R’ Shlomo-VaYigash-The Deepest Secrets of Yiddishkeit

Dec 30th, 2011 by developer in Portion of the Week
Yosef vs. Yehuda – The Tzaddik and The Ba’al Tshuva:

Everybody knows that the Ishbitser says that these portions of Miketz and Vayigash are really one portion, but it’s divided into two parts because Miketz is the holiness of Yosef and Vayigash is the holiness of Yehuda.

In the end of the last parsha Binyamin was caught with the cup in his suitcase and he was brought before Yosef. All the brothers said they will be his slaves, but Yosef says ‘no, everybody can go back besides Binyamin, only he should stay here’ (Breishis 44:17).

This portion begins Vayigash Eilav Yehuda (Breishis 44:18). Yehuda mamesh walked up to him and he poured out his whole heart. Now it doesn’t say Vayigash El Paroh or Vayigash El Yosef, it says Vayigash Eilav. The Zohar Hakadosh says he was talking to Yosef, but really he was pouring out before G-d. Vayigash Eilav, mamesh he stood before him. (A Zohar Hakadosh similar to this is mentioned in Parshas Vayishlach 171b and the Beis Ya’akov says we apply it here to Yehuda)

So let’s start from here.

What is the secret of life, what is the secret of yiddishkeit?

You mamesh have to open your hearts in a very strong way.

How many people do we meet that mamesh touch our hearts? How many things happen to us in our lives which really touch our hearts? Very few people, very few. But now I’m asking you something even stronger. How many words of the Torah do we know that we could mamesh say they really touched our heart? We know so much and yet it’s possible to know every word of the Torah and be absolutely untouched, which is the most heartbreaking thing in the world. I can talk about G-d for two years and while I’m talking about G-d I’m not even thinking about him, it’s Possible. But is it possible to think that the Ribbono Shel Olam should give us the Torah and not put something so strong into those words so that they reach us? Just doesn’t make sense.

So the Ishbitser says like this (Mei Hashiloach v.2 on Tehillim 119:18). The truth is that every word of the Torah is so strong, it could tear my soul apart. The question is why did G-d give it to me in such a way that it might not reach me?

If it will reach me the way it’s given from G-d, I wouldn’t have a choice. Let’s say I’m learning the laws of Shabbos. The words are so holy and so unbelievably deep, they just get into my bones. From that moment on, I have no choice since they are way too deep in my bones. But G-d wants me to have choice, and G-d wants that I should choose to keep Shabbos. So in order that I should do it, G-d is hiding.

You see what it is, G-d is not hiding the words of the Torah from me. The Torah is open for me. ‘VeZos HaTorah Asher Sam Moshe Lifnei Bnei Yisrael’ (Devarim 4:44). Do you know what G-d is hiding? G-d hiding this deepest depth, absolute dynamic, unbelievable atomic power in the Torah that can mamesh tear up my bones. It’s so strong that I just can’t help but doing.

So here the Ishbitser says a gevalt. What does it mean to be in exile? To be in exile means that G-d is hiding from me that holiness of the Torah. You know what it means to be in galus? To be in exile means I learn the words but they don’t reach me, they just don’t reach me.

What does it mean to be in exile with another person? I can sit in a room with another person and talk to them, and we are hiding from each other. What is exile between a husband and a wife, parents and children? Gevalt, what an exile. Can you imagine sitting with your child, talking to them like a stranger, G-d forbid? It’s the most heartbreaking thing in the world. G-d forbid, this can also be between a husband and wife. You could sit at the table and go through the motions like everything, and you are hiding from each other. It’s the most heartbreaking thing in the world. I think that’s the deepest exile there is.

(Let’s say I’m learning G-d’s word and G-d is hiding from me, but I’m hiding from G-d.)

So listen and open your hearts. The Ishbitser says (Mei Hashiloach v.1, Parshas Vayeshev – first piece) what is the holiness of Yosef Hatzadik? He is called Yosef Hatzadik, what is a tzaddik? A tzaddik is somebody who the Torah is shining so strong that he nearly has no choice. But that means that by his own choice he doesn’t want to have choice. Before he is learning, he mamesh says ‘G-d, really, I don’t want you to hide from me, I don’t want you to hide from me. I want you to mamesh lay it on me’. He says ‘G-d, I want you to teach me your word, but I want your word to reach me in such a deep way that it just completely takes over’. This is the holiness of Yosef, he has the utmost that the Torah is shining into him.

