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Is there something really empty in the world? - Vayeshev

Tuesday, 8 December, 2020 - 5:23 pm

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This week’s Parasha Vayeshev tells about the children of Jacob who were jealous of their brother Joseph. They hated him so much that once, when they were in the pasture, they decided to kill him. But Reuven, the firstborn, stopped them and proposed to throw him in a pit instead, having in mind to come later to save him. But until Reuven came back, the brothers had taken out Joseph from the pit and sold him as a slave to itinerant merchants. Joseph ended up in Egypt, and later brought the rest of the family there, thus setting the stage for the story of Pesach to unfold.

The Torah describes Joseph’s pit as “an empty pit where there was no water”. This sounds harmless, doesn’t it?  But, as we know, the Torah never uses words without a purpose. Why did the Torah have to precise that there was no water? It is self-understood. Our Sages explain that the Torah hints here that there is no such a thing as an empty pit. If it had no water, it means that it had inside snakes and scorpions…

This rule applies to us as well. Our mind is always busy, it is never empty. If it is not busy with positive matters, it is necessarily busy with nonsense and less positive matters… We need to fill it up with water, symbolizing Torah.

This rule works the other way around as well. When a negative thought sneaks into our mind and does not want to leave, we need not fight it. It is better to study some Torah, to occupy our mind with something positive. In this way, the negative thoughts will leave on their own.

This is also connected to the holiday of Chanukah which is starting today. How can we chase away the darkness? We do not need to fight it. It is enough to open the light.

Let us always occupy our thoughts with positive matters. Let us study some Torah, let us think of whom we can help and how. When our mind with will full and bright, darkness will not be able to enter.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah!


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