This weeks Parsha has a ton of gems and deals with a fairly touchy subject for those of us who hold Yeshua as Moshiach ben Yosef. It also helps us explain fully why we have so much trust in Hashem for his work through Yeshua HaMoshiach. This Parsha is loaded with other very important things, and some of them I wish I could write on but this one is very important to me and is touched on at depth by Ramban on this topic.
Rashi begins our discussion as usual in 46:1-2, " To the G-d of his father Yitzhok. A person is obligated regarding his father's honor more than regarding his grandfather's honor. That is why scripture made it dependent upon Issac and not upon Avraham". There are of course other reasons for this, and I hope to bring out some of them by the end of this blog. Ramban continues moving from Rashi's interpretation saying that "this is not sufficient.....However, this verse contains a secret, which the Rabbis revealed to us there in Bereshis Rabbah. When Yaakov was about to go down to Mitzrayim he saw that the Golus was beginning for him and his children and he feared it, and so he offered many sacrifices to the fear of his father Yitzhok, in order that Divine judgement should not be aimed against him. This he did in Beer Sheva, which was a place of prayer for his father, and from there he had taken permission when he went to Haran." This is a rather long Ramban about the issues he has with Rambam on Moreh Nevuchim and the issue of G-d's corporeality. I will want us to pay particular attention at the way he resolves this issue, and also what it means for understanding Hashem, and his relationship with Moshiach and his revelations. Later on we will get to the implications of what this means for Guelah and the Golus- as well of course the meaning for Moshiach ben Yosef, and Moshiach ben David. "Now scripture uses the word Z'vachim to inform us that they were not burnt offerings as were his fathers, as Avraham offered burnt offerings. Our Rabbi's have said (Zevachim 116a) that Noachides did not offer peace-offerings, they offered burnt-offerings. And concerning Noach it is clearly written, and he offered burnt-offerings on the altar. But on account of his fear of the Eternal, Yaakov offered peace offerings in order to bring all divine attributes into accord towards him., even as the Rabbi's have expounded They are called peace-offerings because they bring peace into the world. Now his original intent was directed at the Divine attribute of power this being nearest to Yitzhok. This is the explanation that which the Rabbi's mentioned in Bereshis Rabbah That the duty of honoring one's father is more important than honoring one's grandfather. This explanation applies to that which the Rabbis have said in yet another form, first you greet the pupil and afterwards you greet the Rabbi." This is interesting because it is the place where we are currently. Our attributes should be that we precede those who meet our Rabbi, that they should see our Rabbi in us first and then afterward greet the Rabbi, meeting us in our attributes should be the first place in which someone seeking our Rabbi should begin. We should talk to everyone about our Rabbi, and they should know us by our love, our Ahavas Chinam- if we do not have that we have nothing, they may never meet our Rabbi. Ramban continues "Thus by the merit of the sacrifices the G-d of his father Yitzhok appeared to him in the visions of the night, complementing that which he said I am G-d, the G-d of thy father, for he is the G-d of Beth-el who said to him in Haran, I am the G-d of beth-el where thou didst anoint a pillar., it is he who is the G-d of your father. This is the name and this is the attribute. And he assured him he should that he should have no fear in Egypt for he will be found righteous in judgement, and he will be redeemed after the affliction. This is the meaning of the divine promise, And I will also surely bring thee up again." Now this is incredibly important to us for it is in this name that we are redeemed and it is in the attribute of Righteousness in judgement by which we find the grace in Hashem delivered to us through the Merit of Yeshua Hamoshiach.
Also about the affliction- the Baal Haturim brings an interesting Remez in this Passuk as well- "To Israel in night visions. According to a scribal tradition. there are seven Taggin on the letter ש of ל׳שראל recalling the verse: a Righteous man will fall seven times and arise. For Yaakov had been beset by seven difficulties" 1) the hatred of Esau, 2) the deception of Laban ,3) the battle with the Angel, 4) The ravishment of Dinah, 5) the loss of Yosef 6) The confinement of Shimon, 7) the separation from Binyamin. and had been rescued from them all. Also the Baal Haturim connects the seven Taggin to several other "trials" in Shemos 20:6 "These correspond to the seven septads of evil 1) the 7 times the word false is mentioned in Ezekiel 2) the Charlatan who speaks kind words but has 7 abominations in his heart, the seven sins mentioned in the chapter of rebuke (Leviticus 26) the seven times the word your sins is spelled in full and the 7 names of the evil inclination (Mentioned in Sukkah 52a- Also a place associated with Moshiach ben Yosef- the seven names given there are Evil, Uncircumcised, Unclean, Foe, Stumbling block, stone, and hidden.)" and the seven levels of Gehinnom."
