The Wise One or The Prophet [חכם עדיף מנביא]
Rabbi David Pesach Katz
****Audio Lesson Mon 11 P.M. Tzfat Time – Elucidation of Article****
"Sinai. Ger Toshav. The Twelve Tribes. Israel. Gerim. Prophecy. Wisdom. Bnei Noach"…From one perspective a case can be made that this [opening blurb] is one acceptable angle of truth that could justify 1/70 faces of the Torah; if nothing else it explains history to perfection oddly enough, and can shed profound light on today's politics by more or less shining a bright flashlight upon the first
Noahides – the Twelve Sons of Jacob. Welcome to a new way of understanding the
most obscure Noahide Law – eating the limb of a live animal, from the vantage
point of the light that shone before Sinai, in a way that shines even brighter
today, for all Jews and Noahides. This is the story of Joseph, his brothers,
and the prophecy that sadly wasn't.
The setting takes place in our Parasha, as the Brothers are out shepherding [minus Joseph], and Jacob their father asks of Joseph to bring back a report of the Brothers. The background of the story is well-known of course, Jacob loves Joseph the most [which we will see why upon the conclusion of the article], and Joseph had just finished telling over his dreams of grandeur, only to arouse his brothers' hatred upon him even more. The story will end apparently quite sad, as Joseph is nearly killed, sold to slavery, Jacob in fact does hear of a morbid end to Joseph, and this is all in the hands of Joseph honoring his father's request, and with every intention of bringing back an evil report. Yet the real culprit to this story might surprise some to find out it is neither Jacob nor Joseph; rather a tapestry of concepts such as wisdom, prophecy, Sinai [before and after], and the reality of Jews and Noahides – Gerim. This would go down as the single biggest misunderstanding the World ever knew – for from it, the World took course as it stands to this day, and until Moshiach comes to settle the score of what happened that fateful day.
Before the light pours upon history, one crucial point needs to be made perfectly crystal clear; Jacob and Joseph learned in the tents [Torah Academies] of Shem and Ever. As much as these were schools of prophecy, and Torah was being taught, it should be noted that every Prophet must maintain a healthy diet and ability of Wisdom. Jacob prided himself in his Wisdom, not only because he was a natural at it [and it was for this that Isaac was blind to his greatness, for Isaac sought the Prophet to receive the Blessings, which in the end, Jacob prevailed over Esau], but because he saw this as the antidote over Esau as well. [This over balance would prove to be a foe to Jacob, as it would outweigh his natural prophetic abilities.] Joseph followed suit and honored his father, for the Torah calls Joseph a "Son of Elders" – which comes to imply, a Man of the Talmud, and naturally this has a connotation of being wisdom-heavy and lacking prophetic detail by nature. Jacob loved Joseph, and now we can see why, and it shall not be for naught, that Joseph is fire to the straw that is to be Esau, in the End of Days.
Contrast the Joseph-Jacob stance with the Twelve Brothers, and we have quite a different picture, intent, and philosophy –ideology altogether! The Brothers are looking at an entirely different model of the Universe; one that takes into account the entire story from a completely different angle and approach. They see themselves as Pre-Sinai "something's" – either Jews or Noahides, and their actions are thought to provide a basis of the present and the future concerning the Commandments of God. They are invested with understanding the nature of Prophecy and Wisdom and Pre / Post Sinai as repercussions. As much as they have their view [presumably from Shem and his school], Jacob and Joseph have their view [likewise from Shem]. The simple answer is that "from the mouth of God we heard two inclinations", yet practically, God engineered a drama for the ages, for these two sides would collide in a schism that we still feel today. In fact, their disagreement is the exact dilemma facing the Torah Universe in the End of Days, namely how to deal with all of the issues mentioned above [Wisdom, Prophecy, Sinai, Jews, Gerim, etc.] – all of which is embedded within the family of Jacob.
The setting is Pre-Sinai, and Jacob's men are charged with being Pre-Sinai Noahides commanded in the Noahide Laws, and yet are promised a legacy that culminate and bubble over Sinai, into a product of Jews and Ger Toshav. For Jews they will receive a new command, and the Ger Toshav will receive a new set of Noahide Laws as well, with the only major difference being that the route of command is now through Sinai and Israel as opposed to Adam and Bnei Noach. The curve ball to both Pre/Post Sinai, will be addressed through the relevancy of Prophecy vs. Wisdom to Jews and Gerim, at any given moment and calling perfect context [and in cooperation with Divine Command]. The bonus card for extra credit then will always be – what to do with Shem [himself], his Torah, his Wisdom, and his Prophecy; always issues to keep in mind – even to this day!
