The Weekly Shtikle Blog

An online forum for sharing thoughts and ideas relating to the Parshas HaShavua

View Profile

Friday, November 30

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeishev

    This week's parsha begins by developing the theme that shapes the next few parshios - Yoseif's dreams. There are two very distinct differences between Yoseif's first dream and his second. The first dream involves 12 sheaves of wheat while the second, in addition to the 11 stars, involves the son and the moon. Yoseif's parents are represented by the sun and the moon in the second dream but they are not at all represented in the first dream.
    The second dream involves all of the subjects bowing down directly to Yoseif himself. In the first dream, Yoseif and his brothers are present. However, it is not Yoseif being bowed down to nor is it his brothers who are doing the bowing. It is their sheaves of wheat bowing down to his.
    It seems that much of the discussion and analysis of Yoseif's dreams and how their prophecies are fulfilled centers around the second dream more than the first. Before Sefer Bereishis is complete, we do in fact see the dream come to fruition. What about the first dream? What does it mean? When was it fulfilled?
    I have to admit that I have not done adequate investigation into this. (The Riddle of the Bowing Moon by R' Moshe Eisemann is one place I might have started.) However, I do have a suggestion of my own which I am led to by the distinct differences in the dream mentioned above. First, the lack of representation of Yaakov or any mother figure suggests that whatever the fulfillment of the dream was, they were not present. The fact that it is the sheaves doing the bowing to Yoseif's sheaf implies that the revelation pertains not to Yoseif and his brothers personally but rather to their progeny. Considering this, my best guess is that the prophecy refers to the reign of Yeravam ben Nevat, the evil architect of the separation of Malchus Yisrael and of course, its first king. While he did not rule over all of Israel, his exploits certainly had a profound impact on the entire nation.

Friday, November 23

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayishlach

    After Yaakov does battle with the angel and essentially emerges victorious before the angel strikes below the belt. Following the altercation, he his asked his name, to which the angel responds that he will no longer be called Yaakov. Rather, Yisrael will be his name. Could this declaration not have been made regardless of Yaakov's original name? Why did the angel have to ask him his name first?
    It would appear that Yaakov's original added special significance to his new one. His original name was given because he was holding on to Eisav's ankle when he emerged. The name connotes a trailer of sorts, one who is always tagging along behind or even dragging down those who are in front of him. The name Yisrael, however, symbolizes his emergence as a powerful force unto his own. The name change indicated that whereas he was once a follower, lagging behind others, he had now risen to the level where he was overcoming angels.
Have a good Shabbos.

Friday, November 16

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayeitzei

    After Leah gives birth to 3 boys, Rachel, after a confrontation with Yaakov, gives over her maidservant to Yaakov so that he may produce children with her. She declares with utmost certainty (30:3) "ve'ibaneh gam anochi mimenah," and I, too, will be built up through her. This statement is in noticeable contrast to Sarah's statement when she gives Hagar to Avraham. There, she states (16:2) "ulai ibaneh mimenah," perhaps I will be built up through her.
    There's a simple explanation for the different approaches taken by the imahos. Although the Torah states that Sarah was barren, without children, Avraham was equally childless. The exact cause of their childlessness was seemingly unknown. Had Avraham been the barren one, giving him Hagar would not have helped.
    When Manoach and his wife were childless before the birth of Shimshon (Shofetim 13), the Midrash recounts that there was a conflict between them as two who was responsible. That is why the angel appeared to her to tell her that she was the barren one, but that they would soon have a child. We see from Sarah's handling of her situation that no such conflict existed between Avraham and Sarah. Sarah was perfectly ready to accept that she was the barren one and have Avraham reproduce through Hagar, albeit with that slight hint of uncertainty.
    The situation with Yaakov and Rachel, of course, was completely different. Yaakov had already fathered three children with Leah. Rachel knew that she was barren and Yaakov was not. She had no reason to worry that Yaakov's union with Bilhah would not produce children and therefore, was certain that she would be built up through her.

