Yosef HaTzaddik


   The holiness of Yosef sanctified the whole world. What was so special about Yosef HaTzaddik? The way he guarded his eyes. Yosef guarded his eyes. He never opened his eyes. And through this he sanctified the entire expanse of the world. He went through such horrible sufferings, such difficult tests—one year in the house of Potifar and 12 years in prison. The Midrash relates that the wife of Potifar would come to Yosef three times a day to tempt him. Every day she would come and stab him with pins and needles, with iron combs, as it says in Tehillim 105 about Yosef HaTzaddik, “His soul was placed in irons.” She would say to him, “I’ll blind your eyes. I will take out your eyes.” Yosef would answer her “Hashem gives sight to the blind. Hashem will open my eyes.” She would stick pins into him under his chin so that he would lift up his head and look, but he never opened his eyes. When she said to him, “I will knock you down and humiliate you,” he would answer, “He straightens the bent.” “You’ll be imprisoned for life—you’ll never get out of here!” He would answer, “He releases the imprisoned” (Morning Blessings).  

   The holiness of Yosef sanctified the whole world. When Yosef was alive, even the ground was holy. And this is the explanation of the verse, “…for their selling a righteous man for money and a poor man for shoes” (Amos 2:6). The brothers sold Yosef “for shoes.” How do you explain the phrase “for shoes”? No one sells his own brother for shoes! Who has ever heard of such a thing, that you sell your brother for shoes? Didn’t they have shoes? A student of the GR”A in his book “Pelach HaRimon,” writes that at the time, when Yosef HaTzaddik totally guarded his eyes, he sanctified the entire expanse of the world—including the whole land of Israel . The entire land of Israel was sanctified with the holiness of the Beis HaMikdash, so everyone could walk around in Israel without shoes, just as they did in the Beis HaMikdash due to the holiness. So too, in the time of Yosef, they could go everywhere without shoes! There was such holiness that with each and every step, no one felt any pricks from thorns, no one was pierced by stones—but this was only when they believed in Yosef and weren’t thinking of selling him. Then nothing would prick them—the thorns were holy and everything was holy.  

   The brothers didn’t know who the tzaddik was, and in whose merit the land was filled with holiness. Everyone though it might be in his own merit. They didn’t believe it was in Yosef’s merit. The moment that they sold Yosef, everything stopped. They didn’t feel the holiness of the land, and the earth was just regular dirt. Suddenly they felt that everything pricked them—everything hurt them—and immediately they needed shoes. The Yerushalmi in Masechet Peah says that Yosef reproved his brothers for looking at the women of the land. He said to them, “What are you looking at?” They answered him, “It doesn’t harm us.” But Yosef held that even if a man is holy and pure and looking doesn’t damage him, it’s still forbidden to look because the nature of seeing is that it damages. Reb Nosson explains that out of the eyes shine such strong lights, such wondrous lights. All of a man’s life force comes through his eyes—all of his G-dly soul and all of his animal soul. He transfers to whatever he looks at, because, essentially, the power of sight transfers energy—it transfers life force. When a person who is full of Torah, full of prayer, and full of G-dliness looks at the klippot, at evildoers, or at goyim, then he gives them his life force and strength. Regarding this Yosef reproved his brothers, “even though your looking doesn’t damage you, still, you are the forefathers of the tribes of Hashem, elevated holy people, but the nature of looking is that it transfers the energy to the Sitra Achra and the powers of tumah, and that is why it is forbidden for you to look.”

   The Tur writes in Orach Chaim 1, that the Tanna explained that “swift as an eagle” refers to the faculty of sight, which is compared to an eagle gliding through the air. That is to say that you should strengthen your eyes to refrain from seeing bad things since this is the beginning of sin—that the eyes sees and the heart desires, and the rest of the body finishes the job. “Be as swift to shut your eyes as an eagle [flies].” Thus the Tur begins his great work! If a person opens his eyes and goes around looking at everything, all the Torah that he learns goes to the klippot, to the enemies, to the evildoers—everything goes to them, and he enlivens them and gives them power. Because their existence comes from you, their vitality—their power—is derived from what you learned. If you learned ten hours and said 600,000 letters, then when you look and see forbidden things, you enliven all the klippot, and all the 600,000 letters go to them! If you wouldn’t have looked at them they wouldn’t have had any power or life force.  

   If a person goes out into the street and guards his eyes, he raises up all the sparks trapped in the klippot. When a man closes his eyes, he burns up the klippot. In every klippa there is a holy spark, and the moment that a man passes by on the street while guarding his eyes, the spark is freed and flies to the kedusha. The Kamarna Rebbe writes in “Heichal HaBracha” (parshas Miketz) that at the time of the creation of the world sparks were deposited in the streets and markets and that they are waiting for someone to come and raise them up, for someone to come and fix them. But one can only elevate them when he closes his eyes. The G-dly spark is found in every place, but you can’t see it. The reason it can’t be seen is that when you open your eyes and look, you see only the klippa. And then, by looking at the klippa, you create another klippa and then yet a further klippa. Therefore, a person must control himself: Don’t look! If you look then more klippot are created, and then more. The holy spark that is stuck in the klippa remains inside—it is imprisoned there, and it shouts at you, “Don’t look! My brother, have mercy on me, free me. When you look at me you bury me. You tie me up with more and more chains.” The spark begs the person, “My brother, have mercy on me. Free me from this prison. If you don’t look, you will bring the Geulah. Until now, no one has redeemed me or fixed me. Have mercy on me and release me from prison: Don’t look! In one instant of not looking, you can knock down an infinite number of walls and infinite number of klippot that are surrounding me.”  