Thus we now have a decent arena to settle into, as the Men are shepherding without Joseph anywhere nearby, and they have just shaken off Joseph's dreams, as they sit to feast on a meal of meat. Joseph in his sector of the universe takes command from Jacob to find the Men, finds a Man in the field, and embarks on his crash-course journey that has destiny written all over it. This is where the story breaks down should we attempt to understand the sequence of events based on Wisdom. What we will see, is that from here on out, we are in a direct battle of Wisdom vs. Prophecy. Whether it’s the Torah's exegesis or Joseph vs. the Brothers, we shall see that wisdom is promised to take a backseat in face of Prophecy; and along for the ride is a reckoning of the Commandments.
To attempt to put together the pieces of the story through Wisdom, will conclude matters in a rather contrived and shallow perspective of the reality that unfolded there. Yet with prophecy we can understand that the Torah was to be understood as a prophetic moment within the sons of Jacob, for their very claim against Joseph was one of Prophecy! From the time they saw Joseph coming, the Zohar suggests that this "seeing" was actually spiritual seeing, and this is qualified by the Midrash's account of the story taking place beyond the scope of the overly simplified playing field of approximately one football field worth of events, that even simple logic dictates a much more vast arena was employed by Hashem.
If we assume the Brothers were Prophets [as opposed to wise men - who don't come across too wise] then we can conclude their awareness to revelation of Divine Mazal [God's revealed hand spiritually] and thus all of their actions are to be portrayed as Prophetic; the results are such that the story becomes radically more profound even in the simple meaning and flow of events to add up to a story revealed as constructed by God. As their Prophecy dictates, Joseph finally does arrive on scene, and the debate is over "Eating the limb of a live animal."
It is known that Noahides Pre-Sinai had Torah knowledge from Shem as a basis of succeeding in Noahide Laws, and that their connection to God was through prophecy. It should be noted this was the practice Pre-Sinai; Joseph went against grain, used Wisdom in honor of his father, in line with the thought that after Sinai, in the End of Days, Prophecy would be missing, and this approach would be best if preempted now, in order to gain momentum – anticipating an early redemption. Joseph thus used Wisdom to perceive reality, and through Wisdom deduced that they had transgressed the Noahide Laws [this sin would have recourse on all that exists Pre/Post Sinai in regards to Jews and Noahides and in matters of wisdom and prophecy in Torah and Commandments] thus creating a complete controversy that would set the tone through the rest of Torah history, as Joseph would be found guilty by the Brothers. [For Joseph misunderstood their appropriate actions by employing Wisdom over Prophecy, and this is the precedent to all of the subjects tied into this knot. The Brothers were true to Noahide Laws through Prophecy – Pre Sinai, and of course history would commence as we know it Post Sinai.]
They found him guilty of favoring Wisdom over Prophecy, and that Pre-Sinai was to be governed by Prophecy, and Post-Sinai [although there would be a halt in Prophecy] would welcome Prophecy in the End of Days; thus Joseph was seen to be without merit in this endeavor, and Jacob is even proven to be weakened in this area, as evidenced by the Gid HaNashe [displaced sinew] by wrestling with Esau's angel [my means of wisdom to the neglect of Prophecy, for Jacob had to ask of his name]. The story as we all know it to be, saw Joseph end up in Egypt as a slave, it shows how history repeats itself often, we see in a clear lens how the story of paradigm redemption is sewn through this fractal, and of course we get a revelation of how Hashem is as always, the Creator of such events.
The story of Joseph and the Brothers is a small dose of reality that penetrates the Torah from cover to cover. Are we to approach it as a story of Wisdom, or a story of Prophecy? Is it an OK story, or a Divine account of Life? Are Shem and Moses to be seen as wise men or Great Prophets? Should we expect Prophecy to return in the End of Days – or better yet, assume that it never left? One thing remains quite certain, and that is that Joseph nearly died, and we are told of his ancestor Moshiach ben Joseph quite the same set of circumstances. It seems history repeats itself, the Torah contains the vessels of time, and the seconds are either composed through wisdom or prophecies. One thing that we can be sure of, is that the Torah has taught these lessons of life to perfection, should we but listen to its message.
Here in our generation, we race towards the End of Days – and we face the same questions and issues that the early ones faced before us. We stand today as Jews and Gerim and yet we are still stymied and divided as ever. Perhaps the solutions we still seek are to be found in questions that we never solved. For the Jew who stood in the House of Jacob, perhaps he needs to ponder the thought of Prophecy, and for the Ger of Jacob, shouldn't it be about time to begin to fathom Sinai? The answers to these contemplations are the difference between Moshiach ben Yosef who dies vs. Joseph still lives…of which we are told Joseph shall live. If that be the case, then the issue is settled, and out of Sinai will come the Gerim, ushered in by the Prophecies of Zion, Amen and Soon in Our Days.