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Leah's BlogLeah’s Blog Parashat Vayigash 2023

Leah’s Blog Parashat Vayigash 2023

Vayigash    December 2023

It all started when I was a little girl sitting at my bedroom window in Brooklyn New York. Sitting on the nook there, I held my favorite book, “The Old Testament Bible”, a hard covered book full of pictures illustrating the subjects of my daydreams. Enthralled with Abraham and Sarah at the Terebinths of Mamre, beautiful Rachel with her flock, Ruth by the golden wheat stalks in Bethlehem. I loved the one of King David playing his harp as his leather purse hitched to the side of his hip. All of these became objects of fascination to my childlike impression of things. Especially one scary looking picture which I always passed over quickly, only to turn the page back a second later and examine it. It was Yosef cast in the pit, his coat of many colors torn and bloodied. His attractive face, on closer inspection, showed a regal calm which I felt was not consistent with the illustration. It imprinted itself into my psyche and I would later not only remember it but be chosen to be embedded into it.

Little did I know then, that a greater portion of my life would be spent in the territory of Yosef, who was sold by his brothers and later carried back to the valley of Shechem, the place where all the tribes came together as one. It became the place of an almost daily pilgrimage. Just a five minute drive from home with the windows open, we would park outside on the lane leading to the gate, leaving the car doors unlocked, I would grab clumps of micromeria there and inhale sweet heaven . The tomb of Yosef HaTzaddik had a sense of comfort as the inside of a genii bottle, velvety. Just outside the domed entrance stood the famous mulberry tree, sturdy and handsome like Yosef. Some of the inner walls were painted sage green, some off white embellished in gold. Her finery, the many holy books sitting in built in chambers on the dated walls; it felt home. Yartzeit lights flickered, as well as the Ner Tamid. The mechitzah ran down the middle of the room stopping at the pillars of Efrayim on one side and Menashe on the other. Understand, this is a short lived part of my testimony as the pages turn now in the book of my life. Some years later we too were thrown into the pit and sold to the Yishmaelim- as Yosef was.  Black as pitch, two years after its destruction, in the dead of night in an army escort I was on the first bus back. Burnt and desecrated, the tomb of Yosef was abandoned in the wake of the Oslo Accords- this was how the peace plan worked- they banish you from your holy sites, their police who were coordinated to keep the place secure together with you shot at you as they held Hamhass and PA flags. Abandoned, the bewitched lane that led into the compound became littered with the burnt sifrey kodesh that I, in the light of a projector in the dead of night was able to still see after its destruction. Turning our shrine into a stable for donkeys, the place reeked. When I came to tell the story of Oslo in many situations, both in shuls and within our own wider family circles it was shocking to see so many following the same hallucination- that I was the obstacle to peace.

Machloket and Sinat chinam are old warped and tainted perceptions of things. Yosef’s brothers were so startled when they finally did see his face and know it. Pay attention: When you hallucinate about things it doesn’t mean you are prophesizing. When you imagine something like “Peace” and have been brainwashed enough, your vision may seem perfectly prolific, yet ask yourself if you are not being delusional. Now, like Judah- we need to make amends. We need to fix this. The enemy is just about onto the major freeway of Israel. See and recognize. There are those who thrive on keeping machloket alive- just look at the story of the sin of the spies. It was two against ten. Are we living as individuals, for our own pleasure, honor and delusional evil or as a nation whose integrity is its history, people and places. Where is the home of this nation? This is a story about us.

The repercussions we feel today after the failure of Oslo, bankrupt of morality, and the collapse of old concepts has sent ripples and waves in multidimensional ways first to here, then to all of Israel. You may say- “How did this happen?” The scenes we witnessed on October 7 had a precedent. The time has come to repair, the dam has burst- fix our broken hearts. FROM THE RIVER JORDAN TO THE MEDITERRAEN SEA- If Itamar was not here- Israel would cease to be.


Reminding you all about our 501c3 Friends of Itamar-

Shabbat shalom, Leah

1 Comment

  • Martina

    Toda rabah for your wisdom and truth, dear Leah! Shabat Shalom. With kind regards, Martina

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