Mark 13 Study

A Commentary on the New Testament From the Talmud and Hebraica by John Lightfoot

3. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,

[Upon the mount of Olives, over against the Temple.] “The east gate of the Court of the Gentiles had the metropolis Sushan painted on it. And through this gate the high priest went out to burn the red cow.” And, “All the walls of that court were high, except the east wall; because of the priest, when he burnt the red cow, stood upon the top of mount Olivet, and took his aim, and looked upon the gate of the Temple, in that time when he sprinkled the blood.” And, “The priest stood with his face turned westward, kills the cow with his right hand, and receives the blood with the left, but sprinkleth it with his right, and that seven times, directly towards the Holy of Holies.”

It is true, indeed, the Temple might be well seen from any tract of Olivet: but the word over against, if it doth not direct to this very place, yet to some place certainly in the same line: and it cannot but recall to our mind that action of the high priest.

7. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.

[Be not troubled.] Think here, how the traditions of the scribes affrighted the nation with the report of Gog and Magog, immediately to go before the coming of the Messiah:–

“R. Eliezer Ben Abina saith, When you see the kingdoms disturbing one another, then expect the footsteps of the Messiah. And know that this is true from hence, that so it was in the days of Abraham; for kingdoms disturbed one another, and then came redemption to Abraham.” And elsewhere; “So they came against Abraham, and so they shall come with Gog and Magog.” And again, “The Rabbins deliver. In the first year of that week [of years] that the Son of David is to come, shall that be fulfilled, ‘I will rain upon one city, but I will not rain upon another,’ Amos 4:7. The second year, the arrows of famine shall be sent forth. The third, the famine shall be grievous, and men and women and children, holy men, and men of good works, shall die. And there shall be a forgetfulness of the law among those that learn it. The fourth year, fulness, and not fulness. The fifth year, great fulness; for they shall eat and drink and rejoice, and the law shall return to its scholars. The sixth year, voices. (The Gloss is, ‘A fame shall be spread, that the Son of David comes,’ or, ‘they shall sound with a trumpet.’) The seventh year, wars; and in the going out of that seventh year the Son of David shall come.”

8. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

[These are the beginnings of sorrows.] Isaiah 66:7,8: Before she travailed she brought forth; before the labour of pains came she was delivered, and brought forth a male. Who hath heard such a thing? Does the earth bring forth in one day, or is a nation also brought forth at once? For Sion was in travail and brought forth her sons.

The prophet here says two things:–

I. That Christ should be born before the destruction of Jerusalem. The Jews themselves collect and acknowledge this out of this prophecy: “It is in the Great Genesis [Bereshith Rabba] a very ancient book: thus R. Samuel Bar Nachaman said, Whence prove you, that in the day when the destruction of the Temple was, Messias was born? He answered, From this that is said in the last chapter of Isaiah, ‘Before she travailed she brought forth; before her bringing forth shall come, she brought forth a male child.’ In the same hour that the destruction of the Temple was, Israel cried out as though she were bringing forth. And Jonathan in the Chaldee translation said, Before her trouble came she was saved; and before the pains of childbirth came upon her, Messiah was revealed.” In the Chaldee it is, A king shall manifest himself.

“In like manner in the same book: R. Samuel Bar Nachaman said, It happened that Elias went by the way in the day wherein the destruction of the Temple was, and he heard a certain voice crying out and saying, ‘The holy Temple is destroyed.’ Which when he heard, he imagined how he could destroy the world: but travelling forward he saw men ploughing and sowing, to whom he said, ‘God is angry with the world and will destroy his house, and lead his children captives to the Gentiles; and do you labour for temporal victuals?’ And another voice was heard, saying, ‘Let them work, for the Saviour of Israel is born.’ And Elias said, ‘Where is he?’ And the voice said, ‘In Bethlehem of Judah,'” &c. These words this author speaks, and these words they speak.

II. As it is not without good reason gathered, that Christ shall be born before the destruction of the city, from that clause, “Before she travailed she brought forth, before her bringing forth came [the pangs of travail], she brought forth a male child”; so also, from that clause, Is a nation brought forth at once? for Sion travailed and brought forth her children, is gathered as well, that the Gentiles were to be gathered and called to the faith before that destruction; which our Saviour most plainly teacheth, verse 10, “But the gospel must first be preached among all nations.” For how the Gentiles, which should believe, are called ‘the children of Sion,’ and ‘the children of the church of Israel,’ every where in the prophets, there is no need to show, for every one knows it.

In this sense is the word pangs or sorrows, in this place to be understood; and it agrees not only with the sense of the prophet alleged, but with a most common phrase and opinion in the nation concerning the sorrows of the Messiah, that is, concerning the calamities which they expected would happen at the coming of the Messiah.

“Ulla saith, The Messias shall come, but I shall not see him. So also saith Rabba, Messias shall come, but I shall not see him; that is, he shall not be to be seen. Abai saith to Rabba, Why? Because of the sorrows of the Messias. It is a tradition. His disciples asked R. Eliezer, What may a man do to be delivered from the sorrows of Messias? Let him be conversant in the law and in the works of mercy.” The Gloss is, “the terrors and the sorrows which shall be in his days.” “He that feasts thrice on the sabbath day shall be delivered from three miseries, from the sorrows of Messiah, from the judgment of hell, and from the war of Gog and Magog.” Where the Gloss is this, “‘From the sorrows of Messias’: for in that age, wherein the Son of David shall come, there will be an accusation of the scholars of the wise men. The word sorrows denotes such pains as women in childbirth endure.”

32. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

[But of that day and hour knoweth no man.] Of what day and hour? That the discourse is of the day of the destruction of Jerusalem is so evident, both by the disciples’ question, and by the whole thread of Christ’s discourse, that it is a wonder any should understand these words of the day and hour of the last judgment.

Two things are demanded of our Saviour, verse 4: the one is, “When shall these things be, that one stone shall not be left upon another?” And the second is, “What shall be the sign of this consummation?” To the latter he answereth throughout the whole chapter hitherto: to the former in the present words. He had said, indeed, in the verse before, “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” &c.; not for resolution to the question propounded (for there was no inquiry at all concerning the dissolution of heaven and earth), but for confirmation of the truth of the thing which he had related. As though he had said, “Ye ask when such an overthrow of the Temple shall happen; when it shall be, and what shall be the signs of it. I answer, These and those, and the other signs shall go before it; and these my words of the thing itself to come to pass, and of the signs going before, are firmer than heaven and earth itself. But whereas ye inquire of the precise time, that is not to be inquired after; for of that day and hour knoweth no man.”

