The Jews Control the Banks

At the beginning of parshas Shemos, the Torah says, “And a new kind arose who did not know Joseph...” (Exodus 1:8) Rav and Shmuel, amoraim, apply two slightly different understandings to this verse. One of them applies a literal understanding, saying that a new king was appointed (usually implying the death of the previous). The other maintains that it was fact the same king, but that he acted as if he did not Joseph, i.e., he had a change of heart and became hostile to him.

What is peculiar about the king's new attitude towards the Jews was the way in which he chose to oppress them. The Torah says that he made them built the storage cities of Pithom and Rameses. The Torah records the following:

He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we are. Get ready, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they increase, and a war befall us, and they join our enemies and depart from the land." So they appointed over them tax collectors to afflict them with their burdens, and they built store cities for Pharaoh, namely Pithom and Raamses. (Exodus 1:9-11)

Rashi explains that these storage cities “were originally unfit for this [storage], and they strengthened them and fortified them for storage.”

While the king's choice of punishment seems random, the elements come together in a rather curious, yet telling, manner; there is an inherent relationship between Joseph and the store houses. In parsha Mikeitz (Genesis 41:1–44:17), Joseph saved all of Egypt by proposing that grain be stored during the years of famine. Storage implies store houses and demonstrates the fundamental link between them and the Jews. As an expression of his new found hatred, the king decrees that the Jews must build the very items that saved Egypt. This is a clear indication that the days of glory had passed.

But something deeper bubbles beneath the surface. In Derech Hashem, the Ramcha”l states:

God thus made the rectification and elevation of all creation totally dependent on the Jews. To the extent that this can be expressed, we can thus say that He subjugated His Providence to them. Through their deeds, they can cause [His Light] to shine forth and have influence, or, on the other hand, hold it back and conceal it.

The deeds of the other nations, on the other hand, do not add to or subtract from the state of creation, nor do they cause God to reveal Himself or withdraw. All they can do is bring about their own gain or loss, and strengthen or weaken their own directing angel. (Part 4 2:4:9)

The king's choice of punishment was an expression of this Providence. The king unknowingly adhered to his Divine programming to lash out against the Jews for their sins. In another way, however, it was an unpremeditated act of desperation, for through “their deeds (the Jews), they can cause [His Light] to shine forth... (or) conceal it. If light isn't coming to the world, if the storage houses aren't being filled, lash out against those responsible. I'm suggesting that the “store houses” represent the reservoirs or banks of spiritual accumulation that were running dry. Because the Jews apparently failed in their role of causing the banks to be filled up, the king forced them to build store cities for Pharaoh.” Little did he know that biting the hand that feeds you is not the way to go. What we learn from this is that the Gentiles need this light just as much as the Jews do and that they'll do what they need to get it.

The Jews control the banks!

6 comments:

Kyle said...

Yaniv, you were always such a good writer. Interesting take on the passage.

OrthodoxJew said...

Hi Kyle!

Glad to "hear" from you. Thank you for the compliment and comment and am glad you liked it.

Hrvatski Noahid said...

How would you respond to Rabbi Dr. Michael Schulman who argues that the world's advance toward the imminent coming of the Messianic Era depends on the destined spiritual refinement of all the Gentile nations in general, and in particular those who are the physical and/or spiritual Edomites of our time?

HashemIsBeautiful said...

Hello Hrvatski Noahid,

I would first say that Rabbi Schulman is more knowledgeable in this area than me, but as far as my knowledge goes, I would say that sounds like what I've learned. I don't know enough about the second part to comment, but I have learned in Midrashim and other sources that Esav was destined to greatness, and that he and Jacob together were supposed to work on the united goal of which you speak (or at least one similar to it). I recall learning an opinion that when Esav and Jacob were in the womb together that Jacob would struggle when Rivka would pass by a "house of Torah," and Esav would struggle when she passed by a house of idolatry. She was distraught by this, thinking that one of her sons was righteous and the other evil. When she sought the guidance of Shem he told her that she had twins and that one of them (Esav) struggled when she passed by a house of idolatry because it was in his nature to want to destroy it. This is the trait of zeal that Esav apparently had, and from what I understand may be instrumental in the unfolding of the Geula.

While Isaac and Ishmael are closely related, and while Islam is monotheistic in a way that Christianity is not, they are half-brothers. On the other hand, Christianity is farther from the truth than Islam is, but Jacob and Esav are blood brothers, and twins! We often forget that. Insofar as physical appearance is a reflection of one's soul, Jacob and Esav must be more intimately related than meets the eye, and when I think about the future (and observe the present) it seems clear that the children of Esav are attracted to the Torah in a way that the children of Ishmael are not.

I have no clue how this will play out, but you can get some idea based on how the pieces are moving on the board now.

How would you respond to Rav Schulman?

Yaniv...

Unknown said...

Rav Schulman based his argument on the following discourse by the Rebbe: https://asknoah.org/essay/elevating-creation

The 7 Noahide commandments are for all non-Jews. They are not meant to divide Gentile nations. Still, I agree that Edomite Gentiles have a tremendous spiritual potential. I consider myself an Edomite and I do feel a zealous desire to destroy idolatry. I also feel righteous anger having inherited so many lies.

HashemIsBeautiful said...

I recall learning with a friend many years ago in a book with a name that escapes me, that the (70) nations of the world are divided into two main categories, with 35 falling under the umbrella of Esav, and 35 falling under the umbrella of Ishmael. Of course, these 70 nations do not correspond perfectly to the countries and ethnic groups that exist today, which have gone through a great deal of fragmentation.

Nevertheless, this would indicate that even if one is not an Edomite, that his nation may fall under the root category of Esav, i.e., under the spiritual dominion of Esav, and is therefore subject to and under the influence of, in a way, the spiritual power of Esav. This is sort of like (in computer programming) the child inheriting the properties of the parent; the parent is Esav and the children are 35 of the nations.

This is also interesting because many nations existed before Ishmael and Esav (and are listed in the Torah), but it seems that those nations have all been collected and grouped under these two particular nations. This would have to include, if we think about, many of the Asian nations that practice forms of philosophy and meditation versus traditional "Western religions" such as Christianity and Islam; they too fall under either the root category of either Ishmael or Esav.

This book also said that the nation of Israel stands alone and is not counted among the nations.

It is also interesting to note that Esav (Genesis 36:15-43) and Ishmael (Genesis 25:13-16) each had twelve children; not only is twelve is a number indicating completion, hence making each of those individuals the father of a complete nation (in both the physical and spiritual sense), but it mirrors the twelve children that Jacob had, as well the father of a nation.

I think this clearly indicates that there is something about both of those nations and that they each are instrumental in the Geula.

Technically speaking you may very well fall under the category of Esav! Regarding the part of inheriting lies, that is described here: O Lord, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, "Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! (Jeremiah 16:19)

I have asked my friend if he remembers the name of that book.

God bless you!