sabbath. And Jacob is similar and Moses is similar and a few other personalities are similar. You know, so many Christians whom I know, and a lot of Ten Tribers, have all terrible problems with David and King Solomon. You will never find anyone in Judah who is religious and believes in the Bible, embracing it, that has anything but absolute, ultimate respect, admiration and love for David and Solomon. If you want to understand how we feel, just think of how people feel about the Nazarene. That is how we feel about King David and about Jacob and about a couple other personalities.  That's our intensity of feeling. We don’t pray to them or venerate them as gods  incarnate, or as Messiahs, but as the infrastructure for Messiah.


I have friends that think that King David is going to be the Messiah. So we believe that King David will be Messiah emeritus.  You know, he will be honorary Messiah. He won't be literal Messiah. When they attack me on this topic, we don’t get upset ... you don't get any orthodox Jew to get upset about it.  It is because we so much love King David.  You want him to be Messiah, its OK with us. He is a Messiah, he is just not going to be "the Main Guy".  He'll be Messiah emeritus. We have tremendous passion and love, and this is like a daily thing.  King David is like a personal Rabbi to all of Jewish people.

 

And Jacob in some ways less, but likewise has that dynamic about him.  It is just something that you will not get out of a book, that I have just told you. I don't think anyone would write that up.

 

OvadYah is reminding me that we also have to do the Haftorah. Oi, so again from the Stone Bible. We read from I Kings 2:1-12. Obviously there is some symbolism there, right? Like the Sidrah, the Haftorah describes the last will and testament of one of the greatest figures in history. In the Sidrah, Jacob gives his final commands and blessings, first to Joseph and then ... and then, and then ... what does he do? To all the brothers, assigning each of them his specific role in Jewish history. David issues his commands to only one son, his anointed successor, Solomon.


David’s words and challenges and demands upon Solomon, is that Solomon should follow the Commandments of the Torah and that only thereby can he assure success for himself and his kids after him. So, he urges that Solomon show kindness to the family of Barzilai, who stood by David during the hardest period of his life. Obedience to the Torah is the raison d’être of the Jewish people; without it the nation can look forward only to enmity, defeat, and exile.


The State of Israel, as it is today, run by extreme secular parties, even though among the parties are great, hundreds of thousands of good Jewish people, who are being exploited, and taken advantage of by these parties - and fooled by them.  None the less, the parties have extreme secular agendas, and don't consult the Bible and don’t want to know what the Bible scholars have to say. But only through this connection to the Torah will there be a successful national life.


David's acknowledgment and gratitude, too, is a basic Jewish value.  But the rest of his will is surprising. David commands Solomon to exact the death penalty against Joab and Shim’ini. Was vengeance a prerequisite of Jewish leadership?


It may be that David’s last words were concerned with communicating to Solomon the attitudes he must have regarding such character traits as treachery, loyalty, and duplicity. As the commanding general of David’s army, Joab was one of the most important people in the kingdom and in David’s own accession to the throne. But in a cowardly and treacherous way, he had murdered Abner and Amasa after gaining their confidence. David had admitted that his position was not strong enough to permit him to punish Joab, but he urged Solomon not to permit the attitude to fester that the mighty have a different law than the weak, and to dispel the notion that David may have conspired with Joab to do away with the competing generals.


So what does 10-Israel learn from this? What is Judah learning from this? You got to know when to hold up, when to hide away ... you don't count your money when you are at the table, right? Sometimes you have to be kind and show gratitude and sometimes you have to be tough. Tough love! There will come times in 10-Israel's future and in Judah’s future, that the correct thing to do will be to punish and to defeat, and to defeat to unconditional surrender. But it is all going to be a useless blessing if we are not going to work according to, and in obedience to, the Torah. Without that, we have no hope of a successful national life.  Success of our personal lives will be grave doubt as well. So, David is telling you guys out there, echoing Jacob, that you have to be good, you have to keep Torah, be grateful, you have to make Torah a primary thing and you have to be willing to fight. You have to be willing to be treacherous. You have to be willing to out-maneuver the enemy. And you have to be willing sometimes in service of a greater good and self defense, to eliminate your enemies.

Something else about Judah that I wanted to say. You contrast the characterization of Reuben with Jacob’s jubilant praise of Judah. Unlike Reuben, Judah has neither birthright nor the dignity or opportunity of the first-born - but he has both strength and consistency of purpose. He knows his enemy, and – whether it is a person, an evil or a cause – his hand is upon that enemy’s neck. Capable indeed of falling into grievous error and sin, he is yet true at heart. Judah’s character fits him to take the lead and rule. He is the worthy ancestor of David, Isaiah and Nehemiah and the father of the royal tribe that led in the conquest of the Promised Land.


Jacob perhaps thought that Joseph could be the main leader of the tribes, but Joseph was not able to inspire a very important trait – Unity!  Joseph inspired enmity, jealousy and even hatred.  His insensitivity to his brothers' feelings was not what you need in a leader.  You know, he is telling his brothers how they are all going to bow down to him, and mom and dad is going to bow down to him.  He just enraged them; not that he had any malice in mind, but he was so much out of contact with “the populace”.  A leader has to know and have empathy with his subjects.

