Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vayeishev - Hands Across Time

The hand of Gd is in everything that happens in the world. Sometimes it is as visible as it was during the Plagues and the Exodus from Egypt.
Sometimes the Hand of G-d is hidden, but still working through the hand of man. Other times perhaps Hashem sits back, so to speak, and watches as His children use their hands for good, or chas v'shalom for evil.
The way we use our hands has positive or negative effects on ourselves, those around us, and even the entire nation.
At the Shabbat table at Seudah Shlishit, my husband gave an fascinating Parshat Vayeishev dvar Torah about hands.
When the brothers wanted to kill Yosef, it says, "Reuven heard and he rescued him from their hand...Reuven said to them, 'Shed no blood!...lay no hand on him!" (Bereishit 37:21,22)
Judah unfortunately had a different idea. "Come let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let our hand not be upon him." (Bereishit 37:27)
When Judah's sons Peretz and Zerach were born, the parsha states, "And it happened that as she gave birth, one put out a hand. The midwife took out a crimson thread and tied it on his hand, saying, 'This one emerged first'. And it was as he drew back his hand...afterwards his brother on whose hand was the crimson thread came out; and he called his name Zerach..." (Bereishit 38:27-30)
Fast Forward:
The Jewish nation has just entered the land of Israel. It will have to fight its way through the country in order to conquer it. But B"H until now Hashem has always been on their side. Unfortunately, after the battle of Jericho, a descendant of Zerach also put forth his hand, and he reached for forbidden booty. This sin caused Hashem to become angered with the entire people, and allow Jewish soldiers to be defeated for the first time.
"Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the consecrated thing; and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel." (Yehoshua 7:1)
Zerach caused the Jewish people to lose a battle - the first battle they ever lost - the battle of Ai. And that is because he put his hands on the spoils.
While Peretz had an ancestor who fought the battles of G-d and the Jewish people. "A Psalm of David. Blessed be the LORD, my rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle;" (Psalm 144:1)

PS - There are more examples, like all those where Yosef is given the responsibility of everything of his master's in his hand. And because he had everything in his hands, and dealt honestly and truthfully, Hashem made Yosef second to the king.

Look at the responsibility of every single thing that is placed in your hands. Your can reach for forbidden things, G-d forbid; you can push ahead of others; you can chas v'shalom harm someone with your hands; you can help others and reach out with your hands. 
Honor your hands, and choose to do good. Not only will you help yourself and others, and perhaps the nation, you will influence your descendants for generations to come.

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