Now listen to this, this is really mamesh deep. Everybody knows, it says that Ya’akov loved Yosef the most from all his sons, and our holy rabbis teach us (Medrash Breishis Raba 84:8) that it means that Ya’akov gave over to Yosef everything which he learned from Shem and Ever. So now the question is what did he give him over? Didn’t he teach all twelve tribes? Doesn’t make sense, but according to what we just learned, it’s very clear. The way he taught the Torah to everyone was that he taught them every word, but do you know what he gave over to Yosef? To Yosef he gave over the secret how much to tell G-d ‘don’t hide from me the holiness of the Torah so that it shouldn’t G-d forbid reach me’. Ya’akov taught the eleven tribes every word of the Torah, and the shining in was up to them. But the way he gave it over to Yosef was so strong, it was in such a way that you can’t move from it, you just can’t move.

So now it’s very clear that when Moshe Rabbeinu went out from Egypt he took the coffin of Yosef with him. Moshe Rabbeinu wanted Mount Sinai to be on the level that the words should shine into us. So how can you go without Yosef? The holiness of Yosef is that it shines into him.

What is Midas Hayesod all about? What does it mean that something has a foundation? Sometimes I learn something and it mamesh becomes the foundation of my life because it reached me to the deepest depths of my being. Once it’s my foundation, I can’t move from it. What’s the foundation of the tree? The wind can bend the tree to all four sides, but you can’t take him away from his roots because that is his foundation.

Now the holiness of Yehuda is something else. The holiness of Yehuda is that he learned the Torah, but the Torah he learned didn’t reach him. Now open your hearts like mad. There are two ways of reaching somebody. I can walk up to a girl and tell her ‘you know what, I love you so much, I want to marry you’. If I talk to her on the level of Yosef, it shines so much into her, she says ‘yes’ right away. But if I talk to her on the level of Yehuda, then while I’m talking to her she thinks to herself no. Now imagine that everything goes wrong after that. I walk down the wrong way, she walks down the wrong way. Let’s assume on a very very dramatic level, we both become drunkards because we are just so heartbroken. We never got married and one night I meet her in a bowery. I’m half drunk and she’s half drunk. We suddenly realize, ‘gevalt what do we do? This is my soulmate, how could I have done this?’ How deep does that reach us? And here I want you to open your heart in the deepest depths.

There is one level of reaching when the words themselves reach me, this is Yosef Hatzadik. Yehuda is the holiness that reaches me, where mamesh life itself is reaching me. I see everything went wrong, but do you know what kind of reaching that is? That is Yehuda’s reaching.

The Ishbitser says one more unbelievable thing (Mei Hashiloach v.1, Parshas Vayigash – second piece). The reaching of Yehuda is after something is over. My life is over, I did wrong. When did it reach Yehuda? After Yosef Hatzadik said ‘okay, that’s it, you are staying as a slave. It’s over, the whole thing is over. You made a mistake by selling your brother, you made a mistake by accepting a guarantee for Binyamin’. The two biggest mistakes in Yehuda’s life. It’s over, finished, that’s it.

So this friends, this is where Yehuda begins. Vayigash Eilav Yehuda (Breishis 44:18), this is when G-d reaches him, but this is Mashiach’s reaching. This is when it all begins, this is when Yehuda mamesh says to G-d ‘it can’t be, just can’t be’. And you know how Yehuda talks to G-d? He is telling over to G-d his whole life story.

And here I want you know the deepest depths. Why was Yehuda retelling G-d the whole story? I want you to know something very deep.

Imagine I met this girl and I love her very much. Somehow I say to her ‘let’s get married’. She says ‘uh, naahhh’. After that everything goes wrong, and let’s assume we meet each other in the bowery and everything is over. I’m already a lost drunkard, and she is a lost drunkard. Now imagine I would tell her something like this. ‘I want you to know that the whole time when everything went wrong, I missed you so much. Do you think you didn’t reach me when you spoke to me? Gevalt did you reach me’. Unbelievable, you know what that means? Do you think ‘reaching’ means only when I listen to you and I do it? Sometimes you reach me and I don’t listen to you. It’s a different kind of reaching. So Yehuda brings before G-d this Torah’le saying to G-d that even when I did everything you didn’t want me to do, I was still thinking of you the whole time.

And again, open your hearts like mad, these are absolutely the two deepest kinds of reaching. Yosef is mamesh the holiness of the divrei Torah. The words of the Torah reach me while I’m here like Moshe Rabbeinu wants to teach the yidden that the Torah should mamesh get into their bones. Yehuda is something else. Yehuda is Le’achar Gmar Hadin. It’s over, that’s it, I’m a slave now. So Vayigash Eilav Yehuda (ibid.).  Basically Yehuda didn’t even ask Yosef, he just went right up to him, mamesh standing before G-d. Yehuda was crying before G-d ‘I want you to know that you reached me the whole time’.

