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A Powerful Meditation for Peace and Serenity

This guest Drash is by Rachamim Bitton of Jerusalem’s Nahar Shalom Yeshiva located in the Nachlaot neighborhood.


Vayigash 5777

This week’s Parsha begins with the difficult confrontation between Yehuda and Yosef. Yosef had told his brothers that he was going to keep Binyamin with him and this provoked the confrontation.

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וַיִּגַּשׁ אֵלָיו יְהוּדָה וַיֹּאמֶר בִּי אֲדֹנִי יְדַבֶּר נָא עַבְדְּךָ דָבָר בְּאָזְנֵי אֲדֹנִי וְאַל יִחַר אַפְּךָ בְּעַבְדֶּךָ כִּי כָמוֹךָ כְּפַרְעֹה:

Then Judah approached him and said, “Please, my lord, let now your servant speak something into my lord’s ears, and let not your wrath be kindled against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh.


ואל יחר אפך: מכאן אתה למד שדבר אליו קשות:

and let your wrath not be kindled: From here you learn that he spoke to him harshly.

כי כמוך כפרעה: חשוב אתה בעיני כמלך זה פשוטו. ומדרשו, סופך ללקות עליו בצרעת כמו שלקה פרעה על ידי זקנתי שרה על לילה אחת שעכבה. דבר אחר מה פרעה גוזר ואינו מקיים, מבטיח ואינו עושה, אף אתה כן, וכי זו היא שימת עין שאמרת לשום עינך עליו. דבר אחר כי כמוך כפרעה אם תקניטני אהרוג אותך ואת אדוניך:

for you are like Pharaoh: This is its simple meaning. Its midrashic meaning is, however: You will ultimately be punished with צָרַעַת because of him, just as Pharaoh was punished because of my great-grandmother Sarah for the one night that he detained her (Gen. 12:17). Another explanation: Just as Pharaoh issues decrees and does not carry them out, makes promises and does not fulfill them, so do you. Now, is this the “setting of an eye, ” concerning which you said [that you wanted] “to set your eye upon him” ? [See verse 21.] Another explanation: For like you, so is Pharaoh-if you provoke me, I will kill you and your master. [From Gen. Rabbah 93:6]

The Baal Shem Tov taught that there is a special name of Hashem which protects a person from anger and its terrible effects. This name of Hashem is hinted to in this Pasuk and it is also the first letters (ראשי תיבות) of the following Pasuk in Tehilim (119, 9):

בַּמֶּה יְזַכֶּה נַּעַר אֶת אָרְחוֹ לִשְׁמֹר כִּדְבָרֶךָ:

In what manner should a youth purify his way? To observe according to Your word.

The first letters of this word spell out the following name of Hashem:

בין אאלך

The Baal Shem Tov taught that one would say this Pasuk and meditate on the name of Hashem and pray that through this we will be saved from losing the proactive inner peace and the control over our reaction to outside influences which bring to anger.

The Zohar and Arizal teach us in many different places about the terrible harm anger does to one’s spiritual development and achievements. It is the most harmful trait in a person.

Rebbe Nachman also teaches that anger is the greatest impediment to attaining monetary wealth. We need to realize that anger includes resentment, frustration, depression, and all these similar traits and emotions which come from blaming and resisting instead of accepting, loving, and appreciating the good.

We can immunize and protect ourselves from this terrible trait by releasing and healing these detrimental emotions and by praying this prayer and meditating on this name of Hashem.

The Yismach Moshe, Rebbe Moshe Teitelbaum, explains this first Pasuk beautifully according to the Baal Shem Tov.

He points out that the Medrash teaches us on the words

ויגש אליו יהודה,
ניגש לדבר איתו קשות.

That Yehudah approached Yosef in order to confront him with harsh words. However, Yehudah’s next words are not harsh or difficult in least way!

בִּי אֲדֹנִי יְדַבֶּר נָא עַבְדְּךָ דָבָר בְּאָזְנֵי אֲדֹנִי וְאַל יִחַר אַפְּךָ בְּעַבְדֶּךָ כִּי כָמוֹךָ כְּפַרְעֹה:

“Please, my lord, let now your servant speak something into my lord’s ears, and let not your wrath be kindled against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh.”

If he wanted to confront Yosef why was he speaking in such a polite way?
The Baal Shem Tov explained that if we take all of the words and letters in this Pasuk which seem to be unneeded, out of place, and not contextually fitting, they spell out that name of Hashem which protects us and saves us from the terrible harm of anger.

The Yismach Moshe asks why Yehudah tells Yosef that he is like Paroh as if it is a reason for him not to get angry, how is that a reason for not getting angry? And why does he tell him not to get angry? Is Yehuda now Yosef’s spiritual mentor, or therapist that it’s now his place to tell him not to get angry?

He explains that one of the wonderful effects of meditating on this name of Hashem and praying for Hashem’s help to be saved from the harm of anger is that in instances when it’s appropriate to get angry, to prevent further defilement of Hashem’s sanctity for example, for Hashem’s honour, or to save someone (as in this case where Yehuda is trying to save Binyamin), and when you want to prevent an injustice from happening, since anger would still cause the destructive effects of losing all levels of spiritual achievement, meditating and praying with through this name of Hashem makes it so the anger would not cause that harm.

The Yismach Moshe explains that although Yehudah and his brothers did not know that this powerful king was their brother, they realized that he was on a very holy level of great spiritual development. They realized he wasn’t just any other Egyptian. They could see tremendous holy spirit, which is called ‘Tzelem Elokim’, on his face.
Since, Yehudah didn’t know this was Yosef, he didn’t know that Yosef also knew about theis powerful meditation on this name of Hashem.

This is why Yehudah was warning Yosef not to get angry lest he lose his spiritual achievements and become just like Pharaoh. This explains why he was warning him about anger, it’s because he saw this was a special person with special levels of spiritual achievements who would appreciate the heads up. It also explains why telling him about being like Pharaoh was a deterrent and a reason for him not to get angry. If he were to get angry he would lose all his holiness and become just like Pharaoh.

The opposite emotion to anger, the trait of patience and inner peace, are characteristics of Daat. This is the most important level of consciousness which is what brings all redemption and salvation, as our Rabbis have taught us.

May we merit rectifying this trait, removing all resentment, inner turmoil, frustration, anger, depression, and experiencing suffering and replace all this with real faith and trust -Emunah in Hashem, the type of Emunah which come from and lead to more inner peace, tranquility, patience, and serenity. May we merit through this to the highest level of Daat consciousness, and the final redemption with the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!




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