We cannot but remember here, that even among the beholders of the destruction of the Temple there is a difference concerning the day of the destruction; that that day and hour was so little known before the event, that even after the event, they who saw the flames disagreed among themselves concerning the day. Josephus, an eyewitness, saw the burning of the Temple, and he ascribed it to the tenth day of the month Ab or Lous. For thus he; “The Temple perished the tenth day of the month Lous (or August), a day fatal to the Temple, as having been on that day consumed in flames by the king of Babylon.” Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai saw the same conflagration; and he, together with the whole Jewish nation, ascribes it to the ninth day of that month, not the tenth; yet so that he saith, “If I had not lived in that age I had not judged it but to have happened on the tenth day.” For as the Gloss upon Maimonides writes, “It was the evening when they set fire to it, and the Temple burnt until sunset the tenth day. In the Jerusalem Talmud, therefore, Rabbi and R. Joshua Ben Levi fasted the ninth and tenth days.” See also the tract Bab. Taanith.

[Neither the angels.] “‘For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come,’ Isaiah 63:4. What means ‘the day of vengeance is in mine heart?’ R. Jochanan saith, I have revealed it to my heart, to my members I have not revealed it. R. Simeon Ben Lachish saith, I have revealed it to my heart, but to the ministering angels I have not revealed it.” And Jalkut on that place thus: My heart reveals it not to my mouth; to whom should my mouth reveal it?

[Nor the Son.] Neither the angels, nor the Messias. For in that sense the word Son, is to be taken in this place and elsewhere very often: as in that passage, John 5:19, “The Son,” that is, the Messias, “can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do”: verse 20, “The Father loveth the Messias,” &c: verse 26, “He hath given to the Messias to have life in himself,” &c. And that the word Son is to be rendered in this sense, appears from verse 27; “He hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” Observe that, “because he is the Son of man.”

I. It is one thing to understand “the Son of God” barely and abstractly for the second person in the Holy Trinity; another to understand him for the Messias, or that second person incarnate. To say that the second person in the Trinity knows not something is blasphemous; to say so of the Messias, is not so, who, nevertheless, was the same with the second person in the Trinity: for although the second person, abstractly considered according to his mere Deity, was co-equal with the Father, co-omnipotent, co-omniscient, co-eternal with him, &c.; yet Messias, who was God-man, considered as Messias, was a servant and a messenger of the Father, and received commands and authority from the Father. And those expressions, “The Son can do nothing of himself,” &c. will not in the least serve the Arian’s turn; if you take them in this sense, which you must necessarily do; “Messias can do nothing of himself, because he is a servant and a deputy.”

II. We must distinguish between the excellences and perfections of Christ, which flowed from the hypostatical union of the natures, and those which flowed from the donation and anointing of the Holy Spirit. From the hypostatical union of the natures flowed the infinite dignity of his person, his impeccability, his infinite self-sufficiency to perform the law, and to satisfy the divine justice. From the anointing of the Spirit flowed his power of miracles, his foreknowledge of things to come, and all kind of knowledge of evangelic mysteries. Those rendered him a fit and perfect Redeemer; these a fit and perfect Minister of the gospel.

Now, therefore, the foreknowledge of things to come, of which the discourse here is, is to be numbered among those things which flowed from the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and from immediate revelation; not from the hypostatic union of the natures. So that those things which were revealed by Christ to his church, he had them from the revelation of the Spirit, not from that union. Nor is it any derogation or detraction from the dignity of his person, that he saith, ‘He knew not that day and hour of the destruction of Jerusalem’; yea, it excellently agrees with his office and deputation, who, being the Father’s servant, messenger, and minister, followed the orders of the Father, and obeyed him in all things. “The Son knoweth not,” that is, it is not revealed to him from the Father to reveal to the church. Revelation 1:1, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him.”

We omit inquiring concerning the knowledge of Christ, being now raised from death: whether, and how far, it exceeded his knowledge, while yet he conversed on earth. It is without doubt, that, being now raised from the dead, he merited all kind of revelation (see Rev 5:9, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain,” &c.); and that he, conversing on earth before his death, acted with the vigour of the Holy Spirit and of that unspeakable holiness which flowed from the union of the human nature with the divine, the divine nature, in the meantime, suspending its infinite activity of omnipotence. So that Christ might work miracles, and know things to come, in the same manner as the prophets also did, namely, by the Holy Ghost, but in a larger measure; and might overcome the devil not so much by the omnipotence of the divine nature, as by the infinite holiness of his person, and of his obedience. So that if you either look upon him as the minister and servant of God; or if you look upon the constitution, as I may so call it, and condition of his person, these words of his, “Of that day and hour knoweth not the Son also,” carry nothing of incongruity along with them; yea, do excellently speak out his substitution as a servant, and the constitution of his person as God-man.

The reason why the divine wisdom would have the time of the destruction of Jerusalem so concealed, is well known to itself; but by men, since the time of it was unsearchable, the reason certainly is not easy to be searched. We may conjecture that the time was hid, partly, lest the godly might be terrified with the sound of it, as 2 Thessalonians 2:2; partly, that the ungodly, and those that would be secure, might be taken in the snares of their own security, as Matthew 24:38. But let secret things belong to God.

The first Netzarim community of Jerusalem

Act 2:36 “Let all the house of Yisroel therefore know certainly that Allaha has made him both MarYah  and Meshikha, this Eashoa whom  you crucified.” Act 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Kipha and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what  shall we do?” Act 2:38 Kipha said to them, “Repent, and be baptized,  every one of you, in the name of Eashoa Meshikha for the forgiveness  of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Set Apart  Rukha d’ Qudsha. Act 2:39 For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our Allaha will call to himself.” Act 2:40 With many other words he testified, and  exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.Act 2:41 Then those who received his word were baptized. There were added that day about three thousand souls. Act 2:42 They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and prayer. Act 2:43 Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Act 2:44 All who believed were together, and had all things in common.Act 2:45 They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had  need. Act 2:46 Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in  thetemple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, Act 2:47 praising Allaha, and having favor  with all the people. The Lord added to their number day by day those  who  were being saved.

Bishops’ list

Jacob (A.D. 62/6)

Simeon (A.D. 106/7)

Iustus / Iudas (A.D. 107-113)

Zacchaeus / Zacharias




Mathias / Matthew (A.D. 120)

Philip (A.D. 124)



By Kimberly Rogers
Passover is traditionally viewed as a Jewish holiday. It is, rather, a Biblical Feast that has been performed the
same way for over 3,500 years starting with the Hebrews and Gentiles that left Egypt together during the first Exodus
(Exodus 12:38).

