Wednesday, December 06, 2017

v'kisinu es damo -- the cover-up

1. Rashi in last weeks parsha comments on the words "vayichbkeyhu... vayishakeyhu" (33:4) that even though it was out of character for Eisav to express love for Ya'akov, in this case the hugs and kisses were sincere as he was truly moved.  Yet two weeks ago in Parshas VaYeitzei the Torah uses nearly the identical phrase of "va'yichabek lo va'yinashek lo..." (29:3) in describing Lavan's greeting of Ya'akov and there Rashi writes that Lavan was insincere and was trying to pat down Ya'akov to find out if he had any jewels on him.  Why in one case does Rashi interpret the hugs and kisses as sincere expressions of love and in the other case as a selfishly motivated act?

HaKsav vHaKabbalah explains that in describing what Lavan did, the Torah separates the verb from it's object: "va'yinasek" = verb, "lo" = object.  There was a disconnect between what Lavan was doing and what he felt about Ya'akov.  In describing Eisav's actions, the Torah lumps subject, verb, and object into one word: "vayichakeyhu."  The person taking action -- Eisav -- was 100% invested into the action of giving those hugs and kisses.  There was no disconnect between them and his true self, his true emotions.

R' Yisrael Resiman brilliantly connects this to our parsha.  "V'lo yachlu dabro l'shalom..."  Of course, had the brothers wants to, they could have spoken nicely to Yosef and about Yosef.  But they wouldn't have meant it.   It would just be words.  They couldn't speak in the manner of "dabro," subject+verb+object in one, where your true self is invested 100%in what you say and every word reflects your true feelings.   

2. Speaking of the Ksav vHaKabbalah, here's another nice one: Yehudah says, "Mah betzah ki na'harog es achinu v'kisinu es damo."  (37:26)  Why should we kill Yosef and have to cover up his blood?  It's an incomprehensible statement.  Is this the way the shivtei K-h speak?  This is like a line from a Mafia movie.  Yehudah is only worried about having to do a cover-up once the crime is committed -- aside from that, no problem?

HaKsav vHaKabbalah explains that the word kisinu here does not mean cover-up.  It is like the word ksus, a garment.  Yehudah was giving mussar to his brothers!  If Yosef is killed, he told them, then we will wear the guilt of that deed like a badge of shame for all of our lives. 

The kabbalists speak of the body being a levush for the neshoma.  A person can take his holy neshoma and dress it in a body that does all kind of crimes and misdeeds.  When Yaakov stole his father's brachos dressed up like Eisav, what that meant is that even when the precious neshoma of a Jew finds itself in the kesus, the levush, of Eisav, his inside remains pure and blessed.

When Eishes Potifar tries to seduce Yosef, the Torah tells us, "Vatispiseihu b'bigdo," she grabbed his clothing (39:12).  The Sefas Emes explains that the yetzer ha'ra has the power to sink its hook into our external levush=begged=kesus. The yetzer can't really get at who we are deep down, but he can nip at our externals and try to change our behavior and our outer personality.  (It's a great strategy because how many of us are in touch with or even think about who we are deep down?   Life is about switching from one role to another, one levush to the next, without taking the time to pay attention to what's underneath.)  So what does Yosef do?  "Va'ya'azov bigdo b'yadah," he abandons that outer shell.  He retreats into himself and digs down to his root core.  (My wife has a creative take on these pesukim here.)  Once you do that, the yetzer no longer has a hold.

1 comment:

  1. so what did Hashem Elokim mean by adding clothes to Adam and Chava? wouldn't that hinder teshuva by hiding their shame, rather than leaving it raw for the two to work through? with clothing on, wouldn't they now put on an act despite themselves?
    or would the garments express them thoroughly, part of "subject+verb+object in one"? (or were the skins only a pretext for Hashem, so that He could someday share His design for the Kohen Gadol's formalwear, to rave reviews?)