   Understand this well, if an angel were to pass through the street [and not open his eyes and look at any women], no tikkunim (rectifications) would be done, no sparks would be raised up, since he doesn’t have a yetzer hara to look, [therefore he would accomplish nothing by not looking]. He has no yetzer hara for the tumah, but people, who are made of flesh and blood, need tremendous mesirus nefesh to guard their eyes. The whole time that they are passing through the streets and markets they are undergoing the most extreme trials, and by guarding their eyes, they raise up and fix all the sparks that are found there.



   Master of the World, You can do anything—nothing is beyond Your abilities. May I merit to serve You alone, and to think only of You day and night. And by this I should merit to taste the taste of Gan Eden at every moment and second. And I should fulfill, “Happy is the man who Hashem does not find guilty of sin.” Help me that I should no longer see any forbidden sights, and that I should be holy with the holiness of the awesome and holy Rabbeinu.  And I should be able to avert my eyes from seeing falsehood, “because all the days of my life have been wasted in foolishness.” And to fulfill, Merciful Father, “and you should be holy because I am holy.” “I am Hashem Your G-d.” “Fortunate is the person who is wise. On the day of evil, Hashem will save him.”



   On Hanukkah, a fire is burning, a flaming fire of love for Hashem which cannot be stopped. It is a fiery blaze that comes down from Heaven through the Hanukah lights. Rabbeinu brings in Torah 249, “Suddenly a person is enclothed in the spirit of gevurah” and then he can do acts of strength because, “the essence of gevurah is in the heart.” A person whose heart is strong is not afraid of anyone in the world—he has no fear. Nothing exists for him at all except “Ein Od Milvado – Nothing exists but Him”—only Hashem. This spirit can be accessed on Hanukkah just like Chana merited this “Hanukkah” חנוכה , which has the letters of “כו חנה   (gematria 26, which is the gematria of the Shem Havayeh). The meaning is that Chana was completely dedicated to Hashem. And this is as it is written, that “Chana prayed על Hashem.” She saw only Hashem. She was attached completely to Hashem. Therefore, all of Hanukkah is drawn from Chana. Rebbe Nosson writes in Likutei Halachos, Choshen Mishpat, that all of Hanukkah comes from the light of Chana, from the neshama of Chana. She never stopped praying or fell from her level of emunah. She didn’t let go of her faith for anything in the world. From the age of ten, she started praying that she would merit having a son who was a tzaddik, and at the age 130 she received her reward. For 120 years she prayed constantly to Hashem and succeeded in bringing down the soul of Shmuel, who was on par with Moshe and Aharon. Shmuel anointed both Shaul and David. The most important was David who is Moshiach, as it is written, “I set up a candle for my savior,” which is the light of Hanukkah. When a person decides to have mesirus nefesh for Hashem Yisborach, he receives the spirit of might and strength, and through this spirit, he can wage great wars and achieve victory over all the evildoers, over all those who have adopted Greek culture, and bring the Geulah, just as Chana merited through the light of Hanukkah to bring down the soul of Moshiach.  חנוכה is “כו חנה” because Chana had mesirus nefesh for Hashem Yisborach and did everything only for Hashem. She begged for a son only so that he would serve Hashem. And today, to have mesirus nefesh means to sit and learn! It is not waging war with anyone. It is simply to sit and learn and to put one’s head in the holy Torah, in the holy Gemara.


Pnei HaMelech

   “It is impossible to live in this world without aspirations and yearnings, without searching and longing. If a person doesn’t connect with the inner essence of things, he quickly becomes bored, and mitzvos become nothing but a scholarly exercise. One must remember that HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s love for us is infinite, and that it is His desire to draw us upward to Himself, to be above time. We need to search for Him. Our whole lives are just a game of hide-and-seek. HaKadosh Baruch Hu hides and we look for Him. “Your path went through the mighty waters, but Your footsteps remained unknown” (Psalms 77:20). Without the power of Torah which is the basic foundation of the world, the whole world is empty. In the merit of this power, we come out of the exile of the soul. We need air; we need life; we need to feel good, to be happy, to feel the soul of each and every thing, in order to continue to exist. Parents need to feel happy with their serving Hashem. Children need to feel that their parents already know the secret, that they already revealed it. And when the soul is joyous and happy, which it feels the sweetness, then this passes over to one’s children without having to say or explain anything. We need to learn from the Tzaddik who is always yearning, constantly, unceasingly! And when one is longing, then HaKadosh Baruch Hu says: they are yearning so much for Me, so I will give them My infinite light. The infinite life of Hashem is our whole life; it’s our health; it’s our wonders; it’s our power to see all the good and to give thanks.


