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Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Guest Post on Vayigash by Rav Dr. Baruch Fox: The Baal Teshuva and the Tzadik Gamur

Earlier Posts on Vayigash:


Respecting another’s opinion even when it is horribly wrong


The following is a dvar Torah from Rav Pinchas Friedman, which was translated by my friend, Rav Doctor Baruch Fox, who resides in Maaleh Adumim.  I copied it from a pdf and there might be little quirks, but it is generally in good order. 

Yehudah and Yosef Pave the Way for All of Klal Yisroel:
Yehudah the Path of Teshuvah and Yosef the Path of the Tzaddik



In this week's parsha, Vayigash, we read of two crucial confrontations between two royal figures - Yehudah and Yosef. The first encounter described at the beginning of the parsha occurs before Yosef reveals his identity to his brothers (Bereishis 44,18):
"ויגש אליו יהודה ויאמר בי אדוני ידבר נא עבדך דבר באזני אדוני" - “Yehudah approached him and said, 'If you please, my lord, may your servant speak a word in my lord's ears"... The second encounter, after Yosef has revealed his identity to his brothers and has made peace with them, occurs when Yaakov sends Yehudah to Yosef (ibid. 46,28): "ואת יהודה שלח לפניו אל יוסף להורות לפניו גשנה" - "He sent Yehudah before him to Yosef, to instruct ahead of him in Goshen". Here Rashi comments: "To clear a place for him, and to instruct how to settle in it. Ahead of him: before he would arrive there". Rashi adds from an aggadic Midrash: "To establish for him a house of study from which instruction shall go forth."
When we examine the difference between these two encounters, we find that the first was dramatic and intense; Yehudah approached Yosef with grave concerns, prepared for battle, if necessary. Rashi (44,18) comments that he was prepared to kill Yosef and Pharaoh, quoting the Midrash: "כי כמוך כפרעה, אם תקניטני אהרוג אותך ואת אדוניך",". In contrast, their second meeting was calm, peaceful, friendly and brotherly. This encounter is discussed by our blessed sages in the Midrash Tanchuma (6):
"ואת יהודה שלח לפניו, זה שאמר הכתוב (איוב כה) המשל ופחד עמו עושה שלום במרומיו, המשל זה מיכאל ופחד זה גבריאל, מיכאל מן המים וגבריאל מן האש, והן עומדין לפני השכינה ואינן מזיקין זה את זה, הוי אומר עושה שלום במרומיו. אמר רבי שמעון, כל הרקיע של מים והמלאכים של אש ומשרתיו אש לוהט, ואין המים מכבין את האש ולא האש שורף את המים, יהודה ויוסף, זה ארי וזה שור, אתמול מתנגחין זה עם זה, ועכשיו הוא משלחו אצלו, שנאמר ואת יהודה שלח לפניו, הוי עושה שלום במרומיו".
The Kings Confronted One Another With Antagonism
In this article, we wish to examine an astonishing elucidation by our sages concerning the first encounter between Yehudah and Yosef based on the verses (Tehillim 48,5-7):
"כי הנה המלכים נועדו, זה יהודה ויוסף, עברו יחדיו, זה נתמלא עברה על זה וזה נתמלא עברה על זה, המה ראו כן תמהו, ויתמהו האנשים איש אל רעהו, נבהלו נחפזו, ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אותו כי נבהלו מפניו, רעדה אחזתם שם, אלו השבטים, אמרו מלכים מדיינים אלו עם אלו אנו מה איכפת לנו, יאי למלך מדיין עם מלך".
The kings assembled refers to Yehuda and Yosef; ""עברו יחדיו, they each filled with rage against the other; "המה ראו כן תמהו" ,the spectators were bewildered; ""נבהלו נחפזו, his brothers were unable to respond to him because they were in shock; ""רעדה אחזתם שם, this refers to the Shevatim who said: “kings are debating one another, what concern is it of ours, it is fitting for a king to confront a king.”
We must endeavor to decipher our sage's enigmatic words: (a) Surely, Yehudah was enraged and furious towards Yosef who held Binyamin captive; however, why should Yosef have borne any antagonism toward Yehudah, who was merely fulfilling his promise to Yaakov? (b) What did the Shevatim mean when they said: “kings are debating kings, what concern is it of ours”? There is undoubtedly a hidden lesson here regarding this royal confrontation; it is incumbent upon us to unravel our sages riddle. Lastly, Rashi adds in his commentary (46,28) in the name of a midrash aggadah that Yaakov sent them to establish a beis midrash, a house of study; why, davka, did Yaakov choose Yehudah and Yosef out of all of the twelve shevatim for this task?
Yehudah represents the ""בעל תשובה, Yosef the ""צדיק גמור. Let us introduce an important principle that should clarify and shed light on this entire parsha. We shall expand on an illuminating concept of the holy, gaon Rav Tzaddok hakohen, zy”a, presented in his Pri Tzaddik (Vayigash,3): the two kings, Yehudah and Yosef are in essence the source of two distinct approaches to the service of Hashem - that of the tzaddik and that of the baal teshuvah.
Yosef hatzaddik merited the title צדיק יסוד עולם"" due to his withstanding the difficult test in matters of kedushah in Mitzrayim. He is emblematic of the perfect tzaddik who has defeated his yetzer harah. In contrast, Yehudah- who admitted publicly to Tamar (Bereishis 38,26): "ויכר יהודה ויאמר צדקה ממני" “Yehudah recognized, and he said, 'she is right, it is from me', . . .” - is emblematic of the baal teshuvah. It is true, however, that Rashi comments (ibid.) based on Sotah 10: that a heavenly voice went forth and proclaimed that it was I, Hashem, who brought about these events (involving Yehudah and Tamar). The point being that it was heavenly ordained that -the element of choice was withdrawn from Yehudah, so that he would repent as serve as a beacon for teshuvah for all of Klal Yisroel.
