A gitten erev Shabbos! This week’s parsha is Parshas VaYigash, and it is also the fast of Asarah B’Teves today, which ends when kiddush is made tonight.
I heard a wonderful vort from the Chasam Sofer as to the big chiddush that is fasting Asarah B’Teves on Erev Shabbos. The other rabbinic fasts are pushed off until Sunday if they fall on Erev Shabbos, except for Asarah B’Teves. The Chasam Sofer says that the reason we still fast on Asarah B’Teves is that today the Beis Din Shel Maalah sits in judgement, determining whether Moshiach should come this year, and our fast is the tefillah to Hashem that Moshiach should come.
In Parshas VaYigash, Yaakov Avinu and the B’Nei Yisroel all move to Mitzrayim to the area called Goshen. The Mitzri’im (Egyptians) all enter an essential serfdom to the Pharaoh through the brokerage of Yosef HaTzaddik, giving up all their property to Pharaoh except for the fifth of the land for the Kohanim, meaning the Egyptian priestly caste in this context. Everybody gets to planting and the years of famine are survived.
So this is an interesting episode, and through modern eyes seems quite terrible, what with the Mitzri’im giving up all their property to the state. However we must keep in mind what the Zohar HaKodosh says, that the Torah isn’t just a book of stories and our cultural history, rather every letter and every word is full of great spiritual secrets.
The Zohar teaches us in another place in the first chelek that if it wasn’t for Yidden living in certain places, the entire area would be uncivilized and impoverished. This we can see from how Mitzrayim flourished and managed to overcome the years of famine due to the help of Yosef HaTzaddik. Yosef HaTzaddik is the aspect of Yesod, and Yaakov Avinu is the aspect of Tiferes, which is also the aspect of the Torah Sh’b’ksav. Yosef brought Yaakov, that is Yesod channeled the forces of Tiferes, made manifest through the Torah, to Mitzrayim, which is the Klippah.
Following the order it is written in the Torah, Yaakov fist came to Mitzrayim before the Mitzri’im started getting anxious over not having food and handing everything over to Pharaoh through Yosef. One thing to consider in regards to the whole deal is that Yosef was granted complete reign over all of Pharaoh’s possessions, only the official title of Pharaoh was not his. What this means is that so long as Yosef lived, he had control over the Mitzri’im. This means to show us that the Tzaddik, through his bringing Torah down to the world of the Klippah, has reign over the world of the Klippah itself, and the sheidim and all things connected to the Klippah. While officially it is all given over to Pharaoh, the Tzaddik through his Torah and avodas Hashem is the one who really has control over all these things, with the sanction and assistance of Hashem Himself. So long as the Tzaddik separates himself from being mixed with the Klippah, by living in Goshen with the other avdei Hashem, so can this reign continue and bring prosperity even to those outside of the Klippah.