Parparot HaTorah

“And Yaakov settled in the land of his father’s sojournings…” (37:1)

   About the pasuk, “And Yaakov settled in the land of his father’s sojournings,” Chazal explain that, “Yaakov thought that he was going to be able to settle down and rest up a little; and immediately he had to deal with the tragedy of Yosef. Tzaddikim request to sit in peace, and HaKadosh Baruch Hu says to them: Isn’t what’s waiting for you in the World to Come enough, that you also want peace and quiet in this world?” Dorshei Reshumot found a clue to this Midrash according to the Rashei Taivos of the opening of the parsha, ויש"ב יעק"ב - “And Yaakov settled” - ויבקש יעקב שבת בשלוה, יוסף עליו קפץ ברוגזו - “And Yaakov wanted to sit in peace and quiet, and the tragedy of Yosef occurred.”

   Chachmei Yisrael add: This emphasizes that “Yaakov sat in the land of his forefathers” in order to fix the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents which he had damaged, since he had formerly spent 22 years away from his father. Thus it is explained in Maseches Megilla (17a), that Yosef was separated from his father exactly 22 years (from the age of 17 until 39), since Yaakov had been away from his father Yitzhak for 22 years. And as was mentioned, the sin of Yaakov was that he didn’t fulfill the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents for 22 years, and for this reason he was punished with his beloved son being taken from him for the same period of time, midah c’neged midah.


Mayim Amukim

   “These candles are holy, and we have no permission to use them.” The explanation of this, first of all, is that we should be very happy that we are about to merit lighting the Hanukkah candles. And this is a joyous occasion that the light of Hanukkah comes down to me, to reveal to me that Hashem is where I am—Hashem is with me. But, on the other hand, you are told that it is forbidden to use the lights. The message is that I am far from this light, very, very far, but this doesn’t confuse me that I am still far away. At this moment, I am happy that I have the merit to light the Hanukkah candles.

   The greatest happiness is when a person admits to Hashem that he knows he is far from Him, but this is the essence of coming close: that we know we are far away. Even so, the days of Hanukkah come to tell us, “There is no such thing as despair!”  The important thing is the fight, not the success. For as long as I am fighting against this-worldliness, I will certainly win the war. This is the practical lesson that Rabbeinu wanted to gives us in two lessons: Torah 282—I am a Jew, and I am very happy from that alone—and in Torah 12—but still I am far from You. This knowledge alone causes me to yearn for Hashem. And this is what Rabbeinu wanted, that a person should go with these two lessons together. On one hand, I have to feel that I lost out – “Where am I in the world?” (Torah 12). On the other hand, I can’t blame myself too much, because after all I have this body preventing me—“I will sing” (Torah 282). And I will be happy with whatever I manage to grab here in this world.


Story on the Parsha

““The prison warden did not scrutinize anything that was in his charge (literally, “no thing in his hand”), inasmuch as Hashem was with him.” (39:23)

   In the days of the Vilna Gaon ztzl, there was a man who was could do wonders and foretell the future. People came to ask the Vilna Gaon his opinion of this miracle worker. The Gaon said that they should observe him: if he should clutch an object in his hand, then he is doing witchcraft. As it is written by the elders of Midian, “And the elders of Midian went and their sorcery was in their hands.” They investigated this man, and found that he held a stick in his hand, without which he could not do anything. In accordance with this incident, we can explain the pasuk, “The prison warden did not scrutinize anything that was in his charge, inasmuch as Hashem was with him.” In Egypt , there were also people who were experts in sorcery and witchcraft. So, the prison warden thought that Yosef was a magician. But when he saw that there “was no thing in his hand”—that he wasn’t holding onto any object—he understood that “Hashem was with him,” and He gave him the power to do wonders. 


Story on the Parsha 2

“If only you would think of me with yourself when he benefits you, and you will do me a kindness, if you please, and mention me to Pharaoh.”(40:14)

   A Chassid of the Admor Rebbe Davidshel from Tulna, complained to his Rebbe about the financial difficulties that he was experiencing at the time. “I am literally suffering from starvation,” the Chassid cried. “If I would have plenty of money, then I would serve Hashem with peace of mind, without worries.” After voicing some additional grievances about his family’s troubles, the Chassid finished by raising his voice and shouting, “Why doesn’t Hashem trust me? Please try me with abundant wealth, and I will prove myself with good deeds and charity!” Rebbe Davidshel responded, “At the end of parshas VaYeshev, Rashi says, concerning the Midrash about Yosef’s being punished with sitting for two additional years in prison because he didn’t put all his trust in Hashem but relied on the Minister of the Drinks, who was flesh and blood. If so, a mortal man cannot and is not permitted to trust in another person, and you want that the Ribono Shel Olam, HaKadosh Baruch Hu Himself will trust in you, a mortal man?”



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