Rabbi Dr. Zvi Aviner, 2022
Genesis And the Seven Commandments
Why Did the Shechinah Depart From Them?0
When Jacob woke up from his Ladder Dream,
he vowed that if he returns home in peace,
he and his children would establish a new society in the Land of his fathers,
the kind of which Mankind had never been seen before,
a society where the values of the Shechinah, YHVH, like
CHARITY, MERCY and COMPASSION for the poor and the desolate,
are the official Law of the Land.
He would build a Temple for G-d on that Mountain,
where the Shechinah would Dwell, and where people
would bring their donations and offer their prayers.
As long as that Temple would stand,
the COMPASSIONATE Laws of the Shechinah,
the Charity of the Shechinah, would be the laws of the Land.
Laws that oblige the owners of the fields to provide each year
different levels of enormous charity,
unseen in any other culture or society in the world.
Jacob expresses his pledge by saying,
“If I return home in peace, then “YHVH would be my ELKM.”
He meant: YHVH values would become the Laws of my Land.
Or: YHVH would be my KING. A real KING over my Land.
Looking at his Ladder Dram, we’ve said,
Jacob pledged to draw the Shechinah, YHVH,
from the top of the Ladder, where She stood “above the Law”,
down into the fifth Stair, which stands for
Adam commandment number Five – JUSTICE and CIVIL ORDER.
In other words, we’ve said,
Jacob pledged to draw Her values into society and CIVIL ORDER,
Into the court rooms, into the streets, the markets,
as well as into the private homes.
And according to the pledge,
connecting the Laws of the Land with the presence of the Shechinah,
implies that those new Laws would be effective
as long as the Shechinah Dwells in the Land.
or as long as the Shechinah is the real KING of Israel.
Once She has departed, and the Temple is destroyed,
these Laws lose their effectiveness, remaining valid
only on rabbinical level, till the time when Israel returns
to the Land, re-build the Temple, and merits seeing
the Shechinah returning to Dwell in it.
The Shechinah is Here on Contingency
Let’s note that,
it is not natural for the Shechinah to Dwell in any Land,
as it is not natural for Her to be present in our World at large.
We recall that in Genesis Chapter One,
ELKM invited Her to “come over” from Her Kingdom, the Eternal Sabbath,
and share with Him the newly formed Heavenly Court (as Rashi says)
to rule the World together, as YHVH ELKM.
When She – the Shechinah – entered our world from the sabbath,
as shown in the text,
YH un the Sixth Day and VH still in the Sabbath,
She, the Attribute of MERCY observed our world
as a Bride entering Her Groom’s home for the first time
and said (so to speak):
“How can I rule your world, when I see no creature here who
can understand me and do my work?
How can I rule this world, where I have no PLACE to Dwell and rest my Wing?”
ELKM then said to Her (so to speak):
“Let’s make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image,”
and he, our child Adam, would be able to recognize you,
invite you into his heart and do your work in my world.
In Adam’s heart you could Dwell, and in his Sabbath, You could rest
if he invites you in.”
Hence, the Shechinah is present in in our world only on contingency,
Pending on the behavior of Adam.
If Adam, as a species, a Homo Sapience, accepts Her values,
admit her into his heart and emulates Her ways,
Adam would become Very Good in YHVH ELKM’s eyes
and would merit entering the next DAY of CREATION, the Eternal Sabbath,
which is also called the BRIDE, the khalah.
On the other hand,
if Adam fails to recognize and emulate the Shechinah,
She would depart from him and from the Heavenly Court
leaving Adam in the Hands of ELKM alone,
who would terminate the Universe to kalla: Nothingness.
Thus, in that sense,
Jacob’s vow to bring the Shechinah into the society,
into CIVIL ORDER and JUSTICE, into the court rooms and the markets,
was a step in the right direction.
Israel would serve as a model for all peoples, for all the Noahide Nations,
So that they too would allow the Shechinah enter their hearts
and they too would make Her Laws the CIVIL LAWS of their Lands.
When that happens, the purpose of Adam CREATION is fulfilled.
Jacob’s Pledge to Build A Model Society
So, now that Jacob is returning home in peace,
and his name has been changed to Israel,
Jacob should be ready to start fulfilling his pledge
and build a model society for all to see and emulate,
societies with new sense of JUSTICE and CIVIL ORDER
that no other society ever seen or would see o their own
in any part of the world.
When that Happens, YHVH would be not only
the real KING OF ISRAEL
but also, the real KING of MANKIND.
Now as Jacob is returning home and his name is changed to Israel,
he is no more an individual fighting for his private JUSTICE
but a new society, a new nation with new face and CIVIL ORDER.
