Weekly Torah Reading Commentaries
Updated Dec. 5, 201312
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Weekly Bible Reading #13
('Names' - of the Patriarchs of the 12 Tribes
of the Kingdom of Israel)
Ashkenazi: Isaiah 27:6 - 28:13; 29:22 - 29:23
Sephardic: Jeremiah 1:1-2:3
NOTE: Kol HaTor, in its commentaries on the weekly Parashot, endeavours to search for and accentuate the Torah Messages contained in the Parashot as applicable to the main Theme of Tanach of the Return of the House of Israel, i.e. the Lost Ten Tribes of Northern Israel and their Reconciliation with Judah to form the reunited 12-Tribed Kingdom of Israel.
DISCLAIMER - The authors whom we quote from for this Commentary are not associated with KOL HA'TOR and need not agree with our views expressed herein or in our other publications. While we publish their views for its relative value to the interpretation of the Parashah, KOL HATOR does not necessarily agree with the views expressed by these authors.
In our previous 12 Parashot from the Book of Genesis we have traced the Divine Election for channeling the Blessing of Abraham, through its family tracks, through Yitzchak and Ya'acov, to the 70 family members who went down into Egypt. From the book of Exodus onwards, we now see the national development of this Divine Election Process - the nucleus of the Nation to come at the End Time, amongst whom G-d would have a righteous Ruling Body to rule in His forthcoming Universal Kingdom. We will see how these 70 souls multiply, become a multitude, become enslaved in Egypt and eventually redeemed - all as a metaphor of the Ultimate future Redemption at the final fulfillment of Abraham's Blessings in a multitude of nations.
Parashat Shmot gives us a glimpse into the nature of G-d's Elect and what is required of humans to bring about the Redemption (viz. the establishment of His Reconciled and Re-united 12-Tribed Kingdom to rule over the world).
Exodus opens with recording how the Hebrews (12 Tribes of Israel) became a multitude, thus threatening the Egyptian nationalism. The Pharaoh then instructed the "Hebrew midwives", Shiphrah and Puah, to kill the Hebrew male babies and let the girls live only. Because they were G-d-fearing though, these women let the boys live.
There rages a difference of opinion amongst interpreters, whether these women were Hebrew or Egyptian. Taking the point of those who believe that they were Egyptians, it supports the inspiring evidence that the acts of 'righteous Gentiles' during the Holocaust, to save Jewish souls at the risk of their own lives, bear to the righteous nature that can be found in all nations. To recognize this good in humans, irrespective of their nationality, religion or ethnicity, provides us with sound foundations for developing the righteous nature that will be required to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
We find the same righteous nature in the daughter of Pharaoh when she finds the Hebrew child Moses in the river, hidden against the evil decree of her father. She arranges for his safe keeping and later takes him into the Palace where he grows up as an Egyptian in high society.
Then follows the Calling of Moses to rescue the Hebrew nation from their slavery in Egypt and to lead them to the Holy Land. Moses hedges against the Divine Request, offering all sorts of excuses to the extent of eventually angering G-d.
Why did Moses hedge?
Because he feared that he would not be recognized as a Hebrew, as did his wife-to-be, Zipporah, daughter of a Midianite priest, when she and her sisters told their father that they had met 'an Egyptian' (Exod. 2:15 -->). He would not be seen as sharing the Hebrew culture or religion, because he spent all his life amongst Gentiles. He grew up as a child amongst the aristocracy of and in the household of an Egyptian Pharaoh. After he killed an Egyptian soldier for beating a Hebrew slave, he had a very bad experience when, in trying to make peace between two Hebrews fighting, that one turned on him for killing the Egyptian soldier. He realized that his life was now in danger and he fled to the land of Midian where he spent the next 60 years amongst Gentiles, even marrying into a Gentile family, and now - this Calling by G-d. How could he expect the great Hebrew nation to except him as their redeemer?
So here was a man who grew up as an Egyptian, and lived a non-Hebrew life amongst the Gentiles all his life - now called on to go and rescue the nation of his birth in the Name of the G-d of their forefathers.
Imagine! As we are standing ahead of the Ultimate Redemption today, that a non-Jew comes to the Rabbonim (the elders) of Israel and international Judaism, to claim and to offer to lead them to the ultimate Redemption that they and their fathers have been praying for throughout the ages, throughout persecutions and pogroms, throughout the Holocaust!
If everything else in the Bible records regarding the ancient Exodus, serve as metaphors (as used by Rabbinic interpretation and other commentators), pointing to the coming ultimate Redemption .... could this not be a metaphor also? Could this perhaps indicate that the Hebraic Core amongst 10-Israel, the 'Yoseph', (as we have concluded in our previous Parashot - week 8 throughout week 12), that they would be Divinely called to become the Peace Maker between the brothers - thus bringing Redemption, the Return of the Shechinah of HaShem? (i.e. when His People have made Peace amongst themselves).
The need for Unity amongst HaShem's People - a condition for Redemption - became evident from our last few Parashot about Yoseph. The Call for Unity is often echoed by Jewish commentators but with the accent only on Judah - the Jewish community. They loose out of sight that the Redemption can NOT take place without the presence and the Return of 10-Israel (Ephraim) - and this is where serious reconciliation is required. Such a Reconciliation will require for Judah a confrontation with and the Challenge to accommodate the "Egyptian Moses" or the "Egyptian Yoseph." This is where real Unity is required before the Shechinah of HaShem will return.
