Vayigash 5752: The World’s Limitations Are No Obstacle

In our parsha we read about Yehuda approaching Yosef (whom he did not know was really his brother), despite the fact that he was 2nd in command to Pharoah, fearlessly, but respectfully, demanding that Binyomin be freed.  Although he spoke respectfully, he did not ask permission to approach (as is customary) and was prepared to fight if necessary.  All this in order to free his youngest brother, Binyomin.

Who was mightier–Yosef, or Yehuda?  Yosef was second only to Pharoah, and everyone had to do exactly what he commanded.  Yehuda, on the other hand, was a visitor with no rights, and in previously he had bowed in deference to Yosef.  However, Yehuda “broke protocol” and confronted this Egyptian Viceroy (little did he imagine that it is really his brother who loves him) with mesirus nefesh when the life of Binyomin was at stake.

To understand this, the Rebbe explains two approaches to dealing with the world: a) to be limited by the world and its limitations (of physicality, of customs and “protocol”), to go “in the way of the world”; and b) to be completely above the world and its limitations, not reckoning with it.  The Rebbe then makes an analogy to the feast of Achashverosh (in the times of the Purim story), which was conducted according to “the desire of each and every person”.  The Midrash says “each and every person” means Mordechai and Haman, and asks how can one fulfill their completely opposite desires simultaneously?  The answer: to a flesh and blood king this is impossible, but in the future Hashem will do exactly that.

How so?  Mordechai’s desire, as the name “Mordechai HaYehudi” suggests, is not to bow down to any idolatry, any aspect of worldly life which is not fulfilling the will of Hashem (even if it is permitted according to Torah)–he desires that everything be for the sake of Heaven, lesheim shomayim.  Haman, on the other hand, claims that since one is found in the world, in golus, then one must reckon with its limitations.  These are completely opposite desires!  But, explains the Rebbe, when you are connected with the Eybershter, you are above the conduct of the world and thus you have the ability to unify opposites: to be in the world and in golus, and yet “not to bow down” and to stand entirely higher than it all.

The question, however, remains: how can one (even if he has the “power” to do so, but practically speaking) do two opposite things?  To “not bow down” to golus, and at the same time to in fact conduct himself in accordance with the limitations of golus?

The answer is that now, in our generation–the final generation of golus and the first generation of Geulah–it is possible to do so, because the world is a different world.  In previous generations there were various limitations placed on the Jewish people from the outside: decrees, r”l, which impacted Yiddishkeit and did not leave room for a Yid to stand above golus.  Today, however “in our generation this is entirely dependent on a Jew’s will.

From the above we can understand that the might of Yehuda is in fact greater than that of Yosef.  Because Yosef’s might is connected with and the kingdom of Egypt and its limitations, including the conduct of a state.  Yehuda, on the other hand, “did not ask permission” and represents a higher level of “might”, the level of breaking boundaries.  It is davka Yehuda’s actions that bring to the Jewish people settling in Mitzrayim in a way where they flourish.  When a Jew stands with “forthrightness” (breitkeit), he brings about that even the King of Egypt assists him.

We find that in all the generations there were limitations from the outside, coming from the nations of the world and their decrees against Yidden, r”l, which did not always leave Yidden to conduct themselves with full forthrightness and balabatishkeit.

This is not the case in our generation and in our time, as we see in actuality that we do not have the confusions of the past, and the nations of the world leave Jews to conduct themselves as they please, and the matter is dependent only on the desire of the Yidden to conduct themselves with full forthrightness and balabatishkeit.

Today, the nations of the world not only are not imposing restrictions on Yidden and Yiddishkeit, they even assist, enabling Jews to spread Yiddishkeit and Torah and Mitzvos, and also to that which pertains to the nations of the world themselves, the 7 Noahide laws.  Today a Jew can “go in the way of the world” and still conduct himself as a Jew with full forthrightness and balabatishkeit: fulfilling the desire of both Mordechai (above limitations of the world) and Haman (within the way of the world)!

The Rebbe continues and states that the Frierdicker Rebbe has already informed us that:

all preparations for Geulah have been completed, and now we must draw down the Geulah into actuality in the physicality and materiality of the world (materiality which is transformed into physicality*), in a revealed way in the eyes of all flesh…the entire world demands that every Yid should already be standing in the state of the true and complete Geulah…and the matter is not dependent on anything other than their desire”

Thus, each one of us must conduct himself and herself with forthrightness and balabatishkeit that “the world was created for me” to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos, and there is no need to hide or outsmart the system (kuntzen) because today the world enables a Jew to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos, and to bring Geulah–if he wants, if he stands firm about it.  The Geulah is here, waiting for us to reveal it in our actions–without asking permission!

* Chassidus defines “physicality” as that which conceals G-dliness, whereas “materiality” not only conceals but asserts a contrary reality.

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