Torah Or-Parshas Vayigash-Yosef versus Yehuda

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Vayigash Eilav Yehuda…”

[Torah Or p. 86]


This Parsha of Vayigash discusses the meeting between Yosef and Yehuda. The Torah tells us how Yosef, the viceroy of Pharaoh, attempted to take Binyamin as a slave after finding him guilty of “stealing” his goblet. Yehuda, who had made a pact with his father to be Binyamin’s guarantor, stepped up to Yosef to fight in his defense and secure Binyamin’s release. The verse states, Vayigash Eilav Yehuda, that Yehuda approached Yosef. While this episode seems straightforward, and a simple continuation of events in the narrative between Yosef and his brothers, Chassidic teachings reveal that this meeting between Yosef and Yehuda represents the future history of the Jewish people, leading up to the days of Moshiach. Historically, it is known that the kingdom of the Jewish people became split between Yisrael and Yehuda. The kingdom of Yehuda ruled over two tribes, while the kingdom of Yisrael ruled over the remaining ten tribes. The kings of Yisrael were from the tribe of Yosef. The Jewish people experienced two monarchies, one ruled by the house of Yosef and the second ruled by the house of David, a scion of Yehuda. Why did these two particular tribes have the power to rule over all the other tribes? Why did Hashem not arrange for only one tribe to have the ability to rule, as is befitting of any other nation? Which kingdom is considered the main kingdom of the Jews, and who will rule in the future? Another interesting thought, in addition to the two kingdoms that sprouted from Yehuda and Yosef, is that both Yehuda and Yosef have a Moshiach and we are awaiting the coming of both Moshiach Ben David and Moshiach Ben Yosef. What is the significance of these two Moshiachs, and why do they come specifically from these two tribes? This matter leads us to the introductory phase of the Mamar, which analyzes the difference in the material structure of the Temple versus the Mishkan. The Temple was made mainly of stone, while the Mishkan was made mainly of wood. Why? There exist four kingdoms of creations: inanimate, vegetation, animal, and human. Each one of these kingdoms has a spiritual root and level. The Mamar delves into the spiritual difference between these levels and uses it to explain the difference between the Kingdoms of Yosef and Yehuda and why Yehuda will rule in the future.


Explorations of the Mamar:

1.      What is the mystical meaning behind the meeting of Yosef and Yehuda that occurred in this week’s Parsha?

2.      Why did Yosef and Yehuda specifically merit having kingdoms come from them, and why is Yehuda the ultimate everlasting kingdom?

3.      Why was the Mishkan created with wood, while the Mikdash was created with stone and was not allowed to contain wood?

4.      What is the difference in spiritual level between the levels of inanimate, vegetative, animal, and human, and which one contains a higher root?


The material used for the structure of the Mishkan versus the Mikdash:

When analyzing the difference between the materials used for the building of the Mishkan and the Mikdash, we find a remarkable difference. The walls of the Mishkan were made of cedar wood and its covers were made of animal skin. The Temple, however, was made of stone and earth. Furthermore, it was actually forbidden to place any revealed wood in the Temple structure, as ruled by the Rambam. The only wood that the Mikdash contained was poles of cedar in the roof of the Heichal. It remains to be understood why in the Mishkan wood was the main material used for the structure for the building, and earth material was only secondary, remaining below on the ground. However, in the Mikdash the opposite was the case and earth material [stone] was the main material of structure. Even the roof of the Mikdash was made of stone, and wood received only a minor and secondary use, being placed only as supports in the roof of the Heichal. To understand this matter we must first introduce the difference in spiritual root between the inanimate and vegetative.    


