Category Archives: Judah

Utter Confusion (Vayigash)

Utter Confusion (Vayigash)

When a man’s knowledge is not in order, the more of it he has, the greater will be his confusion. -Herbert Spencer

Joseph, in his role as Viceroy of Egypt, and still unrecognized by his brothers, has orchestrated an elaborate charade to implicate their younger brother, Benjamin, in the theft of his silver goblet. Joseph announces that Benjamin will remain in Egypt as Joseph’s slave and that the other brothers are free to return home to their father Jacob in Canaan.

Brother Judah, in a great act of repentance for having sold Joseph into slavery, steps forward and confronts the Viceroy/Joseph in an attempt to rescue Benjamin. Judah altruistically offers himself as a slave in place of Benjamin. At this point Joseph, overcome with emotion, reveals himself as their long-lost brother and the family is happily reunited.

The Bat Ayin on Genesis 44:18 examines Judah’s speech to the Viceroy/Joseph and focuses on the part where Judah says to Joseph “because you are like Pharaoh.” The verse is making an equivalence between the righteous Joseph and the (ultimately) evil Pharaoh. The Bat Ayin explains that when Israel is in exile, there is no visible difference between the righteous and the evil. This is in contrast to when Israel is redeemed and in its own land with a greater revelation of God’s presence. In such a reality God more readily shows His pleasure with the righteous and with His more visible blessings they ascend in their righteousness. The evildoers in such a reality descend and are punished more clearly for their sins.

However, the current reality of exile is that God’s presence is significantly hidden. As a result of that, the clearly righteous can be wracked with travails, while evildoers enjoy the blessings and bounty of this world. Our experience is that God can be so obscured that there is no apparent difference between the fate of the righteous and the evil. There is utter existential confusion regarding good and evil, reward and punishment, and God’s involvement in our lives. In such a reality it becomes easy to equate a righteous Joseph with an evil Pharoah.

Nonetheless, the confusion of the world doesn’t absolve us from pursuing good and believing in God’s benevolent presence. Sometimes He even lets us peek behind the curtain and get a glimpse of His handiwork. In fact, the more we believe in Him, the more He shows Himself.

May we get more glances of clarity within the confusion of our times.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the new project of replenishing the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) with desalinated water from the Mediterranean Sea.

Fake Righteousness (Vayigash)

Fake Righteousness (Vayigash)

Keep thy smooth words and juggling homilies for those who know thee not. -Lord Byron

Joseph has finally sprung his trap, while his brothers still haven’t discovered that he, the Viceroy of Egypt, is their long-lost brother. Joseph got them to bring brother Benjamin to Egypt, and he had incriminating evidence placed among Benjamin’s belongings. The brothers, not realizing they were being set up, had brazenly declared that if Joseph’s men would find the thief in their midst, the thief would be put to death and the rest of them would become Joseph’s slaves.

When the stolen goblet is found in Benjamin’s possessions, the brothers realize they are in big trouble. Joseph, however, presents himself as a magnanimous judge. He states that only the thief himself will become his slave, while the rest of the brothers are free to return home.

This is the situation in which Judah steps forward and asks for a private audience with the Viceroy. Judah recounts the recent history, of how the Viceroy had insisted on Benjamin coming to Egypt, despite pleas that their father Jacob’s life was highly dependent on Benjamin’s wellbeing. If anything untoward were to happen to Benjamin, it would almost certainly kill their father Jacob.

The Bechor Shor on Genesis 44:32 reads an accusatory statement in Judah’s plea to the Viceroy. He explains that Judah is saying that the Viceroy’s magnanimity is ultimately false. The Viceroy is only pretending to be generous by saying the other brothers are free to go, while only Benjamin will remain enslaved. While the Viceroy seems to be saying that the other brothers are likely innocent and there’s no need for them to be punished, in effect, by enslaving Benjamin and separating him from their father, the Viceroy will be killing Jacob, who is completely innocent. How can the Viceroy justify the exoneration of people who may have been accomplices to the crime, while he inflicts a fatal punishment on Jacob, someone completely innocent?

At that point, Judah offers himself to be a slave to the Viceroy instead of Benjamin, in order to save Jacob’s life. Moved by Judah’s valiant gesture, the Viceroy finally reveals himself to be Joseph. The brothers are shocked into silence, and the process of family reconciliation can begin.

May our family reunions be less duplicitous than that of our ancestors.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Israeli politics. Never, ever boring.

Victim’s Collusion (Vayeshev)

Victim’s Collusion (Vayeshev)

Silence is the ultimate weapon of power. -Charles De Gaulle

Joseph’s half-brothers hate him. The hatred is so deep, that they conspire to kill him. However, at the last moment, brother Judah suggests that they sell Joseph into slavery rather than kill him. Joseph is transported from the land of Canaan, south, to the Egyptian empire, where he becomes Potiphar’s slave. Though he excels in his servitude, Potiphar’s wife, whose advances upon Joseph are rejected, ultimately accuses Joseph of accosting her, landing him in prison.

Joseph is eventually released, due to his dream-interpretation skills. By successfully interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph is elevated to the post of Viceroy of the Egyptian empire, a role he had been filling for nine years, before he meets his brothers again. Then he starts the strange charade of remaining unrevealed to them, forcing his full-brother Benjamin to come to Egypt, threatening to force Benjamin into slavery on trumped up charges, and only later revealing himself to his brothers, and subsequently they relay his prominence and wellbeing to their father, Jacob.

