Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26 )
GOOD MORNING! Recently a young lady lamented to me that she wished she could find a man of quality, of character. It is a great problem today in the times we live. I couldn't find the right words to share with her as she sat there provocatively dressed, so in keeping with the words of wisdom from my grandfather Max, of blessed memory, "Kid, keep your mouth shut. Even the fish wouldn't haven't gotten caught if he followed my advice!"
So, I am writing this week's edition for her -- and for all of us who might be facing this dilemma. First, one can only attract someone of quality by making him/herself a person of quality -- a caring person with values. What I wanted to say to this young lady who is a person of quality: "Look at the way you dress -- short hemlines, low necklines, tight clothes. You may think you are just being fashionable and comfortable, but the way you dress conveys a message. Our society oozes sex to advertise everything from baby diapers to Depends (please, that is meant as an overstatement, not an exact statement of fact). There is a reason. It sells product.
Studies show that men think about sex 19 times a day. When I mentioned that to a friend, he replied, "What? Only 19 times a day?"
The message from advertising for women: If you want to look good and/or be attractive, dress in a provocative manner.
Most women want to be respected for their minds, for their personality, for their values. Dressing in a manner that emphasizes the external, the vessel, the body and not the internal -- the personality and character -- is either a misdirect, false advertising or self-delusion -- unless that is how one wants to be perceived.
The Torah is over 3,300 years old and recognized this problem long before Madison Avenue and Hollywood promoted it into a society norm. The Torah directs us -- men and women -- to dress modestly, speak modestly and act with modesty and humility. Even dating is a hands-off activity; couples just talk about their goals, aspirations and interests in life.
In this day and age when a young man and woman will stand next to each other and text rather than talk, we have great problems in communication. When dating is about having a good time with expectations of ending the night together on the first date, there is no wonder why there is such a high divorce rate.
The bar one sets for sleeping with a person is far lower than the standards he or she has for marrying someone. Yet, from sleeping together occasionally to living together to marriage -- with a person who only passed the lower standard -- is a common, slippery slope.
It is not uncommon for people to live together for years, decide to get married and then shortly thereafter get divorced. They got married because "You have to marry someone. I am comfortable with this person and I don't want to start over looking for someone who would meet the standards I truly want in a mate." And why do they get divorced? Many reasons. When people live together, they treat each other with respect and consideration; when married, many think the marriage license is a license to take each other for granted.
Often there are issues, beliefs, goals, expectancies that were never discussed or worked through. A couple lived together for 7 years, got married and within a year sought a divorce. Why? She wanted children, he did not. My colleague asked, "Didn't you discuss this in all the time you lived together?" Responded the man, "Who talked?"
It's not just the way we dress, it's the way we talk. Humankind is distinguished from animalkind by being a speaker -- not just making audible communications, but through a qualitative distinction of elevating speech to being holy. Holy speech? Not defaming, spreading tales, speaking foolishly -- and not swearing. "Blue speech" not only colors the perception of who you are, but shapes your character. The outward act brings the inner appreciation -- both for the positive and the negative.
If one wants to find someone of greater quality and character, one must work on developing greater quality within himself or herself. One must dress modestly, speak modestly, act modestly. At the end of the book of the prophet Michah, the question is asked, "What does the Almighty require of you?" Answers the prophet, "Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God." Do that and you will attract someone of greater quality and character!
Vayechi, Genesis 47:28 - 50:26
The parasha, Torah portion, opens with Jacob on his deathbed 17 years after arriving in Egypt. Jacob blesses Joseph's two sons, Manasseh (Menashe) and Ephraim. (To this day it is a tradition to bless our sons every Shabbat evening with the blessing, "May the Almighty make you like Ephraim and Manasseh" -- they grew up in the Diaspora amongst foreign influences and still remained devoted to the Torah. The Shabbat evening blessing for girls is "to be like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah.") He then individually blesses each of his sons. The blessings are prophetic and give reproof, where necessary.
A large retinue from Pharaoh's court accompanies the family to Hebron to bury Jacob in the Ma'arat Hamachpela, the burial cave purchased by Abraham. The Torah portion ends with the death of Joseph and his binding the Israelites to bring his remains with them for burial when they are redeemed from slavery and go to the land of Israel. Thus ends the book of Genesis!
* * *
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And the days of Israel (Jacob) drew near to die; and he called his son Joseph, and said to him: If now I have found favor in your eyes, please ... deal with me kindly and truly; bury me not in Egypt." (Genesis 47:29).
What does the phrase "kindly and truly" come to teach us?
Rashi enlightens us as to the meaning of "kindly and truly." Kindness which is shown to the dead is true kindness, for one who does chesed (kindness) for a dead person certainly does not look forward to any payment. When someone does something for another person so that the person will in turn do him favors, the action cannot be considered true kindness. Rather, it is a form of bartering in which the merchandise is not objects, but favors.
When Rabbi Moshe of Kobrin was seven years old, there was a severe famine in Lithuania. Poor people wandered from village to village in search of food. Many of them flocked to the home of Rav Moshe's mother, who readily cooked and baked for them. Once a very large number of the poor came to her home and she had to cook for them in shifts.
When some individuals grew impatient and insulted her, she began to cry, since she felt that she was doing her utmost for them. Her young son, the future Rabbi of Kobrin, said to her, "Why should their insults trouble you? Don't their insults help you perform the mitzvah with sincerity? If they had praised you, your merit would be less, since you might be doing the kindness to gain their praise, rather than to fulfill the Almighty's command."
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 5:33 - Hong Kong 5:41 - Honolulu 5:51
J'Burg 6:47 - London 4:00 - Los Angeles 4:47
Melbourne 8:27 - Mexico City 6:00 - Miami 5:32
New York 4:33 - Singapore 6:57 - Toronto 4:46
Two signs of a good person:
giving and forgiving