Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Why is Our Greatest Prophet Called Moshe?

Ask the Rebbetzin – Parashat Shemot
Printable Version

Dear Rebbetzin,
My name is Moshe and I always wondered about the meaning of my name. I know the Torah says that when Pharaoh’s daughter rescued the little ark in which the baby was floating on the Nile, she called him Moshe because she had pulled him out of the water. Yet, I don’t quite understand the connection between the name Moshe and being pulled out of the water and why this should be a fitting name for our greatest prophet who brought us the Torah.
Moshe Wasserman (name changed)

Dear Moshe,
I like your question. It is important to understand the meaning of our names, since the names that our parents give us are inspired by prophetic insight. When naming their baby, parents receive Ruach Hakodesh (prophetic insight) so that the name matches his or her soul (Arizal, Gate of Reincarnation, Introduction 23). Therefore, the study of our Hebrew name is to study ourselves which enables us to improve ourselves and get closer to Hashem. The work that a person is involved with is according to his name (Ba’al Shem Tov, Bereishit 135). Let us look into the Torah and commentaries to unravel the deeper meaning of the name Moshe. Perhaps, we can understand why it was a fitting name for our greatest prophet. This may also help you to understand your own soul mission.

Pulled and Pulling Out
After saving Moshe, Pharaoh’s daughter tried to find a nursemaid for him, but Moshe refused to nurse from a gentile. Thus, Pharaoh’s daughter ended up paying Moshe’s mother to breastfeed her own son. When Moshe was weaned, his sister Miriam brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own and called him by the name Moshe:

ספר שמות פרק ב:י וַיִּגְדַּל הַיֶּלֶד וַתְּבִאֵהוּ לְבַת פַּרְעֹה וַיְהִי לָהּ לְבֵן וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ משֶׁה וַתֹּאמֶר כִּי מִן הַמַּיִם מְשִׁיתִהוּ:

“The child grew and she took him to the king's daughter, who adopted him as her own son. She called his name Moshe saying, ‘I pulled him out of the water’” (Shemot 2:10).

It is interesting to note that the etymological connection between Moshe and being pulled out of the water is only found in the Hebrew language. As the word משֶׁה/Moshe is related to מְשִׁיתִהוּ/meshitihu – “I have pulled him out.” How come the Egyptian princess gave Moshe a Hebrew name, and how did she know Hebrew in the first place? Our sages explain that she converted, and had learned the Holy Tongue. She named him for the miracle that he was pulled from the water, and to remember that he was from the Hebrews. Therefore, he is not mentioned in the entire Torah except by this name. Being pulled out is passive, and thus Moshe’s name should have been in the passive form משוי/Mashui or נמשה/Nimshe. Why, then, did she name him “Moshe” in the active form? With this name, Pharaoh’s daughter suggested, “just as I have pulled him out, likewise he will pull others out – he will pull Israel out of Egypt (Chizkuni, Shemot 2:10). He will help others escape and pull them out of troubles. Although, I pulled him from the water, it was only in order that he should help pull out others (Sforno, Shemot 2:10).

Innate Water Connection
Moshe is drawn from the water and his entire essence is connected with the drawing of water. His name means not only, “I drew him out of the water.” It also means drawing water for others, and drawing others out of the water. Pharaoh’s astrologers erred when they said that Moshe would be struck by the waters of the Nile. His daughter understood that Moshe would not be damaged by the waters of the Nile, for “from the waters [of the Nile] I have pulled him.” Rather, he will be struck by those waters that he will pull out for others. Therefore, she called him Moshe with regards to the future, referring to the waters of Meriva (Ba’alei Tosfot, Shemot 2:10).

וַתֹּאמַרְןָ אִישׁ מִצְרִי הִצִּילָנוּ מִיַּד הָרֹעִים וְגַם דָּלֹה דָלָה לָנוּ וַיַּשְׁקְ אֶת הַצֹּאן: (שמות ב: יט)

“They said, an Egyptian man delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock” (Shemot 2:19).

Moshe saved Yitro’s daughters who had been thrown into the water by the other sheepherders. We learn this from the repetition of the word דָלָה /dalah – drew. He drew water for the flock and he also drew us out [of the water] (Ba’alei Tosfot, Shemot 2:17). The Torah is called Torah from Heaven. In Hebrew, heaven is שמים/Shamayim – there is water. Moshe had to draw the Torah out/down from the upper water and draw the people out/up from the lower water. Water symbolizes a new dimension. There is an entire world of life going on under the water. Moshe was able to access the upper dimension, where there is no eating and drinking by staying forty days without eating and drinking on the mountain. With Tziporah’s help, he was also able to come back down and pull the people up. Moshe, who was born and passed away on the seventh of Adar, is a Pisces, which is a water sign.

Moshe’s Many Names
Actually, Moshe had many names. His mother, Yocheved, originally called him טוּבִיָה/Tuvia when “She saw that he was טוֹב/tov – good” (Shemot 2:2).It is a great merit for Bityah, the daughter of Pharaoh, that the name she called Moshe is the one that Hashem chose to call him throughout the Torah. , She received this merit because of her kindness in saving Moshe, despite the danger she thereby imposed upon herself. From here, we learn the reward of those who bestow kindness. Indeed, Moshe had ten names. Nevertheless, “Hashem told Moshe, by your life, from all the names that you are called, I will not call you except by the name that Bityah, daughter of Pharaoh, called you, “she called his name Moshe,” “He [Hashem] called to Moshe” (Midrash Vayikra Rabbah 1:3). The name “Moshe” reflects the general personality of Moshe, whereas each of his other names describes a particular attribute. Moshe was called Yered [bringing down] because he brought down the manna. He was called G’dor [fencing] or Avigdor because he was able to keep the rebellious nature of the Israelites in check. He was called Chaver [friend, connection] because he connected Israel to their father in Heaven. His name was Socho because he was like a protecting Sukkah for Israel. Yekutiel [from tikvah – hope] means that Israel hoped for G-d in his days. His name was Zanuach [relegated] or Avi Zanuach, because he put aside the sins of Israel (Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 13a). Moshe was called Shemayah [Hashem heard him] because Hashem heard his prayer, and Halevi [the Levite] as he was from the Tribe of Levi (Midrash Vayikra Rabbah 1:3).

