Yahrzeit of Reb Eizel Charif

This Shabbos, ד' טבת, is the Yahrzeit of two great people. The first is Reb Yehoshua Isaac Shapiro, who was known as Reb Eizel Charif. He was born in 1801 in the small town of Glubki, near villna and he died in the year 1873. He was a tremendous gaon and very sharp/witty as his name indicates. He was also known for his sharp humor and until today many of his witticism are still known. He authored many seforim including his work נועם ירושלמי and שו"ת עמק יהושוע. He learned for a short while in his youth by Reb Aharon of Staroselya who was the Talmid of the Baal Hatanya. However, he ended up being very critical of chassidim. He would say about them that they wear the gartel on top of their clothing like a pasul Sefer Torah. His son in law was Reb Yossel Shlufefer who was the author of the פורת יוסף in the back of the Gemara. It is said about him that when Reb Eizel Charif was looking for a son in law, he went to Volozhin during the Netzivs tenure and he asked a question and not one Bochur was able to answer the question. After he went on his wagon to leave town a Bochur ran after him to ask for the answer to the question. So Reb Eizel Charif said that although he didn’t have the answer to the question, but he had so much Ahavas HaTorah so he picked him as a son in law.

Although he was critical of Chassidim, during the last twenty years of Reb Eizel’s life, he was the Rav in Slonim and it is reported that he had a close personal relationship with the first Slonimer Rebbe, Reb Avraham Weinberg, who is the author of the Yesod HaAvodah.

When talking about Chassidim and Misnagdim, it worthwhile to mention that there is what to learn from everyone. Especailly today where we have all the נסיונות all mixed together, it’s worthwhile to learn from all the different תבלין. Chazal say איזהו חכם הלומד מכל אדם and there is also a Pasuk in Yirmiyah (4:22) that says חכמים המה להרע ולהיטיב לא ידעו. This can be explained that some people use the מידה of חכמה to learn from everyone but להרע-his faults and there are others who can learn from everyone להיטב-their strengths. A person can learn and be inspired in davening from those who put more of an emphasis on davening and one can learn from those who put more of an emphasis on learning. It’s important to see the strengths of every group and try to incorporate those strengths instead of doing otherwise.

Revealing What’s Really Going On

וירא יוסף את אחיו ויכרם ויתנכר אליהם

The simple meaning of the word ויתנכר is that Yosef made himself appear to the brothers like a נכרי-a stranger by speaking harshly, as Rashi says. However, Onkeles writes וחשיב מה דימלל עמהון, which means that he thought about what to say to them. How does that fit into the word ויתנכר?

We know that the Targum Onkeles doesn’t necessarily give the literal translation of the words but sometimes explains the ענין. The Ramban says this idea in the beginning of Parshas Korach on the words ויקח קרח where the Targum writes ואתפלג, he writes אונקלוס שתרגם ואתפלג פתר הענין לא הלשון כמנהגו במקומות רבים. In our Parshah as well, the Targum isn’t giving a translation rather he is explaining the ענין.

Some people want to suggest an explanation that when people are close, they don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing to each other and therefore don’t have to think before they talk. However when people aren’t close, they have to think about what to say because they have to worry about saying the wrong thing. So when the Targum explains that he thought about what to say to them, he is describing how he was acting as a stranger to the brothers. But this idea is unacceptable because even if you know someone very well, one should still think before he talks.

The Shinover Rav in his sefer דברי יחזקאל brings in the name of the Kozhnitzer Maggid the following. In the Shiras Hayam, the Pasuk says ה' ימלך לעלם ועד and the Targum writes ה' מלכותיה קאם לעלם ולעלמי עלמיא. In spite of the fact that the Pasuk seems to be talking about Hashem’s reign in the future tense, the Targum understands that it is already קאם לעלם ולעלמי עלמיא which is present tense. The Kozhnitzer Maggid explains that the Targum is explaining that which is not apparent. The Targum is explaining the פנימיות that Hashem’s kingdom is already here and now and controlling the world it’s just not obvious and seen on the surface. Only בעתיד לבא will it be seen בגלוי. But the Targum reveals what’s beneath the word, what’s beneath what appears and it’s the פנימיות that Hashem’s מלכותיה is already קאם לעלם ולעלמי עלמיא even though it isn’t apparent and we can’t see it now.