This is also where a Peace Maker Redeemer "Yoseph" is required. Is it then far fetched, in the light of the hints provided by this Parashah, to imagine 10-Israel to step into this position virtually as a "Messiah ben Yosef", i.e. in the image of a Messiah ben Yosef?
Let us consider this as a possibility:
Rabbi Levi Chazen (The Jewish idea, Jerusalem) reminds us to learn from this Calling of Moses, that HaShem selects whoever He deems worthy, to fulfill even the greatest events in His Redemption Process. He quotes the Netziv (Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, 1893) who refers to this and advises: "Let's not give advice to Hashem on how to redeem His people."
"He brings an historical example from the early times of the Second Temple period. Who would have believed that the return and the rebuilding of the Second Temple came about through the hands of Koresh, king of Persia - a non- Jew! Most Jews at the time did not believe that the Redemption could come about through him, so they did not return home to the Land of Israel.
"Moreover, the few who did return, for the most part, were intermarried and did not keep Shabbat. But through and through, this was the way that Hashem brought about the Redemption, and it was only because the entire nation did not "see the writing on the wall' and understand the Redemption process, that the full Redemption [ of the 12 Tribes ] did not come about. "
What should we learn from this?
Guidelines for 10-Israel
"10-Israel" represents the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel who were exiled from the Promised Land 8 centuries BCE because of their rebellion against the Torah and specifically against the appointed 'Law givers' (Mechoqeck), a Divine Mandate in the hands of the Tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10).
Amongst them is a core section who is returning to their 'Hebrew Roots' in a modern mass wave of Restoration. Accordingly these people return to Torah principles and the tenets of Faith of Judaism and become obsessed with a great urge to "Return to the Land of Israel" (as foretold by the Prophets) in the Bible.
If they are truly called by G-d to intercede in the Redemption of Israel, then they should:
Guidelines for Judah from this Parashah:
This Shabbat, we have the situation where there are two traditions for the Prophetic portions to be used as the "Haftarah" - the Ashkenazi tradition and the Sephardic, and they do not overlap at all! In fact, the Haftarot are provided by two different Prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah. This week we will follow the Sephardic, as it links with our observations thusfar.
Interestingly, This Sephardic reading is read by the Ashkenazim as the first of the three haftarot of “catastrophe” that precede Tisha b’Av (the 9th day of the month Av - closer to Succot) - that awesome date in history when at different times, both the Temples were destroyed in Jerusalem on the same day of the year. Many other catastrophes befell the Jews on this date, as recent as Tisha B'Av in 2005, when 10 000 Jews were forcibly disenfranchised from their homes, farms and businesses in Gush Katif, Gaza, Israel. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who engineered this unspeakable horror on his own people, after seven years is still lying living dead in his bed after a stroke shortly after.
This Haftorah was chosen for Shemot, because similarly to Moses, the prophet YirmeYahu is called upon by Hashem to proclaim a message to Israel. They both hedged against the Divine Request to address and assist Israel regarding their Redemption. They both were inspired and encouraged by HaShem with the Promise that He would stand by them.
YirmeYahu has two prophecies: the first regarding the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in the 7th century BCE and the second, regarding the final destruction in Gog Magog - the ultimate catastrophe to befall Israel when "all the nations of the world will draw up to Jerusalem" for the Great Battle. So destructive will this War be, that HaShem will personally and visibly intervene to prevent the annihilation of Israel! (Zech. 14).
Hashem reassures YirmeYahu that regardless of his feelings of unworthiness to bring the Message of Redemption, He would always be there to support him.
Regarding the second destruction, HaShem confirms: Jer. 1:14, “From the North disaster will be poured out on all who live in the Land. 15 I am about to summon all the peoples of the Northern kingdoms, declares HaShem."
In our previous Parashah, Va'yechi, the last section of Genesis, we read the amazing conclusions by an Israeli Rabbi and his co-author, regarding this same final catastrophe to befall HaShem's People, from the Gematriah of 501. One of the factors that added up to 501, was the Biblical phrase "by the works of your hands." We have exactly the same phrase in our Haftarah this week. We must therefore conclude that it is talking about the same catastrophe awaiting Israel:
Jer. 1:16 "
I will pronounce My Judgments
on My People
because of their wickedness
in forsaking Me,
in burning incense
to other gods
If our assumption above is correct that 10-Israel (the 'Yoseph' core within it) may become the medium used by HaShem to establish Redemption for Israel, then the Calling of YirmeYahu here, could well be a metaphor for the same concept.
If this is true, then re-awakening and to-Torah-returning 10-Israel is facing the Divine Call to take courage, rise up and claim the release of the exiles of the Ten Tribes of Israel held spiritually captive in pagan ideologies amongst the nations. And to confront Judah in a spirit of Peace, humility and subjection, claiming or declaring their Right of Return to the Land and to its Nation for the Final Redemption. In the process, like a Moses they can become the Redeemer of Israel (all 12 Tribes), and like a 'Yoseph', they can be the Peace Maker and Revealer of restored Identity amongst the 12 Brothers.
Like unto Moses and YermiYahu - A Great Calling indeed!
Like Moses and YermiYahu - it will require their humility (NOT their spiritual arrogance) to be successful and acceptable to Judah and Israel.
And, it will require the self confidence and leadership of a Yoseph.
Can there be any finer Guidelines for 10-Israel to qualify themselves for - and for Judah and his brothers to open their hearts to Yoseph for?
May Peace reign in Zion - soon!
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Our Mandate -
"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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