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Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Double Dip

My parents named their eleventh child Yosef. He’s a good looking, charming and well-liked young man. At this point, my father spends more time with him than with the rest of his sons. We call him the ‘Ben Zikunim’, the son of our parents’ old age.

Despite emerging and recurrent patterns, the Jewish people seem to have learned their lesson about sibling rivalry. My parents never had to worry about us selling Yossi or throwing him into a pit. We’ve never had the urge. We adore Yosef and we are all very proud to be his siblings. Times are different, people are different, and Yossi hasn’t had any disturbing dreams or tried to take over (yet).

There is an old tradition amongst the Chasidim of Bobov, Shinove, and others to enact a yearly Yosef Shpiel. Despite opposition, the show continues to this day. Even if you do not know Yiddish, it is worth taking the time to check out this performance at http://www.tsofar.com/zofar/mashtap/show.asp?id=5745 because it gives us an adult perspective on the story. The brothers were not a group of kids arguing in a sandbox, they were a group of holy, mature, men engaged in painful philosophical decision-making. The brothers were wrong – they admitted it themselves - but they were in no way childish or lacking intelligence in their actions.

Our descent to Egypt began when the brothers plotted to rid themselves of Yosef and dipped his coat into blood. We stayed in Egypt for 210 years, eventually becoming slaves and suffering greatly. The story of Yosef and his brothers plays a central role in the story of our slavery and redemption.

The Torah records that when Yosef was finally reunited with his brothers he gave each of them a suit. He singled out his brother Binyamin by giving him five suits. The Talmud wonders how Yosef could put Binyamin into the same favored position that caused him such trouble. Rabbi Binyamin Bar Yefes explains that the single suit received by each of the brothers was actually equal in value to the total value of Binyamin’s five suits. Binyamin received a different gift, but not a better one. Yosef alluded with his gift to Mordechai, a grandson of Binyamin, who would wear five royal robes as he walked through Shushan as second in command to King Achashveirosh. (Megila 16b, Maharsha)

Mordechai suffered as a result of his extra suits. Some of Mordechai’s colleagues in the Sanhedrin felt that he was too involved in royal affairs and could not remain the holy scholar and leader that he had been in the past. Other members of Sanhedrin continued to support Mordechai. Assuming that the latter were correct, it would seem that Mordechai did himself a disservice by leaving the palace wearing all five suits. He may not have had a choice, but by showing all of his glory at once he gave the wrong message to those around him.

Yosef taught Binyamin a similar lesson: If you have something special – don’t wear it on your sleeve. Don’t wear a suit of many colors. Don’t try to intimidate people by showing all of your merits at once. By exhibiting each of his traits on a ‘need to know’ basis, Binyamin would be able to accomplish far more for the Jewish people. The humility of Shaul of the tribe of Binyamin helped him become the first king of Israel; Ester, his grand-daughter, saved the Jewish people because she refused to disclose her royal lineage.

Our descent to Egypt began when the brothers dipped Yosef’s coat into blood. We left Egypt only after dipping our hyssop brushes into the blood of the Paschal lamb (and painting the doorposts).

Two immersions in blood: One got us into Egypt; the other got us out. The Jews came to Egypt as a result of the Sale of Yosef and they couldn’t leave until it was addressed.

On the night of the Seder we dip twice. We dip our Karpas into salt water to remember the bitterness caused by the Ksones PASim that was dipped in blood. We take the edge off of our bitterness by dipping Maror into Charoses and recalling the immersion that took place just before we were freed.

Double-dip at the Seder and make a difference.

We need to remember the story of Yosef and remove jealousy from our lives.

Jblog

Posted on 03/29 at 10:52 PM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at senderhaber@gmail.com