The spiritual root of the inanimate and vegetative:

ere is a clear spiritual difference between the four levels of inanimate [דומם], vegetative [צומח], animal [חי] and human kingdoms [i.e. דצ”ח מדבר]. Every world contains these four levels of דצ”ח מדבר on some level. In all worlds, the level of Domeim, or inanimate, is the lowest on the scale, while the vegetative follows above it, the animal kingdom above them both, with the human kingdom resting on top of the scale. Based on this, it remains puzzling why all of the three higher kingdoms live and grow from the lowest level on the scale, the level of the inanimate. Earth, which is inanimate, is responsible for the growth of all vegetation, which in turn feeds the animal and human kingdoms. The explanation is that in truth, although the level of inanimate seems to be the least spiritual level and contains the least power, nevertheless it contains a great hidden root within G-dliness that gives it the ability to give life to all the levels above it. This is similar to the explanation regarding the roots of heaven and earth.


What was created first, heaven or earth?

The Talmud [Chagiga 12a] records a dispute as to the order of creation. One opinion holds that the Heavens were created first and only afterwards did G-d create the earth. This is supported by the verse that states, “In the beginning G-d created the Heavens and the earth”. Others, however, say that G-d first created the earth and then the Heavens, as a different verse states, “On the day He created… earth and Heaven”. In truth, both opinions are correct, as each one gives a different perspective. In the physical sense, Heaven was created first. However in G-d’s Mind, which represents the ultimate intent and purpose of creation, earth was the first to be thought of, as the purpose of all creation, including the creation of the Heavens, is the creation of the earth. Therefore, while the Heavens are higher in their revealed sense, the earth is rooted even higher in G-d’s thought than the Heavens. This follows the general rule of “the last action was the first thing in one’s thought”.

The revealed and concealed planes of inanimate versus vegetative:

Based on the above, it is also understood that the fact that the vegetative kingdom is higher than the inanimate creations follows the order of the creations, known as Seder Hishtalshilus. However, at its root the inanimate, earth, is higher than vegetation and other kingdoms, and it is for this reason that specifically the earth has the ability to bring forth its produce ex-nihilo and feed the other kingdoms. After this introduction, we can now understand the difference between the materials used for the structure of the Temple and the Mishkan.

The Mishkan was a temporary dwelling and followed Seder Hishtalshilus:

The Mishkan was only a temporary dwelling place for the Divine presence. The Mishkan constantly traveled, having the Divine presence travel with it. Thus, we see that the Elokus did not permeate the physical objects and every item remained on its revealed level. It is for this reason that the Mishkan followed the order of Seder Hishtalshilus. The Mishkan was built with skins, which came from the animal kingdom, hovering over the wood and earth floor. Next were wood beams that served as the walls and stood on the ground. Last was the earth floor, which supported all the other materials. Thus we find that the order in the Mishkan was inanimate, vegetative, and then animal.


The Mikdash was a permanent dwelling and followed the order of the future:

Contrary to the above, the structure of the Mikdash was made almost entirely of stone and inanimate objects. This is because the Mikdash is a permanent dwelling place for G-d, as the Divine presence permanently remains and permeates its area. It was hence built in accordance with the order of levels that will be revealed in the future, in the days of the World to Come, in which case the lowest level of Domeim [inanimate], which is compared to Malchus of Atzilus, will be elevated even higher than Z”A. This is because its root will be revealed. This is similar to the future occurrence in which the female will be elevated higher than the male, and therefore in the Temple the level of inanimate was higher than the vegetative or animal kingdoms and it was used as the primary material of the Temple structure.

The advantage of earth is expressed in its Bittul:

The higher spiritual root contained within earth can be vividly seen in the fact that of all of the kingdoms and levels, earth expresses the greatest amount of self-mortification and nullification. Everyone steps on the earth. Even those that benefit and live off the earth step on it, yet nevertheless the earth does not react or bear a grudge. This is because of the immense Bittul that the earth contains. It is in the merit of this Bittul that it receives its higher level root. The level of vegetation, however, grows high, which represents ego, and is therefore rooted spiritually lower. Using the above knowledge, we can now explain the episode in this week’s Parsha that discusses the meeting between Yosef and Yehuda and the two kingdoms they represent.

