Vayeshev: Chapter 6

"Now Israel loved Joseph"


Using the story of Joseph and his many-colored coat as an analogy, Rabbi Elazar discusses the spiritually privileged position of the children of Israel and the enmity this inspires in idolatrous nations. We learn that Jacob's love for Joseph over his brothers, and the coat that he gave Joseph, was the immediate cause of the Exile itself, which is, in turn, shown to be a parable of human history.


The children of Israel are designated as the Chosen People in response to the measure of their internal Vessel - the Desire to Receive - which is more intense than that of other nations. For this reason, they are the channel through which the Light of The Creator emerges into our world. When the Desire to Receive is directed towards the self alone, there is a lack of Light in our world, and this instigates negative repercussions from other nations. These other nations sense the lack of Light, which creates enmity between them and the children of Israel, and is ultimately the cause for the continuing Exile. Thus, Exile is both a personal and an historical occurrence. When the hardships of life reach their extreme, this is a spiritual connection to the Exile of the children of Israel, which exists to this very day. The Exile is also an effect of our failure to direct our desires towards positive and sharing causes. The spiritual forces of liberation present in this passage can hasten both our personal redemption and also the Final Redemption of the entire world.