The big question that vexes many of the commentaries is why didn’t Joseph communicate with his family beforehand? Why, when he was in a position of tremendous power, did he not send a message to his beloved father that he was alive and well? Why did he let his father believe he was dead or missing all those years?

The Bechor Shor on Genesis 37:26, takes us back to the original sale of Joseph into slavery to answer the question. The brothers really had intended to kill him, or at the very least to let him die in the pit they had thrown him into. But Judah, a savvy negotiator, declared to his brothers: “We gain nothing by his death. If we sell him, at least we gain something, and it removes our hated brother from our midst.” Then they give Joseph a choice: “Either we let you die as planned, or we sell you into slavery on condition that you never reveal your identity or origins to anyone, that you never return home nor contact our father.”

Joseph has no choice but to keep his silence and never contact his family. The purpose of the charade with the brothers then becomes clearer. Joseph couldn’t just declare that he was Joseph when his brothers first meet him in Egypt. That likely would not have gone well and the family rapprochement wouldn’t have occurred. They needed to go through a few steps first to undue the damage of selling him into slavery. When Judah, who initially sold Joseph into slavery then saves Benjamin from a similar fate, they are redeemed. This then allows the brothers, of their own volition, to suspend the enforced silence, to inform their father as to Joseph’s wellbeing and to bring him to Joseph in Egypt, which is what they go on to do.

Joseph’s silence and collusion with his brothers in his own harsh fate were painful, but he had little other choice. In the end, he was able to overcome his circumstances, and reunite the family.

May we only use silence in a positive way.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the memory of Chuck Yeager, the man who broke the sound barrier, who passed away this week.

The People Who Give Thanks

 Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. -Melody Beattie

Evening hope

Observant Jews have a common, repetitive and to some, an irritating habit of mentioning God all the time. We will use the phrase “Thank God,” “Baruch Hashem,” (Blessed is God) or “Beezrat Hashem” (With God’s help), multiple times in the same conversation, and sometimes in the same sentence. The etymology of our name may give a hint as to why.

We are called “Jews” because we are the people who come from “Judah,” or “Yehudah” in Hebrew. Yehuda was the fourth of Jacob’s sons but more than a millennia later became the dominant tribe of the nation of Israel and all descendants of Israel thereafter became known as “Yehudim” – Jews.

The root of the word “Yehudah” comes from “Todah” which means thanks. The Sfat Emet in 5631 (1870) explains that our name also stems from the fact that we are a people who constantly thank God. Whether the matter is large or small, we realize that all comes from God and we thank Him for it. Hence, we are named the “Yehudim” – the People who thank God.

He continues by stating that understanding and acknowledging that reality, that God is the source of all, especially during difficult times, helps us realize that God is still around and with us, but according to His plan.

Thank God.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Max Sapolinski, the new President of the Jewish Community of Uruguay.











Torá eruditos de segunda clase

Torá eruditos de segunda clase

“El trabajo honesto de ayer ha perdido su estatus social, su estima social.” -Peter Drucker

Maimónides, en su obra magna, el Mishné Torá, tiene palabras duras para los Torá eruditos que evitan el trabajo. En sus Leyes de Estudio de la Torá, en el capítulo 3, la Ley 3, afirma:

“Todo el que llega a la conclusión de que debe involucrarse en el estudio de Torá sin trabajar y deriva su sustento de la caridad, profana el nombre de Dios, deshonra a la Torá, apaga la luz de la fe, trae mal sobre sí mismo, y pierde la vida del mundo del porvenir.”

El Netziv adopta un enfoque más suave. Él no llama a este tipo de individuos condenados, vergonzosos, asesinos de la fe, gente malignos cuyas almas están destinadas al eterno olvido. Él simplemente los llama de segunda categoría.

Mientras Reuben, Shimon y Levi son recriminados en las bendiciones finales de Jacobo a sus hijos, y Judá y José reciben despedidas largas y hermosas, es el segundo hijo de José, Efraín, quien es el ganador de sorpresa en las oraciones finales de Jacobo. Jacobo coloca Efraín delante de Menashe, su hermano mayor. Netziv en Génesis 49:13 dice que Efraín se coloca en primer lugar por su nivel de estudio y espiritualidad, debido a su dedicación al estudio de la Torá. El Netziv diferencia entre el nivel de Efraín que se logró en su propio valor, y la de su tío Yissachar.
Hubo una famosa alianza entre dos de los hijos de Jacobo, Zabulón y Yissachar. Zabulón era el comerciante y sus descendientes apoyaron los descendientes estudiosos de Yissachar. Zabulón se menciona siempre antes de Yissachar, como los logros de la Torá de Yissachar son sólo gracias al apoyo financiero de Zabulón. Sin embargo, Efraín ocupa el primer lugar, por su cuenta, que merece un mayor respeto y honor que el Yissachar dependiente.
Que podamos valernos por nosotros mismos pies, cuando podamos, y de ese modo llegar a mayores alturas.

Shabat Shalom,



Para mi hijo, Netanel, en su Bar-Mitzvah. Que llegue a ser un erudito de la Torá de la primera clase.

