Parashah #11: Vayigash “And Came Near”
B’reshit (Genesis) Gen. 44:18-47:27
By: Yehudah ben Shomeyr
Things, objects, materials, possessions, goods, stuff, fabricated man-made inanimate objects have replaced ancient by-gone goods of wood, stone and precious metals and is the 21st century form of idolatry.
Idolatry was a major problem in the Torah and not much has changed, same sin, new-fangled package. This is the #1 weapon in the evil ones arsenal. No, that’s not a new car with a bling-bling grill sitting in your driveway, it’s a bear trap with wheels. That’s not a new 52” LCD HDTV with Dolby surround sound, it’s a Vietnamese guerilla covered pit with razor sharp bamboo shanks at the bottom.
So often God has something so much better for us, but we won’t open our fists full of cookies to free our hand from the cookie jar to get the chocolate cake and ice cream God has for us.
What blessings have we missed out on because of an issue with lust of the flesh and eyes and the pride of life (I John 2:16). Are there any “things” holding you back from that next rung in your ladder of whatever God may have for you or has called you to be?
I’m a Jew, born in exile, far from the Land and ways of my people. Even though I’m a dedicated, Torah observant, Natsari Jewish Rabbi, I was nonetheless born in proverbial Egypt and Babylon, and whether meaning to or not, some of Egypt and Babylon has rubbed off on me; go fishing and come back smelling like fish. Hand around a pig sty and come back smelling like pig puckie. At least I’m not blind to it. The good thing is I’m working to remove the tza’aretz (leprosy) of Egypt and Babylon that has attached itself to me.
My country of exile is the world’s top consumer, a land where whoever dies with the most toys wins, a place where ‘bling’ equals success and power, a land where clothes make the man and a sporty car can compensate for a ‘lack of inheritance’. This land is a place where hardly anyone lacks the bare necessities yet the TV tells us we are in need and not happy until we have such-n-such in our lives. I am specifically talking about materialism. The older I get the more ‘things’ decrease in value for me. I am learning to hold things with a loose grip. For example, I use to own tons of cassette tapes and VHS tapes. Besides God, media took up a big chunk of my life. But with the obsolescence of analog and the ‘going the way of the buffalo’ of DVD’s giving way to Blueray, by the sheer speed of evolution technology has taken, how useless it is to obsessively collect music and movies. Either the medium will be obsolete or degrade. The only real lasting medium is the old school book. Sure, it too is not eternal and is prone to degradation, but memorizing, having multiple copies stored in the right conditions, one can have a book for a lifetime.
I’m trying to keep my dependence upon technology to a minimum. I know it’s obvious I enjoy blogging and gleaning information from the Net, but all it takes is one thunderstorm, one computer crash, one virus and I’m off-line till who knows when!? I study a lot online, so I have a backup study plan if the computer decides to be uncooperative.
The longer I live and the more I lose I’ve come to realize that the only things that matter is those things that cannot be taken away or easily destroyed; things such as memories, relationships, dreams and convictions. Sure we must treasure, appreciate, guard, and take care of the material blessings we’ve been given, yet hold on to them with a light grasp and an indifferent heart. Kind of the way a doctor cares but is distant from his patient. So that when you total your car or a fire takes your house, your possessions are burglarized, the market crashes and you lose everything in the bank or even if a flood takes your heirlooms and photographs and yes even if you lose your Bible or Tefillin, you will not be in the least shaken. Most material things can be replaced. You’re a Believer because you chose to be, not because you wear tzitzit or have a kippah or a mezuzah on your door. The Jews in the death camps had none of these things, yet they were still Jews.
One day you must realize that you may lose all but your real possessions and who you really are comes down to the day when you are all alone and you have to make the moral choice to do right or wrong when no human eye can watch. The day when you have nothing left but the clothes on your back or when you stand naked in every sense of the word before the Almighty God to give an account of your life. These things determine the TRUE YOU and what you REALLY possess.
23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.
When God unites the Two Houses of Israel at the End of Days (Which is already in progress as we speak) This modern new form of an old sin called idolatry will be a thing of the past. Just like Jacob’s sons had to leave their possessions behind for bigger and better things in Egypt, maybe we in the Exodus from Exile which is to come, we’ll have to leave behind our i-pods, Macs, and Dells, our hybrid cars, RV’s, Homes, our home theater systems and 3-4 digit pay stubs for our new homes in the Promised Land.
BRIT CHADASHAH #11
Revelation 22:1-2 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
As the old illustration goes that you never see a U-haul behind a hearse. And this not only applies to the final Exodus in this world, but in the World to Come and the New Jerusalem.
Shabbat Shalom and Shavuah Tov.
-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr
- So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. – Gen. 45:8
- And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. – Ezk. 37:28
- And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. – Rev. 22:1-2