Pulling Moshe’s Soul Down to Earth
Ohr Hachayim notices that the naming of Moshe is in the opposite order of all other naming in the Torah. Usually, the reason for the name is mentioned before the name as in: “Whoever will hear will laugh... and she called his name Yitzchak.” Bityah hid the reason for the naming of Moshe since it was against the law of Egypt. She simply called him Moshe, without an explanation, however, Scripture adds the explanation. Alternatively, it is also possible that Pharaoh’s daughter didn’t know the entire reason for the name that Hashem gave her except the reason she mentioned. According to Arizal, Pharaoh’s daughter knew that she didn’t only pull Moshe out of the water. She pulled him out of the higher world to bring his soul down to earth. Her intention was to draw Moshe down from the world of Emanation into the world of Creation. This is the meaning of “the daughter of Pharaoh went down to wash on the Nile.” For the Nile (יאור) is the gematria of Creation (בריאה) and also has in it some of the letters of בריאה/beriah. (י-א-ר)… (Arizal, Likutei Torah, Yesha’yahu). The name Moshe, moreover, has the numerical value of 345, which is the gematria of K-El Shaday – corresponding to the world of creation (Arizal, Sha’ar HaPesukim, Yesha’yahu).

The name Moshe characterizes a man of great spiritual depths who is connected to the higher worlds. Thus, you may be a person of much potential and strength of which you, yourself, are not even aware. We can now understand why Hashem agreed with Bityah – daughter of Pharaoh, since it was by the greatest wisdom that she called his name Moshe. (Avodat Hakodesh 2:30).

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why Do We Bless Our Sons to be Like Ephraim and Menashe?

Ask the Rebbetzin – Parashat Vayechi
Printable Version

Dear Rebbetzin,
I was wondering why we bless our sons Friday night to become like Ephraim and Menashe. Who were they and why do we wish that our sons emulate them? Is it only the father who can bless his children? What if the mother would like to bless her children as well?
Bracha Gittelson (name changed)

Dear Bracha,
I’m glad you asked, since one of the most beautiful Jewish customs is the blessing parents impart to their children at the onset of the Friday night Shabbat meal. Therefore, it is important to understand the meaning behind the words of the blessing. Before his passing, Ya’acov imparted a special blessing to Yosef’s sons: Ephraim and Menashe (Bereishit, Chapter 48). Ya’acov proclaimed that these two grandsons were like his own sons. “Ephraim and Menashe shall be mine like Reuven and Shimon” (Bereishit 48:5). This is how Menashe and Ephraim became two independent tribes with their own portions of land in Israel. Before his blessing, Ya’acov added the following words:
ספר בראשית פרק מח פסוק כ ...בְּךָ יְבָרֵךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר יְשִׂמְךָ אֱלֹהִים כְּאֶפְרַיִם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁה...
“…By you, Israel will bless, saying, May G‑d make you like Ephraim and Menashe… (Bereishit 48:20).

“When one wishes to bless his sons he will bless them by reciting the formula with which they were blessed – a man will say to his son, ‘May G‑d make you like Ephraim and Menashe!’” (Rashi). Daughters receive the blessing: “May G-d make you like Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah!” What happened to the patriarchs Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’acov? Why does the blessing mention Ephraim and Menashe instead?

Brothers of Peace
Rebbetzin Chana Bracha’s two sons 
Mordechai Meir & Netanel Shalom 

Ephraim and Menashe were the first Jewish brothers who got along. The discord between Avraham’s sons, Yitzchak and Yishmael forms the basis of the Arab-Israeli conflict until today. Regarding the second generation, Esav repeatedly sought to kill Ya’acov. In the third generation, the jealousy and animosity of Yosef’s brothers caused them to sell him into slavery. The brotherhood of Ephraim and Menashe breaks this pattern. When Ya’acov switched his hands, blessing the younger Ephraim with his right hand before the older Menashe, he highlighted that these siblings had no rivalry (Bereishit 48:13-14). Ya’acov stated about Ephraim, “…truly his younger brother shall be greater than he...” (Bereishit 48:19). Because Ephraim accepted being younger and made himself small, he merited greatness (Chafetz Chaim on the Torah). Ephraim could have become haughty and lorded over Menashe, who in return could have been jealous of Ephraim for having surpassed him. Their greatness was that Menashe acknowledged the achievements of Ephraim, and Ephraim did not pride himself over having surpassed his brother (Rav Tzvi Elimelech of Dubno, Agra d’Kalah, Vayichi). Ya’akov was thus able to bless Ephraim before Menashe, and this itself is the blessing. “How good and pleasant for brothers to live peacefully together” (Tehillim 133:1). There is no greater blessing than peace among siblings. Parents’ greatest desire is that our children live in mutual respect and shalom. Therefore, we bless them to be like Ephraim and Menashe.

Exile Survival
Throughout the ages, Jewish parents have prayed that their children withstand the temptations of exile, and keep a strong, proud Jewish identity. Ephraim and Menashe were the first generation raised in exile. They grew up in Egypt, in a profoundly secular society, surrounded by lustful, immoral people. Yet, they maintained faithful adherence to Torah ideals and practice, as taught by their grandfather Ya’acov, and transmitted through their father Yosef. To be great among great people is a challenge, but to maintain a high level of spirituality and character among a society devoid of ethics is the real test. This is why Ya’acov chose these two boys to be as his own. They proved true strength of character. Therefore, we bless our sons to be like Ephraim and Menashe, expressing our hope for proud Jewish children – and grandchildren (Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch on the Torah). Ya’acov’s twelve sons were the branches (shevatim), connected to the root of the three patriarchs. Ephraim and Menashe were the first fruits growing from these branches. We all want to bless our children to become as a fruit attached to the branches of Israel. Therefore, when we bless our children to be like Ephraim and Menashe we recognize that the grandchildren reveal the foundation and future direction of our family.

Be Fish-like and Swim Upstream!
ספר בראשית פרק מח פסוק טז הַמַּלְאָךְ הַגֹּאֵל אֹתִי מִכָּל רָע יְבָרֵךְ אֶת הַנְּעָרִים וְיִקָּרֵא בָהֶם שְׁמִי וְשֵׁם אֲבֹתַי אַבְרָהָם וְיִצְחָק וְיִדְגּוּ לָרֹב בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ:
“May the angel, who redeemed me from all evil, bless the youths; and let my name be called through them, and the name of my fathers, Avraham and Yitzchak; and let them multiply like fish in the midst of the earth” (Bereishit 48:16).