Second-Rate Torah Scholars

First posted on The Times of Israel at:

Netziv Genesis: Vayehi

Second-Rate Torah Scholars

“The honest work of yesterday has lost its social status, its social esteem.” -Peter Drucker

Maimonides, in his magnum opus, the Mishne Torah, has harsh words for Torah scholars that avoid work. In his Laws of Torah Study, Chapter 3, Law 3, he states:

“Anyone who comes to the conclusion that he should involve himself in Torah study without doing work and derive his livelihood from charity, desecrates God’s name, dishonors the Torah, extinguishes the light of faith, brings evil upon himself, and forfeits the life of the world to come.”

The Netziv takes a softer approach. He doesn’t call such individuals damned, shameful, faith-killing, evil-mongering people whose souls are destined for eternal oblivion. He just calls them second-rate.

While Reuben, Shimon and Levi are castigated in Jacob’s final blessings to his sons, and Judah and Joseph receive long and beautiful partings, it is the second son of Joseph, Ephraim, who is the surprise winner in Jacob’s final orations. Jacob places Ephraim in front of Menashe, his older brother. The Netziv on Genesis 49:13 says that Ephraim is placed first because of his studious and spiritual level, due to his dedication to Torah study. The Netziv differentiates between Ephraim’s level which was achieved on his own steam, and that of his uncle Yissachar.

There was a famous partnership between two of Jacob’s sons, Zebulun and Yissachar. Zebulun was the merchant and his descendants supported the studious descendants of Yissachar. Zebulun is always mentioned before Yissachar, as Yissachar’s Torah accomplishments are only thanks to the financial backing of Zebulun. However, Ephraim stands first, on his own, deserving greater respect and honor than the dependent Yissachar.

May we stand on our own feet, whenever we can, and thereby reach greater heights.

Shabbat Shalom,



To my son, Netanel, on his Bar-Mitzvah. May he become a first-rate Torah scholar.

José revelado

ficción bíblica: Génesis Vaigash

Traducido del inglés y editado por Caro Cynovich


joseph_receives_his_brothers_cameoJosé revelado

—Estamos todos listos para ser esclavos de mi señor  —dijo Judá, postrado en el suelo con sus hermanos.

—Tonterías  —el Virrey declaró con una voz extraña—.  El hombre en cuyo poder se encontró la copa —señaló a Benjamín—, él será mi esclavo. En cuanto a ustedes —indicó al resto de los hermanos—, vayan en paz con su padre.

¿Por qué está obsesionado con Benjamín? Judá se preguntó. Acabamos de ofrecerle esclavos fuertes y valiosos, pero él sólo está interesado en Benjamín. Tiene que haber más en esto que lo que podemos ver.

—Por favor, mi señor  —Judá levantó la cabeza, aún de rodillas—, podré yo, tu siervo, hablar unas palabras en tu oído. Y espero que tu enojo no se levante sobre mí, ya que tú eres como Faraón.

El Virrey le indicó a Judá que se acercase a su silla.

Tengo que hacerle entender la dinámica de la familia, pensó Judá. Si él se queda con Benjamín, el hijo que queda de Rachel, ¡padre va a morir! Yo no puedo ser el culpable de que otro hermano sea esclavizado. Sería un destino demasiado cruel.

Judá le repitió al Virrey, en un susurro, la historia reciente de la familia y los sucesos importantes. Le explicó cuán querido era Benjamín para su padre, sobre todo desde la desaparición de José, el primer hijo de su amada Rachel.

Este Virrey es poderoso e inteligente, Judah señaló para sí mismo. A pesar de que actúa de forma extraña. Si él sigue teniendo la intención de adquirir un esclavo, me ofreceré a mí mismo.

—Si regreso a mi padre —Judá declaró— y el joven no está con nosotros, morirá. Su alma está muy ligada al alma de Benjamín. No quiero ser yo quien tenga la culpa de haber llevado el alma de mi padre a la tumba llena de pena.

Judá se detuvo un momento para recuperar el aliento y ver el impacto de sus palabras en el Virrey. Puedo sentir su agitación interior, Judá pensó esperanzado, y sus ojos se están humedeciendo. Tengo que seguir adelante.

—Porque yo tomé la responsabilidad del más joven de mi padre cuando le dije:”Si no te lo vuelvo a traer, entonces yo estaré pecando ante mi padre para siempre”. Ahora, por lo tanto, por favor, déjame quedarme en lugar del joven como tu siervo, mi señor —Judá observó la respiración agitada del Virrey—. Deja que el joven vaya con sus hermanos. ¿Cómo podré regresar con mi padre si Benjamín no está conmigo, para ver cómo se apena por él?

Los ojos del Virrey se abrieron con sorpresa. Él está sorprendido por mi voluntad de cambiar de lugar con Benjamín, Judah concluyó. Su rostro se está desfigurando y retorciendo…

—¡Basta! —el Virrey gritó, arrancando de su cabeza todos sus ornamentos.

—¡Sirvientes! ¡Salgan de la habitación! —el Virrey continuó gritando con los ojos desorbitados.

Judá y sus hermanos estaban confundidos, sin saber qué hacer.

—Ustedes. Quédense —el Virrey señaló los hermanos, apenas conteniéndose a sí mismo.

Todos los guardias y personal de la casa se ​​escabulleron rápidamente fuera de la sala, perplejos por el arrebato inusual de su amo.

