Texas Torah tImes
December 2015 / Kislev 5776
The Rosh Chodesh Mesiba (dedicated to Jeff) by Chaim Kurtzer
Rosh Chodesh is a festive occasion no matter what, but at TTI it is taken to the next level with the Rosh Chodesh Mesiba.
The Rosh Chodesh Mesiba starts off with a meaningful davening followed by a banquet of bagels, eggs, and doughnuts. After that, the Yeshiva is treated to carefully prepared Dvar Torah’s given by a couple of students. This month’s amazing speakers were Yaakov Cohen and Moshe Herman. Next, a dancing party starts. It appears that circle dancing is the most popular, but a few others include: jumping over increasing amount of chairs, hoisting an unwilling Rabbi into the air, and a well-choreographed dance that every student must know if they want to be successful later in life. Finally, the Yeshiva gathers around in a circle and joins together in singing moving songs.
Rosh Chodesh at TTI is a joyous event, made festive by the spirit of both the students and Rabbeim.
Shmues by Rabbi Pacht
In parshas Vayeshev Yosef faces one of the greatest challenges of his entire life: the advances of Potiphar’s wife. The Torah says that every single day Potiphar’s wife tried to ensnare Yosef. Every day he summoned the incredible strength to resist. One day when everyone was out for an Egyptian holiday, she stayed behind so that she could try to trap Yosef with no one else around. The Torah tells us that it almost worked, but Yosef managed to overcome his desires and in a burst of energy, he jumped out of the garment he was wearing, left it in her hands, and ran from the room.
The Ramban is bothered by a question. Why didn’t Yosef simply overpower her with his superior size and strength, and yank his cloak out of her hands? Especially in light of the fact that this cloak would ultimately be used by her to incriminate him, and to claim that he had attacked her. The Ramban answers that it was out of respect for his master’s wife. To rip the cloak from her hands would have been disrespectful, as he was only a slave and she was a noblewoman, so he took the extra few moments to slip out of the cloak and leave it behind.
If we take a step back and examine this situation, we can learn a very valuable lesson. We are talking about the woman who was most likely the greatest source of pain for Yosef. Yosef is trying to live a life of spirituality, following in his father’s footsteps, despite the great challenge of being alone and abandoned in a foreign, idolatrous land. The fact that he was in Egypt and away from his family did not help, but to have someone actively trying to destroy his spiritual goals on a daily basis must have been excruciating. Yet he showed sensitivity and respect to this woman.
Even more striking- try to imagine what Yosef must have been feeling at that moment: crisis! He was on the brink of losing everything that mattered to him. He knew that he’d almost succumbed! How important it must have been for him to escape the situation at all costs. The urgency and stress of that moment must have been incredible.
However, despite all this Yosef was able to have the presence of mind and sensitivity to understand that if he grabbed his garment it would be disrespectful to his master’s wife, and he had the self-control to change his behavior based on that sensitivity. This is a tremendous insight into what a person is capable of. One might have thought that in an extenuating circumstance, like the one Yosef was facing, Mussar and Derech Eretz could not even begin to factor into one’s decisions and actions. However, the Ramban is teaching us they can, and they must!
May we all be zocheh to follow in Yosef’s footsteps, to integrate the Torah’s lessons of mussar and derech-eretz, to the point where they become second nature, and are evident in all our actions, whatever the circumstances.