0 Posted by - December 24, 2014 - Breishit, Parsha


Parashat Vayigash

 the goblet of Yosef was found in Binyamin’s bag, all the brothers of the Tribe started to hit Binyamin on his neck saying, “Thief! Son of a thief! Just as your mother stole the idols from her father Lavan’s house, you, too, followed in her footsteps and stole the goblet that the man (Yosef) uses for his witchcraft.” But Binaymin did not respond.(תנחומא מקץ ×™)

Binyamin was hit hard on his neck, and for those blows that he was hit on his shoulders, he is called ידיד ×”’ , “G-d’s friend”, and he merited having G-d’s Glory, the Holy Temple, situated in the portion of his tribe. Binyamin’s tribe was blessed, ובין כתפיו שכן , He (the Shecinah) shall dwell between his shoulders(territory of Binyamin).

After 22 years, Binyamin and Yosef hug for the first time. They cry on each other’s shoulders. Our Rabbis tell us what these tears were about. Not about being separated for 22 years. But for the destruction of the Mishkan in Shiloh, in Yosef’s territory. And for the two Temples that will be destroyed in the territory of Binyamin. Hence, it says, Binyamin cried on the shoulder (singular) of Yosef, and Yosef cried on the shoulders (plural) of Binyamin.

What is the idea of the neck or the shoulder? The neck is the connection between the body and the Neshama, the physical and spiritual. The Temple is the connection between the materialistic world and the spiritual world. The Temple was a place of peace. Peace between G-d and His People, peace between the Worlds , Peace between the nations. How did Binyamin merit having this in his territory? How did Yosef merit having this in his territory? Because of their necks. Allow me to explain. But first, a bit of coaching tools.

There are a lot of people in your world that may be difficult for you to get along with, including yourself. How do we deal with the person who is inconsiderate, accusing, impolite, egoistic, annoying, haughty, etc.? How do we deal with our own shortcomings, mishaps, weaknesses, mistakes?

There is only one way. Seeing G-d in our relationships. Seeing G-d in ourselves and others. The Baal Shem’s teaching is that שויתי ×”’ לנגדי תמיד , I place G-d in front of me always, can be given a Hassidic twist. The word “Lenegdi” means “opposite me”, but also means by my opposition, over the shoulder of the one who opposes me. You want to say ‘hello’ to G-d? Say hello to an ex-friend. G-d is right there. Bring G-d into your relationships. Realize that He put you in the family you are in, He made you your shidduch, He gave you this difficult child. He made that guy your roommate, your sibling, your teacher or your boss. But this “G-d in Relationships” goes much deeper than that. G-d is not only in the vacuum between “me and you”. He is in Me and You.

There is a song from Abie Rottenberg that I remember from my childhood. I might have heard it only a few times, but for over twenty years, I can’t get the beautiful tune, or the beautiful words, out of my head. There is a small piece of Heaven, in everyone’s heart, a glorious gift from above. It will sparkle and shine, if we each do our part, to reach out and touch it with love. As I learn more about coaching people, I realize that this is all I am doing, and this is what coaching is all about. Touching a piece of Heaven inside a G-d-like being and letting it sparkle and shine.

You see, the worst thing a person can do to himself, or to others, is to stereotype, or label. Shy, Loud, Dumb, Lazy, Not serious, Perfectionist, Addict, ADD,ADHD, OCD, DVD, etc. It is important to be aware of our tendencies, of our shortcomings, but not to look at the Person as being defined by those shortcomings – as limited or disabled. Awareness is a good thing;  labeling can be the worst. The pessimistic nature of many people who are stuck gives them a negative filter: they notice and remember only weaknesses, shortcomings, mishaps and bad times, while ignoring all the good. Or, they insist on believing that “the childhood” is “the destiny”.  The only way to coach them is by touching their G-dliness, by relating to the  positive aspects of their negativity.  For example, the way to help someone who gets angry is not by calling him a hothead, but by respecting the fact that he has things that are important to him that he is getting angry about. The only way to help someone who is shy is by complimenting him for being gentle. The only way to help someone who is a perfectionist is by complimenting his perfectionism, his nature to strive for the best. Even the pessimist can be praised as an optimist with experience. Or the Lazy, for being laid back. Find that good part of every trait, of every human, and you have touched his G-dliness, for G-d makes no mistakes. With nobody. If we look only at the down side of the trait, if we cannot respect the good side of the bad trait and value it, then we have just made the person small, labeling him and putting him into a box. You took a Tzelem Elokim, a G-d-like being, and reduced it to something lowly.

When Yosef and Binyamin cried, they cried about baseless hatred. They saw our quarrels, the ones that we have  had now in 2014, and they cried, for they knew that we will continue living in Exile, until we learn how to love. Until we learn how to see G-dliness in ourselves and others, until we see G-d in our relationships. Our Rabbis tell us that the brothers did not do something wrong in their sale of Yosef. They did do something wrong when they were unable to say hello to him. ולא יכלו דברו לשלם (see תנ”×™ וישב ×–’)

So the next time you have someone who is being a pain in your neck, know that you can build the Temple by accepting him and dealing with him. This is the shared secret of Yosef and Binyamin. Acknowledging G-d in their lives, acknowledging G-d in their relationships, and acknowledging G-d in others. With this trait, the ability to accept your brother, no matter what he has done to you, because you see G-d there, you can rebuild any relationship. You can even rebuild the Holy Temple.

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