Tan pronto como el último criado cerró la puerta de la sala, el Virrey se lamentó:


El grito fue fuerte y potente; parecía hacer eco de un alma torturada. Repercutió en toda la mansión del Virrey y más allá: atravesó el corazón de cualquiera que lo escuchara. Los hermanos se quedaron atónitos y confundidos.

¿Quién es este hombre? Judá se preguntó. ¿Qué hemos desatado?

—Yo soy José —el Virrey les confesó entre sollozos—. ¿Mi padre aún está vivo?

¡Esto no es posible! Judá pensó con asombro. ¡¿José?! ¿Cómo puede ser esto? ¿Después de todos estos años?

Los hermanos se miraron con una mezcla de miedo e incredulidad.

¿Será posible? Judá buscó a los demás con la mirada. ¿José? ¿El hermano al que traicionamos? ¿Ahora es el hombre más poderoso de Egipto? ¿Qué es lo que quiere? ¿Buscará la venganza? ¿Es todo esto una artimaña para castigarnos?

Judá y sus hermanos dieron un paso atrás con aprehensión.

—Por favor, acérquense a mí —José los llamó, al ver su desconfianza—.Yo soy José vuestro hermano —dijo, controlando sus lágrimas—. Soy yo, el que vendieron como esclavo para Egipto. Y ahora, no se aflijan ni se reprochen a sí mismos por haberme vendido, porque Dios me envió hasta aquí antes que a ustedes para que yo fuera su proveedor de alimentos. Porque estos han sido tan solo dos de los años de sequía y hambre en la tierra, y aún quedan cinco años más en los cuales no habrá ni siembra ni siega.

¿Es esto posible? Judá comenzó a recuperarse de su sorpresa y examinó a José más de cerca. Ahora percibo algunos de sus viejos modales. Pero veo cómo ha crecido y madurado. Él ya no es el hijo mimado y vanidoso que echamos. Él todavía es grandioso, pero de una manera fuerte y poderosa. ¡Dios está con él!

José les dijo a sus hermanos acerca de cómo ser vendido como esclavo había sido parte de un plan divino para salvar a la familia de la escasez. Aún así, los hermanos estaban preocupados e inseguros de las intenciones de José.

—Rápido. Vuelvan con nuestro padre y díganle que esto es lo que dijo su hijo José: Dios me ha hecho señor de todo Egipto. Ven a mí, no te demores. Tú podrás vivir en la tierra de Goshen y estarás cerca de mí. Tú, tus hijos, tus nietos, tus ovejas y tus vacas, y todo lo que es tuyo. Y yo cuidaré de ustedes allí – porque habrá otros cinco años de hambre – por lo que no voy a dejar que sean indigentes. Ni tú, ni tu hogar ni todo lo que es tuyo.

¡Quiere ayudarnos! Judá se sorprendió. Él no guarda rencor y busca encargarse de toda la familia. ¡Esto es increíble! Nuestro sufrimiento se ha convertido en salvación y en alegría, aunque haya algunos de mis hermanos no parezcan convencidos. Sé que José también lo percibe.

—He aquí —José hizo un gesto hacia Benjamín—. Sus propios ojos ven, al igual que los ojos de mi hermano Benjamín, que soy yo, su hermano, quien les está hablando.

José se acercó a Benjamín y lo abrazó con fuerza. Las lágrimas corrían ahora profusamente por las mejillas de los hijos reunidos de Rachel.

¡Él es José! Judá afirmó. ¡José está de vuelta! La mano de Dios está claramente presente en todos estos hechos. ¡Es increíble!

Rubén fue el siguiente en abrazar a José, el hermano mayor que había tratado de salvar a José hacía tantos años.

Y entonces José se acercó a Judá. Fue mi iniciativa la de venderlo, Judá pensó con culpa. Yo soy quién creó toda esta angustia.

Pero los ojos de José sólo se llenaron de lágrimas y de amor y de perdón. Su aura parecía decirle a Judá: Estás perdonado, mi hermano. Todo está perdonado.

Hermano, cada uno de ellos pensaban mientras se abrazaban cálidamente.


El miedo de Benjamín

ficción bíblica: Génesis Miketz

Traducido del inglés y editado por Caro Cynovich

­benjaminCupEl miedo de Benjamín

—No fue tan terrible como me temía —Benjamín exhaló—. De hecho, fue realmente agradable. El Virrey es un generoso anfitrión.

—Sí —añadió Simeón—. Incluso después de que me encarcelaron, me trataron como un huésped real.

Benjamín y sus diez medio-hermanos viajaban con sus burros cargados de grano hacia fuera de la capital egipcia.

—Todo el encuentro fue extraño —advirtió Judá pensativamente—. La conducta del Virrey fue inusual. Primero nos acusó de ser espías, y cuando llevamos a Benjamín nos trató como hermanos perdidos. Su línea de preguntas también era extraña. Muy personales. Creo que él no estaba convencido de Benjamín fuera nuestro hermano. Era como si estuviera tratando de determinar nuestros sentimientos hacia Benjamín. Me pregunto, ¿por qué le importaría?

—Seamos agradecidos de que hemos recuperado Simeón —Reubén aconsejó—. No hay necesidad de buscar nuevas preocupaciones. Démonos prisa para volver a casa a Canaán y dejar este episodio atrás.

Estando de acuerdo con Reubén, Benjamín miró hacia atrás como si fuera a dar un último adiós a la capital.

—¿Qué es esa nube? —se preguntó, perplejo.

