Parshat Mikeitz/Shabbos Chanukah 5775: Assimilation and Complacency Breed Dependence, Indecisiveness and WeaknessFiled under: Commentary & Human Interest on Saturday, December 13th, 2014 by moshe | Comments Off
This week, our Parshat HaShevua Mikeitz is being sponsored by Moshe and Lauren Pitzele of Ramat Beit Shemesh, dedicated in honor of their son Yosef Shalom’s second birthday. To the Pitzele family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continuing kindnesses through the years.
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This author harkens back to a vort said over several years ago at a Shabbos Chanukah Oneg about Yosef in Mitzrayim (Egypt) based on Jay Shapiro’s book “Almost Midrash.” The story of Yosef was incorporated into a fictional tale entitled “Duaf of Memphis” from Shapiro’s book.
As Shapiro’s yarn goes, Duaf, a former Barber, sat relating his memoirs to a scribe about how he was drafted and fought bravely in Pharoah’s army during a war in which Pharaoh and his remaining forces rallied to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Duaf’s role in rallying Pharoah’s forces earned him a meteoric rise through the ranks of Pharoh’s army, as well number of important missions on behalf of Pharoah, culminating in his being appointed as the Viceroy’s right-hand man. In one humorous sideline of the tale, during one of Duaf’s missions, he came to become acquainted with the Habiru people in Cana’an.
The vort dealt with the contrast of Yosef’s talent for interpretation of dreams and his ingenuity as Viceroy, second only to Pharaoh, in saving Egypt from famine, and the dialogue of Page 13 A & B of Gemora Megillah Esther (the dialogue between Achashveirosh and Haman resulting in the evil decree against the Jews). The point of the Torah Vort was that just as with their longevity in Shushan and throughout Achashveirosh’s Empire, their longevity and assimilation into Mitzri society, after the deaths of Yosef and the brothers, brought the Jews disdain and disparagement by the Mitzriyim as either being useless or too powerful, such as to ally with Egypt’s enemies. In both cases, the antagonists conveniently forgot about Yosef. The point was made as a lesson to the secular which sadly has been unlearned and the error repeated again and again throughout history in different ways whenever Jews got comfortable, complacent in where they were at the time and forgot who and what they are. In forgetting, they assimilate into the greater “melting pot” of the society were they reside and thus lose their unique Jewish identification. In our time, Chanukah for many Jews evolves into “spin the dreidel”, cutsie, yet shallow assemblies in Conservative Synagogues to make it seem like they are doing something for Jewish youth, yet totally miss the meaning and message of what Chanukah is really all about. Rav Kahane once wrote about Jewish youth in an article circulated on Chanukah many years ago.
But there seems to be another obvious, crucially important national message in Shapiro’s fictional Duaf and the antagonists convenient forgetting about Yosef.
In the story, Duaf is recounting his career and, particularly, his relationship with Yosef, the Viceroy just as one might see well-known people relate their connection with a famous person, either by way of a tribute or condemnation, or upon leaving service of such-and-such president, or upon that famous person’s death. As Duaf nears the completion of his recitation to the scribe, he recounts that “Yosef saved Mitzrayim and will go down in the annals of history.” But we see how quickly Pharaoh and the Mitzrayim subsequently forgot Yosef.
The parallel here, not only for Jews throughout the world, but particularly for Israelis, both secular and observant, is in how quickly alliances, treaties, agreements or commitments pertaining to Israel and the Jewish people which either are signed by Arabs, or for that matter, by the nations, including the Superpower, are forgotten or fall by the wayside in the name of expediency, political alignments or realignments, regional, international and economic pressures. We see that agreements, third-party guarantees, either by the US, the EU, the UN and it’s UNFIL are worthless and worse — totally detrimental to Jewish security and well-being. From the precedent of forgetting Yosef, and it’s comparable events throughout Jewish history, the conclusion, the lesson to be drawn, particularly in these times when we are again in the Land of Israel, is that Jews must look only to themselves, and most importantly, Hashem, to guarantee their own security and wellbeing. We must understand and internalize the adage for the chapter from the book “The Revolt” by Menachem Begin z’l entitled “We Fight, Therefore We Are” — that ONLY Jews, with the Help of HaKadosh Borchu, are capable of protecting and defending Jews and insuring their security.
But there are among us, the modern-day Hellenists who spin each betrayal as other than, and who keep coming back for more changeable third-party guarantees or assurances rather than to “bite the bullet” and admit that they’ve “put good money after bad” and repeatedly put the security and well-being of the Jews at perilous risk. And in fact, these Hellenists keep spinning and keep brainwashing the masses, even by attempting to pass laws against outreach and Teshuvah or by attempting to halachically legalize improper (gay) marriages, out of disdain and blind hatred of their Jewishness and anything Jewish.
And so, may our brethren from Gush Katif and the Shomron, together with all intellectually honest and enlightened Jews, rise up to do battle for the Jewish mind and soul, just as the Maccabees did in doing battle against the Greeks.
May it be in this year and in all future years, that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif – the vast majority still seeking their permanent places, our brethren in the South — S’derot and the other towns bordering Gaza, and those in the North who still live under threat of Katushyas and Hezbollah, as well as our dear brethren, Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, be central in our thoughts, prayers, chassadim and actions.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Good Shabbos and Chanukah Same’ach!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.