Several items are placed on the Passover Seder (supper) plate. Each of these has specific meaning
associated with our Messiah, Yeshua, and the Children of Abraham, also referred to as The Children of Israel.
Passover, as with all the Feasts, are associated with prophecies of Yeshua, both for His first coming and His
second. There is great knowledge associated with the symbolism of the Passover and wonderful blessings for Believers
who keep God’s appointed times (moedim: pronounced mow-ed-eem) ± the times He said we were to have ³an
appointment´ with Him.

Matzah (Unleavened Bread):
Unleavened bread has the properties in its appearance of being beaten, striped and bruised. For the last 3,500
years, these have represented Yeshua’s physical state at the time of His crucifixion.
Each Seder table is provided with 3 Matzahs hidden in a 3-pocketed ³napkin´. One whole piece of Matzah is
placed in each pocket. The 3 Matzah’s represent God’s 3 manifestations as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The first
Matzah represents God, the Father. The middle Matzah represents Yeshua. At a point during the ritual, middle Matzah
is broken, then hidden by adults to be found by children later at a specified time. The Matzah, Yeshua who is our
unleavened bread, was broken for our sins, wrapped in a white burial cloth, placed in a tomb (hidden), and then arose
from the dead (was found again).The hidden Matzah is called the ³afikomen´, a Greek word meaning ³that which comes
last´. It also represents Yeshua’s final return to earth. The 3rd Matzah represents the Holy Spirit.

Kimberly Rogers
Permission is granted to reprint and GIVE AWAY copies of this article. Changing this article in any way is a violation of
copyright laws and is prohibited. Copyright 2008.

Manna aka Matzah

The promise is that at the end of the journey lies the “happy ending” — the Land flowing with milk and honey. But unlike in fairy tales, the path through the speaking, teaching Wilderness of reality is long and arduous, twisting and turning in frightening ways. Each twist and turn in the journey comes to teach a new aspect of faith in G-d: faith in the miracles that take place in and through the workings of nature (“and they BELIEVED in HaShem and in Moses his servant”, Ex. 14:31); faith in the miracles through which we receive our livelihood (the root of MANNA is the same as EMUNAH, faith); faith in G-d’s miraculous power to heal through our keeping the Torah (“I, HaShem am your healer” Ex. 15:26); faith in G-d’s power to conquer the forces of evil (“and his hands were faith” Ex. 17:12).

Faith is the sustenance needed to survive in the wilderness of this world and to reach the promised “inhabited land” (Ex. 16:35) that surely lies at the end of the road. The very twists and turns in the road are trials sent to bring us nearer to this sustaining faith. For that reason, it is not written (Ex. 14:10) that “Pharaoh drew near” (KARAV, Pa’al verbal form) to the Children of Israel, but rather, Pharaoh HIKRIV, Hif’il verbal form — “Pharaoh BROUGHT closer” (see Rashi ad loc.). I.e. Pharaoh brought the Children of Israel closer: his very onslaught and the fear it caused brought them closer to G-d, forcing them to turn to Him in prayer and faith.

excerpt taken from:


By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Parsha 17

Read more

NETSERAN ARAMAIC נצרניית ארמיתא

NETSERAN ARAMAIC נצרניית ארמיתא


Aramitha Netseranayit, or “Netseran Aramaic” is the living language used in the Holy Offering and other services of the Nazarani Church. It is a dialect of Aramaic, which is very closely related to and indeed a descendant of Galilean Aramaic (the language of Christ and His apostles). However; it, like any living language, has evolved over the centuries in the course of Liturgical use, and many words that were unknown in the time of Christ were added by the early Church fathers and others to express new ideas etc. as time went by, such as the idea of the Holy Trinity, the Anaphora and so on.


This was done by taking existing words and combining them such as Tla-Qnumeh for the Trinity. Tla from ‘Tlata’, meaning ‘three’ and qnumeh meaning ‘substance’ or in vulgar terms, ‘nature’. Thus, two Aramaic words came to be combined into one new word. In Christ’s day, these words would have been understood, but the concept behind their combination would have baffled. This is an example to show essentially what separates the Netseran from the Galilean dialect.


It is impossible to speak Galilean to-day, because the language does not include words for the majority of the things in our day-to-day lives and experiences; thus the purpose of the Netser Language Institute is to train a whole generation of fluent speakers of Aramitha Netseranayit, as inheritors of the language of Christ, and by extension of the common Aramaic heritage which all Christians share with one another.


John 1
1. In the beginning [of creation] there was the Milta*; and that Milta* was with Allaha; and Allaha was [the embodiment of] that Milta.* 2. This was in the beginning with Allaha. 3. Everything was within his power*, [otherwise] nothing would ever exist.* 4. Through him [there] was Life* and Life became the spark* of humanity 5. And that [ensuing] fire* lights the darkness and darkness does not overshadow it.

6. There was a man sent by Allaha, his name [was] John [the Baptist.] 7. He came for that testimony, to testify [concerning] the light, so that every human [being] may [come] to believe by his [testimony*.] 8. He was not the light, except that he was to testify [concerning] it*.

9. There was the light of the truth, that which lights everyone who is born*.

10. He was with the people* and the people [came into being] by his hand* and the people did not know Him. 11. He came to his own and his own did not receive him.

12. But all those who did receive him, He assigned them to be children* of Allaha, [to them] who believed in his name; 13. They who [did not become so] through blood, nor through the desire* of the flesh and neither through a man’s willpower*; except they became born [so] from Allaha.

14. And the Manifestation became flesh and made his dwelling amongst us, and we saw His glory, glory as [that] uniquely [of the nature] of the Creator, Full of grace and blessing.

15. John [the Baptist ] testified to him and cried out, saying, “This is the one [of whom] they said, ‘The one who comes after me And yet is ahead of me, because he arrived first.’“

16. And because of his abundant [grace] we have all been fulfilled, Blessing upon blessing.* 17. The Law came to us by the hand of Moses. [But] the truth and grace was through Eashoa the Messiah. 18. No human [being] ever saw Allaha, except for the only born Allaha, He who existed in the bosom of his Father, [Who] proclaimed* Him.