Se está moviendo hacia nosotros rápidamente, pensó Benjamín.

Todos los hermanos se dieron vuelta.

—No es bueno —dijo Judá.

—Se trata de un ejército —señaló Simeón.

Sí. Es el polvo que levanta un pelotón al moverse rápido. El corazón de Benjamín latía más rápido.

—¿Tal vez es un nuevo despliegue de tropas? —dijo Reubén, esperanzado.

—No. Es un ejército en persecución —declaró Judá.

—¿A quiénes están persiguiendo? —preguntó Benjamín nerviosamente.

—En vista de que no hay otros grupos en este camino que hayan tenido trato con los gobernantes, sospecho que nos persiguen a nosotros —concluyó Judá.

—Corramos —Simeón instó.

—Nuestros burros nunca podrán dejar atrás a sus caballos —Judá contestó—. No hemos hecho nada malo, aunque estoy preocupado. Formen un perímetro alrededor de Benjamín, y sigamos nuestro camino casualmente, como si no pasara nada.

—No necesito protección especial —Benjamín protestó débilmente. ¿Me dejarán solo a la primera señal de problemas? Mis hermanastros tienen una historia de traición hacia los hijos de Rachel.

—Le prometí a Padre tu seguridad —respondió Judá—. Si algo te llegara a suceder a ti, hijo de su amada Rachel, Padre probablemente moriría de la pena. Él no tomaría ese tipo de noticias del resto de nosotros tan mal como si te pasara algo a ti.

Benjamín asintió con la cabeza mientras sus hermanos lo rodearon en sus monturas. Judá es un hombre de palabra, y el resto podría seguir su ejemplo.

Momentos después una caballería de cien hombres fuertes los rodearon. Eran liderados por el capitán del Virrey, el joven y autoritario Menashé.

—¡Deténganse, bandidos! —Menashé gritó mientra cien lanzas apuntaban a los hermanos.

—¿Por qué se dirige a nosotros así, mi Señor? —Reubén preguntó.

—¿Por qué han pagado con mal a la generosidad de mi amo? —Menashé replicó coléricamente—. Ustedes han robado su preciado recipiente para beber. ¿No esperaban que él descubriera su ausencia? Le han hecho un mal.

—Dios no quiera que sus humildes siervos hicieran tal cosa —respondió Reubén—. Ya hemos devuelto el dinero que fue colocado por error en nuestras bolsas. ¿Cómo podríamos tomar algo de la casa de tu amo, ya sea de plata o de oro? ¡Revísanos! Si hallas que alguno de nosotros tiene un objeto robado, que sea condenado con la muerte, y el resto seremos esclavos.

—Será como usted diga —sonrió Menashé—. Aunque no vamos a ser tan duros como tú sugieres. La simple justicia egipcia bastará. El ladrón se convertirá en mi esclavo y el resto de ustedes será libre de partir.

Reubén descargó su pesada bolsa de arpillera de su burro, la colocó en el suelo y la abrió para que Menashé la inspeccionara. Cada uno de los hermanos repitieron a su vez el gesto.

Menashé desmontó de su orgulloso caballo egipcio y, al amparo de las lanzas de la caballería, se acercó a las bolsas. Cogió una espada corta de su lado derecho y la metió en el bolso abierto de Reuben. Hizo girar el cuchillo en la bolsa para oír el silbido de grano en el acero.

Menashé repitió los movimientos con cada uno de los hermanos siguientes: Simeón, Leví, Judá, Gad, Asher, Yisajar, Zebulun, Dan y Naftalí. Los hermanos se relajaron, sintiendo que estaban siendo probados inocente de esta acusación injusta. Judá estaba más cauteloso, percibiendo problemas.

Menashé clavó su espada en el costal de Benjamín. Un “clink” se escuchó claramente cuando el metal del puñal tocó otro metal. Menashé hundió su mano en la bolsa de granos y reveló triunfante la copa de plata del Virrey.

Los hermanos se quedaron sin aliento. Rasgaron sus vestiduras en señal de pena. Benjamín no podía creerlo. Simeón susurró con rabia:

—Ladrón, ¡hijo de una ladrona! Al igual que tu madre era una pequeña bandida, así has salido.

Simeón siempre fue el más áspero, Benjamín intentó luchar contra su desesperación. No puedo dejar que ponga a mis otros hermanos en contra mío.

—No me hables de mentiras y juegos sucios —Benjamín siseó—. ¿Acaso fui yo el que vendió a José como esclavo? ¿Quién engañó a nuestro Padre? No presumas mostrar justicia conmigo, Simeón. Soy tan libre de culpa de este robo como lo estoy de la venta de José. Esto no es obra mía.

—No tengo por qué soportar una disputa familiar —Menashé interrumpió—. ¡Tú, Benjamín! Ven conmigo. Voy a ser un firme maestro, mi nuevo esclavo. El resto de ustedes pueden retirarse.

Esto es todo. Este es el momento de la verdad. ¿Acaso mis hermanos traicionarán nuevamente a un hijo de Rachel? ¿Mostrarán que aún son unos hermanastros celosos?

Nadie se movió. Los hermanos miraron fijamente a Menashé y luego de nuevo a Benjamín. No parecieron reaccionar ante la situación.

