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Goats and Coats
Video 3 of 14
In any case; Al tirah mei'redah Mitzrayma - don't worry about going down to Egypt; Ki l'goy gadol asimcha sham - for I will make you into a great nation there. Onochi eired imcha Mitzrayma - I will go down to Egypt with you; V'onochi a'alcha gam aloh - I'll go back up with you; V'Yosef yasis yado al einecha - and Yosef is going to put his hands over your eyes. So don't worry about anything, you'll see Yosef, I'll go down with you to Egypt, I'll go back up with you, everything is going to be okay, everything is going to be wonderful.
Now of course, we know - because we've read the rest of Genesis - if you have read the rest of Genesis you know - especially if you've read Exodus - you know that everything is not so wonderful. Because when Yaakov is going down to Egypt the fact is he's not getting out of there so fast. As a matter of fact he's going to be enslaved there - his children are going to be enslaved for 210 long years. They're going to meet with hard labor and servitude, backbreaking - they're almost going to be destroyed; their children are going to be destroyed, there's going to be - little boys are going to be thrown into the river, and it's going to be awful 210 years in Egypt. It's almost like Yaakov is on a need-to-know basis, as it were. You know, I'll tell you what you need to know. Really Jacob all you need to know is I'm going to go down with you, I'll go back up with you. How long will it be? Let's not talk about how long it will be. What will happen in the interim? Let's not talk about what will happen in the interim. Oh you'll see Yosef, Yosef will be there, he'll put his hands on your eyes, everything will be wonderful, everything will be good, don't worry about a thing.
Of course, it's not so much in what G-d says over here, but in what G-d doesn't say that the dark message sort of comes across. This is the beginning of the long Egyptian exile. We talked before about why would Yaakov be afraid? Be afraid, be very afraid.
Even here by the way an oblique reference, as Rashi understands this, to the death of Yaakov. When is it that Yosef is going to put his hands on your eyes? Well at that time the custom was that someone would come and would close the eyes of the dead. After a person would die someone would come and close their eyes as kind of a final way of saying goodbye. And Yosef is going to be the one to close your eyes, he's going to put his hands over your eyes. So the idea is here that when I take you out it's not really Me taking you out, you're going to die, I'm going to take out your progeny. G-d is saying without quite saying, you'll be there for a while. But still, doesn't quite sound so bad.
But what's really chilling about this is that if you look carefully at all this language you will actually hear echoes of the Akeidah here as well. We've seen three echoes of the Akeidah before; we talked about the Yaakov, Yaakov, and then Hineini, we've talked about the Be'er Sheva, we talked about offering offerings to the G-d of Isaac, all of that sort of sounded Akeidah-like. Could have been our imagination but over here the Akeidah really comes back to haunt us in spades. Where in these two little verses, 3 and 4, do we have references to the Akeidah? The clue is - by the way remember what's happening over here, Yaakov is receiving a Divine communication, he's hearing a prophecy. An angel, heavenly voice, something like that, is speaking to Yaakov. Think about when Abraham hears the voice of an angel, when he hears Divine communication, he hears the voice of an angel which is, don't kill Isaac - staying his hand. I want you to take a look at the angel talking to Abraham, don't touch Isaac, and take a look at the angel or the Divine voice talking to Yaakov up here and see if you can find any connections?
So over here on the right side of your screen in blue I have put the sections of text where the angel communicates with Abraham, so we're kind of looking at that point. Just to go back over here, the last thing we have is the angel saying, Yaakov, Yaakov, here I am. So I'm going to argue that that's going to correspond to this section over here in the Akeidah narrative, right after the angel comes out of the clouds and says, Avraham, Avraham, and he says Hineini and the angel says, don't do anything to the child. So I just want to read through that section with you and see if there's anything about it that reminds us about the Yaakov story we've been reading.
So the angel comes out and says; Al tishlach yadecha el hana'ar - of course at this point Isaac is bound, he's on top of the altar, Avraham has taken the knife and he's about to kill his son because G-d has asked him this. At the last moment the angel comes and says; Al tishlach yadecha el hana'ar - don't send out your hand against the child; V'al ta'as lo me'umah - don't do anything to him; Ki atah yadati ki yarei Elokim atah v'loh chasachta et bincha et yechidcha mimeni - I know that you are someone who fears G-d and you haven't withheld your son, your only son, from Me. So this is actually what the angel says.
Now what's interesting though is there's actually two appearances of the angel. I've indicated that over here with this little break over here, you see this little break between them? So the angel then comes out again - what happens in the interim is that Avraham actually doesn't touch Yitzchak and he's not going to hurt him and instead he sees a ram caught in the thicket and he goes and he offers the ram. Then the angel comes and appears again and this is the second appearance of the angel - and over here this is the first appearance of the angel and here's the second speech of the angel.
