© 2016 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
Class BLASPHEMY-5/The Birth of the Children of Israel
Our class today touches the basis of Israel’s daily prayer, established at the Temple’s time.
It should serve as a base also for Noahide daily prayer.
1: Would Jacob’s family recover?
When Jacob’s sons sold Joseph, they were at the lowest spiritual level possible. When such a royal family commits such a crime, they commit also BLASPHEMY and DESECRATION of G-ds Name.
So far we’ve seen how Judah and Joseph started their spiritual haeling, coming out of their depression:
Judah, by sacrificing his life for YHVH’s name in the story with Tamar. YHVH name appears 3 times in the story. Judah brought the Shhinah down to Earth.
Joseph, by sacrificing his life for YHVH and ELKM in the tory with his master’s wife. Moreover, as we saw last class, he also sanctified G-d Name in the eyes of Pharaoh and the Egyptians.
But what about the rest of the brothers? Would they come out of their spiritual depression?
As long they do not, they can’t chant to EACH OTHER Holy, Holy Holy, like the seventy Angels above.
They need to qualify again as Israel, to chant with El.
As we’ve learned, the Angelic Morning Choir begins their day, 9 hours east of Mt. Moriah. As the sun rises on the Far East shores, nations wake one by one and their Angels chant TO EACH OTHER, ”Holy, Holy, Holy…” Each Angel chant one ”holy,” and three in a row comprise one cycle. After 3 such cycles the sun rises on Mt. Moriah. And the Choir pauses, waiting for Israel to chant “3 holies” from Earth. No other Nation chat from earth, according to Esau’s Angel.
After Israel has finished its chant, the sun continues its course to the west and other nations wake up and join the Angelic Choir, till the sun rises again on the Far East and a new day comes in.
This teaching lies at the core of our daily prayer. We first mention the Choir, then we stand up and chant “Holy, Holy, Holy” from Earth It is the apex of our daily morning service.
Thus to be eligible to chant with the Choir of El, which the name Israel means, the ten brothers must come out of their depression. Let’s see how that happened:
2: First they are Jacob’s sons
After selling of Joseph, the brothers sank into guilt and depression. Jacob lost his prophecy. felt guilty. They accused each other, but mainly they accused Judah for not holding them back when he could.
The family suffered a depression, till it says:
“And Jacob saw that there was a break in Egypt.
And Jacob said to his sons,
Why are you fearful? For he said, behold, I’ve heard that there is a break in Egypt.
Go down there and buy for us, so that we may survive and not perish.”
Jacob saw something weird in Egypt: An Egyptian vice who opens his siloes to feed the masses, instead of talking advantage of the hunger and conquering the world by his sword.
This unusual compassion in Egypt surprised him. So he told his sons: Why are you afraid? Go down to Egypt and fetch us some food.
Note that here the brothers are called “Jacob’s sons”, a biological term no different than someone else’s sons.
But their name changes in the next verse:
3: Joseph’s Ten Brothers
“And Joseph’s ten brothers then went down to buy grain from Egypt,
But Jacob did not send Benjamin, the brother of Joseph, with his brothers
For he said, ‘An accident might befall him.’
From ‘Jacob’s sons’ their name changes to ‘Joseph’s ten brothers.’ Their minds focused more on finding Joseph, than on finding food. Their intention was nine portion devoted to finding Joseph, and only one portion for food. (Rashi)
By this, the rabbis explained, the ten brothers formed the first Congregation. They began their ascent from their spiritual depression.
And here is a definition: What is a Jewish Congregation? Ten brothers standing in repentance. Looking for their lost one.
4: The Birth of the Children of Israel
So far we have ten individuals who stand in repentance and
“And theChildren of Israel then came to buy grain
among those who came
For the famine was in the Land of Canaan…” (Genesis 42: 1-7)
This is the first time the name CHILDREN OF ISRAEL appears in the text (besides the Sciatic nerve prohibition, mentioned few chapters earlier.)
And as our rule of thumb says, whenever a concept appears the first time in the Torah, there you may find its precise definition.
Here a new nation is born: the Children of Israel.
Against the Sea of people
Let’s pay attention to the circumstances around the birth of Israel.
The “ten brothers of Joseph” are called as such, when they flock to Egypt “among those who were coming” to fetch food.
Among the sea of nameless, faceless hungry people who had only one thing on their mind, food,
These ten brothers had another issue burning on their minds: repentance, sorrow and guilt for their sin, looking forwards t repair it and find Joseph.
At that moment, the first congregation has become the nucleus of a new nation called Israel.
And what a unique story this it! Famine usually wipes out nationality and social hierarchy. The hunger makes all people equal. It effaces any border, any claim of sovereignty. And here, “among the coming,” the nation of Israel was born.
No, unlike other regular nations, Israel was not born on a national land, with a flag and an army. Israel was born by hungry ten brothers IN RPENTANCE looking for their lost one, on a foreign land at the gates of a foreign city.
What a story it is! Fits for a nation that would be chosen to serve as priests to all other nations.
5: Eligible to chant with the Angles
Exactly at that precious moment of the birth of Israel, the ten brothers became eligible to chant with El. They may call each other saying : “Holy, Holy, Holy” in public.
6: Israel sanctify G-d Name by our lives
Moreover, the verse in Leviticus says:
“And I shall be sanctified among the Children of Israel”
It is one of the 613 commandments to Israel.
Since sanctification is always in the eyes of others,
It means that sanctification is done in at least ten members of Israel.
So we have a congregation,
We have a nation,
But do we have a leader?
Would it be Joseph, or Judah?
what’s the difference between them?
On that we’ll study next class.