—¿Están podridos sus cerebros, hebreos? —Menashé gruñó—. ¿No me han oído? Aléjense de mi esclavo, así puedo tomar lo que me pertenece por ley. El resto de ustedes son libres de irse.

¡No me dejen! Benjamín les quería hablar con el pensamiento. ¡Si me dejan, todos vamos a caer! Voy a convertirme en un esclavo, Padre moriría de la angustia y la familia se vendría abajo. No dejen que la familia de Israel termine antes de haber comenzado.

Menashé hizo señas a sus tropas y el anillo de lanzas se hizo más fuerte alrededor de los hermanos. Instintivamente, los hermanos rodearon a Benjamín en una formación más cerrada, cada uno con su espalda hacia el menor, de cara a los soldados.

Mis hermanos están conmigo. Benjamín se sintió esperanzado.

Las lanzas se abrieron y señalaron hacia el norte.

—¡Hijos de Jacobo! —Menashé comandó—. Ahora están interfiriendo en mi negocio. Por favor, dejen a mi nuevo esclavo. Supongo que no quieren hacer problemas con mis tropas. Además, si alguna vez quieren comprar más grano de Egipto, le recomiendo que dejen todo esto inmediatamente, sin más demora o resistencia.

No me dejen. Benjamin oró. ¡Judá, por favor, debes decir algo!

—Todos vamos a regresar con Benjamín —Judá dijo, parándose alto.

—Eso no es necesario ni preferible —Menashé respondió, tratando de ocultar una sonrisa.

—Sin embargo, insistimos —Judá reafirmó—. Vamos a ir juntos, o usted tendrá una pequeña pelea en sus manos.

Al escuchar esas palabras todos los hijos de Jacobo dieron un paso hacia adelante, con sus espadas desenfundadas. Las lanzas se movieron hacia atrás con aprensión.

—No voy a correr el riesgo de dañar mi nueva adquisición —Menashé estaba sorprendido por la determinación de los hebreos—. Los escoltaremos a todos ustedes de nuevo hasta el Virrey, donde él decidirá a su juicio.

Con otro movimiento de la mano de Menashé, las lanzas se abrieron camino hacia el sur y se cerraban en la parte norte, empujando a los hermanos de vuelta a la ciudad.

—Nosotros no te abandonaremos —Judá le susurró a Benjamín—. Nunca te abandonaremos. Nunca más volveremos a traicionar a un hermano.

Y luego, en voz baja y para sí mismo, Judá continuó: ya he cometido ese error una vez.

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 2 – The Prophecy

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 2

The Prophecy

The strong hands of Sumahtrid easily tore the chicken’s head, spilling its blood into the sizzling pan. He sprinkled the ashes of a black cat into the pan, creating a sulfuric cloud that filled the dark cave. The sole illumination was from the red embers under the pan.

“Awaken, my Master,” Sumahtrid chanted huskily. “Awaken and instruct your disciple. Awaken Dirthamus. Awaken!”

There was no response. Sumahtrid sat cross-legged on the rocky cavern floor, inhaling the fumes from the pan. He closed his eyes and focused on the memory of his master. Sumahtrid heard a deep groan emanating from the bowels of the earth. The mist over the pan slowly took form and showed a silhouette of the emaciated hunched figure of ancient Dirthamus.

“Who dares sssummon me?” the ghost of Dirthamus hissed.

“It is I, Sumahtrid, your heir and disciple.”

“Yesss. SSSumahtrid. I remember.”

“I have met the son of Elimelech. He is powerful. If the union shall happen, I fear the worst. What do you see my master? What can we do?”

“In thisss world, I have vision but no power,” the ghost wheezed. “I can do nothing. But I can sssee. A ssscion of Judah shall join with the Emperor’s daughter. The redeemer shall come from that union. You cannot allow it to bear fruit. But our touch must be light, for if our hand is ssseen, all shall surely be lossst.” Dirthamus placed his hand on Sumahtrid’s shoulder. Though the disciple did not feel his master’s touch, he nonetheless trembled at the ethereal contact.

“What can I do? Should I just kill them?”

“No!” the ghost yelled and rose to the ceiling of the cave, its aura growing brighter. “They mussst remain alive. For now. But we can humble them. They shall be more tractable the lessss earthly power they have. The time shall come when I will have my revenge upon the Judean, but revenge cannot interfere with the grand ssscheme. Remember what Bilaam prophesssied. Recall the wordsss of my massster,” the ghost started to sing, his voice suddenly clear, and the timbre higher:

“For the Redeemer shall come forth from Jacob,

The sweet singer of Israel.

Judah shall wield the scepter of Kingship,

Descendant of Abraham’s father.

From the saved one’s son, his daughter’s son, a new line is forged.

The spark of monarchy is born.

The Warrior and the King shall strive,

The Weaker shall best the Stronger.

The Hunter shall become Hunted.

The fate of the land of the generations hangs in the balance.

Darkness threatens the world.

The scale can be tipped.

Sister’s sons shall duel, the earth holds its breath.”

“Bilaam identified Lot, Abraham’s nephew, as the Sssaved one,” Dirthamus’ ghost explained, his voice returning to its hissing raspy self. “And the ssson that is alssso a grandssson was Moab, though it could jussst as well have been Ammon. That is why Bilaam joined with Balak, King of Moab. He knew that both the Warrior and the King would be descendantsss of Balak.

“What am I to do, then?” Sumahtrid asked.

