Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim

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Parshat Vayeishev 5782
Rabbi Jablinowitz

We read in this week’s parsha (Chapter 37, Pasuk 3), וישראל אהב את יוסף מכל בניו כי בן זקונים הוא לו ועשה לו כתונת פסים. Yaakov loved Yosef more than his other children and made him a special garment, the כתונת פסים. What is the significance of this garment and what does it represent?

The Zohar Hakadosh teaches on our parsha that a deeper meaning of our pasuk is that Hashem loves his son Yisrael more than all the other nations of the world. And just as Yosef’s brothers hated him, the nations of the world are jealous of Clal Yisrael and hate them. But how are we to understand the application of this metaphor to the end of the pasuk? Did Hashem give us a כתונת פסים?

Just as Yosef received his כתונת פסים from his father Yaakov, we have a special Levush that we have from Hashem. A Jew has a unique appearance and outer garment protecting him. This garment and unique ציור of a Jew is more pronounced when he is in Eretz Yisrael. But when we are in galus, it is weaker, as the pasuk says in Shir HaShirim (Chapter 5, Pasuk 3), פשטתי את כותנתי, איככה אלבשנה. I have removed my garment; how can I place it back on? In galus, we remove our garments and put on foreign coverings.

The same thing happened with Yosef. When his brothers threw him into a pit, the pasuk says (Chapter 37, Pasuk 23), ויפשיטו את יוסף את כותנתו. They removed Yosef’s special garment from him; and as the pasuk says, ויפשיטו את יוסף. They undressed and exposed Yosef to all sorts of spiritual dangers by removing him from the unique ציור he received from his father. Yosef went down to galus without his כתונת פסים.

This point is highlighted when Yosef encounters the wife of Potiphar. She makes advances at Yosef, and when she does, the pasuk says (Chapter 39, Pasuk 12) ותתפשהו בבגדו. She grabbed his garment. The Sfas Emes teaches that she found Yosef’s Achilles heel; his foreign garment of galus he put on after his כתונת פסים was removed. But immediately thereafter we read, ויעזוב בגדו בידה וינס ויצא החוצה. Yosef left this garment in her hand and ran out. He was able to escape and leave behind his exterior garment of galus. And what gave him this strength?

Chazal teach that Yosef saw the image of his father, Yaakov Avinu. He remembered who he was and what his real Tzurah is meant to be. As a result, he was able to leave behind the new clothes he had taken on and returned to his father. Rashi teaches twice in the beginning of the parsha that Yosef resembled his father. Therefore, when he saw the image of his father, he really saw himself. But he saw himself the way he was meant to be, with his כתונת פסים intact and looking like a Jew.

The Gemara in Shabbos 22A teaches נר חנוכה משמאל ומזוזה מימין. When we light Chanukah candles outside our doorway, we should light them on the left side so that we are surrounded by mitzvos. We have the Mezuzah on the right side and Chanukah lights on the left side. When this halacha is brought in the sefer She’iltos, he adds ובעל הבית מצויצת באמצע. There are mitzvos all around; the Mezuzah on the right, Chanukah on the left, and the one lighting wearing Tzitzis in the middle. What is the significance of adding the בעל הבית in the middle with his ציצית?

The Sfas Emes teaches, as we mentioned above, that when we are in galus, we tend to lose our look as a Jew. And the one actual garment which is the Beged of a Jew is Tzitzis. Therefore, when the Greeks were defeated and we returned to Torah and mitzvos, the Jewish garment returns as well. In order to express this notion, the mitzvah of Chanukah is described as being performed with the Jew wearing Tzitzis. If one was forced to remove his Tzitzis while in a state of galus, he puts them back on when returning from galus. And this is why the mitzvah of Chanukah is described as being performed by one who is now מצויצת בציצית.

Good Shabbos

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