Now in his father’s land, he needs to implement and fulfill his pledge.
And first of all, he needs to ensure that the Shechinah
would indeed stay with him and his family in the Land of Israel.
He should ensure that neither he nor his sons,
would do something so bad and ugly in the Shechinah’s eyes,
something disgraceful that would humiliate Her and offend Her KINGHIP
that She would fly away with disgust from him,
leaving him and his family in the hands of the Harsh ELKM.
The Shechinah is Missing!0
So, Parshat Vayeshev starts by stipulating
that Jacob-Israel settled in the Land of his father’s dwelling,
implying that time has come for him to fulfill his pledge in full.
Since the conditional part of his vow has happened,
he is expected to pay his due and start building
a model society for all Mankind to watch and emulate.
But instead, as the Rabbis noticed, YHVH’s Name
has actually departed from him and his family.
Since it disappears from the text of the Torah
through the entire story of Joseph,
till the end of the Book of Genesis,
apart from only three short episodes.
Hence Jacob and his sons fail to fulfill his pledge
and keep the Shechinah down with them.
Instead of bringing Her into the world, they did something so ugly,
so offensive and disgraceful to Her Name in the eyes of everyone,
that She departed from them in disgust.
What did they do?0
You know the answer; they committed a crime, so despicable
that everyone on Earth would readily deem as a sheer abomination:
selling their own brother as a sex slave to the filthy Egyptians;
whose Angel stood at the bottom of Jacob’s Ladder.
No wonder that the Shechinah departed from the family,
leaving their fate in the Hands of the All-Mighty JUDGE ELKM,
who began to execute the prophecy given to Abraham,
that his descendants would be exiled to Egypt for servitude
for 400 years.
Thus, as the story of selling Joseph is unfolded, the Torah leads us
from dealing with the Fifth Commandment of Adam, JUSTICE and CIVIL ORDER,
to the next, SIXTH Commandment that forbids the Desecration of G-d’s Name,
Desecrating G-d’s Name
How can a person or society violate the Commandment?
One way, the most basic way, is to desecrate G-d’s name
by cursing him directly or indirectly, In private or in public.
Another, more common way,
is to do something disgraceful to His Name,
like uttering His Names repeatedly in vain,
or distorting the Holly Name like calling YHVH as Jehovah
or other distorted wrong and meaningless Names,
revealing not only ignorance, about the meaning of the Holy Name,
but also, a disrespect to it.
A third, the worst way of desecrating Her name is to do
something so ugly that would cause others to disrespect Her Honor.
Thus (says RMBM) if a person known to be G-d fearing, righteous,
a Torah scholar, is caught doing something ugly to his fellowman,
His sin would reflect badly not only on the person himself,
but also, on the Torah that he has learned.
People would see his deed as a failure of the Torah
to mold our character and shape our behavior.
The Honor of the Shechinah
In one way, there is a paradox here.
Since the Shechinah is known to be Shy and Modest,
Does She care about Her Honor? 0
But the Shechinah cares about what is on our heart.
She is very sensitive and attentive to our approval of Her,
our accepting Her as our KING.
She loves mankind, and expects Mankind to love Her back.
But as our King, She is sensitive to Her Honor.
Once She senses a rejection, a disgrace,
a desecration of Her “Glory” in our heart,
She would run awa
So, when Jacob’s sons, now called the revered Children of Israel,
speak a badly on each other, and their mutual hatred grows so much
that they sell their brother Joseph as a slave to Egypt,
their behavior reflects on the real status of YHVH KINGSHIP on them,
a sheer desecration of Her Honor,
in the eyes of other nations.
Instead of offering a good model for the nations,
serving as priests to others,
the family brought other nations to despise them and their faith.
No wonder that YHVH’s Name departs from them for long time.
After selling Joseph, the Shechinah departs from Jacob,
and he loses his prophetic power for years,
till he would finally meets Joseph again.
Judah and Joseph
But as bad as desecration of G-d’s Name can be,
it can be reversed by doing the opposite:
sanctifying G-d’s name in the eyes of others–
by sacrificing one’s life in the Honor of G-d,
by sanctifying His Name in the eyes of others.
This happens in the story of Joseph twice –
once in the story of Judah and Tamar,
and in the story of Joseph and his Egyptian Master’s wife.
In both stories, the Name of the Shechinah appears again
in the Torah’s text, to indicate that those two individuals
Judah and Joseph, managed to hold back the downfall
and restore the Shechinah on Israel.
Both would therefore be elected to lead Israel for generations.
Each one of them would bring a Messiah:
The Messiah Son of Joseph,
The Messiah the Son of Judah.
WHICH ONE OF THEM WOULD PREVAIL?
On that we’ll learn next class.