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G-D'S PUPILS

by Rabbi Shmuel Weiss    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

The Torah is not written for dummies. It is pure gold, and one has to dig very deep to find the golden nuggets hidden within the words and text of this Divinely-given treasure. That said, let us explore two very puzzling statements in this week’s Torah portion.

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The Torah is not written for dummies. It is pure gold, and one has to dig very deep to find the golden nuggets hidden within the words and text of this Divinely-given treasure. That said, let us explore two very puzzling statements in this week’s Torah portion.

1) Jacob is told that Joseph is alive. He decides to go down to Egypt to see his son, but he is scared. The Torah tells us that "visions of the night" descend upon him, and he is afraid to depart Israel for the darkness of the diaspora. He prays in the name of his father Isaac, who merited never to leave the land of Israel. Hashem answers and reassures Jacob that His Divine presence will go with him, ultimately bringing him back up to Israel. Then, Hashem tells Jacob, "Joseph will place his hand on your eyes." What a strange phrase that is! What does it mean?

2) When Jacob and Joseph dramatically meet, Joseph hugs and kisses his father, but Jacob does not embrace his son, for he is busy doing something else: Jacob has his hands over his eyes and is reciting the Shema prayer. What is THAT all about?

Let us try to understand the deeper message here. For 22 years, Jacob did not communicate with Hashem, for he was intensely angry: How could a just and merciful G-d take away his beloved son Joseph? And so there was a distance, a barrier between them, an abiding anger that served to "block" the Divine transmissions.

But then Joseph reveals himself, and the whole picture completely changes. Joseph had been alive all this time. G-d had not forsaken Joseph, but protected him, and sent him to Egypt to prepare for the coming descent of the Jewish people into exile. When Jacob places his hand over his eyes, he is saying, "A human being lacks the vision to always see the big picture, to know what Hashem is planning as events unfold on a global scale." And when he recites in the Shema prayer, "Hashem is one," Jacob is really saying, "there are not two G-ds, one cruel and uncaring, the other benevolent and kind. There is only one Hashem, and He is the same throughout history, carefully piecing together the intricate parts of the puzzle until they, too, become one.

In essence, it is really Joseph's hand on Jacob's eyes, for the story of Joseph and the revelation of Joseph's existence and exalted status gives Jacob a whole new perspective on life.

Let us, also, learn what Jacob learned: The events transpiring before our eyes today are happening with Divine wisdom, for our ultimate good. And if we mortals lack the ability to perceive the truth, then let us close our eyes and trust in the one G-d. His vision is always 20-20. 

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Rabbi Shmuel Weiss, a close friend of the Torah from Dixie family, is the director of the Jewish Outreach Center in Rana’ana, Israel.

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