Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile

November 24, 2001 — 9 Kislev 5762

Od Yoseif Chai

(Joseph is still alive!)

Part 1: His birth & the root of the enmity with Judah

Commentary on Parashat Vayeitzei

Genesis 28:10 — 32:3

Hosea 11:7 — 14:10


© 2005 Maggid ben Yosef


For the next six weeks, beginning with Torah portion Vayeitzei (recording the birth of Joseph and the spiritual roots of the enmity and vexation between he and his brothers), until the concluding Torah portion in Genesis (recording the death of Joseph), we will be writing and disseminating this brief but very special commentary series. The object is to determine whether the Torah may allude to or reveal outright a plan to Return the non-Jewish Assimilated House of Joseph to be reunited with the Jewish House of Judah. In fact, we submit that such a plan is mystically hidden in the circumstances surrounding Joseph’s birth, life and interaction with his brothers, especially Judah.

Such a return would naturally involve the biblical inheritances of the House of Joseph (the historical/biblical borders of Ephraim and Manasseh) together with the biblical territory of Benjamin. It may be no coincidence that these same territories define the entirety of the region today known as the Shomron or Samaria. Also, the same territories are sought to comprise the northern 2/3rds of the proposed Palestinian State.

Two questions arise immediately when this is realized:

1. Do the Torah and the Prophets hint at a biblical alternative to a Palestinian state in the unannexed territories that involves locating, educating and returning the Assimilation of the Northern Kingdom of Israel heretofore indiscriminately scattered among the Gentiles?

2. How does this scenario dovetail with trends and current events in Israel and the Middle East?

In coming weeks, we hope to suggest the biblical parameters by which to begin to answer some of these most timely and extremely crucial questions.

Maggid ben Yoseif

The Portion of the Kohen:  Genesis 28:10-22
Jacob rests for the Shabbat at Bethel and dreams of the changing of an angelic guard occurring above the very spot he is lying. Bethel (ancient Luz) is located on the border of Ephraim and Benjamin or in the territories of Joseph. There Hashem extends the promise made earlier to Abraham and Isaac of a “seed” or offspring that will fill the earth. This seed, which will come out of the loins of Jacob will break forth powerfully towards all four directions, a bit of detail omitted in the earlier promise to Abraham and Isaac.

However, the word
nivrecu, occurs again in verse 14 as it did earlier in Genesis 12:3. This word is found in the Torah only in these two places. The context is again the promise first related to Abraham that his seed will have some interaction with the Gentile nations. The context of verse 14 here, Your offspring shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall break forth powerfully westward, eastward, northward and southward; and nivrecu bekah kol mishp’chot ha’adamah u’b’zaro, implies that this interaction is extremely inclusive and affects every family of the earth via Jacob and his seed.

Da’as Zekeinim, Tur, Chizkuni, Rashbam and others translate
nivrecu differently than occurs in most modern English Torahs. They say the verb’s intended meaning is “to be grafted or intermingled.”

Nivrecu, spelled in Hebrew nun-bet-resh-caf-shureq, stems from the root sound, bet-resh-caf or barak. Those words usually imply some kind of blessing to which indeed, Genesis 12:3 is usually associated: "I will bless those who bless you; those who curse you will be cursed and in your seed shall all families of the earth be blessed."

Above the word translated blessed is
nivrecu in Hebrew. Since it occurs only in these two places, if we can suggest a meaning for the word that is consistent with “interaction with the Gentiles” and does not violate the context of both usages, it would be the translation of “grafting” or “intermingling” with all families of the earth as Rashbam, Chizkuni, Da’as Zekenim and Tur suggest.

The simple meaning of the verb to “bless” implies an intermingling of some kind of spiritual essence or power from another source.
Nivrecu is the Niphal verb class of this verb to bless, which simply means it is the same verb but in the passive voice. This means the action is done to the subject rather than the subject doing the action. So in Genesis 12:3, the subject (all families of the earth) are acted upon somehow by the seed of Abraham. And here in verse 14, the same is true. This would indicate that Hashem ordained that a part but not all of Israel was predestined to be grafted and intermingled among the Gentiles. Indeed the prohibition of intermarriage stated in the Torah and the various commands for Israel to maintain its status as a nation “set apart,” would indicate otherwise for another part of Israel.

Biblically and historically this is precisely what transpired with the Assimilation of the Northern Kingdom called the House of Israel after their exile to Assyria. The Southern Kingdom of Judah (which comprises the Jewish people today), returned from later Babylonian exile and has remained for the most part, aware of the Torah and its commands not to intermarry or assimilate.

The exile of the Northern Kingdom in 722 BCE was prophesied by Hosea in the context of three children who he fathered through a harlot wife, named Gomer. The children are named
Yizra’el (God will scatter or sow and a change of the name Yisrael) Lo-ruhamah (without mercy or compassion) and Lo-Ami (not My People). How interesting that the regions to which the Northern Kingdom was indeed exiled were the biblical inheritance of the children of Gomer, a son of Yapheth. How interesting that this exile literally began the fulfillment of the means by which descendants of Shem (the Northern Kingdom) could dwell together with the descendants of Yapheth, one of the earliest prophesies in the Torah which occurred when Noah awoke from his wine and blessed his two sons who covered his nakedness without gazing upon him.