19. And this is the testimony of John [the Baptist,] as Jews of Jerusalem sent high priests and Levites, to ask him, “Who are you?” 20. And he informed them, and did not deny it, saying*, “I am not the Anointed One*.” 21. And they asked him, “Then what, are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” Are you a prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22. And they said to him, “Who are you? So we can give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23. He said, “‘I am the voice that cries in the wilderness, lay out the path [for] Maryah’ as Isaiah the prophet proclaimed.”

24. And the ones who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25. And they asked him, saying (to him,) “Why then do you baptize, if you are not the Anointed One, nor Elijah, nor a prophet?” 26. [Then] John answered them, saying, “I am baptizing with water*, but amongst you stands one whom you do not know, 27. “He who comes after me, whose shoe laces I am not worthy of untying.” 28. These [events] occurred in Bethany, by the other side of [the] Jordan [river,] where John was baptizing. 29. And the following day John saw Eashoa approaching him, and he said, “Behold the Lamb of Allaha, who takes away the sin of the universe. 30. “This is the one of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man* who [goes] before me, for he was [always] ahead of me.’ 31. “And I would not know him, except that he was to be known to Israel, [and] because of this came I baptizing with water*.” 32. And [thus] testified John and said, “You shall see the Holy Spirit like a dove nestling upon him. 33. “And I would not have known him, except for the [one who] sent me to baptize with the waters, the one who told me, ‘Whoever you see upon whom the nestling Spirit holding firmly, he shall baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34. “And I saw and am testifying that he is the Son of Allaha.”

35. And on the second day [there] stood John with two of his disciples. 36. And he gazed upon Eashoa as he walked, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of Allaha!” 37. And both his disciples heard it* and they followed Eashoa. 38. And Eashoa turned and saw them coming after him, and he said to them, “What do you want?” They said to him, “[Our] Master*, where do you reside*?” 39. He said to them, “Come on and see [for yourselves.]” And they went and saw where he was, and they remained with him that day–and it was the tenth hour. 40. But one of the two who had heard it from John and had followed him, was Andrew, the brother of Simon. 41. He first found his brother Simon, and he said to him, “We have found the Anointed One!” 42. And he brought them to Eashoa. Eashoa gazed at [Simon] and said, “You are Simon, the son of the dove*, you shall be called Keepa*.”

43. On the following day, it pleased Eashoa to go to Galilee, and he found Philip, and he said to him, “Follow me.” 44. But Philip was from Bethsaida, from the town of Andrew and Simon. 45. Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, “The one of whom wrote Moses in the Law and the prophets, we have found him, [he is] Eashoa, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth;” 46. [But] Nathaniel said to him, “From Nazareth, is it possible anything good can [come out] of there?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47. Eashoa saw Nathaniel approaching him, and he said to him, “Behold a true son of Israel, in whom there is no duplicity!” 48. And Nathaniel said to him, “From when did you know me?” Eashoa answered him, saying, “I knew you before Philip called you, as I saw you [sitting] under the fig tree.” 49. [And] Nathaniel replied, saying, “Master, you are the Son of Allaha! You are the King of Israel!” 50. Eashoa replied and said to him, “Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see a great [deal] more than these!” 51. He said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, from now on you shall see the heaven [that I have] opened and the angels of Allaha as they ascend and descend to the Son of Man.*”

Footnotes: 1:1 [all instances] Literal Aramaic word retained: “Manifestation.” “Milta” or “Miltha” is an Aramaic word that has been set aside for only sacred use. Only the Messiah Eashoa is ever to be called the Milta. Grammatically, “Milta” means the essential connotation for a person or thing. There is no true English language equivalent for this word. — 1:3 Literal Aramaic [Aramaic]: “[In his] hand.” — 1:4. 1 “And without his hand, not one [thing that] became would have become.” — 1:4. 2 “Lives,” whenever it represents: “life everlasting” is stated in the plural. When used in this sense it will always be capitalized in this translation and appear as “Life.” — 1:4. 3 “Light.” — 1:5 “Light.” — 1:7 “Hand.” — 1:8 “The light.” — 1:9. 1 “Gives Life to.” — 1:9. 2 “Comes to [people, or] the universe.” — 1:10. 1 “The universe.” — 1:10. 2 Aramaic expression: He created them. — 1:12 “Sons of Allaha.” — 1:13. 1 “Will.” — 1:13. 2 Literal expression: “Through satisfaction of man [or power of maturity.]” — 1:16 Literal expression: “And from his fullness we have all been satisfied, grace in place of grace.” — 1:18 “Spoke of.” — 1:20. 1 “Informing.” — 1:20. 2 The Messiah. — 1:26 “Waters.” — 1:30 “Mighty [man.]” — 1:31 “Waters.” — 1:37 “As they heard.” — 1:38. 1 “Rabban.” — 1:38. 2 Literal expression: “Where dwell you?” — 1:42. 1 Literal The Holy Spirit. — 1:42. 2 Aramaic name retained: “Rock,” which is Anglicized as “Peter.” — 1:51 “Bar-nasha,” is a theological concept when used in this construction. Sometimes it means: “humanity,” other times: “a human being.”

HaMoshiach Confirms and Expounds the Law of Moses

Matthew 5:17

HaMoshiach Confirms and Expounds the Law of Moses. Matt. 5, 17-37.

Good works Yeshua has just urged. He now proceeds to give a definition of good works from the Law. He makes clear His position with regard to the Law: V.17. Think not that I am come to destroy the Law and the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. The teaching of the Kingdom, the Gospel which He came to proclaim, is a doctrine radically different from the teaching of Moses. But it does not invalidate the demands of the moral law as taught by Moses, it does not substitute a new moral law. Yeshua rather emphasizes its proper understanding, and for that reason takes great pains to explain its spiritual content. He wants to fulfill, to bring out fully, the real import, to counteract the influence of the shallow, superficial explanation then in common use; and then to render a perfect obedience to the Law. He who might abrogate all its demands, who has power to modify any of its injunctions, places Himself under the Law, Gal. 4, 4, and, by fulfilling its every letter, cancels the law of the letter. And He fulfills the prophets.

Whatever, in the revelation of the Old Testament, is type and prophecy, finds its completion, its realization in HaMoshiach the Redeemer, Col. 2, 17. Note the emphasis of His assertion: V.18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and. earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law till all be fulfilled. With a solemn oath HaMoshiach here affirms that the Law shall be retained also in the Church of the New Testament in the unabridged exercise of its strength. The whole Old Testament is a divine revelation, and so its minutest precept has religious significance which should find recognition and proper understanding in the New.