It is stated in Sefer Yetzirah (chapt. 6): "לב בנפש כמלך במלחמה" – the king represents the heart of the people. The Rambam (Hilchot melochim, chapt.3, halachah 6) comments, in a similar fashion, that the king is the heart of the congregation of Yisrael ; just as the heart is the central, gathering place of the blood, so, too, the king is the focus and heartbeat of the nation.
Anatomically, the heart is comprised of right and left chambers. Spiritually, the right heart houses the yetzer hotov, while the left heart houses the yetzer horah. This is taught in the Midrash (Bamidbar R.,22,8) on the verse (Koheles 10,2):
"לב חכם לימינו ולב כסיל לשמאלו - לב חכם לימינו, זה יצר טוב שהוא נתון בימינו, ולב כסיל לשמאלו, זה יצר הרע שנתון בשמאלו".
In this vein, Rav Tzaddok explains that the two kings, Yehudah and Yosef, correspond to the two chambers of the heart. Yosef, the complete, ultimate tzaddik represents the right chamber, the abode of the yetzer hotov and, thus, was able to overcome his yetzer harah - an illustration of (Avos 4,1): “who is mighty, he who conquers his personal inclination.” Yehudah, however, represents the left cavity of the heart, the abode of the yetzer harah; this is why it was arranged from shamayim that he fall prey to this yetzer, so that he would pave the road for the baal teshuvah.
Thus, our two kings, Yehudah and Yosef, blazed the paths for all of Yisroel . Yosef, the complete tzaddik, is credited by the Midrash (Vayikrah R. 32,5) as being the reason the children of Yisrael were able to sanctify themselves and refrain from immorality during their exile in Mitzroyim; he is also credited with their redemption. Yaakov avinu, in his wisdom, realized that it would be impossible for everyone to be like Yosef hatzaddik - as stated by the wisest of all men (Koheles 7,20): "כי אדם אין צדיק בארץ אשר יעשה טוב ולא יחטא", i.e. there doesn't exist such a righteous man that never commits a sin.
Therefore, he devised to send Yehudah, representative of the baal teshuvah, to Yosef hatzaddik, to integrate these two forces. Thus, an appropriate path was provided for all members of klal Yisroel. This is the meaning of the possuk:
"ואת יהודה שלח לפניו אל יוסף להורות לפניו גשנה", and Rashi's commentary"לתקן לו בית תלמוד שמשם תצא הוראה". In other words, a place was designated to provide instruction in both methods of service to Hashem - that of Yehudah and that of Yosef.
The Two Moshiachs
In this manner, Rav Tzadok continues to weave the golden threads of this fascinating tapestry. It is for this same reason that Dovid Hamelech, also from shevet Yehudah, was also designated from above to set an example and lead the way for baalei teshuvah. The gemorah (Avodah Zarah 4:) states:
"לא דוד ראוי לאותו מעשה דכתיב ולבי חלל בקרבי... אלא לומר לך שאם חטא יחיד אומרים לו כלך אצל יחיד... והיינו דרבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר רבי יונתן, מאי דכתיב (שמואל ב כג א) נאום דוד בן ישי ונאום הגבר הוקם על, נאם דוד בן ישי שהקים עולה של תשובה".
We see that it was arranged from above that Dovid Hamelech would fail and sin in the matter of Bat Sheva. Being that he was the king of Yisrael , and, in the words of the Rambam, the heart of the people, he was obliged to follow in the footsteps of Yehudah, the father of his tribe. He committed what appeared to be a sin on his part, in order to carve out a path of teshuvah for all of Yisrael .
Based on the above, we find many references from Rav Tzaddok to the concept found in the gemorah (Succah 52:) that the Almighty will redeem Yisroel by means of two mashiachs - משיח בן יוסף from the line of Yosef and משיח בן דוד from shevet Yehudah. Mashiach ben Yosef will guide the people of Yisroel to be kadosh and follow the ways of the tzaddik. Mashiach ben David will guide the people of Yisrael to correct all of their transgressions through teshuvah.
The Philosophical Debate Between Yehudah and Yosef
With this background and understanding, we can begin to fathom why it was so crucial in the heavenly scheme that this royal confrontation takes place in Mitzroyim. Yehudah and Yosef represented very different philosophies; Yehudah was ready to wage war against Yosef in order to retrieve Binyomin and return him to his father Yaakov. Yet, in the end, they made peace, and Yaakov, with his entire household, were brought to Mitzroyim.
There is a well-known dispute in the gemorah (Berachos 34:) as to who is greater, the צדיק גמור or the בעל תשובה:
"אמר רבי יוחנן, כל הנביאים כולן לא נתנבאו אלא לבעלי תשובה, אבל צדיקים גמורים (ישעיה סד ג) עין לא ראתה אלהים זולתך, ופליגא דרבי אבהו, דאמר רבי אבהו מקום שבעלי תשובה עומדין צדיקים גמורים אינם עומדין".
In matters of dispute among the righteous, there is an important principle (Eruvin 13:):"אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים" i.e. both sides represent divine Truth. So too, in our discussion, both doctrines hold true. In certain aspects, the baal teshuvah is greater; in other aspects, the tzaddik gomur stands out. Furthermore, it all depends on each's spiritual level and madreigah. Not every tzaddik is greater than his baal teshuvah counterpart, and not every baal teshuvah is greater than his tzaddik counterpart.
This explains why the initial confrontation in our parsha was so fiery and antagonistic. Both Yosef and Yehudah wished to defend their holy doctrines and guide the people of Yisroel appropriately. They ultimately saw eye to eye and were able to establish a paradigm for future generations to follow. Their message is that both ways are valid and necessary; both are invaluable; therefore, both Yosef and Yehudah, together, were required to pave the way.