According to this, the Shinover Rav explains that the Targum on the word ויתנכר is saying that there was a lot going on beneath his appearance. Although he appeared like a stranger, his פנימיות wasn’t that of a stranger. It didn’t come to him naturally to appear like a stranger rather he made a conscious decision to act that way because it was the right thing to do at that moment even though it was against his obvious feelings. This is what the Targum means וחשיב מה דימלל עמהון that the פנימיות was different than what was seen on the surface. Based on this, the Rav explained another Pasuk in the Shira that says מי כמכה באלים ה' and the Targum says לית בר מינך that there is nobody besides for you. The Targum is changing the simple reading of the Pasuk in two ways. The Pasuk says “who is like you” and the Targum doesn’t just say “nobody is like you” rather it says “there is nothing besides for you”- לית ברI מינך. It would seem that the Targum is changing the Pasuk.

We say in davening אין כערכך ה' אלוקינו בעולם הזה ואין זולתך מלכנו לחיי העולם הבא. In this world it’s אין כערך ה' because our understanding in this world is that there is nothing as valuable as Hashem, nothing comparable to Hashem. But in Oilam Habah its אין זולתך because our understanding will not just be that there is nothing compared to Hashem but there won’t be anything other than Hashem, nothing exists other than Hashem. (The Rav believed this is the understanding of the Gaon.)

Therefore, by מי כמכה באלים ה', the Targum isn’t just saying “there is no one like you” which is on the superficial level, rather he is adding on the deeper level לית בר מינך that “there is nothing besides for you”. Just like in this world we don’t see the מלוכה of Hashem and it will only be revealed in the future, but the underlying truth is that Hashem’s מלוכה is present and the Targum reveals to us the underlying truth. So to the underlying truth by מי כמכה באלים ה' is לית בר מינך that there is nothing besides for you.

This Shabbos is also the Yahrzeit of Reb Geshon Henoch Leiner who was the third Rebbe of the Izhbitza Radzyn dynasty. The first Rebbe of this dynasty was Reb Mordechai Yosef who was a Talmid of the Rebbe Reb Bunim M’Peshischa and a close friend of the Kutzker Rebbe. Eventually their ways in Chassidus parted. Then Reb Mordechai Yosef had a son Reb Yaakov and this Reb Yaakov had Reb Gershon Henoch. He was born in the year 1840 and died at the age of 51. He was a revolutionary and very original thinker. Of his many works, he is known for a Gemara type sefer on Seder Taharos which he compiled from the Bavli, Yerushalmi, and Medrashim and he arranged them around the Mishnayos in Seder Taharos along with his own work. The Beis Din of Vilna headed by Reb Betzalel HaKohen banned this sefer as they felt it would be confused with other Masechtas of Shas. However Reb Yitzchak Elchonon, the Ohr Sameach and others supported the sefer Reb Gershon Henoch of Radzin is most know for claiming to have discovered authentic Techieles and he even traveled to the Vatican to validate his claim.

There is a book in Yiddish written by the grandson of the Chelkas Yoav of Kinsk. He writes when Reb Gershon Henoch would come to Kinsk, he would stay with this author’s father, the son of the Chelkas Yoav and he would share a bedroom with this child and one time as Reb Gershon Henoch was opening his suitcase, he saw a gun. When Reb Gershon Henoch saw the surprise look on the child’s face, he responded jokingly “don’t you know that the Gerrer Chassidim hate me?” But he told this boy not to tell his grandfather because he wouldn’t be able to handle it. (This was obviously not the reason why he carried a gun rather some say it was because of all places he traveled to when looking for the Techieles).