So long as the earth shall stand, the sacredness of the Scripture of olden times shall remain so absolutely unimpaired that not even an iota, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, nor a tittle, the slight projecting point on some of its letters, shall fall to the ground. There is here a gleam of Gospel glory in the midst of the proclamation of the Law, implying a fulfillment which was to be made, and was in fact made, in and through the person of Yeshua HaMoshiach. In the mean time all men should know: V.19.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Here is a conclusion. Since the above is HaMoshiach’s view, He is bound to take His stand with reference to the transgressors of that rule. He that dissolves, abrogates, sets aside even those commandments that seem small and of little import, he that disregards as much as one of the little horns or hooks, whose presence or absence may, indeed, change the meaning of an entire passage, falls under HaMoshiach’s sentence of condemnation, he is declared to be the least in the kingdom of heaven.

The sincerity of his convictions will not be accepted as an excuse, and his fault will only be made greater by his extending the false opinion he holds by means of teaching. He shall be called the least, he shall be rejected in this kingdom, he shall be excluded from its glories. On the other hand, he that teaches in entire conformity with the Old Testament, that preaches not only the Gospel, but the Law in its great purpose of preparing the hearts, that keeps silence with regard to nothing, that does not add thereto nor take therefrom, he shall have a great name in the kingdom of heaven, he shall receive the reward of faithfulness. For this teaching is essential in educating men as to the true righteousness of life, in holding up before the Netzarim a proper rule of conduct. How strongly this feature is brought out by the contrast: V.20.

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Not in the teachers of the people as they were then acknowledged, but only in Himself there would be the perfect realization of teaching and doing. The scribes were the accepted teachers of the Law, and many of them were members of the sect, or party, of the Pharisees. The chief accusation which HaMoshiach brought against these people is recorded in many passages of the Gospels; cp. Matt. 23.

The feature of their doctrine and life was this, that they set aside the great for the little, the divine for the sake of the traditional. The result was a slavish observing of externals, which gave them a great show of piety before the people, an impression which they were very careful to nourish. So far as the great majority of these sectarians was concerned, their hearts were far from true piety and righteousness of the heart, which seeks, in true love of one’s neighbor, to do the will of God in word and deed. Wherever such is the case, there is no faith, and therefore no idea of entering into the kingdom of heaven.

The Lord now proceeds to prove His condemning statement by expounding a few of the commandments of the Law according to their full spiritual significance: V.21. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill: and, Whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. They were accustomed to hear this in the regular synagog services, where the reading of the Law was never omitted. It was said both to them of old time, Ex. 20, 13; Deut. 5, 17; Gen. 9, 5. 6, and by them of old time, in the precepts delivered by tradition from father to son as well as by the teachers of the people, 2 Chron. 17, 7-9, but the addition, fixing the penalty, was made in the interpretation of the rabbis. But by this explanation the meaning of “kill” was restricted to actual murder, and the commandment of God became a mere external legal enactment.

The end of the transgression was penalized, but the beginning, in desires, in thoughts, in words, was not restrained. “Behold, that is the beautiful holiness of the Pharisees, which can cleanse itself, and remain pious, so long as it does not kill with the hand, though the heart be filled with anger, hatred, and envy, the tongue also with cursing and blaspheming.” 49 HaMoshiach’s exposition is not so narrow: V.22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire.

The statement of the Lord is very general: Every one, none excepted; it is a universal prohibition of angry passion. He that gives way to such wrath is guilty of judgment, of condemnation. Anger against a brother, any member of the human family, is a deadly sin. It should properly come under the jurisdiction of the council or court, Deut. 16, 18; 2 Chron. 19, 5. This is speaking relatively. The person that gives way to anger is as great an offender in God’s sight as the one that slays his brother in cold blood, Gal. 5, 20; Col. 3, 8; Jas. 1, 19. 20. The same condemnation, but with greater emphasis, falls upon him that cannot control his anger, permitting it to burst forth in maledictions. Raca is an Aramaic word meaning an empty head, a stupid.

The one using angry epithets of this nature is guilty of the Sanhedrin, the supreme council of the Jews that tried the worst offenses and inflicted the severest penalties. Anger that is not quickly controlled will become hatred combined with contempt, and freely indulge in railing, 1 Pet. 3, 9. A still greater insult lies in the epithet, “Thou fool,” which was used to denote a good-for-nothing, hopeless, helpless, morally worthless fool, and expressed contempt for a man’s heart and character.

This expression of utter disregard of the fellow-man’s position in the eyes of God is an offense equal to that of murder, it is a damnable sin, 1 John 3, 15; Rev. 21, 8. It is punishable by the fire of Hinnom, the valley where the refuse of Jerusalem was burned – a figure often used by Yeshua in speaking of the punishment of hell-fire. Yeshua presents the positive side of His exposition: V.23. Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath aught against thee,V.24. leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

The forgiving attitude is pictured from a happening which was very frequent among the Jews, with which they were thoroughly familiar. A Jew might bring his Corban, his gift, used of every kind of bloody and unbloody sacrifice which was brought to the Temple, Matt. 8, 4; 15, 5; 23, 8. But in the very act of handing it to the officiating priest at the altar there comes the remembrance. It suddenly flashes into his mind that he has been guilty of an act or a word which might have provoked a brother. The natural way of dealing with the situation might seem to be to keep on with the worship, get through as quickly as possible, and then hurry to make peace with the offended. But HaMoshiach tells us to interrupt our worship and go on the errand of seeking forgiveness first, though it may seem profane to do so. It is more important that the heart be free from anxiety for a brother’s peace of mind than that an external rite be performed: mercy before sacrifice. There will be plenty of time for sacrificing afterward. Cp. Is. 58, 4-7.

The same truth in a different parable: V.25. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou. art in the way with him, lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.V.26. Verily, I say unto thee, Thou shall by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. The picture is that of a debtor on the way to court with his creditor, Deut. 21, 18; 25, 1, who is his adversary, but probably might be found willing to come to terms outside of court. The advice is that the debtor be in a very conciliatory mood, ready and eager to straighten out the difficulty without litigation.

In case a settlement would not be effected in this manner, the danger would be that the adversary, losing all patience, would deliver and even forcibly drag the debtor before the judge, secure a favorable decision, have this carried out by the officer of the court, and have the satisfaction of seeing him taken to prison. All hopes of obtaining mercy would then be shattered. For even the last quadrans, the fourth part of a Roman assarion, which was worth not quite two cents, would be demanded of him. Payment would be exacted to the last fraction of a penny. A very earnest admonition not to wait or hesitate about coming to terms with our adversary, with any one whom we owe reconciliation. The brief period of life is soon behind us, and the implacable that refused to agree will find in the Lord an equally implacable Judge.

