Illuminations #142, Tevet 5778, Parshat Vayigash

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Illuminations #142, Tevet 5778, Parshat Vayigash

Torah Gems

​What is Bechirah, free will, and how can it be that Hashem lets us have free will, yet everything is still up to Hashem?

Rav Wolbe explains that this week’s parsha reveals the answer. The pasuk says, “It is not you who sent me here but rather Hashem, and He has made me an advisor to Pharoah, a master to his entire house and a ruler over the entire land of Egypt.” This pasuk is reffering to Yosef HaTzaddik talking to his brothers about the events that led him to Egypt. Yosef HaTzaddik explains that although the brothers had tried to get rid of him by selling him, they did not get the results that they wanted. The brothers had intended to disprove Yosef’s dream, but the events that transpired proved otherwise.

From this incident we can learn that a person is given free will to make decisions, however, the outcome is solely up to Hashem. When a person is making a decision he should take everything possibe into account and try to see the issue from all different angles.  Hashem gives us intellect to be able to come to a reasonable decision. Once we carry through with our decision, the ensuing results are no longer in our hands, but we can feel secure knowing that whatever the outcome is, it is truly the best outcome for us. For example, the brothers sold Yosef HaTzaddik which led to him becoming the second in command in Egypt.

Parsha Pearls

When Yaakov Avinu stood before Pharoah, Pharoah asked him, “How old are you?” Yaakov Avinu answered, “The years of my dwelling are one hundred and thirty years old. Few and terrible are the years of my life.” Why did Yaakov Avinu give such a long answer? Why didn’t he just say, “ I am one hundred and thirty years old?”

Rav Wolbe explains that Yaakov Avinu was teaching an important lesson. A person may live a long life in numbers, but if his life is devoid of meaning then it is not a real life. Although we are not on the level of Yaakov Avinu, we can understand that true life is living it to its fullest. When we consistently come to daven and learn, we walk around feeling fulfilled. A person feels a different energy when he is accomplishing something. When we are only involved in worldly matters we may trick ourselves into thinking that we are happy and living a good life. If one looks carefully they will see that those who are truly happy have real meaning in their lives. The more we put in the more we get out. Let’s not waste our time. Let’s succeed in not just resting in this world but living!

Glimpses of Greatness

Reb Ben Zion Abba Shaul was a walking Sefer Torah. His middot were extraordinary as illustrated in the following story. On Friday nights, the children in shul would line up to kiss is hand. At first, he objected but then reconsidered because he did not want to deprive them the opportunity to show Kavod HaTorah.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is it permitted to make the form of an eagle [for example on an American flag ](1-5-191)?

A. The Eagle is one of the four chayot (Animals) in Ezekiel (1-10) that minister above in Heaven.  Abaye (Rosh Hashana  24a) says that the Torah did not prohibit [making the likeness of] any [Heavenly] thing except those [things] that it is possible to make copies of. Rashi explains [for example it is forbidden to make copies of the implements of the Temple], but of those [things] above [in heaven] that it is impossible to make their actual [physical replica], to suggest their form [only] is permitted. (Az43b) Abaye says the Torah did not prohibit anything but the forms of the four faces (Chayot haKodesh) together.

Igros Moshe (YD 2-55, R. Moshe Feinstein Z”L), regarding the emblem of the United States which is in the form of an Eagle, says  there is no prohibition to make its likeness, since it is not in the form of mazalot [four faces] together. He brings Taz and Bach that forbid making also the forms of the Ox and Lion (and the like) by themselves, objecting that  this is difficult to accept, since if this is the case one should also forbid making the form of  a balance (scales of justice) or a rainbow, etc.  One does not have to worry about this ruling based on this line of reasoning. In any event the face of an eagle is certainly not forbidden since it is the form [found] in the Stars above before the Seat of Glory alone. The prohibition only applies above to make all of the four faces together. If so, the emblem [of the United States] of Eagle would not have anything prohibited in it.  However, Chidah in Shiuri Beracha (Yoreh Deah 141-3, R. Chaim Yosef David Azulai Z”L) says that it is clear that in a synagogue or in a study hall that one prays in on a regular basis it is forbidden to have there the forms of the lion and the like. Chochmat Adam ( 85-7, R. Avraham Danzig Z”L) rules likewise that in a synagogue it is appropriate to be stringent, because it appears as if one is bowing down to the forms.  Also, Yaskil Avdi (1-Yoreh Deah  5, R, Ovadia Hadia Z”L) and Yechave Daat (3-62, R. Ovadia YosefZ”L) and Igros Moshe (Yoreh Deah 2-55, R. Moshe Feinstein Z”L) write further regarding this [stringency in the synagogue].