“Remember your lessssons. A sorcerer’s touch must ever be light, tipping the ssscales ever ssso ssslighty. Affecting the flow of dessstiny, molding fate to our whim. Only at the critical junctures can we reveal our might, bringing our full power to bear, thereby assuring our vision of the world. Patience, my ssson. The hidden hand is the powerful hand. Though we may not know glory we shall achieve victory. Get thee a disciple as well. Our line must continue.”

Dirthamus’ form dissipated, leaving a smoke-filled dark cavern.

“Zipor!” Ruth called after her younger half-brother. “Get back here!”

Zipor son of Jalet, crown-prince, heir to the throne of Moab, climbed the pink cliffs on the eastern face of the capital city of Kir Moav. At ten years old, Zipor was an active and precocious young man. He had long black hair, like his mother, and wore a rich blue tunic, dirtied from the dust of the rocks. King Jalet allowed Zipor to roam in the desert, honing his hunting skills, as long as he was accompanied.

“Leave me alone, Ruth,” Zipor called up. “You’re a sissy, besides being an old maid.”

“Please, Zipor. Just come up.” Ruth ignored the insult, as she stood on the cliff ledge outside the walls of Kir Moav. Her lustrous red hair was braided tightly and she wore a plain beige tunic. But Zipor was right. She was an old maid. Though she retained the beauty of youth, she was thirty years old. Both she and her sister Orpa were unwed, more due to political complications than for lack of suitors. Only Zipor’s existence and good health now kept them safe.

“You’re a frightened old hag,” Zipor said as he climbed up the cliff. “Next time I’ll tell father to send me with Orpa. She’s much more fun.”

“Quickly.” Ruth turned her head either way. “There’s something wrong.”

“Okay. What’s the panic about?” Zipor asked as he reached the ledge.

“I don’t know.” Ruth grabbed him by the arm and hustled him back to the city.

Neither of them noticed the malevolent eyes under a dark robe watching them from the distance.

“How does this look, mother?” Orpa asked Queen Neema, holding the long silken gown against her tall body. They stood in Neema’s sitting room, a heavily furnished chamber with tall windows and even taller ceilings. Orpa had inherited her father’s height, hair color and his cravings for food. Orpa’s long red hair fell in undulating waves across her shoulders. She wore a silky white gown that did not bother to hide her girth, yet contrasted sharply with her bright hair. Neema, former wife of Eglon and Empress of the Moabite Empire was short and thin, with long dark hair, showing some hints of grey. She had reached the stage where the grey hair grew faster than she dared pluck them anymore. Better grey than bald, Neema thought to herself.

“It’s beautiful,” Neema answered, not contemplating the dress. Her thoughts returned to Zipor, her son and the heir apparent. After the death of Eglon and her unsuccessful bid in Egypt, Neema had returned to Jalet, the new King of the diminished Moabites, and offered herself as his Queen. Jalet was quick to accept. Marriage to Eglon’s widow would strengthen Jalet’s claim to the throne despite her Amalekite ancestry. And Neema had done for Jalet what she had failed to do for Eglon. She produced a male heir.

“I will wear it to the market tomorrow,” Orpa announced, interrupting Neema’s reverie. “There is an Ammonite merchant in town that has caught my eye, and I would catch his.”

“I don’t know why you bother anymore. If he is of high enough station Jalet will not permit it and it is beneath you to marry anyone lower.”

“You doom me to eternal singlehood!” Orpa threw the new dress onto the floor, hot tears springing from her eyes. “Shall I die unwed? I do not care anymore for station. Why, I would sleep with a filthy Philistine if I did not fear your whipping me afterwards.”

“Calm yourself, Orpa,” Neema commanded. “You know very well the situation. Just a little longer. Once Zipor is King, you will no longer be a threat and you will be free to marry men of the highest station.”

“When Zipor is King!?” Orpa yelled. “That can be decades! Jalet is in the prime of his life. I think I will just kill myself and be done with it.”

“Orpa! Stop this nonsense. This is the reality and there is little we can do to change it. Be grateful I brought your brother into this world, or Jalet would have killed you and Ruth long ago.”

“Half-brother. That brat is no more than a half-brother and the only child of yours that you care about.”

“Enough!” Neema slapped Orpa across the face. “You will not talk to me in such a fashion. I am Queen of Moab and you and your sister are alive thanks to me. Your father’s empire has crumbled and I have salvaged a comfortable life for us. You gorge yourself as your father did and buy expensive dresses with Jalet’s money. If your life in the palace is so horrendous you are free to leave. I will not hear any more complaints from you, young woman.”

Orpa looked down, her cheek red from her mother’s slap.

“I am sorry, mother. I don’t know what overcame me. Perhaps the fate of never being married, of being little more than a pawn in Jalet’s calculations, has made life seem unbearable. I will speak no more of this matter. May I be excused, my Queen?”

“You would do well to remember Jalet’s generosity and never disparage him. Even my protection will only go so far. Leave me. Your presence is infuriating me.”

“Thank you, mother. I will remember.”

Orpa stormed out of the chamber, not looking back.

By the time Orpa had shut the door, Neema was once again thinking about the future King.