A lesson from the Sixth Commandment: V.27. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery.V.28. But I say unto you, That whosoever looked on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. The Sixth Commandment had indeed been given to “them of old time,” Ex. 20, 14; Deut. 5, 18. But it was understood by the Jewish teachers of the sin in deed only, of the deliberate unfaithfulness of those joined in wedlock, or the carnal intercourse of the unmarried. Many rabbis expressly stated that the evil thought should not be regarded on a level with the sinful act. 50

HaMoshiach’s explanation opens the deeper meaning of the commandment. He finds the beginning of adultery in the deliberate nourishing of the awakening lust of the heart. A woman may be seen, come within the range of vision of a man, and there is no wrong in the act. Ordinary human intercourse would be impossible without it. But when the look turned upon any woman, married or unmarried, is deliberate and intentional, conscious and persistent, as on a person of the opposite sex, and this is followed by an impure desire of coveting her for immoral purposes, then adultery has in fact been committed, although the sin is hidden deeply in the heart.

HaMoshiach’s advice to the tempted: V.29. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.V.30. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee. For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. The right eye and the right hand are named as prominent members in the actual committing of sin, through which the evil desire of the heart finds its expression. They are represented as the organs of temptation. According to popular view, they are the members that offend, that incite to the actual commission of sin. Therefore, symbolically speaking, these members and all the members of the body must be controlled, if necessary, by an absolute and painful renunciation.

Better to be without individual organs and members of the body than have the whole body condemned. HaMoshiach speaks figuratively, and His words must be understood in the spiritual sense; for mutilation evidently may prevent the outward act, but will not kill the desire. Every member of the body shall be so controlled and governed by the sanctified will that it will not yield to sin, thus bringing the whole body into condemnation. Yeshua again uses the figure of the perpetual fires of the valley of Hinnom, where the waste and refuse of the city of Jerusalem was burned, for the punishment of hell. “This, then, is the meaning: If you feel that you look upon a woman with evil lust, then pluck that eye or vision out as being contrary to God’s commandment, not of the body, but of the heart from which the burning and desire proceeds, then have you torn it out rightly.

For when the evil lust is out of the heart, then the eye will also not sin nor offend you, and you will look upon the same woman with the same eyes of your body, but without desire, and it will be as though you had not seen her. For no longer is that eye there which was there before, which is called an eye of burning or desire, although the eye of the body remains uninjured.”

51 A further illustration; V.31. It hath been said,. Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.V.32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery. The form in which Yeshua here speaks indicates that He disapproves of their literal interpretation of the permission granted by Moses, Deut. 24, 1. The Mosaic law was given in the interest of the woman, to give her at least some show of right. But the Jewish doctors, concerned only about the outward form and about getting the bill of separation into due legal shape, permitted a license which was soon carried to scandalous and criminal excesses.

Pouncing upon the phrase: “She find no favor in his eyes,” they permitted divorces when a man found a handsomer woman, when he was displeased with his wife’s cooking, when he did not find her manners agreeable. Only the bill or letter of separation must be made out, that formality was insisted upon. But such a deliberate breaking of the marriage-tie, though it be sanctioned by the civil courts, has no validity before God.

The Lord recognizes only one reason for divorce, when there is a plain case of unfaithfulness, of adultery, of any unlawful intercourse of a married person with any other person but the lawful spouse. In this case a divorce may be secured, but is not commanded. “We neither command nor hinder such divorce, but leave it to the government to act…. But to give advice to such as want to be Netzarim, it would be far better to admonish and urge both parties to stay together, and that the innocent spouse be reconciled to the guilty one (if this one were humble and willing to amend) and forgive in HaMoshiachian love.” 52 If any other reason is alleged and the divorce brought about, adultery is committed, both by the complainant, in severing the marriage-tie, and by the accused that permits the frivolous dissolution. In the same way he that marries a woman divorced from her lawful husband, to whom she still belongs before God, is an adulterer in the eyes of the Lord.

An illustration from the Second Commandment: V.33. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.V.34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne;V.35. nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king.V.36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.V.37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Yeshua introduces the subject as before, referring to the customary reading of the Law and the accompanying teaching. The implication of HaMoshiach is that the people were really kept under a false impression, by being permitted to draw the conclusion that they were listening to the exact words of Moses. The words as stated are indeed found in the Law, Lev. 19, 12; Num. 30, 3; Deut. 23, 22. But the interpretation left much to be desired. It placed no emphasis upon the inner truthfulness of the heart. If that is missing, what object have all oaths? All the careful distinctions as to degrees of oaths, and therefore of perjury, were a yoke on the necks of the Jews that did not affect their hearts. And it was a matter of mere sophistical quibbling that permitted all manner of affirmations in which the divine name was not mentioned directly, Deut. 6, 13, and thus evaded the obligation of the oath. There is not the slightest difference between an oath in the name of God and such asseverations as substitute the names of holy things, heaven, or such over which God alone has control: His city, Jerusalem, the earth, His footstool, a man’s head or life.

All these oaths involve a reference to God. And all of them, as He distinctly specifies them, one after the other, are superfluous where the heart is pure and truthful. The Lord distinctly condemns the incessant, frivolous calling upon the Deity in all kinds of garbled forms. He does not imply that oaths, under circumstances, are not altogether lawful and right. “In civil life the most truthful man has to take an oath because of the untruth and consequent distrust prevailing in the world, and in so doing he does not sin against HaMoshiach’s teaching. HaMoshiach Himself took an oath before the high priest.” 53 His demand is absolute truthfulness and straightforwardness in the dealing of people with one another.

There the affirmation shall have the full value and force of the Yea, and the denial the simple power of the Nay, that there may be an unhesitating dependence upon all statements, without the support of an oath. Anything that goes beyond this simple definition is of evil, even savors of the influence of the evil one, the devil, the father of lies. Yeshua expressed Himself mildly with a purpose, and did not deny the necessity of oaths in, a world full of falsehood. “I know, He means to say, that in certain circumstances something beyond yea and nay will be required of you. But it comes of evil, the evil of untruthfulness. See that the evil be not in you.”


Torah Reading: VAYEISHEV Gen. 37:1-40:23; Numbers 7:18-29. Haftara: Zechariah 2:14-4:7.  B’rit Chadashah: Acts 7:9-16


“These are the generations of Jacob. These are their dwellings and rollings (GILGULIM) until they came to a state of habitation (YISHUV). The first cause was that ‘Joseph was seventeen years old.’