The Baal Haturim goes further in regards to the definition of night visions in Shemos 38:8- and it connects that this was all accomplished through the descending of the spirit of G-d upon them. Here is the Baal Haturim indicating that this Vision of Yaakov's included the falling of the spirit of G-d on him. "From the mirrors ( visions) The masoretic note means that this word appears 4 times in the Tanach 1) Shemos 38:8, 2) (in our Parsha) Bereshis 46:2, and 3-4 In Yezekiel 8:2, 40:2. This indicates that these women removed themselves from worldly pleasure and donated their mirrors to the construction of the Mishkan and the spirit of G-d descended upon them." This leads to the Ramban's next discussion on Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim which will challenge the often understood nature of G-d and what he can do, and how he descends and appears to people. Ramban makes it very clear and goes on at length of how the Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim makes several errors. "Now the Rabbi (Rambam) has written in the 27th chapter of the first part of the Moreh Nevuchim concerning Onkelos translation of the verse I will do down with thee into Mitzryaim, and I will also surely bring you up again, which Onkleos rendered her literally I will go down with thee and I will bring thee up. And the Rabbi (Rambam) was amazed at the opinion of Onkelos, namely that the literal translation would be used, saying that Onkelos had exerted all his effort to remove any implication of G-d's corporeality from all narratives in the Torah. Accordingly, in the case of any expression found in the Torah implying any mode of motion that refers to G-d, Onkelos ascribed the action to a certain glory that had been created for the occasion, or a manifestation of the Divine Providence. " This of course is interesting with the statement of G-d prepare "a body for me" written by the sages of Chasidim of Yeshua. "With reference to expressions of passing Onkelos paraphrased and thus translated the expression, And the Eternal passed by before him, as and he caused his presence to pass before his face, he did this so that the passing object would be in accordance with Onkelos opinion, something created as he would not ascribe any expression of motion with the creator in accordance with what Rambam has mentioned. But if this is so, why did Onkelos literally translate the verse, The Eternal thy G-d he will go over before thee? This is a form of motion occurring in a narrative and yet Onkelos was not apprehensive about it! Similarly, Onkelos translated the verse and Israel saw the great hand......At his right hand was a fiery law unto them In translation of which Onkelos wrote, his right hand and he was not apprehensive about the right hand writing that is lest it indicate corporeality, and such is also with the finger mentioned above. He furthermore literally translated "thou strechest forth thy right hand", as "thou raises they right hand" " There are many other verses that Ramban brings here but to keep this blog short- I will simply mention all the passages that Ramban brings here Devorim 33:2, Shemos 14:31, Shemos 15:12, Devorim 3:24, 4:34, 32:41, 11:12, about these Ramban notes that "Onkelos literally translated these verses without fear that the terms hands and eyes might indicate corporeality." This is in direct contradiction to Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim. I will finish up Ramban's discussion on Moreh Nevuchim by a last paragraph " And if one would say that the verse in Ezekiel refers to a certain glory that had been created for the occasion as is the opinion of Rambam with respect to the verse And the glory of the L-rd filled the tabernacle and other similar verses then how did the angels direct their words Blessed etc towards it when he who blesses and prays to a glory created for an occasion is as he who worshipped idols? the Teachings of our Rabbis also contain many texts which indicate that the name Shechinah is identical with G-d blessed be He. But all these subjects some of which are rendered literally and some of which are paraphrased, are not influenced by a fear of using terms denoting corporeality but rather by secrets of the Cabala known to Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uziel and the secrets thereof are revealed to those who know the mystic lore of the Torah. Thus in the revelation on mount Sinai wherever Elokim is mentioned in that section Onkelos renders it Glory, or the Word of G-d, but when scripture mentions the Tetragramaton he does not so render it. So Onkelos renders with extraordinary care ad wisdom and Ramban will yet mention it .(in Exodus 20:19.) Now the reason that Onkelos said literally face to face the eternal spoke. I will summarize a little what is found in Exodus 20:19 and 19:20 as it talks of Moshe Rabeinu hearing 7 voices but the people only heard one. This is a mystic teaching in Cabala and obviously has many facets for our faith in Yeshua HaMoshiach and that G-d somehow speaks through corporeality which Chasidus allows but Moreh Nevuchim does not. These are great secrets and some of which are revealed in the writings of Yeshua's Chasidim.
Interestingly the Chassam Sofer ties the revelation of all these secrets, and the story of Yosef to the final redemption and the redemption of Moshiach ben Yosef in his commentary on this weeks Haftarah with this. "The episode in which Binyamin was accused of stealing the viceroy's goblet foretold the period of the Second Bais Mikdash, when Yehudah rallied to Binyamin's defense and all the other tribes detached from our heritage, stood by idly. Furthermore, Yosef's dramatic revelation symbolized our future deliverance at the hands of Moshiach ben Yosef. (The removal of his Egyptian paint, to see him as a truly good Jew who leads millions and millions of Goyim- it also states in Sukkah 52a which Baal Haturim brought up about Yosef also says Moshiach ben Yosef we will look on and weep as one who lost an only son as Yaakov did for his essential only son from Rochel.) This matches so well Yeshua Hamoshiach and it also explains an ability for Hashem to reveal himself and engage in corporeality. Finally the Haftarah describes the glorious finale of Jewish history: the reunion of all Jews under the leadership of David's Moshiach. May we all look for the revelation of Yeshua HaMoshiach from removing his Roman/Egyptian makeup, and showing himself to be a Jew that we may mourn for the brother we have lost in the midst of the Golus of Edom.