Parshas Acharei Mos
Leviticus 16:1 - 18:30


Parshas Kedoshim
Leviticus 19:1 - 20:27

How to be Holy Amidst Evil ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of mysticism in Hebrew Gematria is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Arnold Student Litman, a graduate of Harvard and an honored World War II hero, may he rest in peace.

Our sages say when Yaakov learned of his dear beloved son Yosief's death through his brothers that he mourned for twenty-two years. {See Rashi's comments in Genesis 37:12 - 35.} Now Yaakov's sons knew the truth. Yitzchok, Yaakov's father, knew the truth. They knew Yosief was sold into slavery. Yet our sages point to a hint of prophecy in Yaakov's words, "an evil beast has devoured him"{Genesis 37:33}, possibly referring to Potiphar's wife. According to our sages Yaakov had a partial vision regarding Yosief. Did Yaakov actually believe Yosief was dead or did Yaakov feel it was as if Yosief were dead?

Let's examine the second possibility.
· Yaakov knew that the divine spark rested within Yosief. He had prophetic dreams.
· Yaakov knew that the universe relied on twelve tribes. If his sons were to fulfill the promise Hashem made to Avraham, then twelve tribes were necessary, one for each of the twelve signs of the zodiac.
· Yaakov conducted two tests to determine if Yosief were alive, according to the Midrash. Both tests supported the fact that Yosief was alive.

...So why did Yaakov mourn for twenty-two years...??

There was a Torah observant Jew whose children did not observe Torah Judaism. In fact the children's mother divorced him, took the children and moved to an extremely wicked city. There the children grew up. The father grieved! The father was greatly distressed for his children. It was as though he were a dead man. He had no other children. He mourned, "Hashem, who will carry on Torah Judaism in my name? He was discouraged! He felt undeserving! His past sins before his return to Judaism seemed to be supplanting his righteousness. He was a sad, sad man. His mission in life was to raise his children... to train his children... to help select their soul mates... to continue... to perpetuate Judaism to the next generation. In the most important things in life he was failing...

Now Yaakov had twelve sons, yet the link to the merit in establishing the Twelve Tribes seemed to be flickering... seemed to be slipping away... Yosief was gone! Yosief wasn't dead. why did Yaakov mourn for twenty-two years...??

Just as Avraham had passed to Yitzchok Torah instruction, Yitzchok had passed to Eisov and Yaakov the same Torah instruction. Now Yaakov did the same with his sons, especially with Yosief. In his early days Yaakov worked very hard for his evil father-in-law Lavan. He had limited time to teach his sons. It couldn't compare to the time his father Yitzchok and his grandfather Avraham spent teaching him. He served Lavan fourteen years for his two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Seven years for Leah and seven years for Rachel. It was during the second seven years that eleven of his twelve sons were born. That means...

children from Leah
Ruevin studied with Yaakov a little more than six years...
Shimon studied with Yaakov a little more than five years...
Levi studied with Yaakov a little more than four years...
Yehudah studied with Yaakov about four years...
Yissachar studied with Yaakov a little more than one year...
Zevulun studied with Yaakov about one year.

children from Bilhah
Don studied with Yaakov a little more than three years...
Naftali studied with Yaakov a little more than two years...

children from Zilpah
Gad studied with Yaakov a little more than three years...
Asher studied with Yaakov a little more than two years...

child of Rachel {later children with Benyomin's birth}

Yosief began studying with Yaakov at the conclusion of Yaakov's fourteen years of service to Lavan. It was at this time that Yaakov desired to leave Lavan. {Genesis 30:25} Lavan constrained Yaakov. He would not allow him to leave. Lavan and Yaakov made an agreement for Yaakov to remain in Lavan's service. {Genesis 30:31 - 36} Lavan gave Yaakov all the dark speckled and spotted sheep as his wage for service. Yaakov placed a three day journey between his flock of dark speckled and spotted sheep and Lavan's sheep. YAAKOV'S SONS tended his flock. Which sons I am not certain. Probably Ruevin, Shimon, Levi, Yehudah, Don and Gad. They were between the ages of six and three. {Please remember thousands of years ago children began labor by the age of three. This is established by the story of Rivkah who watered her father's sheep at the age of three. At the same age Rivkah was also permitted to choose between remaining in her father's house or traveling to Avraham's home and marrying Yitzchok (Genesis 24:58)}

Holy reader, the point is that these sons had very limited study time with Yaakov, their father, during the next six years. As Naftali, Asher, Yissachar and Zevulun grew older they would eventually join their brothers in tending Yaakov's herds. His herds were very great.

