Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Richie Parker - Nurtured on Love

A "cute kid" in a loving family is about all you really need to get on with an inspired and inspiring life.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Binyomin's Gift of Millions

After Joseph reveals his true identity to his brothers, he gives each brother two suits of garments, but to his brother Binyomin he offers 5 suits of garments and  - an enormous amount of money, an amount that is 75% of what Abraham paid to purchase the overpriced real estate of the Mearat Hamachpelah in Chevron. Joseph's gift, if you make the calculations, translates into a liter of gold, today's equivalent of many millions of dollars. How's that for unusual?

It is not the immensity of this amount that is unusual (after all, Joseph was 2nd to emperor Pharoah). It is the fact that money itself was offered as a gift. Nowhere in Tanach is money offered explicitly as a gift. Money we find serves to set a fine or pay a penalty, or tax, to bribe, and for making a purchase or paying a wage, but nowhere do we find money given as a gift. Yet with Joseph and Binyomin it seems to be a gift.

An enormous gift to be sure, which far outweighs what the other brothers received.

So what really is behind this offering that appears at first glance as a gift?

Remember that Joseph had studied Torah with his father Yakov before he was kidnapped and sold by his 10 older brothers. We know the last topic they learned together was the Eglah Arufah. Once Joseph was gone, Yakov now studied Torah with Binyomin.

Imagine what you would give to sit and learn Torah with Moses for one day. God gave Adam Torah knowledge. Adam taught it to Abraham. Abraham taught Isaac. And Isaac taught Yakov. Now, here he was, the most illustrious of all our forefathers, sitting with Binyomin studying Torah - one-on-one - for 22 years! By any account we could consider Binyomin to be a Torah sage, a veritable Talmid Chacham.

Now consider what happened when Joseph tested his brothers' resolve to protect Binyomin, by hiding his royal cup Binyomin's sack. He sent Menashe to accuse them of theft, which they, of course, resented and denied. "Go ahead and check for yourself!", they said. Menashe started with the oldest, and ended his search with the youngest. When he finally got to Binyomin's sack, behold, there he finds the "stolen" royal goblet.

The brother's, of course, were shocked, to say the least. After all, they were honorable men, sons of the great Yakov, grandchildren of great men. Now they stood profoundly shamed by the youngest among them.

Most probably they verbally abused him all the way back to Egypt. Most probably they accused him and said something like, "Son of a thief, and grandson of a thief! Everything about your genes is intimately involved with theft!". After all, Rachel stole the miniature idols of her father, and her father stole from Yakov's possessions one hundred times over, even stealing Yakov's first wife from under his nose for later barter. Imagine the humiliation poor Binyomin, innocent of all charges, must have suffered among them.

The Jerusalem Talmud tells us, "the penalty for insulting a Torah sage is one liter of gold." (Bava Kamma 8:6). From here the Rambam apparently derives his ruling, "He who shames a Talmid Chacham receives no share in the world-to-come ... even if only verbally ... he is fined a liter of gold." (Talmud Torah 6:12)

Now we can understand why Joseph paid Binyomin this huge sum. It was in part to redeem himself for having brought upon a giant of Torah, his younger brother Binyomin, public disgrace.