20 December 2019

Parshas Vayeishev – Through Teshuva, the Entire World is Forgiven

By Roy S. Neuberger

Immediately after the brothers sell Yosef, we read about Yehuda and Tamar. This is one of those unlikely incidents in which Am Yisroel descends to a low and even embarrassing level, from which we rise incredibly to great heights. Our entire history is logically “impossible!” It is built on miracle after miracle.

The connection between the sale of Yosef, the incident with Yehuda and Tamar and our descent into Mitzraim shows that sinas chinom leads directly into humiliation and exile. What is remarkable is that they also both lead directly to the highest level ofkedusha!

Mitzraim led to Har Sinai. 

Yehuda and Tamar became the parents of Peretz, of whom it is written, “Peretz begot Chetzron, and Chetzron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadav, and Amminadav begot Nachshon, and Nachshon begot Salmah, and Salmah begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Oved, and Oved begot Yishai, and Yishai begot Dovid!” (Rus 4:18-22)

How do we understand this? From the lowest comes the highest! “He raises the needy from the dust, from the trash heaps He lifts the destitute, to seat them with nobles.” (Tehillim 113)

Is it good to descend into unacceptable behavior? Isn’t the entire point of history to behave correctly? How can unacceptable behavior lead to such great heights?

“For though the righteous one may fall seven times, he will arise ….” (Mishlei 24:16)

Would it have been better if Adam and Chava had never rebelled in Gan Eden? Of course! But the fact is that, through our stumbling, something great is introduced into the world, and that is called “teshuva!

“Rabbi Meir would say, ‘Great is teshuva, for on account of an individual who did teshuva, the entire world is forgiven!’” (Yoma 86b)

The chessed of Hashem is such that, when we rebel – G-d forbid – and want to return to Him, He raises us higher than we were before! It is precisely the process of teshuva which elevates us! 

“Min ha maitzar … From the straits did I call upon Hashem!” (Tehillim 118)

Next week, we welcome Chanukah. This is the darkest, coldest season, the longest nights, the shortest days. This is the only Yom Tov which occurs during the waning moon. By the third day of Chanukah the moon is invisible! There is little sun and no moon.

But Chanukah is filled with light! How do we explain this?

The only light in this dark season is created by Am Yisroel through our allegiance to Hashem and His Torah!

And Hashem responds: the moon always reappears on the Sixth Day of Chanukah!

“Because of the similarity between the Davidic dynasty and the moon, when the Sages sent word that the New Moon had been declared, they used the message, ‘David King of Israel lives and exists.” (Ramban, cited in Artscroll commentary on Beraishis 38:29)

In the End of Days, “the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun and the light of the sun will be seven times as strong… on the day that Hashem bandages the injury of His people and heals the wound of His blow.” (Yeshiah 30:26)

May we see it soon in our days!

The light of Chanukah (Photo credit: Ariela Neuberger)

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Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at roy@2020vision.co.il.

© Copyright 2019 by Roy S. Neuberger

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