If there was any question that Hashem intended the Assimilation of the Northern Kingdom to completely lose their identity with Israel … until these last days when perhaps they are needed to rejoin with Judah to offset a Palestinian State, evidence the Assyrian inscriptions which tell of this exile.

They address the exiles by the name
Beit ’Omri (the House of ‘Omri) after King Omri, a king of the Northern House of Israel, whose alliance with Assyria merited him this honor more than 100 years after his death .

However, the name ‘Omri begins with a difficult to pronouce
(ayin) which is usually articulated with a “g” sound outside of Israel. In Israel today, it is either silent or pronounced by purists with a nearly silent guttural “gulp” in the back of the throat.
So the Assyrians would have pronounced Beit ‘Omri as
Beit Gom’ri. Gomer from Yapheth and Gomri from Shem!! Thus the Assimilation began.

Back to this usage in verse 14. The promise of a multiplication of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s seed is here clarified as pertaining to the Assimilation of the Northern Kingdom as we will see later when Joseph is born. Specifically, therefore, the multiplication of the seed occurs through Joseph’s descendants. This interpretation in no way circumvents the part of the promise that pertains specifically to the Jewish people … that whoever blesses the Jewish people, Hashem will bless … and whoever curses the Jewish people will be cursed by Hashem … nor the exclusive authority of Judah as the tribe of the scepter. But it does appear that the becorah (the Birthright), later given to Joseph and his seed, Ephraim, has contextual application as the seed that has been intermixed, grafted or intermingled into the Gentile nations until this day, when Hashem is drawing these non-Jews back to Him, Torah, the land of Israel and their Jewish brothers.

The location chosen for this revelation was ancient Luz, as the Torah is intent on so naming. Again, Luz lies at the border of the inheritances of Ephraim and Benjamin and as you can see in the depiction of the satellite photo of the Shomron, the shadows cast by the terrain write in Hebrew: “Ki Luz Hashem’s Ephraim” (Because Luz is Hashem’s Ephraim).

Because Hashem prefaced his promise to Jacob with the phrase, “the ground upon which you are lying, to you will I give it and to your seed,” and he was lying at Luz which is today in the unannexed territories, undisputed evidence is shown that this region should not become part of a Palestinian State and should become the inheritance of the House of Joseph. After all, it was Joseph who made sure that Jacob’s bones were returned to the land so he could “lie in it.” On the other hand, since Jacob rested at Bethel-Luz on the Shabbat, it is no surprise that the Assimilation holds a universal respect for Shabbat and awaits a Sanhedrin to determine a Halachah for Joes relevant to their return, reconciliation and dwelling again in Eretz Yisrael.

The Portion of the Levite:  Genesis: 29:1-17
The stone placed over the mouth of the well where Jacob met Rachel was intentionally so heavy that all of the shepherds would have to be present to move it. Since there was little trust among them of each other, this was well and good. But this portion states in verse 10 that Jacob rolled the stone off by himself when Rachel arrived with the f
lock, as it is alluded to in verse 6. The Midrash Bereshit Rabbah perceives an allusion to this well as a portent related to the ingathering of the descendants of Rachel, literally the children of Joseph and Benjamin or the Return of the House of Joseph. Indeed the conversation Jacob has with the men at the well before Rachel’s arrival is as though he is addressing his descendants. (See the ArtScroll Mesorah Bereshit Volume II, page 1254).

Third Portion:  Genesis 29:18 — 30:14:
The complaint by Jacob in verse 25, “Was it not for Rachel that I worked for you,” (when Laban substituted the older sister, Leah, since it was not the custom in that culture to marry a younger sister before an older one) is most telling. Leah, like her son, Judah, the progenitor of the Jewish people, came by her spirituality almost naturally. As the Michtav MeEliyahu distinguishes the respective roles of the two sisters, Rachel’s spirituality is more hidden and also more mystical. But Rachel’s children must be elevated in order to overcome the obstacles of this world. And so, too, Hashem has hidden the descendants of Joseph until their more mystical brand of spirituality which has made them outcasts in accepted religious circles, comes of age.

This portion also exposes at the very root the enmity of Joseph and his brothers. Chapter 30, verse 1 states immediately after the birth of Judah when Leah stopped giving birth, “Rachel saw that she had not borne children to Jacob so Rachel became envious of her sister.” This envy probably was later transmitted into the spirit and soul of her firstborn, Joseph, explaining his problems with his brothers, who were jealous of him. If modern psychological thought is correct, those who are envious or jealous of someone for no apparent reason are actually projecting that person’s character. In other words, before Joseph was refined during his unjust imprisonment in Egypt, he aroused the jealousy and envy among his brothers. His descendants will continue to do so unless and until Rachel’s spirit is at ease about her children.

