Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Get It While You Can

"Vayikach Moishe es atzmois Yoisef imoi," ("And Moses took Joseph's bones with him"). Many commentators on the Torah ask why it specifically states that Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him, since this task had been charged to all of Bnei Yisroel (the Children of Israel). The Medrash states that the reason why it states that Moshe took the bones was because the rest of the people, while preparing to leave Mitzrayim (Egypt), were busy collecting the riches of the Egyptians as spoils after G-d defeated the Egyptians through the plagues. However, how is it that Bnei Yisroel is spoken of negatively as being "busy" with this task, when we see in last week's parsha that Moshe ordered the Jews to take from the Egyptians all that they could get out of them?

The Kedushas Tzion zt"l, one of the previous Bobover rebbes, gives an answer to this question. He says that clearly, if Moshe commanded the Jews to do something, it was a Divine directive, and cannot be seen as negative, but actually quite the opposite. The problem, says the Kedushas Tzion, was not in what was occupying their time, but the manner in which they were doing it. To explain, the Kedushas Tzion gives a different, but equally valid, translation of "atzmois Yoisef". The Kedushas Tzion says that it means the "essence of Yosef," meaning that Moshe was able to channel Yosef's great kavanah (Divine intention) in the activity that was being done. When Yosef had been a powerful minister in Egypt, he made sure to bring great wealth to the kingdom, knowing that one day the descendants of his father would leave Mitzrayim and be able to take the wealth with him. Because of this, he wanted the people to have enough wealth to take care of themselves in the wilderness so that they would be better equipped to do the will of G-d. When the Jews were going around collecting the wealth, however, they were collecting it only to be wealthy, and did not think at all about the greater reason for material wealth. Moshe Rabbeinu, on the other hand, took the "atzmois Yosef" with him, and collected the riches with the sole purpose of using it to use it later doing whatever G-d asked of him regarding what he collected.

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