It is the nature of fish to live under the water, and to be hidden from the eyes of people, who are unaware of the rich life beyond the surface of the water. The destiny of Israel among the nations is similar. During many generations, Israel lived among the gentiles (in the midst of the earth) like fish in deep water. They were part of a different world, which their gentile neighbors were unable to penetrate (Hirsch on the Torah). How do we know if a fish is healthy? If it can swim upstream, against the tide. This is what we wish for our children, too. We would love to protect them forever in our loving, nurturing environment. However, that is usually not possible – nor should it be. There will be times in their lives when their peers, society or the environment will challenge their beliefs and morals with which we raised them. Therefore, we bless and encourage them to become like Ephraim and Menashe – to have the strength to withstand the pressures of society in order to do what is right (Rabbi Shmuel Kogan, Chabad.org).

Various Blessing Traditions
We complete the blessing for both sons and daughters with the blessings of the Kohanim: “May Hashem bless you and protect you! May Hashem shine his face upon you and be gracious towards you! May Hashem lift his face up to you, and give you peace!” Different families have varying traditions. Often, only the father blesses his children. This is how it was in our family at first. Yet, I’m really happy that our youngest son requested that I bless him as well, for I treasure that special moment of bestowing him all my love and blessing. Of course, there is absolutely no halachic problem for a mother to bless her children. It is part of the privilege of being ba’alei teshuva to choose our own minhagim (customs). My Sephardic daughter-in-law told us that in their family tradition, the grandmothers also bless their grandchildren on Friday night. Usually, we give the blessing while placing both our hands on the child’s head or just above it. Some parents bless each child in succession, from oldest to youngest. Others bless all of the girls together, and all of the boys together. After the blessing, some parents take a moment to whisper words of praise, encouragement and love to their child. Most of us conclude the blessing with a kiss or a hug.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

How can I Forgive My Sisters?

Ask the Rebbetzin – Parashat Vayigash
Printable Version

Dear Rebbetzin,
I need your help. I have been so greatly mistreated by my sisters that I don’t know how I could ever trust them again. I loved and honored my parents in a very deep and personal way. In their later years, they both developed dementia and I brought them to live with us. I took care of them for two and a half years. I organized all kinds of activities for them. My mother especially enjoyed the Yoga classes. They were doing so well with us, since we didn’t have children. They became like my babies. I dedicated my entire life to giving them the very best care. The way that they were taken away was both shortsighted and cruel. One day, one of my sisters, who had the power of attorney, came with a letter from the lawyer forcing me to let her take my parents away since having them live with me was too expensive, and was depleting their inheritance. My sisters placed my parents in a home. There, they were not treated well and they both died soon afterwards. Since then, my relationship with my sisters has been strained, to say the least. How could I ever forgive them?
Yosefah Aharonson (name changed)

Dearest Yosefah,
My heart truly goes out for you. Your situation is indeed extremely painful. In my experience, it can be a great challenge to keep holy and healthy family relationships when our parents age and decline, although this is the time when sisters need each other most. I believe situations such as yours are the most difficult to truly forgive from the deepest part of our heart. Especially if your sisters act as though they did nothing wrong, and can’t even understand why you ‘allowed yourself’ to feel hurt. People often ask me, “Do I really have to forgive when the person who hurt me so much never apologized?” “What if the person continues to hurt me repeatedly, how can I find it in my heart to forgive her?” Yosef is a model for forgiveness, especially in relation to siblings.

Undergoing the Harshest Treatment Ever by Blood Siblings
Can you imagine a more painful situation than Yosef’s? He was a tender youth of just 17 when his 10 brothers ganged up against him and planned to kill him, just because he received a special cloak from their father and told over his dreams. In the end, his brothers decided not to murder him in cold-blood with their own hands. Instead, they threw him into a dangerous pit, filled with snakes and scorpions (Rashi, Bereishit 37:24), and ignored his cries for help. Finally, one of his brothers, Yehuda, had ‘mercy’ on him. He convinced the others to pull him out of the pit and sell him as a slave to a convoy of Yishmaelites going down to Egypt. Still a mere teenager, Yosef now found himself in a lewd, perverse, idol-worshiping, necrophilic society surrounded by evil, insidious taskmasters who tried to take advantage of him in every way. Before he grew to greatness, he worked as a slave, was sexually assaulted and spent 12 years in prison (Da’at Zekeinim M’ba’alei Tosfot, Bereishit 39:5). For all this, he could thank his brothers. Even more so, can you imagine Yosef’s agony over the pain that his brothers caused his dear father all these years?

Why did Yosef Forget His Father’s House?
“The deeds of the fathers are a sign for their children.” I believe that Hashem allowed Yosef to go through the worst possible ordeal with his brothers, because he had the capability of truly forgiving them. By doing so, he paved the way for each of us to be able to forgive our siblings, even for the most extremely hurtful behavior. Yosef testifies that he was able to forgive and forget by the naming of his first son, “Menashe – Hashem has made me forget all my hardships and all my father’s house” (Bereishit 41:51). Why would he want to forget his father’s house? That doesn’t seem very respectful. We would have expected the verse to mention only forgetting the pain inflicted by his brothers. Why include forgetting also his honorable father? Moreover, why didn’t Yosef spare his father further pain by sending him a note to tell him that he was still alive? Even if that wasn’t possible when he was a slave or prisoner, surely after he had risen to greatness and convoys from the entire Middle East came to receive grain from him, it would have been easy to send back a note to his dear father. It also seems as if Yosef was taking revenge on his brothers, by accusing them of being spies and thieves, putting them in prison, and causing them and his father additional pain by making them bring Binyamin.

Accepting Hashem’s Decree Overrides Everything
Rabbi Ya’acov Tzvi Mecklenburg explains that it was extremely painful for Yosef, the righteous, to overcome his great desire to soothe his dear aching father by letting him know that he was still alive. Yet, he knew that his dreams were prophetic and it was Hashem’s decree that they be fulfilled. It was decreed according to his dreams that also his father was to bow down to him. Thus, Yosef knew that Heaven was preventing him from fulfilling the mitzvah of honoring his father by revealing his identity. In order to fulfill Hashem’s will, he was obligated to forget even his father’s house for the time being. Moreover, Yosef did everything he could to spare his brothers from the embarrassment of bowing down to him knowing that he was Yosef. Therefore, all his actions towards his brothers were in order to fulfill the Divine decree in the least painful way for them (Ketav V’kabbalah, Bereishit 41:51).