” ‘And Jacob dwelled.’: Jacob wanted to dwell in tranquility, but the storm of Joseph sprang upon him. The tzaddikim want to dwell in tranquility, but the Holy One, blessed be He, says, ‘Is it not enough for the tzaddikim that the World to Come is prepared for them, but they want to dwell in tranquility in this world?’ ” (Rashi on Gen. 37:2).

Now that the Torah has completed the stories of Abraham and Isaac and that part of the story of Jacob in which he is the chief actor, we now turn to the story of Jacob’s children: “These are the generations of Jacob”. Their “dwellings and rollings” — as recounted in the remaining four parshiyos of Genesis, allude to all their future history, in the Land of Israel and in exile, until we will finally come to a “state of habitation” (YISHUV) in the Land of Israel, with Melech HaMashiach: a state of YISHUV HADA’AS, “a settled mind” — expanded consciousness. Jacob sought immediate tranquility in the Land of Israel, but this tranquillity could only be attained in the Future World, after many “rollings” — (GILGULIM) incarnations and generations.

The Children of Israel are destined to be a Light to the Nations. As such, they must be at peace with each other, for how can they shine to the nations when they are at war with one another? But in our parshah of VAYEISHEV, the Children of Israel were unable to make inner peace: “.And they could not speak to him [Joseph] peaceably” (Gen. 37:4). Joseph exemplified the true leader — “and he was pasturing his brothers” (v. 2) — but as yet his brothers could not accept him. He was too saintly. The brothers were still out for themselves: “.They went only to pasture THEMSELVES” (Rashi on Gen. 37:12). Their in-fighting turned into a hypocritical religious war: “They said, Let us go to Dothan” (from the root DAS, “religious law”; Gen. 37:17). They went “to seek out religious contrivances” (NICHLEY DOSOS) in order to kill the true leader (see Rashi on this verse).

Yet Jacob sent Joseph into the middle of all this “from the depth (EMEK, valley) of Hebron” (Gen. 37:14). — “But surely Hebron is on a MOUNTAIN, as it says, ‘And they ASCENDED from the south and he came to Hebron’ (Numbers 13:22)??? But what it means is FROM THE DEEP PLAN of that tzaddik who is buried in Hebron, i.e. Abraham, to fulfil what was said to him at the Covenant Between the Pieces, ‘for your seed will be a stranger’ (Gen. 16:13)” (Rashi ad loc.).

In other words, the “deep plan” necessitated the sale of Joseph into slavery in Egypt, which would eventually cause all his brothers and Jacob himself to go down to Egypt, in order to bring about the exile of the Children of Egypt there in preparation for their eventual Exodus. The paradigm of Exile / Redemption recurs repeatedly in Jewish history in the exiles of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome (Edom-Yishmael).

All the “rollings” and incarnations of the Children of Israel from generation to generation refine and purify their souls in preparation for the eventual state of YISHUV, “habitation”, which depends on peace among the Twelve Tribes. In the coming parshiyos, we will see how the wise leader exemplified in Joseph skillfully manipulates everything to bring his “exiled” brothers to repent of their fractiousness and enmity and make peace with one another. Repentance is a recurrent theme of this and all the remaining parshiyos in Genesis. Reuven repented his “sin” (Gen 35:22; Rashi on 37:29); Judah repented, confessing: “she was more righteous than me” (Gen. 38:26); Joseph’s brothers repented: “but we are guilty” (Gen. 42:21).

The essential fissures among the Children of Israel in their later history were between Benjamin vs. the other tribes (Judges Ch. 19ff), and the House of Judah (representing fidelity to the Oral Torah) vs. the House of Israel, the Ten Tribes, who rebelled under the leadership of Jeraboam son of Nevat of the tribe of Ephraim = Joseph (representing worldly success). (This is also the clash today between the “religious” and “secular”.) In the coming parshiyos we will see how Judah (from the Children of Leah) becomes a “guarantor” (Gen. 44:30) for Benjamin (from the sons of Rachel), and how the state of near war between Judah and Joseph (Gen. 44:18) is transformed into a state of reconciliation between Joseph and all his brothers (Ch. 45). Judah’s repentance and taking responsibility make him worthy of being the religious leader. “And he [Jacob] sent JUDAH before him to Joseph to RULE.” (Gen. 46:28).

The bond forged between Judah and Benjamin exemplifies the concept that “all Israel are guarantors for one another” (Shavuos 39a). This bond is embodied in the fact that the territories of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin are contiguous, meeting in Jerusalem, YeruSHALAYIM, City of Peace, at the site of the Holy Altar in the Temple on Mount Moriah. The bond between Judah and Benjamin is also embodied in the figure of Mordechai, who although from the tribe of Benjamin is nevertheless called ISH YEHUDI, a man of Judah (Esther 2:5). The Code of Jewish Law also represents peace between Judah and Benjamin, in the sense that the stringent House of Shammai (Benjamin) receives honor and is always mentioned first, yet the legal decision in almost all cases follows the opinion of the compassionate House of Hillel (Judah).

The transformation of the war between Joseph and Judah into a state of reconciliation and peace is paradigmatic of the future reconciliation of the Jews (= Jude, Judah) and the lost Ten Tribes, and also the reconciliation between the “religious” and the “secular”. All this comes about through Mashiach son of Joseph (Rachel) and Mashiach son of Judah (Leah).

However, in our parshiyos, all these hints of future history are contained in allusion only, for prior to attaining the future state of YISHUV and MOCHIN DE-GADLUS — “settled” and “expanded consciousness” — the world is in a state of BILBUL and MOCHIN DE-KATNUS, “confusion” and “limited consciousness”. Thus our parshah deals with negative feelings and emotions: the hatred of the brothers for Joseph; their deception of Jacob with the blood of the slaughtered goat; the deception of Judah by Tamar; the attack on Joseph by Potiphar’s wife, etc. etc.

The state of MOCHIN DE-KATNUS is the state of exile. Thus in our parshah, the scene changes from the Land of Israel to Egypt, MITZRAIM = METZAR, the “narrow” or “constricted” place. While Israel is the “face” (the PNIMIUS, the hidden “interiority”), Egypt represents the revealed exterior, the “backside”. Thus the King of Egypt is Pharaoh, the Hebrew letters of whose name when rearranged spell out HA-OREPH, “the BACK of the neck”, opposite of “the FACE”. In this state of exile, there is no more prophecy, only dreams. Joseph dreams. The Butler and the Baker dream. Pharaoh dreams. G-d appears to Jacob “in the appearances of the night” (Gen. 46:2). Constricted consciousness!