Krita of Amalek was proud of her boy. At three years old, she had just weaned him, and he was eating solid foods with gusto. He was big for his age and would grow to be as big as her husband. She did not like to be in Kir Moav. The tall walls frightened her and the hateful looks of the Moabites made her queasy. There was an uneasy peace between Moab and Amalek, thanks in part to Queen Neema’s efforts. Nonetheless, Krita always urged her husband to conduct his business quickly and take them out of the city. He was haggling with the fabric vendors in the market as she watched her boy taking confident steps around their wagon. She sat inside the tethered wagon, the afternoon sun making her drowsy.

Unexpectedly, the wagon lurched forward. The horses had been untied from the post and something had frightened them into bolting forward. Krita quickly grabbed the reins and stopped the horses. She jumped out of the wagon and looked for her boy. She found a trail of little footsteps in the sand that led to larger footsteps. The little footsteps stopped, but the big footsteps had turned back. She frantically followed the big footsteps, but soon they mingled with multiple footsteps and the trail was lost. She called out her son’s name in the busy marketplace, but most people just walked around her. She ran up and down the main street of Kir Moav and looked down all the side streets. She finally fell to her knees, pulling out her hair as she wept for her boy. She rocked back and forth, moaning as if mortally wounded. The Moabites avoided her and none offered assistance. One old lady walked up to Krita and placed a single copper piece in her palm, thinking her a deluded beggar. Krita would never forget that day, nor would she ever recover from the loss of her little boy.

“Greetings, my young disciple,” Sumahtrid said to the boy. The sorcerer sat on a wooden chair while the boy stood on the ground of the unadorned stone house. “Do not be frightened. I am your new father, your mother and your master. I shall teach you all, you shall serve me and you shall become powerful.”

“Mama!” the boy cried.

“You may call me, Sumahtrid, for that is the name my master gave me. But how shall we name you?” the sorcerer wondered aloud.

“Mama!” the boy replied, unconvinced.

“I know!” Sumahtrid exclaimed. “Beor. Your name shall be Beor. The spirit of Dirthamus and especially the spirit of his master, Bilaam, will be pleased.”

“Mama!” the boy continued to cry.

“Silence!” Sumahtrid rapped Beor on the shoulder with a stick. “This shall be your first lesson. Disobedience shall be greeted with pain.”

Beor was silent out of shock and then cried loudly. Sumahtrid hit Beor repeatedly until the boy collapsed from exhaustion.

Several hours later Beor awoke to see Sumahtrid still sitting next to him.

“Mama?” Beor asked.

“Sumahtrid,” the sorcerer answered.

“Sumah?” Beor asked.

“That will do for now. The second lesson is as follows. Here is a blade.” Sumahtrid placed a small knife into Beor’s chubby little fingers. “Here is a rodent.” Sumahtrid placed a cage that was open at the top in front of Beor. The drugged rat moved lethargically within the small enclosure.

“Kill it,” Sumahtrid commanded the boy.

Beor dropped the knife and turned away from the rat. Sumahtrid rapped him on the shoulder, picked up the knife, placed it again in Beor’s hand, waved his stick menacingly and ordered: “Kill it!”

Beor shook his head and said: “No.”

Sumahtrid hit him on the shoulder again. Beor yelped in pain.

“I will not stop hitting you until you stab that rat, even if I have to kill you.”

Beor touched his sore shoulder and flinched from the pain. He looked at the slow-moving rodent, looked at the knife in his hand and at the big stick in Sumahtrid’s hand. He shrugged his shoulders, approached the cage, aimed his knife and stabbed the rat, the knife going through its entire body.

“Excellent!” Sumahtrid exclaimed. “I knew I chose well. You shall grow to become an excellent assassin, my son.”

Beor did not understand the words Sumahtrid spoke, but he was happy for the first positive feedback from this strange man. He understood instinctively that he would continue to please this man even if it meant killing other creatures. The boy thought about the man and realized that he didn’t like being called Beor, but he could no longer remember his original name.
* * * * * *

Plausible Deniability

Kli Yakar Genesis: Vayigash

Plausible Deniability

I don’t recall the first time I heard the term ‘plausible deniability’ in reference to politicians, but I knew instantly that there was a deep truth to the concept. I have read with some fascination and even a little pleasure about the shame and embarrassment WikiLeaks has caused to politicians and leaders across the globe. These leaders have consistently been the subject of ridicule, but now it has reached a new and perhaps dangerous level that may yet affect international relations.

The Kli Yakar is highly sympathetic to politicians and teaches proper protocol for conversing with them and even accusing them if matters must go so far.

In Genesis 42, Joseph has taken his charade to the breaking point. He has claimed young Benjamin as a slave and excused his other brothers to return to their father in Canaan. Judah the nominal leader of the brothers approaches Joseph, still in the guise of the unrecognized Egyptian Viceroy.

According to the Kli Yakar (Genesis 42:18), Judah requests a private audience. Joseph allows Judah to approach. Judah whispers his accusation in Joseph’s ear, laying out the charade and then offering himself as a replacement for the hapless Benjamin.

The Kli Yakar learns from Judah’s approach the necessity of discretion when dealing with politicians. It is dangerous to shame them or place them in an awkward situation. There is value in whispering a comment to them that only they will hear and that they could plausibly deny thereafter.

I’m sure our current politicians would have loved counterparts as sensitive and discrete as Judah.

May God keep us away from politicians in the first place, but if we have to deal with them, may we do so intelligently and escape unscathed.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Minister Yuli Edelstein. One of the few politicians I know and like. His posters are up. May he succeed.