Forgiveness doesn’t Preclude Causing Repentance
From Yosef we learn to accept Hashem’s decree even in the case where it may cause our parents great pain. Whatever our siblings did against our parents and us was meant to be, otherwise Hashem would not have allowed it to happen. Therefore, it is counterproductive to harbor negative feelings over it. Yosef teaches us, that there is nothing anyone could do against his brother or sister that cannot be forgiven. The clue to granting this forgiveness is emunah that whatever your sisters did against you was fulfilling Hashem’s ultimate will, even if we don’t understand why. Yet Yosef did provide a test for his brothers to enable them to repent completely for their jealousy. Although the brothers hated Yosef because their father favored him, Yosef was able to help them overcome their jealousy by giving them the opportunity to accept that Binyamin was dearer to their father than each of them. Perhaps we can learn from Yosef, that after we have completely forgiven our siblings in the very depths of our heart, we must strive to help them rectify their wrong. However, we can only accomplish this through the greatest love without a trace of revengeful notion such as, “You see I was right!”

Forgiveness Saves Lives
Not only must we strive to feel forgiveness in our heart, moreover, if possible we must express it to our sisters at the right time as Yosef did:
וְעַתָּה אַל תֵּעָצְבוּ וְאַל יִחַר בְּעֵינֵיכֶם כִּי מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי הֵנָּה כִּי לְמִחְיָה שְׁלָחַנִי אֱלֹהִים לִפְנֵיכֶם:... וַיִּשְׁלָחֵנִי אֱלֹהִים לִפְנֵיכֶם לָשׂוּם לָכֶם שְׁאֵרִית בָּאָרֶץ וּלְהַחֲיוֹת לָכֶם לִפְלֵיטָה גְּדֹלָה: (ספר בראשית פרק מה, פסוק ה, ופסוק ז)
“Now be not distressed, or angry with yourselves because you sold me hither; for G-d did send me ahead of you to save life…G*d has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival on earth, and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance” (Bereishit 45:5,7).

Yosef’s clearly realized how all the pain he had suffered through his brothers was part of Hashem’s master plan for a higher purpose. Therefore, within this greater perspective, he was able to totally forgive regardless of how much he had been wronged. It is interesting to note that the word לְמִחְיָה translated “to save life” has the same letters as מחילה/forgiveness. Perhaps the reason why Yosef was chosen to save the lives of the Jewish people was his ability to forgive. When we truly forgive we preserve our own and the offenders life. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Can You Help Me Understand My Dream?

Ask the Rebbetzin – Parashat Miketz
Printable Version

Dear Rebbetzin,
I’ve heard that you do workshops about dream interpretation and that you also interpret dreams during your private EmunaHealing sessions. I have a reoccurring dream that I am concerned about, so perhaps you can help me. Around 5:30 in the morning, I often wake up upset from the following dream: I see myself stepping into my car and beginning to drive. But there is a very irritating bee that keeps buzzing and distracting my focus from the steering wheel. In my dream, I feel immensely afraid to get stung and then the car keeps moving forward downhill very fast, and I have no way to stop it. I’m overtaken by the fear of having an accident, as the car just keeps going on its own, and no matter how much I try to take control I am completely powerless.
Yakova Shaltiel (name changed)

Dear Yakova,
I’m glad that you are reaching out to me to help you interpret your dream, since it is important to tell the dream to someone who will interpret it favorable for you. The Talmud learns from Parashat Miketz that the dream follows its interpretation: “…Rabbi Eleazar said, from where do we know that all dreams follow their interpretations? Because it states, (Bereishit 41:13) “It came to pass, as he interpreted for us, so it was.” Rabba said, this is only if the interpretation corresponds to the content of the dream, as it states, (ibid. 41:12) “to each man according to his dream did he interpret” (Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 55b). Therefore, we can’t just make up any interpretation that we like and append it to a dream. The interpretation must correspond to the content of the dream. Yet, the word of G-d contains numerous facets and has several true interpretations. I will do my very best to interpret your dream in a positive way that may also help you work on your inner self.

The Effect of How We Tell Over Our Dreams
Rabbi Chisda said, a dream that is not interpreted is like a letter, which is not read (Babylonian Talmud Berachot 55a). Each interpretation magnifies and adorns the Torah. So too in regards to dreams, which are a sixtieth of prophecy. It is encoded in the dream that its actualization takes place according to its interpretations. The interpreters can actualize any of its hidden interpretations (Rav Kook, Eyin Re’aya).

The way we tell over our dreams is extremely important, and I notice that you wrote, “I am concerned about my dream” rather than stating, “I had a bad dream.” That is excellent, as no one should ever say that he had a bad or negative dream. Rabbeinu Bachaya notes that we should be careful how we tell over our dream since the words we use also have an effect on the interpretation of the dream. For example, the butler started mentioning “בַּחֲלוֹמִי/b’chalomi – in my dream” which also means recovering from illness, whereas the baker started by saying, “אַף/af – even,” using the same word as the snake who was punished (Bereishit 3:1). Correspondingly, the butler was freed, while the baker was hung.

Dream Interpretation Depends on the Individual Character of the Dreamer
When you tell your dreams to someone who knows you, it can help them to decode your dream, as various images means different things to different people. For example, “One who sees wine in a dream, if he is a Rabbi, then it is good, if not then it means judgment” (Zohar 3, 14b). The study of Torah is compared to fine wine. Thus for a Rabbi, whose primary bond in life is with the Torah, seeing wine in a dream is symbolic of Torah. However, the layman must understand wine according to it’s usual meaning: a means to become intoxicated. As such, it is a sign of judgment- for intoxication leads to improper behavior for which one is judged. So the fact that I do not know you gives me a bit of a handicap. Therefore, please forgive me if you do not feel that my interpretation matches your personality. I do hope that you will accept at the very least part of my interpretation. For the interpretation to come true, it must be accepted by the dreamer as we learn from this week’s parasha,

ספר בראשית פרק מא פסוק ח ...וַיִּשְׁלַח וַיִּקְרָא אֶת כָּל חַרְטֻמֵּי מִצְרַיִם וְאֶת כָּל חֲכָמֶיהָ וַיְסַפֵּר פַּרְעֹה לָהֶם אֶת חֲלֹמוֹ וְאֵין פּוֹתֵר אוֹתָם לְפַרְעֹה:

“He sent and called all the magicians of Egypt and all her wise men: And Pharaoh told them his dream, but there were none that could interpret them to Pharaoh” (Bereishit 41:8).