* * *


“The tribes were busy with the sale of Joseph; Joseph was busy with his sack-cloth and fasting; Reuven was busy with his sack-cloth and fasting; Jacob was busy with his sack-cloth and fasting; Judah was busy getting himself a wife. And the Holy One, blessed be He, was busy creating the light of the King Mashiach. — ‘And at that time Judah WENT DOWN’ (Gen. 38:1). Even before the first oppressor [Pharaoh] was born, the final redeemer was born” (Midrash Rabbah Bereishis 85:1).

Immediately after the story of the sale of Joseph to Egypt (the beginning of the exile) the Torah immediately tells us the story of Judah and Tamar, which culminates with the birth of Peretz (Gen. 38:29) who was the ancestor of King David, the Messianic King (Ruth 4:18-22).

The story of Judah and Tamar ione of sexual sin and its rectification. Of the three cardinal sins, Abraham rectified that of Idolatry (fallen CHESSED) while Isaac rectified the sin of Bloodshed (fallen GEVUROS). The mission of Jacob and his sons was to rectify the sin of GILUI AROYOS, sexual immorality (fallen TIFERET-Beauty), which is why the preceding parshiyos were preoccupied with how Jacob built his House, with his Four Wives and the Twelve Tribes arranged around his pure “bed”, the Holy Sanctuary. Sexual immorality was the main theme in the story of Dinah, recounted in last week’s parshah of VAYISHLACH. The theme continues in our parshah. Thus Joseph was “a lad” — “he was engaged in puerile behavior, he arranged his hair carefully and smoothed his eyes in order to look beautiful” (Rashi on Gen. 37:2 and see Rashi on Gen. 39:6). Judah came in to “the harlot” (Gen. 38:15ff); Potiphar lusted for the beautiful Joseph and his wife attempted to seduce him…

Sexual immorality was an essential element in the original sin of Adam, which the rabbis conceptualized as KERI, an “impure emission” of seed. Adam had been commanded to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and conquer it and rule.” (Gen. 1:28). But in “eating the forbidden fruit” of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, Adam fell into material lust. His seed, intended to produce future generations that would know G-d, “fell” and became prey to the forces of unholy lust. Thus the holy sparks became trapped in exile. This had to be rectified by Adam’s descendants, the Children of Israel, whose mission — as mentioned above — was to rectify sexual immorality [see Kavanot of ARI, Pesach]. However, Er, the firstborn of Judah, failed the test and spilled his seed in order that his wife Tamar should not conceive and loose her worldly beauty (see Rashi on Gen. 38:7), and as a result G-d killed him.

According to the law of Levirate marriage (YIBUM), Er’s surviving brother Onan should have “raised up seed” in the name of his dead brother (i.e. the dead brother would be reincarnated in order to rectify his sin in a new life), but Onan was also selfish, and spilled his seed (Gen. 38:7).

Only through the resourcefulness of Tamar (who was the daughter of Shem = Malki-Tzedek, the “Priest”, symbol of moral purity, see Gen. 9:23) was the sin rectified through the mystery of Judah’s encounter with the “harlot”, which led to the birth of Peretz and eventually of David King Mashiach.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov stated that the main task of Mashiach is to rectify the spilling of seed.

* * *


The reason why Joseph was “a successful man” (Gen. 39:2) was precisely because “HaShem was with Joseph” (ibid.) — “the name of Heaven was regularly on his mouth” (Rashi ad loc.). Joseph had the power to see and find G-d even in Egypt, the place of MOCHIN DE-KATNUS, “constricted consciousness”, the “back-side”. This was the key to his “success”. Joseph was the very essence of Jacob, as Rashi goes to some lengths to prove (see Rashi on Gen. 37:2).

As the key figure in the “generations of Jacob”, Joseph had the same mission as his father: the building of the archetypal holy HOUSE, as discussed in connection with the preceeding parshiyos. At first, Joseph dreams of being in the FIELD, where all his brother’s sheaves prostrate to him. Later Joseph strays in the FIELD (Gen. 37:15). Yet at length his dream comes true in Egypt. There his brothers prostrate before Joseph, who orders them to be brought to his HOUSE (Gen. 43:16ff.), where they eat and drink.

The Children of Israel are not disembodied souls. They are IN the material world, their task being to elevate and spiritualize it. This is done through turning the mundane material house into a HOME, a Sanctuary of G-d — “and I will dwell within them” (Exodus 25:8).

It is the moral integrity of Joseph — who succeeds in finding G-d even in Egypt, constriction, the “back-side” — that is the key to this house-making. As we will see in next week’s parshah of MIKETZ, Joseph knows the secret of material, economic success (as exemplified in his successful management of the Egyptian economy even in times of famine). Through the story of Joseph, the Torah teaches us that the foundation of genuine long-term material success is moral purity and integrity. Even when Joseph was faced with the supreme moral test — alone in the house with his master’s wife tempting him day after day — he set the unchangeable Law of G-d before him: adultery is forbidden. “How could I do this great evil and sin against G-d?” (Gen. 39:9).

Joseph observed G-d’s law despite the fact that this led to his incarceration in the king’s prison and his disgrace in the eyes of sophisticated Egypt. Joseph is the archetype of “the tzaddik who has it bad” (Berachos 7a). Yet even in this adverse situation, “HaShem was with Joseph” (Gen. 39:21). As before (ibid. v. 2), this teaches that “the name of Heaven was regularly on his mouth”. That was the very key to Joseph’s “success”. Joseph knew that G-d speaks to us through the happenings of this world, and that we can find divine messages and meaning everywhere and in everything. Thus Joseph (DAAS-YESOD, Knowledge-Foundation, the Center Column) could “interpret dreams”, even those of the Butler (fallen CHOCHMAH-Wisdom) and the Baker (fallen BINAH-Understanding). These two, together with the Captain of Guard (fallen DAAS-Knowledge) in whose HOUSE Joseph was a slave and captive, were the Chief Officers of Pharoah, the very embodiment of the “Back-Side”, where holiness is initially concealed. It was through Joseph’s incorruptible moral integrity (SHEMIRAS HABRIS, Observance of the Covenant) that he was able to turn everything around and find divine meaning and messages even in darkness and dreams of the night. This is what brings Mashiach.

And so may our Chanukah Lights light up the darkness of night, heralding GEULAH SHELEMAH, complete redemption with Ben David Melech HaMashiach quickly in our times. Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum