23 October 2015

Lech Lecha 5776 - What Is It About Shechem?

10 Marcheshvan 5776
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

[This blog post is dedicated to Rachel Imeinu, mother of Yosef HaTzadik - and the whole Jewish people - on her yahrtzeit.]

The following is a very loose connection to our Parshat HaShavua - Lech Lecha - but I think you will find it interesting nonetheless.

What Is It About Shechem?

"And Abram passed through the land, until the place of Shechem, until the plain of Moreh,...."


The history of the Jews begins with the first Jew - Avraham Avinu. The commentary on this parsha tells us: "Ramban states a fundamental principle in understanding the Torah's narrative concerning the Patriarchs...'Whatever happened to the Patriarchs is a portent for the children'."

First, we see Avraham arrive in Cana'an by way of Shechem and then only four pasukim later, "and Abram descended to Egypt...."

Rashi on B'reishit 12.6...

"until the place of Shechem: to pray for Jacob’s sons when they would come to wage war in Shechem. [from unknown midrashic source, also quoted by Redak]"

I wonder if our father Avraham also knew something of what would happen between the sons of Ya'aqov in Shechem as well. For, Avraham's great-grandson Yosef HaTzadik would also go to Shechem and from there descend to Egypt. And was it not also the beginning of his brothers' descent to Egypt as well, since in time, they would follow him there for food and later even to settle in Goshen?


Shechem is a place where bad things happen.

Rashi comments on B'reishit 37.14...

"and he came to Shechem: a place destined for misfortune. There the tribes sinned, there Dinah was violated, there the kingdom of the house of David was divided, as it is said: “And Rehoboam went to Shechem” (I Kings 12:1). [From Sanh. 102a]"

Fifteen years ago, at the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada, the Arabs of Shechem burned the kever of Yosef HaTzadik. On 7 October 2000, the State of Israel abandoned Yosef's remains and handed security for it to the Palestinian Authority who promptly "lost control". The news of the time found it noteworthy that even Shimon Peres criticised the atrocity: "The Palestinians made a terrible mistake in Joseph's Tomb. They pulled the rug out from under their feet regarding their demand for control of the holy places, by showing that they don't know how to preserve and respect them."

It immediately brings to mind the Biblical story of Yosef and how he was thrown into a pit and abandoned by his brothers. And who was most culpable, but Shimon.

Rashi comments on B'reishit 42.24...

"Shimon: He [was the one who] had cast him into the pit. It was he who said to Levi, “Behold, that dreamer is coming” (Gen. 37:19)."

A natural progression of thoughts leads inexorably back to another abandonment among brothers. And again it is Shimon - Shimon Peres as Israeli Prime Minister - who ordered the abandonment of Jonathan Pollard (the Yosef Hatzadik of our generation according to Rav Mordechai Eliyahu) and left him wallowing in a pit for thirty years.

Interestingly, some people say that we are at the beginning of a third intifada and yet again, Kever Yosef has been burned in Shechem. And the Yosef HaTzadik of this generation is about to be released from his prison next month.
"HaRav Yisrael Shlomo Zayit announced at the lead-up to the Sukkot holiday that he can't say "Chag Sameach" because after Sukkot will begin a drip-drop of attacks that will continue until the revelation of Mashiach: a thing that is surely occurring in these days, really!
... Mashiach has suffered terrible torments for a very long period of time and a decree was decreed on the last 17th of Tamuz that occurred on Shabbat about the revelation of Mashiach and it will happen against your will, when much blood will be spilled in the street, when Jews will be butchered like bulls and oxen in the slaughterhouse,...."
On the 20th of Tamuz, Jonathan Pollard had a parole hearing which ultimately led to the granting of parole and a decision to release him from federal prison on November 20th - thirty years to the day on the Hebrew calendar - 8 Kislev - since he was arrested.

You see, the Yosef HaTzadik of the generation is none other than the potential Mashiach Ben Yosef in every generation. Perhaps, now that Yosef/Yehonatan is coming to the end of his suffering, it is appropriate that this most recent burning of Kever Yosef in Shechem be a signpost of where we are on the road to Geulah.

Everything that Eisav and Yishmael are doing today is their last-ditch attempt to stop the Geulah Shleimah. They just have one problem - it can't be stopped!! Baruch Hashem! And...

~Shabbat shalom~

[I wrote this over hours interspersed with cooking for Shabbat, so if it's a bit disjointed, it's no wonder. Apologies in advance. I hope the main points are encouraging and will enhance this special Shabbat. ]