Allow Yourself to Lose Control
Now let’s get to your dream itself. You mentioned that you dreamed about bees. Arizal teaches that a leader who is arrogant towards his congregation and those who speak too much reincarnate into bees. Depending on your personality, you will know whether it is superfluous speech or arrogance that you need to work on. However, taken with the second element of your dream, your feeling powerless to stop your car from driving downhill by itself, it seems to me that you are afraid of losing control of your life. Arrogance often goes hand in hand with being too controlling. Therefore, it seems that your dream is a message from heaven to work on humility, which will help you to let go and let G-d.

ספר משלי פרק יט פסוק כא רַבּוֹת מַחֲשָׁבוֹת בְּלֶב אִישׁ וַעֲצַת הָשֵׁם הִיא תָקוּם:

“There are many devices in a person’s heart, but Hashem’s plan shall stand (Mishlei 19:21).

It is easy to fall into the illusion that everything in our lives depends on us, and that if we don’t get something done it will remain undone. This kind of attitude causes a lot of pressure, since we feel so indispensable that we cannot afford for one moment to relax and lose ourselves to just having a good time. We need to learn to let go of control and allow things to happen according to Hashem’s plan. Hashem is sending you a clear message to allow things to roll a bit while enjoying the ride, for we can never really be in control of the steering wheel of our lives.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Why Did Ya’acov Give Yosef a Special Coat and What Kind of Coat was It?

Ask the Rebbetzin – Parashat Vayeshev 

Dear Rebbetzin,
It bothers me that Ya’acov didn’t treat his sons equally but gave Yosef a coat of many colors. Wasn’t Ya’acov aware that favoring Yosef in this way would cause his other children to become jealous as we see is what happened? Ya’acov – the father of the Jewish people – is supposed to be a role model for life. How can he be such a negative example of child rearing?
Ruchama Stein (name changed)

Dear Ruchama,
I totally understand your question, which is in sync with the Talmud that states, “A man should never single out or distinguish one son among his other sons. For on account of the two sela’s weight of silk, which Ya’acov gave Yosef in excess of his other sons, his brothers became jealous of him and the matter resulted in our forefathers’ descent into Egypt” (Shabbat 10b). So why did Ya’acov, our father, give Yosef such extra special garment and what kind of garment was it?

ספר בראשית פרק לז פסוק ג וְיִשְׂרָאֵל אָהַב אֶת יוֹסֵף מִכָּל בָּנָיו כִּי בֶן זְקֻנִים הוּא לוֹ וְעָשָׂה לוֹ כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים:
“Israel loved Yosef more than all his sons, for he was a child of his old age, and he made him an embroidered or striped tunic” (Bereshit 37:3).

Like the Garments of the Kohanim
In the Torah, various garments play important roles. Garments reflect the occupation and status of those who wear them, just as today a fireman, pilot and soldier wear a special uniform. Yosef’s cloak represented being appointed for an important mission. The commentaries give various views of the meaning of כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים/ketonet passim that Yisrael bequeathed to Yosef. Passim can mean respectively, decorated, embroidered, multicolored or striped. Ketonet can mean a shirt, cloak or a tunic, like that which the Kohanim wore. The word even sounds similar to the word cotton or kutna in Hebrew. Surely, Ya’acov gave Yosef a most remarkable garment symbolizing Yosef’s leadership both in the home and in the field (Sforno). Kli Yakar explains that Ya’acov made Yosef a tunic for honor and glory similarly to the garments of the Kohanim who were dressed in כְתֹנֶת תַּשְׁבֵּץ/ketonet tashbetz – a checkered tunic and whose garments were also called “for honor and glory” (Shemot 28:2-4). With this special garment, Ya’acov bequeathed Yosef with the firstborn rights, which he had removed from Reuven. (Reuven became disqualified when he mingled into his father’s private affairs, moving Ya’acov’s bed from Bilha’s to Leah’s tent). Before the sin of the Golden Calf, the firstborn’s responsibility was to serve as the Kohen to Hashem. Therefore, Receiving the ketonet passim symbolized Yosef’s new role to minister as a Kohen connecting heaven and earth.

Shortening Exile and Heralding Redemption
The word פַּסִּים/passim shares the same numerical value as the word קֶץ/ketz – end (190). In the merit of Yosef, the Egyptian exile ended 190 years earlier than what Avraham was told, “…your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs. They will be enslaved and afflicted for 400 years” (Bereishit 15:13). Due to Yosef, the Egyptian exile was shortened to 210 years (See Rashi, Bereishit 42:2). Ba’al HaTurim notes that the word פַּסִּים/passim is the acronym for פוטיפרע/Potifar, סוחרים/sochachim – merchants, ישמעאלים/Yishmaelites and מדינים/Midianites. Yosef suffered greatly under the hand of each of these on his way to Egypt and within Egypt. Suffering cleanses all the sins of a person (Berachot 5a). At times, a tzaddik takes on the suffering of the people and brings atonement for the entire generation. Through the slavery of Yosef, the slavery of the Israelites was greatly reduced. The fact that the word passim shares the gematria with the word ketz – end, also means that Ya’acov handed over to Yosef the secret of the end of days. In addition, Ya’acov hinted to Yosef that he would bring about the end of days since he is the predecessor of Mashiach ben Yosef (Siftei Kohen).

Spiritual Garments of Rectification
The garment that Ya’cov made for Yosef was more than just a material apparel. Yosef’s Ketonet Passim indeed was כָּתְנוֹת אוֹר/ketonet ohr – a garment of light. Adam and Eve wore such spiritual garments in the Garden of Eden. However, their garments of אוֹר/ohr – light were turned into garments of עוֹר/or – skin when they eat from the Tree. The spiritual garments of the ketonet passim that Ya’acov created reflected his rectification of Adam by returning his lost garments of light. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge brought schisms into the world, and Ya’acov knew that Yosef – whose name means to gather – was his only son worthy to return the original unification (Shlah HaKodesh, Mesechet Matza Ashirah). It was the serpent that caused the original breach in world unity, by bringing about the removal of the א/alef (symbolizing oneness) from the name of Adam. Without the א/alef all that was left from אָדָם/Adam was דָּם/dam – blood, for blood was spilled, now that death was introduced to the world. Parallel to the alef dropping from the name of Adam, the alef also dropped from the garments of light – אוֹר/ohr, which then turned into skin, flesh and blood. When the tribes stripped Yosef of his special garment they separated him from his highest unification with Hashem and thus removed his א/alef. This brought about the דָּם/dam – blood, which remained of Adam after the sin. This is the secret of “they dipped the ketonet passim in blood (Bereishit 37:31); (Shelah HaKodesh, Parashat Vayeshev).

Returning the Lost Light of the Garden through the Ketonet Passim
“The serpent was naked” (Bereishit 3:1), therefore, it tempted Adam and Eve and stole their spiritual garments. Without these garments of light, Adam and Eve became aware that they were naked and separate from the Oneness of G-d. With the removal of the garments of light and life, death and mortality entered the lower world, which no longer was united with the higher worlds. The unity of G-d that originally shone forth in the Garden became concealed within the split reality of our world. The evil Nimrod who like the primordial serpent rebelled against G-d’s unity, got a hold of the spiritual garments, and subsequently the wicked Esau desired them too and eventually stole them from Nimrod (Rashi, Bereishit 15:26). Esau, who was an incarnation of the serpent, had given the spiritual garments to his mother to safeguard. However, “Rivkah, his mother, took Esau, her son’s desirable garments and dressed Ya’acov, her son in them” (Bereishit 15:26), in order to enable him to receive his father’s blessing and firstborn right. Yosef, who can overcome Esau, (Ovadia 1:18), had the ability to unify the world and bring back the lost light of the Garden. For this purpose, Ya’acov had to hand over to Yosef the Ketonet Passim – the original garments of light. They were the embodiment of the Ohr HaGanuz – the hidden light, which was hidden for the tzaddikim to reveal (Tiferet Shlomo, Parashat Vayeshev).

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Did Dinah Fall in Love with the Prince of Shechem?

Ask the Rebbetzin – Parashat Vayislach
Printable Version

Dear Rebbetzin,
I read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant some time ago and I found it very captivating and interesting. It was very helpful to read about the biblical personalities and their relationships, especially since I don’t have much Jewish background. I remember reading about the beautiful love story between Ya’acov’s daughter Dinah and the prince of Shechem in The Red Tent. When I was talking with my sister – who had been a year in a seminary in Israel – she said that I had the facts all wrong, and that Dinah detested the prince. We got into a big fight over it, and I’m turning to you to help me clarify the relationship between Dinah and the prince of Shechem?
Ahuva Gold

Dear Ahuva,
Winter Trip to Dead Sea
I’m glad you asked me to clarify the relationship between biblical figures, since much of the popular reading out there, including The Red Tent may be very misleading. The aim of such books is a captivating story, rather than being true to the Torah. Not only does The Red Tent completely contradict the oral explanation of the Torah, it also distorts passages in the Bible itself. For example, Naftali is mentioned as a son of Leah, rather than Bilhah (Bereishit 30:7-8), and Dinah is described as falling in love with Shechem. The main faulty perspective of The Red Tent is that it expresses a complete lack of understanding of the greatness of our matriarchs and patriarchs. Nevertheless, this bestseller has some merit in sparking a renewed general interest in Women in the Bible. In contrast to the approach of this novel, I will attempt to answer your question through the traditional method of textual analysis, which teaches an appreciation of the true greatness of our holy ancestors. In this way, I endeavor to inspire us all to walk in their ‘soulprints.’

The Violation of Dinah
It is hard to imagine that a young woman of lesser class would not fall head over heels in love with the distinguished prince who desired her. Yet, Dinah, daughter of Ya’acov, was very different from the young women which modern Western authors can picture. Scripture testifies to her spiritual greatness, in that she took no pleasure from Shechem’s advances. Rather, she was repulsed and despised the ‘noble’ prince.
ספר בראשית פרק לד פסוק ב וַיַּרְא אֹתָהּ שְׁכֶם בֶּן חֲמוֹר הַחִוִּי נְשִׂיא הָאָרֶץ וַיִּקַּח אֹתָהּ וַיִּשְׁכַּב אֹתָהּ וַיְעַנֶּהָ:
“When Shechem the son of Chamor the Chivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, lay with her, and defiled her” (Bereishit 34:2).

The Hebrew word וַיְעַנֶּהָ/Vay’aneha – “he defiled her” clearly refers to rape as Ramban explains:

רמב”ן על בראשית פרק לד פסוק ב …כל ביאה באונסה תקרא ענוי, וכן לא תתעמר בה תחת אשר עניתה (דברים כא יד), וכן ואת פלגשי ענו ותמת (שופטים כ ה) ויגיד הכתוב כי היתה אנוסה ולא נתרצית לנשיא הארץ, לספר בשבחה:
…Any forced intercourse is called עִנוּי/inui – defilement. Likewise, “You shall not treat her as a slave, because you have forced her – עִנִּיתָהּ/inita” (Devarim 21:14); “They raped –עִנּוּ /inu my concubine and she died” (Shoftim 20:5). Scripture tells us that she was raped and not interested in the prince of the land, to tell of her praise (Ramban, Bereishit 34:2).

Reunited with her Family
Ramban continues to describe how Dinah screamed and cried constantly. Otherwise, Shechem would not have needed to ask his father, “Take for me this girl for a wife” (Bereishit 34:4). Since he already had Dinah captured in his room, as the prince of the land, he had no need to fear that anyone would take her away from him. It was only because of Dinah’s resistance towards him, that he tried to bribe her family into convincing her to concede willingly to the match (Ramban, Bereishit 34:12). Rather than cursing her family and fleeing from their sight, never to be reunited, as The Red Tent reads, Dinah welcomed her brothers’ rescue from the evil city of Shechem, where she had been imprisoned. A proof that Dinah remained with her family is that she is enumerated among the seventy souls of the seed of Ya’acov that descended to Egypt (Bereishit 45:15).

Replay of the Garden of Eden

ספר בראשית פרק לד (א) וַתֵּצֵא דִינָה בַּת לֵאָה אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְיַעֲקֹב לִרְאוֹת בִּבְנוֹת הָאָרֶץ:
“Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she bore unto Ya’acov went out to look upon the daughters of the land” (Bereishit 34:1).

Why do we need this detailed description of Dinah? Was there another Dinah which required the verse to state “daughter of Leah whom she bore unto Ya’acov?” Scripture emphasizes that Dinah is the daughter of Leah, because their souls are connected in a way which goes beyond the attachment of mother and daughter. Dinah had within her the part of her mother which had been destined for Esau. Arizal explains that when the snake polluted Chava with his poison, good and evil became mixed within every soul. This caused the shell of the first rebellious Chava to become absorbed by Leah and carried on to Dinah. Leah was able to rectify and remove the shell of the first Chava, to become completely holy and righteous. However, the remnant of the dregs that were still cleaving to Leah, carried over to Dinah, a name that means harsh judgement. She was holy as well, yet a remnant of the shell of the first Chava still clung to her, since she had not completely rectified herself. (Arizal, The Gate of Articles of Chazal, the Article of the Steps of Avraham Avinu). The underlying reason why Shechem desired Dinah so much was that Dinah’s soul had a spark of Chava and Shechem was the incarnation of the original serpent. This is why he is called, “Chivite” meaning serpent in Aramaic (Targum Onkelus, Bereishit 3:1). Dinah’s soul had absorbed a trace of the spiritual pollution that the serpent had injected into Chava. When Shechem violated her, it was during her menstrual period, so that he re-absorbed this trace of impurity, as it states, “her menstrual flow shall be upon him” (Vayikra 15:24). Her name, “Dinah,” alludes to menstruation- the word for menstruating in Hebrew is נִידָה/nidah the exact letters of the name דִינָה/Dinah. The story of Dinah and Shechem is the replay of Chava and the snake. Dinah was finally able to rectify Chava by expelling the impurity she had absorbed from the snake back onto Shechem.

Her Jewish Essence Remains Pure
What happened to the child that Dinah conceived through the rape by Shechem ben Chamor? Osenat, Dinah’s daughter, was sent away with an amulet on her neck upon which was written: “Whoever cleaves to you, cleaves to the seed of Ya’acov” (Targum Onkelos, Parashat Vayechi 48:9). The angel, Gabriel, brought her to Egypt, to the house of Potifar, who adopted her. When Yosef ruled over Egypt, all the women wanted to gaze at him, because of his beauty, as it states, “Daughters tread on the wall” (Bereishit 49:22). Each of them cast something down from the wall as a gift for Yosef. Since Osenat had nothing else to throw, she hurled the amulet from around her neck. In this way, when Yosef saw that she was the granddaughter of Ya’acov, he married her (Chizkuni, Bereishit 41:45); (Women at the Crossroads p.36). Yosef, the righteous overcame sexual temptation and is therefore the antithesis of Shechem, son of Chamor (meaning donkey, physical/animalistic), the Chivite (meaning snake). Shechem was unable to bridle his animalistic desires, so he lost both the city of Shechem and Dinah to Yosef. Yosef, the archetype of sexual discipline, was able to elevate what Shechem lost. He received Dinah’s and Shechem’s daughter, as a wife, and the city of Shechem, where he was eventually buried (Bereishit 48:22 with Rashi); (Inspired from Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, Azamra).

Dinah –Divine DNA
In spite of the tainted nature of her conception, Osenat became the wife of Yosef the tzaddik. As Yosef’s soulmate, like him, she was sealed with complete sexual chastity. Moreover she,, merited to become the mother of Efrayim and Menashe, two tribes considered equal in holiness to the sons of Ya’acov. This proves that the inner essence of Osenat’s mother, Dinah, remained unaffected and pure even when she was defiled by Shechem (Rabbi Tzaddok of Lublin, Yisrael Ke­doshim 10). The power of her innate holiness is furthermore expressed on a collective level, by bringing about the circumcision of the entire city. Dinah’s daughter, Osenat, is the first person through whom it becomes established that the Jewish lineage follows the mother. In this way, Dinah teaches us that no matter what kind of experiences a Jewish woman may have gone through in her past; there is a place within her soul that remains completely intact and pure in its holiness. This holy spark is carried over to the children she conceives. The fact that Dinah is the first woman to verify that Judaism depends on the mother is hinted by the letters of Dinah’s name, which consists of the letters D, N, and A plus the letter H or the Hebrew letter ה/heh that represents Hashem. Thus Dinah represents ‘the DNA of Hashem’ (Women at the Crossroads pp. 29-30).

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How Could Ya’acov Marry Two Sisters?

Ask the Rebbetzin – Parashat Vayetze
Printable Version

Dear Rebbetzin,
I have a problem with Ya’acov. If he is supposed to be our role model, how can he marry both Rachel and Leah, who were sisters, when it explicitly states in the Torah, “You shall not take a woman as a wife after marrying her sister” (Vayikra 18:18)? If you say that this was before the Torah was given, we know that the holy fathers and mothers kept all the commandments even before they were given due to their personal zealousness and a prophetic knowledge of what the law would be. Moreover, Ya’acov sent a message to Esav saying: “Im Lavan garti – I lived with Lavan” (Bereishit 32:5). Rashi explains that the word, “garti” has the numerical value of 613 – the amount of mitzvot in the Torah. This hints that Ya’acov was informing Esav that he had kept the entire Torah. How could Ya’acov say this when he transgressed the biblical prohibition not to marry two sisters?
Emunah Yakobi (name changed)

Dear Emunah,
Your question has bothered most of the biblical commentaries as well- each one grappling with it in his own way. It is, indeed, not easy to understand why Ya’acov married two sisters- actually four sisters,since, Bilhah and Zilpah were also Lavan’s daughters (Midrash Bereishit Rabbah 74:13). How could Ya’acov set sisters, who are supposed to love one another, up against each other to become rivals for his love and for bearing his children? Today, when it is unacceptable for a man to marry more than one wife, your question becomes even stronger, and deserves attention.

Our Holy Ancestors Kept Most of the Mitzvot before They were Given
We have to understand that although our holy ancestors kept the Torah before it was given, not every single mitzvah was pertinent to them. Rather, they kept the mitzvot based on what they perceived as necessary for making tikunim (rectifications in the world. After the Torah was given, it is not allowed to make such calculations. However, prior to Matan Torah, our forefathers chose to deviate from certain commandments if they believed it necessary in order to fulfill their mission in the world. Therefore, Ya’acov married two sisters in order to accomplish his spiritual goals (Nefesh HaChaim 1:21). In addition, Ibn Ezra points out that the prohibition against marrying sisters is different from the rest of the forbidden relationships. It is not defined as an “abomination” or as “foulness.” Only the prohibitions referred to as sexual vulgarity and ugliness apply to all humanity, whereas, the prohibition against marrying sisters became applicable for Israel only after the giving of the Torah.

Transformation through Conversion
“A convert is like a newborn child” which means that converts are not halachically related to their biological family members (Yevamot 22a; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 269:10). Since Rachel and Leah had to undergo conversion before Ya’acov married them, it follows that the wives were no longer halachically considered sisters., Therefore, there is no Torah prohibition for a convert to marry a biological relative. (Radvaz, Teshuvos 696); (Marashah, Yoma 28). Still, this explanation has some flaws, since before the giving of the Torah, there was no legal distinction between Jews and the rest of Noach’s descendants. Therefore, halachic conversion did not exist. In addition, the reason the Torah gives for not marrying two sisters, should apply no less to two converted sisters:

ספר ויקרא פרק יח: פסוק יח וְאִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ לֹא תִקָּח לִצְרֹר לְגַלּוֹת עֶרְוָתָהּ עָלֶיהָ בְּחַיֶּיהָ:
“Do not take a woman and her sister as a rival, to uncover her nakedness before the other during her lifetime” (Vayikra 18:18).

It is not proper to marry a woman and her sister, turning them into rivals of each other, for they should love one another and not be rivals (Ramban, Vayikra 18:18). Even if the law that “a convert is like a newborn child” applied before the giving of the Torah, it would not diminish the natural love between two converted sisters, which would be endangered by their sharing one husband.

We Learn the Law of Not Marrying Two Sisters from Ya’acov
The Torah contains various mitzvot that came about through events that happened to our forefathers. For example, the prohibition against eating the sinew of the thigh derives from Ya’acov’s battle with the angel (Bereishit 32:25-33). Rav Elchanan Samet suggests that the prohibition against marrying sisters may have come about through the events of Ya’acov’s life. Rachel and Leah were equally worthy of Ya’acov, and he needed to marry them both in order to build the House of Israel. Yet, the tragic rivalry that developed between them for the love of their husband and the rivalry over bearing children, described in Bereishit chapters 29-30 may have given rise to the Torah prohibition against marrying sisters. (http://etzion.org.il/en/prohibition-marrying-sisters). Nevertheless, Rachel and Leah were able to engender a tremendous rectification by overcoming jealousy. They refined themselves and reached perfection of character which paved the way for the ultimate unification between the segments of Israel. The Torah, however, cannot expect such high inner work from regular sisters.

The Mitzvot Pertains only to the Land of Israel
The Ramban is famous for teaching that the mitzvot apply only in the Land of Israel. Outside of Israel it is only practice. He explains that Ya’acov knew that the moment he entered the land, the prohibition against two sisters would apply: “G-d alone plans how things work out. Rachel died on the way, as they began entering the land. In her merit, she did not die outside Eretz Yisrael, and in his merit, he did not dwell in Eretz Yisrael married to two sisters, for she was married to him in contravention of the prohibition against marrying sisters. It appears that she fell pregnant with Binyamin before they reached Shechem; Ya’acov had no relations with her at all, within the land, because of the prohibition” (Ramban, Vayikra 18:25). “Ya’acov’s (true) intention in not burying Rachel in Me’arat Ha-Machpela was in order that two sisters would not be buried together, for he would thereby be embarrassed before his fathers” (Ramban, Bereishit 48:7). Ramban’s explanation does not go together with the Midrash quoted by Rashi, which says that Ya’acov kept all the mitzvot while living with Lavan. How could Ya’acov say that he kept the entire Torah when in fact he did not keep any of it, since he was not obligated in it while he lived in chutz la’aretz? However, we may say, based on the Nefesh HaChaim, that Ya’acov obeyed a specific command of G‑d, to build the Jewish people by raising the twelve tribes of Israel.

Personal Refinement Never at the Expense of Others
Ya’acov never intended to marry two sisters. Rather, it was brought about by Lavan. Since Ya’acov had promised to marry Rachel, not marrying her would have involved deception. Since the prohibition of deceiving applies to all humanity it overruled the command not to marry his wife’s sister, which had not yet commanded. Rabbi Schneerson of Lubavitch learns from Ya’acov’s marriage to Rachel that care for others overrides the concern for self-perfection that goes beyond G‑d’s law. When we desire to take upon ourselves more than G‑d demands of us, we must first make completely sure that we are not doing so at the expense of others.. (Likkutei Sichot, vol. 5, pp. 141–8). http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/101035/jewish/How-Could-Jacob-Marry-Two-Sisters.htm

The Unification of Sisters Rectifies Creation
The Zohar explains that the souls of Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah, were really four parts of one soul, called “Rachel.” The rectification of creation requires the reunification of all four parts into one soul. This is similar to how Ya’acov absorbed Esav into his being by first buying the birthright, and then receiving the blessings. The four holy wives of Ya’acov represent the four elements, the four primeval rivers in Eden, the four archangels, the four directions the four camps of the Shechina, and the four letters of Hashem’s name (Zohar Part 2, page 266b). Ya’acov’s mission in the world was to unify all these elements and thus rectify Adam, whose sin caused the fragmentation of the world. For the sake of this lofty rectification, Ya’acov had to deviate from heeding the command not to marry two sisters. His mission to rectify the split reality caused by Adam and Chava’s eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, by unifying the manifestations of existence, overrode the prohibition which had not yet been given. By joining together with one husband and overcoming the natural tendency of rivalry, Ya’acov’s four wives became as one unified person, enacting the highest tikun of creation.