Imagine I’m learning all the time. Suddenly I stop learning and all I do is read the New York Times, Readers Digest or a comic book. Each time I’m reading those comic books, my inside is crying wild, why am I not learning Gemara? Why am I not holding on to a holy book? There is something wrong with me, I can’t help it.

So what is Yehuda forcing G-d to reveal? Yehuda is so to speak forcing G-d to reveal that while he was falling, doing mistake after mistake, the Torah reached him the whole time in the deepest depths. You think while I wasn’t keeping Shabbos, Shabbos didn’t reach me? While I was driving my car I was crying for Shabbos. This is Yehuda. And on the very highest deepest level when Mashiach is coming, it will be revealed to the whole world that every yidele that was honking his horn on Shabbos was waiting for the blowing of the shofar of Mashiach. He was mamesh crying ‘Ribbono Shel Olam, here I am on Friday night, honking my horn in my car. I wish Mashiach would come and grab me back into Shabbos’. This kind of depth is unbelievable.

Now he says one more thing.

The Gemara says (Eiruvin 13b) that it is safer for a person not to come to this world. This world is a very dangerous place because G-d forbid, you can also not make it. On Yosef Hatzadik’s level there is a way of not making it here in this world. If G-d forbid the Torah doesn’t reach me, if nothing reaches me I’m an outsider. You can live your whole life being untouched by anything in the world. How many people live the most lonesome lives in the world because nothing touches them? One person told me about a man whose wife had died and she left him with three children, and this friend of mine picked him up to go to the funeral. While they were driving on their way to their funeral he was reading the page of the stock market in the New York Times. I couldn’t believe it, what kind of a person is that? You can’t even say he’s an animal, what do we know what animals feel? This person is untouched. So the Gemara says that it’s very dangerous to be born. What do you G-d forbid do if G-d’s word doesn’t reach you? So the Ishbitser says (Likutei Mei Hashiloach, Likutei Hashas, Eiruvin 13b) that the Gemara doesn’t say ‘it is better for a person, Tov La’adam Shenivra’. It says ‘Noach Lo’, it’s more peaceful, it’s more peaceful not to have to go through life. My soul might have more peace by not coming down here, but it’s not that it is better.

Now open your hearts. You know what life is all about? For my soul to come into this world is to absolutely taste G-d on the deepest level. I can taste G-d’s presence, G-d’s Torah, I can taste everything G-d is giving me on two levels. G-d reaches me when he talks to me and when he gives me the Torah, or G-d reaches me when I realize that mamesh he is right. But what does it mean that I taste this closeness only when I realize that G-d is right?

Now I want you to open your hearts like the deepest depths.

Imagine I’m on the level of Yosef and I know that Shabbos reached me on the deepest depths. I can’t live without Shabbos, so what is reaching me? Shabbos! I’m putting on tefilin and it mamesh reaches me so deep that in the morning you can mamesh kill me but I can’t do anything until I put on tefilin. It’s a very strong reaching, but let’s see it on a higher level.

I know it’s forbidden to yell at somebody, and you can mamesh hang me on a nail but I will not yell at somebody when I shouldn’t. That’s a very high level. But then imagine that I did yell at somebody and then it’s revealed to me how wrong it is, you know how deep my G-d knowledge is then? Only now I realize that this is what G-d was telling me the whole time.

Now the Ishbitser says something so deep, it’s just unbelievable. (Based on Mei Hashiloach v.1 Parshas Vayigash – first two pieces).

What do you do when everything goes wrong? You know what you want to do, you want to hide someplace.

Imagine again I love this girl very much and I tell her that we should get married, we split and everything goes wrong. Now we are strangers, and I meet her again and I ask her to do me one favor. ‘Can you please forget for just five minutes everything which went wrong with us? If you can, so there has to be one little space in your heart which is still left over from that time, and I want to hide there. I want to hide in that place. Maybe just one ray of light is still in your heart, hidden away where I reach’.

So the Ishbitser says (ibid) this is what Yehuda is doing. When a person does everything wrong he says to G-d ‘can’t I hide in that place where we were close before I did wrong?’.

Ata Seiser Lee (Tehillim 32:7). Ribbono Shel Olam I want you to hide me.

This is so deep that I really have no words. Maybe it’s even better not to explain it but I still want to say it a little bit, I have no other way of explaining it.

Imagine I was in love with this girl and I say to her ‘let’s get married’. Then I’m coming to the wedding and just one second before the wedding I get some stupidity attack. I don’t think I want to go through with it. I don’t think the worlds will change, I can’t see myself being married to you. I walk into her a minute before the chuppa and I say ‘you know what, I think we should call it off’, and then I just take off.