We can now suggest an interesting interpretation of the possuk: ""ויגש אליו יהודה ויאמר בי אדוני ידבר נא עבדך דבר באזני אדוני".
In the sefer Lev Aryeh (Vayigash 5), he writes in the name of Rabbi Leib Darshen from Ostrah, based on what we've learned (Sotah 10:): Yosef who performed an act of kiddush Hashem in private merited the addition of one letter from Hahem's name to his own name - as it is written "עדות ביהוסף שמו" ; Yehudah, who performed an act of kiddush Hashem in public merited to be named entirely after Hashem's name. Rashi explains that this is telling us that all four letters of Hashem's name are contained in the name יהודה.
So, when Yehudah says "בי אדוני", he his making the point that his name contains all the letters of the shem havaya, as opposed to יהוסף which only contains the single addition of the letter “ה" from Hashem's name. Yehudah's intention was not to prove to Yosef that he was the greater of the two of them, but rather to prove that the halachah accords with Rabbi Abahu that "מקום שבעלי תשובה עומדין צדיקים גמורים אינם עומדין".
“What Concern Is It of Ours Both of them are Right”
In the final analysis, we see that these two kings made a peaceful alliance, they were joined by all twelve shevatim and the result was that Yaakov and his entire household went down to Mitzrayim. Hashem is teaching us the lesson that: ""אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים; we required the approaches of both Yehudah and Yosef - the baal teshuvah and the tzaddik - in order to survive the exile in Mitzrayim. Similarly, in the merit of these two approaches, we will realize the future redemption facilitated by ""משיח בן יוסף - emblematic of the tzaddik gamur and ""משיח בן דוד - emblematic of the baal teshuvah.
The meaning of the Midrash now becomes clear: "כי הנה המלכים נועדו, זה יהודה ויוסף, עברו יחדיו, זה נתמלא עברה על זה וזה נתמלא עברה על זה",. Each wished to fortify his own doctrine, being of the opinion that his way was the correct and direct path to pave on behalf of all of Yisroel .
"המה ראו כן תמהו, ויתמהו האנשים איש אל רעהו, נבהלו נחפזו, ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אותו כי נבהלו מפניו", The brothers were shocked by Yosef's kedushoh and their realization that he epitomized the "צדיק יסוד עולם".
"רעדה אחזתם שם, אלו השבטים, אמרו מלכים מדיינים אלו עם אלו אנו מה איכפת לנו, יאי למלך מדיין עם מלך".
The brothers perceived through divine inspiration that Hashem devised this scenario, pitting the kings, Yehudah and Yosef, head to head, in one locale, to teach that both paths are correct and essential in order to serve Hashem. At that point, they proclaimed: "מלכים מדיינים אלו עם אלו אנו מה איכפת לנו" - what difference does it make to us that these two kings are debating one another; we require a combination of the two approaches. A deal was finally struck when Yaakov sent Yehudah to Yosef to establish a house of learning where both doctrines of service of Hashem would be taught.

1 comment:

Chaim B. said...

Very nice! Keep up the R' Tzadoks (or guest postings of the R' Tzadok).