Yosief remained at home to learn with his father as Yaakov tended Lavan's flocks. After the six years were completed Yaakov fled from Lavan. Yaakov was 106 years of age when he ceased tending sheep and spent his entire time learning with Yosief and Benyomin. Yaakov's ten sons whom he had trained as shepherds cared for the flocks. Yaakov shared what he had learned from his grandfather Avraham and his father Yitzchok. He shared his learning experiences from the school of Shim and Eiver. Yosief learned day and night with his father for seventeen years. He learned with Yaakov and also with his grandfather Yitzchok for eleven years until he was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Now, holy reader, what is the point? Why have we traveled back into Sefer Bereishis? Chassidim, the point is Yosief was the chosen son. He was the firstborn of Rachel whom Yaakov loved. He was the son Yaakov shared ALL his Torah learning with. He was the son who understood his brothers' sins and reported their Torah violations to his father... He was the righteous son! He was the son of Torah purity! He was the son of Torah education. At seventeen he was a Torah Scholar!!

So as a result he was also the son selected to be tested among the wicked of Mitzriam. The greatest portion of Yaakov's spiritual wealth was invested in Yosief. Now Yosief was gone. YAAKOV GRIEVED FOR HIS SON, THE TORAH SCHOLAR, who must endure the tests of Mitzriam for all Judaism! During these twenty-two years Yaakov mourned for his son's safety, spirituality, goodness, righteousness and honesty. It was during this time that the Shechina withdrew from Yaakov. The only assistance he could offer Yosief during his great trials in Mitzriam was by mourning! He lost track of time as it is easy for one to do during the period we count the Omer...

He was so devoted to supporting Yosief.

Remember Yosief could have contacted his father after becoming the Viceroy of Mitzriam but he didn't. Why didn't he? He had to fulfill this period of testing isolated from his family! Just as Yaakov was isolated from his family and tested by the wicked, evil Lavan Yosief was isolated from his family and tested in the wickedness of Mitzriam.

At the conclusion of the test the Torah records, Vaht chee - Roo ach - Yaakov - Ahv hehm, meaning "and the spirit of Yaakov their father was revived." {Genesis 45:27}. Yaakov said, "My son Yosief lives." In other words my son Yosief has triumphed!... Rashi states that as a sign {of Yosief's triumph} he told his brothers the subject that he and his father were studying before his sudden departure. Holy reader, our father Yosief was seriously tested by the Toh ah vahs, meaning abominations {of Mitzriam}, yet he did not fail. His success was noted in the words of Yaakov, "My son Yosief lives." My son Yosief has not been tarnished by the abominations of Mitzriam!

The significance of Yaakov's message is for all Yiddishkeit, our forefather Yosief maintained his purity, his spirituality, his righteousness, his holiness among the wicked abominations of Mitzriam. Yosief established that it can be done! Yosief established that it can be done as a slave. Yosief established that it can be done in prison as a slave.... Yosief established that it can be done as a ruler of Mitzriam.

Not even Yosief's righteous bones were left in Mitzriam. They were carried out by his brethren...

The point, dear reader, is when we read in this week's parsha, "keep My watch so you will not do any of the abominations of [this new land, Canaan or Mitzriam].." Leviticus 18:30, Yosief had already shown that it {remaining righteous among evil abominations} can be done. His test was so important for our success. He taught us how to be holy amidst evil.

The Gematria of Vaht chee - Roo ach - Yaakov - Ahv hehm {meaning "and the spirit of Yaakov their father was revived"} is 878 and the Gematria of Toh ah vahs {meaning abominations} is also 878. So we see that when we live as Yosief lived we defeat the abominations of this wicked world.

Vaht chee - Roo ach - Yaakov - Ahv hehm {and the spirit of Yaakov their father was revived}

Vaht chee - Roo ach - {and revived spirit}
638 = Ches 8 Vav 6 Reish 200 - Yud 10 Chess 8 Sav 400 Vav 6

Yaakov - Ahv hehm {Yaakov their father}
240 = Mem 40 Hey 5 Yud 10 Bais 2 Aleph 1 - Bais 2 Kuf 100 Ayin 70 Yud 10

878 = 638 + 240

Toh ah vahs {abominations}
878 = Sav 400 Bais 2 Ayin 70 Vav 6 Sav 400

May Hashem bless each of us in the path of Torah study and observance! May Hashem bless those of us who have children from mixed marriages and children living in assimilation with the blessing of having our children return to Torah Judaism.

Best wishes!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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