Yosef is the level of Tzomeaich-Yehuda is the level of Domeim:

The kingdoms of Yosef and Yehuda are similar to the comparison between the levels of inanimate and vegetation. Yosef, which comes from the root word for addition and growth, represents the vegetative kingdom, and retains similar spiritual advantages to it. This is the level of Z”A of Atzilus. Yehuda, on the other hand, comes from the root word of Hodaah, thanks, which represents Bittul and self-nullification, a level similar to the inanimate. This corresponds with Malchus of Atzilus.


Today Yosef is higher; in future Yehuda will be higher:

Today, prior to the time of the Redemption, Yosef holds a higher status than Yehuda, just as vegetation is higher than inanimate, and Z”A is higher than Malchus. This is because today we follow the natural order of Seder Hishtalshilus. It is for this reason that Yosef had the upper hand over Yehuda, and Yosef’s kingdom was greater and larger than that of Yehuda. Yosef became king of Egypt and ruled over all the tribes, including Yehuda. Yosef was the Mashpia, while Yehuda was the Mikabel, just like the relationship is today regarding Z”A and Malchus, whereby Z”A gives to Malchus. This is the meaning of the verse, Vayigash Yehudah, as Yehuda was coming forth to receive his sustenance and influence from Yosef. However, in the future, the levels will be switched and the root of Yehuda/Malchus will be revealed and be higher than Yosef. Thus in the future, Yehuda will rule over all the tribes, including Yosef, and Yosef/Z”A will become a receiver from Yehuda/Malchus.


Times of the Geula-Uniting the staff of Yehuda and Yosef:

In the Haftorah, it states that in the future the names of each tribe will be written on a staff, and the staff of Yosef and the staff of Yehuda will be proximate and united. However, the staff of Yehuda will be on top. This signifies the everlasting kingdom of the house of David. Although now Yosef is on top, and above Yehuda, in the future Yosef will unite with Yehuda and accept the sovereignty of Yehuda over Yosef. This is also hinted to in this week’s portion, which states that Yosef could not hold himself back and approached to unite with Yehuda.

Yeravam Ben Nevat:

Based on all of the above, one can now understand a puzzling occurrence brought in the Gemara and explained in the writings of the Arizal. The Gemara [Sanhedrin 102a] states that Hashem grabbed Yeravam [the king of Yisrael, the ten tribes, who served as king simultaneous to the kingdom of Yehuda led by Rechavam] and told him, “Repent”. Yeravam replied to Hashem and asked Him, “Who will be at the head if I repent”? Hashem replied, “The son of Yishai will be at the head”. Yeravam answered that if that was the case, then he was not interested. This episode was an exact reflection of the matters discussed above. Yeravam was a wicked king from the tribe of Efraim, which is a division of Yosef, and at that point he ruled over the majority of the tribes. Now, due to the higher root of Yehuda, Hashem offered Yeravam to unite with Yehuda and receive the Divine flow that Yehuda could bring him due to his high spiritual origin. This is the meaning behind Hashem’s offer to Yeravam that if he accepted the deal to unite with Yehuda then Yeravam, David, and Hashem would all explore the enclaves of Gan Eden together. Yeravam, however, did not want to accept the higher level contained within Yehuda and desired that his advantage over Yehuda remain eternal, and he would be king over Yisrael forever. When Yeravam was told by Hashem that this was not possible, and in the future Yehuda would reign, Yeravam chose to decline the offer as he did not have the Bittul, self-nullification, to allow himself to be subjugated to Yehuda. This is the true meaning of the statement of the Sages that, “the haughtiness of Yeravam drove him from the world to come”. However, in the future Yehuda and Yosef will fully unite and become one, although Yehuda, the son of David, will remain on top and rule over all Israel.


Lessons of the Mamar

·         We all contain advantageous points over others. Some are more knowledgeable, wealthier, and more successful in family life or business. Some are more spiritually holy and observant, each with their own G-d-given advantage. Nonetheless, what truly matters to G-d and serves as the vessel to receive G-d’s presence is one’s nullification towards Him and His will.  Yehuda will merit the eternal kingdom as a result of his nullification. The earth contains powers of growth due to its nullification. One’s ability to nullify his ego is the greatest asset that he can have in his spiritual service and this is what merits G-d’s spiritual and physical blessings.

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