Friday, November 9

The Weekly Shtikle - Toledos

This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my rebbe and Rosh HaYeshivah of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, Harav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, zt"l (Yaakov Moshe ben Refael Nissan Shlomo) whose Yahrtzeit is this coming Tuesday.
    As Rivkah Imeinu endured her difficult pregnancy, she began to ask herself questions. She ponders (25:22) "Im kein, lama zeh anochi," if so, wherefore am I thus? Or, more simply, why am I doing this? Rashi explains that Rivkah was questioning why she had yearned and prayed for this pregnancy. On the surface, this definitely seems like doubt on her part. But I think the end of the pasuk shows that not to be the case.
    Rivkah is teaching us a great lesson in dealing with the emotions of doubt. Inside, she was certainly feeling that this pregnancy was not "what she bargained for." Her approach, however, was not to give up and to declare her efforts a lost cause. Rather, she knew that certainly there was a purpose in all of this, a reason for her to endure and fight on. This is evidenced by her immediate visit to Sheim to seek guidance from HaShem. Rivkah teaches us that everything has a purpose. As we face trials and tribulations in our lives, whatever feelings we may have emotionally, our first course of action must always be "lidrosh es HaShem," to search for a higher purpose.

Friday, November 2

The Weekly Shtikle - Chayei Sarah

This week's shtikle is dedicated le'ilui nishmas my brother Efrayim Yechezkel ben Avi Mori Reuven Pinchas whose Yahrtzeit was this past Tuesday, the 18th of Cheshvan.
    One need not look too far to find a connection between this week's parsha and haftarah. The very first words of the haftarah, (incidentally the first words of sefer Melachim) "VehaMelech David zakein ba bayamim" are almost an exact copy of the words in the parsha (24:1)"VeAvraham zakein ba bayamim." Just as our parsha deals with Avraham reaching his latter years and the happenings that ensued, the haftarah deals with David reaching old age, albeit a much younger old age, and a number of events that took place then. The saga is continued in the haftarah of Vayechi when David HaMelech actually passes away, in correspondence with Yaakov Avinu's passing in that parsha.
    However, most of the haftarah goes on to deal with the story of the rebellion of Adoniahu, one of David's sons who stages a coup to seize the throne, despite the fact that David HaMelech swore that Shelomoh would be his successor. David HaMelech confirms that Shelomoh will be the next king and Adoniahu's campaign comes to an end. This does not seem to be directly connected to any part of this week's parsha. It seems, however, that this story is strongly connected to one in last week's parsha which is indirectly referred to in this week's parsha. Before passing away, Avraham Avinu grants all his possessions to his son Yitzchak (25:5). This one-sided generosity is a direct result of the episode in last week's parsha (21:9-14) when Yitzchak and Yishmael do not seem to be getting along. Sarah insists that Yishmael be banished for he will not inherit with Yitzchak. HaShem gives His stamp of approval on this statement affirming with Avraham (21:12) that Yitzchak is to be considered his seed. Rashi (21:10) infers that the disagreements between Yitzchak and Yishmael where, in fact, on the issue of inheritance. Then it is decided that Yitzchak will be the sole inheritor. Avraham brings this decree into fruition with the doling out of his possessions (which, according to Ohr HaChayim, included Yishmael as well - not for now) to Yitzchak in this week's parsha. This is in parallel with David HaMelech's granting of the throne to Shelomoh and Shelomoh only.
    Additionally, we find that Avraham was not fully aware of Yishmael's misdeeds or at least unaware of their severity and threat to Yitzchak. It was Sarah Imeinu who stepped in with her motherly instincts to make things right. The same situation is found in the case of Adoniahu's rebellion which was unbeknownst to David HaMelech. Once again, it was the mother, Bas-Sheva, who heroically intervened to save her son from his half brother.
    Adoniahu showed tremendous defiance in seizing the throne. He knew full well what his father had decreed but ignored it nevertheless. Perhaps the parallel to this aspect of the story came much later on in history. The descendants of Yishmael knew full well what was written in the Torah. However, it was not to their liking. With no other choice, they simply changed it. Much of the Islamic belief system is based on a character swap of Yitzchak and Yishmael. They believe it was Yishmael who was bound on the altar and further, Yishmael who inherited Avraham's assets. I am unsure how the chain of lies continues from there. History has shown that just as Adoniahu spurned his father's edict and made a run at the throne which he did not deserve, the descendants of Yishmael have rejected the authentic ancient text which affords them no portion of the physical and spiritual riches bestowed upon Avraham with fabricated lies based on a completely inaccurate text.