Vayikra malach Hashem el Avraham sheinis min hashomayim - an angel of G-d then called out again to Abraham and said; Bi nishbati ne'um Hashem - I swear by Myself, on My own name, G-d says; Ki ya'an asher asitah et hadavar hazeh v'loh chasachta et bincha et yechidcha - that because you have not withheld your child so this is what's going to happen. Because you've not withheld your child; Barech avarechecha - I'm going to greatly bless you; V'harbah arbeh et zaracha kekochvei hashomayim - I'm going to greatly increase your children, they'll be like the stars of the heaven, like the sands of the sea; Veyirash zaracha et sha'ar oyvav - and your children, your progeny, will inherit, will be victorious, will conquer the gates of their enemies. So they will come into the land victorious when they conquer their enemies, eventually coming into, again, the land of Canaan.
So these are the two things that the angel says, (a) don't touch your child, I see that you haven't withheld him. Then the blessing that comes from that because you've done this, I'm going to give you lots of progeny, you're going to have children, you're going to have very many children. And you're going to have land, you're going to conquer the land and go into the land of Canaan victorious ultimately.
So these are the promises that happen in the wake of the Akeidah, are there any echoes of this, over here in what G-d tells Yaakov over here in Genesis 46? In other words after G-d says to Yaakov; Yaakov, Yaakov, vayomer hineini, does it remind us of what happens when the angel comes to Abraham and says, Avraham, Avraham, vayomer hineini? Which was happened right over here in verse 11, immediately before verse 12.
Okay now here is the rub. The problem of course is, is that this is where actually the parallels seem to stop. Actually if you look at Genesis 46 it actually seems to have absolutely nothing to do with this text over here at all. Just a big X. Just seems to have nothing to do with it. Just listen again to what it is that G-d says to Yaakov; Onochi ha-Kel Elokei avicha - I'm the G-d of your fathers, don't fear going down to Mitzrayim, I'm going to make you into a great nation there. I guess you could say that the great nation there sort of parallels the idea of having lots of children, but that's kind of it. Onochi eired imcha Mitzrayma v'onochi a'alcha gam aloh - I'll go down with you to Egypt, I will come back up with you, that doesn't seem to have any echo over here, where do you hear anything about Egypt over here in the blue? Similar; V'Yosef yasis yado al einecha - and certainly this idea that Yosef is going to spread his hands over you and he's going to close your eyes when you die, you don't hear anything about that over here, in this blue section. So it seems like there's absolutely nothing about this - or very little about this - that reminds us of the Akeidah.
Ah, but appearances are deceiving. It depends how you look. If you look carefully, if you look with a certain kind of perspective, you actually see these echoes - as I mentioned to you before - sort of coming out in spades. What is that perspective which you have to take? So think about that. What sort of way do you have to kind of have to skew your perspective in order to be able to see, to look kind of through the kaleidoscope, with the right kind of lens, and then all of a sudden these parallels really jump out at you with a remarkable kind of focus?
What I mean by that, to give you kind of a physical analogy, so there's certain kinds of events that are really there but our normal eyesight doesn't allow us to see it. Either because the event is outside of the range of visible light or for some other kind of reason, there's too much light, there's too little light. You sort of have to adopt, sort of fit a special lens onto your telescope or glasses, to be able to actually see the thing that's really there. Once you put the lens there you actually see the thing, you see what's really there, it was there, it's just you didn't have the tools to see it before.
By way of analogy for example, here's a picture of the sun and that's the real sun with what was called the transit of Venus, it's an unusual event where the planet Venus which you could see right over here, is travelling across the face of the sun. Now you never have a shot at actually seeing this, without special goggles that can actually block almost all of the light from the sun, because the sun is much too bright to be able to see it otherwise. But with the right kind of goggles you can actually see over here the transit of Venus. You can see a solar eclipse. These kind of people over here looking at the solar eclipse - you'd never really be able to see it without special glasses that block out most of the sun's light.
Alternatively, sometimes in very dim light situations, you have to do the exact opposite, you have to amplify the light; night vision goggles is a good example, used by the military and other kinds of things. In night vision basically what you do is you take goggles that are particularly sensitive to infrared light - normally we can't see infrared light - and can convert that light into light in the visible spectrum, into something which we can actually see. The principle behind night vision goggles.
So there are specialized kinds of lenses that can allow you to see what's really there, and I think the same thing exists in text. When we're looking at something like these two texts, texts which seem to have nothing to do with each other, but if you adopt the right lens you begin to kind of see how it is that they are connected. It sort of begins to jump out at you. So what is that lens?
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