Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Vayeshev
To dedicate this lesson

Yosef & His Brothers / The National Religious & the Left

A comparison of the relationship between the left-wing and the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria (Yesha), and the first ten sons of the Patriarch Yaakov and their young brother Yosef.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

Kislev 22 5782
Translated by Hillel Fendel

It seems as if the relationship between the left-wing and the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria (Yesha) is like that between the first ten sons of the Patriarch Yaakov and their young brother Yosef. Yosef is a dreamer, dreaming of royalty, of redemption, of Messianic times. He dreams of grain sheaves, in which those of his brothers bow down to his own. This is reminiscent of the Song of Redemption (Shir HaMaalot B'shuv), which states both "When G-d returned [us] to Zion, we were like dreamers" and "he will come with joy, carrying his grain sheaves." Yosef dreams that he has a senior role and a great mission, and this causes his brothers jealousy and even hatred.

The Yesha settler community, too, dreams of Israel's Redemption -  Messianic dreams - and there are those on the left wing of the political and philosophical spectrum who hate them and their dreams. Yosef is critical of his brothers, he has high ethical standards, and for this purpose he speaks to his father about their shortcomings. Yosef's father loves him, and his brothers hate him. The residents of Yesha are also pioneers, they are idealistic, they are willing to sacrifice for the nation and the Land; they are people of values – and this is what brings about jealousy, even among brothers, and hatred. The hatred is so deep that the Torah tells us, "they couldn't speak to him in peace" (B'reshit 37,3). The left feels so strongly against the residents of Yesha that they are unable to open channels of dialogue with them. Yosef's brothers are so resentful that they wish to simply be rid of him. They throw him into a pit teeming with snakes and scorpions. They ultimately take him out and sell him to passing Ishmaelite traders, and say cynically, "Let's see now what his dreams what will be!"

The left, too, acts this way towards us. Many of them are unfortunately willing to endanger the settlers, and "sell" us to the Ishmaelites/Arabs, giving us over to their rule – and then say, "Let's see your dreams now." But just like in the story of Yosef, who said that though his brothers' intentions were originally bad, G-d arranged the entire situation for good. And just like Yosef's dreams came true, our dreams today will also come true, dreams of Redemption and Mashiach.

Before the arrival of the Davidic Mashiach, Mashiach ben David, the Mashiach ben Yosef will prepare the way. The Gaon of Vilna says that Yosef expresses the process of Moshiach ben Yosef in all generations and in the generation of Redemption. It is said of Yosef [when his brothers came to Egypt to buy food], "Yosef knew his brothers, but they did not recognize him" (B'reshit 42,8). This is the story in all generations: Yosef's role is not recognized or understood. This is the work of Satan, who conceals from our sight the function of the Messiah ben Yosef, causing us to scorn him and his mission.

The Gaon of Vilna also cites this verse: "they [Your enemies] disgraced the footprints of Your anointed" (Psalms 89,52). He writes that it is known that the enemies of G-d and Israel seek to thwart the activities of Atchalta D'Geula, the beginning of Redemption, which are: building the Holy Land, settling it, and fulfilling the commandments that are dependent on it. It is incumbent upon us, then, to rely on G-d, Whose desire it is that we should do our part in this world – a concept known as it'aruta d'ltata – and stand up against all those who condemn us.

With this exhortation by the Vilna Gaon, let us be strong, and everything will turn out for the best, as it was with Yosef.

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