In the back of the sefer תקנת השבים written by Reb Tzadok Hakohen, there is a תשובה from Reb Tzadok to Reb Gershon Henoch regarding Targum Onkeles. Whenever the Pasuk says אלוקים for Hashem, it appears in the Targum as “yud yud” which is what printers use when the Shem Havayeh appears whereas really it should say Elokayah for אלוקים and not “yud yud”. Reb Gershon Henoch held that this was really a mistake and he writes that when he says the Targum, he says “Elokayah” and not “Aleph Daled Yud Nun” that we say for the Shem Havayah. However, Reb Tzadok provides him with three answers as to why this is not a mistake and why the Targum specifically wrote the way he did and not the שם אלוקים. One of the reasons was because the Targum was very concerned that the המון עם, for which the Targum was written for, would be misled with אלוקים which is plural having the indication that there are multiple Gods. Therefore the Targum wrote the translation as the Shem Havayah instead.

But based on what the Kozhnitzer Maggid said that the Targum explains the פנימיות which lies within the exterior of what appears, it could be explained as follows. Rashi points out in Breishis that אלוקים is מידת הדין and Shem Havayah is מידת הרחמים. So really what appears on the exterior to be מידת הדין, really its רחמים as it says שמע ישראל ה' אלוקינו ה' אחד meaning whether it says אלוקים or ה', it’s all אחד. So the Targum is teaching us that even though the Pasuk says אלוקים which is מידת הדין that is all on the exterior and really what is going on in the פנימיות is מידת הרחמים, as the Targum writes “yud yud” for the Shem Havayah.

Too Much Hishtadlus

After the Yeshiva in Maltch that was headed by Reb Zalman Sender Shapiro closed due to it being infiltrated by Zionist ideologies, some of the Bochurim turned to Reb Shimon Shkop and asked him to restart the Yeshiva which he did. On the way to Maltch, even though he passed through Birsk, he didn’t visit Reb Chaim probably because he was afraid Reb Chaim would try to hold him back from going.

On the way back from Maltch, he did stop by Reb Chaim and Reb Chaim asked him the following question. The Parshah begins with ויהי מקץ שנתים ימים. The Medrash Rabba says Yosef was punished that he needed to remain in prison for an additional two years because he was בוטח in the שר המשקים with two words, זכרתני and הזכרתני. So Reb Chaim asked Reb Shimon if Yosef only said one word, how many years would he need to remain in prison to which Reb Shimon answered one year. But Reb Chaim explained that had he only said one word, he wouldn’t have had to be in prison any longer because that would’ve been proper Hishtadlus. However, because he said two words which was too much Hishtadlus, so it was revealing that all his Hishtadlus was improper and therefore he needed to remain in prison for an additional two years, for each word.

The Rav wanted to suggest that although it could be it wasn’t Parshas Miketz, the reason why Reb Chaim mentioned all this to Reb Shimon was because he felt the reason why Reb Shimon took this position was because it had to do with his financial difficulties. So Reb Chaim was trying to tell him that proper Hishtadlus is legitimate but too much Hishtadlus is the wrong thing and one always needs to know what is within the pale of Hishtadlus and what is outside of the pale.

Who Serves Who

ויהי מקץ שנתים ימים ופרעה חלם והנה עמד על היאר

In the dream, Pharaoh is standing over on/over the river. Regarding this point, the Medrash Rabba says the following:

א"ר יוחנן הרשעים מתקיימין על אלהיהם, ופרעה חולם והוא עומד על היאור, אבל הצדיקים אלהיהם מתקיים עליהם, (בראשית כח) והנה ה' נצב עליו

When it comes to the רשעים they are מתקיימין על אלהיהם which means that they seek that their אלוהים is something that serves them, as it says Pharaoh was standing on it. It’s interesting to note that the highest symbol in Christianity is the crucifixion which is what they consider to be a deity and it’s sacrificing itself for the sake of man. This is exactly the idea that רשעים are מתקיימין על אלהיהם. However when it comes to Judaism, the highest symbol is actually the Akeidah which is man sacrificing himself for Hashem which is the idea הצדיקים אלהיהם מתקיים עליהם and the meaning of תנו עז לאלהים על ישראל גאותו (תהלים סח,לה) that when a Jew lives properly, he is giving עוז לאלוקים. We are not looking out for ourselves rather we are looking out for him!