Now listen to this. Imagine two million years later I meet this girl again and I know I was wrong. Let’s assume that the last time we were close to each other was the night before the wedding, and without anybody knowing, we decided we will go to the Holy Wall at three o’clock in the morning the night before the wedding. It was the greatest hiding in the world, it was mamesh the highest moment of our lives. We were mamesh standing before G-d together. So I say to her after two million years, ‘do you remember that moment’?

Friends, do you know how deep that moment suddenly becomes? The deepest depths there is.

So the Ishbitser says (Mei Hashiloach, ibid.) that Yehuda is the one who is hiding by G-d in that place where all the mistakes didn’t reach. There has to be one little place where despite everything, I still love you. If you’ve ever really loved somebody then you always love them, it’s just that it might be covered up. So Yehuda reveals this deepest depths which is the most hidden thing in the world.

So in a nutshell again. This girl tells me she loves me and I tell her that I love her. How deep does it have to reach us in order for us to get married? Pretty deep. But can you imagine if after two million years I tell this girl ‘do you remember that night at the holy wall, we were davening together?’ It’s much deeper; this is much deeper because this is not what you said or what I said. This is addressing myself to the deepest depths of this girl’s being.

You see, when G-d tells me to keep Shabbos, it’s a high revelation of G-d. G-d tells me what he wants me to do. So if I’m listening to G-d that means that I’m a vessel to the greatest G-d revelation there is. But if I didn’t listen, I didn’t listen. Especially when it’s all over already, I ran off and right now it’s just too late. I tell her ‘you know, I have mamesh got to talk to you, just give me one minute to talk to you’. That minute is the deepest depths there is. This is the depths of Yehuda, and this is Parshas Vayigash.

So I just want you to understand. Yesod, foundation means that the Torah mamesh reaches me. This is Yosef. Malchus, kingdom means that I’m so much of a king that I can stand before G-d and say ‘please remember that one special minute when we were so close. I have got to talk to you for one minute’. Vayigash Eilav Yehuda (Breishis 44:18), I got to talk to you mamesh for one second.

I want you to know in the deepest depths. Yosef is mamesh learning every word of the Torah, and it is reaching him. When do I daven? My davening is when everything went wrong. I say ‘Ribbono Shel Olam please, can you please forget when I did everything wrong? Can you please forget that you are angry with me and just listen to me for one second?’

You know how deep this is? We always think that Tshuvah means I regret what I did and I decide that from now on I’ll do better. It’s obviously sweet and cute, I’m not knocking it, but this is not what Tshuvah is all about! Mashiach’s Tshuvah is that I’m not even telling you I regret it, I’m not even talking about that. Sure I regret it, but this isn’t what it is. Ribbono Shel Olam, I just want you to lend me your ear for one second, like on that level before we got angry at each other.

You see, when I learn about Shabbos and keep it, I’m keeping it and it is very beautiful, but you know what I am missing? I never taste the G-d knowledge that I should keep Shabbos. G-d told me I should keep Shabbos, how do I know that G-d is right on the level of Yosef Hatzadik? I trust you, but here comes Yehuda. I didn’t trust you and didn’t keep Shabbos, but now I know that you are right. That means that I’m mamesh reaching the deepest G-d knowledge, that G-d is mamesh right. Mamesh G-d is right.

If I’m on the level of Yosef Hatzadik and someone teaches me about Shabbos, and mamesh G-d helps me and I keep Shabbos and it reaches me, it’s a very high Shabbos. But imagine I’m not on the level of Yosef. I learn about Shabbos and it didn’t reach me. Then, G-d forbid, I’m married and my wife doesn’t talk to me, my children don’t talk to me. Friday night we are all watching television. Everything is dead. Suddenly I realize that if I would have kept Shabbos, if I would have had the holiness of Shabbos… one night a week, gevalt, where we could have been.

The Ishbitser is saying that the way I know Shabbos now is so deep because in other words, I myself am a living witness that G-d is right. I become a living witness that G-d is right.

So Ya’akov Avinu thought that Yosef is Mashiach because Yosef has this power that when he says something, it happens. By Yosef Hatzadik it says ‘Zos Asu Veyichyu’ (Breishis 42:18), do this and you will live. When Yosef says something to you, it mamesh gives you life. Every word he says reaches your toenails. When Yosef utters a dream, that’s what it is. If Yosef Hatzadik says to the butler that in three days he will be free, that is what happens. If he tells the baker that he will be hung on the tree, that’s what happens. Every word Yosef Hatzadik says is so right.

The truth is that the greatest thing in the world is that we have Mashiach Ben Yosef and Mashiach Ben Dovid. What is the deepest depths of learning? What does it mean to learn Mashiach’s Torah’le?  While I’m learning it I already taste G-d forbid if I’m not doing it. While I am learning, I am already getting that taste of being a living witness that G-d is right without having to fall in order to know this.

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