 

Whereas Judah had all kinds of great qualities and as OvadYah always likes to point out, as Genesis also explains, Judah was blessed to be the law-giver. He would be the one that was going to translate and transmit the whole message here,  the whole Word of G-d.  He had another much needed quality – the power to bring unity among the tribes.  Joseph was going to be King.  What did he think, that he was going to impose unity? They would all bow down to him as a royal edict?  But Judah won everybody’s respect, he won everybody's love, he won everybody's loyalty.  He was like elected. 

 

Rabbi Cook points out,  that what happened in the times of Samuel, is that the people surrendered their power and gave it to one person –  that's where the King got his power from. When we don't have a King anymore,  that power has gone back to the people. There is actually some spiritual quality to the whole idea of democracy, because the people do have a certain power. Judaism likes to think it is the sincere Torah leadership that ultimately exercises the democratic goals of the nation. They are the ones that have the ability to decide what needs to be done, or not to be done. So the power of the king ultimately comes from the people surrendering their collective power to him. That’s what Judah was able to achieve. A unity among the people. Judah was the law-giver for all generations, for all time. That is important for 10-Israel to realize.

 

So, Judah started out the tribes as it's leader, it's leader who brought unity - and he will end up now, in the end times, being the leader.  Remember, Judah led the tribes in military victory, which also won the hearts and minds.  So, who is doing that now?  Who is filling up our cemeteries now?  It is Judah that is filling up the cemeteries!  Judah is the one that is laying down his life in the military front lines for 10-Israel,  for 12 Israel.  Just like in ancient times, Judah is the one that has made the sacrifices necessary to take this land of Israel and start to redeem it and reclaim it.  Just as this very moment it's the sons of Judah who are dying in the Gaza strip and risking their lives in the Gaza strip.  I’m working very hard to get them to realize it, that they are doing this for 10-Israel as well as for Judah. 

 

The accomplishments of the Israeli army are great.  Unfortunately, our politicians can nullify all those accomplishments with their idiot and corrupt diplomacy; which turns victories into absolute failures which then becomes counterproductive.  We have our garbage among Judah, I am not saying that we don't.  Judah is not Judah today. The State of Israel is not a Jewish State, it is “a state of all is inhabitants”.  And it's not run by true Judah, it's run by Anti-Judah; like Christians talk about something like the Anti-Christ, the anti-Nazarene.  Some 10-Tribers also talk in those terms. A lot of 10-Tribers don't.  So we have anti-Judah leadership who's purposes are not anything to do with what is best for G-d’s people, for G-d's nation, but for what is good for their political interest, their personal interest and their parties.  The party is the basket of all ideology and all values and the nations just exists to serve the party.  So if it is good for the party, the forces and the business people who is backing the party politicians, and the Noble Peace Prizes, and capital investments into their businesses and foundations, it doesn't matter if it creates death and destruction to the people. The people anyhow live to serve these parties.  But yet, there are parties that embrace the Bible.

 

In conclusion,  Judah is laying down his life.  Judah of old times was a military hero and he created unity - and now Judah again is taking back the land  and 10-Israel has to come back to Judah, because the Bible already told us that Judah is the law-giver.  Judah will have  the message. Judah will be the one to preserve and have kept that message of that chain going back into that distant past and going into the distant future. Which is OK! That is what G-d decided.

 

That is not to say, that there are not tremendous failings of grievous errors that Judah can make. That is the way it is set up. And Judah desperately needs the blessings of 10-Israel.

 

Judah is crippled, disabled, almost vegetabled without the infusion of the life-blood which 10-Israel is going to be giving it - that you are giving already.  You revive Judah!  You help Judah overcome it's bad aspects - and help Judah overcome the evil within Judah. And help Judah take away political leadership from the anti-Judah and anti-Bible forces.  That will largely happen because of 10-Israel’s up and coming reconciliation.  This will give Judah itself the strength to assert his true colors. 

 

And that's why we are working day and night to try to get Judah to realize this, to wake up from its slumber; from it's dreamlike state,  to be aware of your presence and to accept you, and embrace you and to love you, like we all need to do.

 

Judah has to realize that he is lacking without you, he must be willing to make a sacrifice for you -  just as Judah was willing to sacrifice for little Benjamin.


Until next week - we love you all!

Rabbi Avraham Feld

Co-Founder, Kol HaTor Vision

Jerusalem

 

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Our Mandate - Ezekiel 37:15-28

" The word of HaShem came to me: "Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, 'Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.' Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, 'Ephraim's stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.' Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.

"When your countrymen ask you, 'Won't you tell us what you mean by this?' say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign HaShem says: 'I am going to take the stick of Joseph - which is in Ephraim's hand - and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah's stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in My Hand.' Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign HaShem says: 'I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be My People, and I will be their G-d. My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one Shepherd. They will follow My Laws and be careful to keep My Decrees. They will live in the land I gave to My servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children will live there forever, and David My servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put My Sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their G-d, and they will be My People. Then the nations will know that I, HaShem, make Israel holy, when My Sanctuary is among them forever.' "


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