The fact that descendants of the non-Jewish Assimilation are today not allowed to make aliyah and return to Eretz Yisrael and populate the inheritance of Rachel, means she is still interceding for her children (Jeremiah 31:15-18). This is especially evident in her character when she exclaims out of frustration to Jacob in verse 2 of Chapter 30: “Give me children — otherwise I am dead!” Rachel lives for her children. There is no mention in the Torah that she ever came to love Jacob, as he obviously loved her but her desire for children and later her son, Joseph and Benjamin the son she died after bearing are obviously her immediate concern today from the Heavenlies, although in the past she has intervened for Leah’s children.

Fourth Portion:  Genesis 30:14-27
The name "Joseph" comes from two Hebrew verbs as indicated in verses 23 and 24.
Asaf means to gather away something. Contextually what is gathered away is the stigma of being “the barren one”. The verb yasaf implies adding to something that already exists or multiplication. As we indicated earlier in the context of the Promise, Joseph would become the multiplier. Literally then the prophetic significance of his name is to multiply so as to gather away some kind of disgrace. And Rachel seems to have almost glossed over the individuality of Joseph by so naming him, looking forward to another son by giving him that name. Psychologically speaking, to some degree you could say that Joseph, soon to be without a mother -- was not so rejected -- but may have been "overlooked" because Rachel was far behind in the the ongoing baby marathon.  This is common in large familes, even today.

Immediately after Joseph’s birth, Jacob receives the revelation in his spirit that it is now time to return to the land of Israel and face his brother, Esau. This is unusual because the mystic sages indicated that Jacob knew he would have 12 sons and Joseph was only the 11th son born to him.

This oddity would also indicate that there was something about the birth of Joseph that empowered Jacob to face Esau. This will become more evident in next week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach, in which Jacob and Esau meet and Jacob promises Esau he will proceed to Mount Seir (which he never does) at the pace of the children (Joseph being the youngest). But that is next week.

Again the mystic sages place paramount importance on the birth of Joseph re: Jacob’s ability to overcome Esau, specifically as it pertains to the portent for the messiah ben Yoseif. As Bava Basra 123b states: Only with the birth of Yoseif who was like a flame could Jacob hope to defeat Esau. This is also a major theme in the writings of the Gaon Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna (often known as the Gra) and in Pelandeinu Paragraph 20. Many modern Torah commentaries also point this out including the Stone Torah which states re: verses 25 and 26, “through the merit of the tribe of Joseph, God would enable him (Jacob) to conquer Esau." Yet, if the Assimilation of the House of Israel is not Jewish, the question must be asked today, “Where is Joseph? And why are his children not allowed to make aliyah in Israel?”

(We have a 90 minute audio cassette teaching on the messiah ben Yoseif for those interested, which quotes most ALL of the Classical and contemporary sources).

Portion Five:  Genesis 30:28 — 31:16
The entirety of Parashat Vayeitzei records Jacob’s personal exile as indicated by the lack of spaces in the Massoretic Hebrew text. It is as though the portion is one 149-verse paragraph. As is true of Joseph and his descendants, Jacob multiplies and acquires his wealth in exile. The curious episode with the striped and spotted and ring-tailed among the herds point to signs of an assimilation or intermingling. Ditto, the later “coat of many colors.” A tell-tale (pardon the pun) sign that the present exile is about to end is found in 31:5 when Jacob notices that Laban’s disposition is not the same
toward him as in earlier days. As the Joes multiply and begin to congregate around Torah and Halachah, the need to return may also be anticipated to hasten by similar ill-will toward all of Jacob’s family. This could be the time of Jacob’s — not only Judah’s — trouble.

Sixth Portion:  Genesis 31:17-42
As Rachel left her father’s house, she “stole” his gods. The same is happening as non-Jews who are part of this assimilation attempt to disparage and challenge the
sh'tuf (idolatrous associations with God) evident in their churches or previous beliefs, even though such sh'tuf is permitted for those who are not part of Israel.

Seventh Portion:  Genesis 31:43 — 32:3
Jacob refers to the Godly camp as Mahanaim or literally, two camps. 32:11 will clarify next week that he is referring to the family of Leah and the family of Rachel, the two camps who become two clans, divided monarchies and eventually two separate Kingdoms, which are exiled 136 years apart and have never reconciled.

Haftorah:  Hosea 11:7 — 14:10
This haftorah like no other contrasts Judah and Ephraim (12:1-7) and says Ephraim will return from the west (11:10). Heinous sins of Ephraim dry up the “fruitful one among his brothers,” (verse 15). Nevertheless, Hashem promises never to forsake him and not to make a permanent end of him. In other words, Joseph through his fruitful son, Ephraim is still alive!!

Shabbat Shalom & Hashem’s love & blessings
Maggid ben Yoseif


Note: Ordinarily, we do not copyright our writings. The Od Yosef Chai commentary series may be disseminated with permission via email from the author. Each commentary must be disseminated in its entirety with no editing or changes permitted. This is being done to ensure that this material is not taken out of context.