Rabbi Shlomoh Carlebach: The Blessing of Joseph.

"Mascil Le-Shlomoh" (Reflections of Shlomoh)
al Shivtei Yishurun (Concerning the Tribes of Yishurun).
The House of Rachel.
by Shlomoh Carlebach (1986).
The author is NOT the famous Rabbinical Thinker and Musician, Rabbi Shlomoh Carlebach, but rather someone else with the same name.
The author (Shlomoh Carlebach) was (is) a Rabbinical Spiritual Director known in the Yeshiva World of North America and Israel.
This work is the first volume of what was intended to be a two-volume work on the Tribes of Israel.
The present volume begins by discussing the Blessing of Moses to the Tribes (Deuteronomy chapter 33);
The work then continues by considering the descendants of Rachel and her maidservant Bilhah i.e. the Tribes of Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, and Naphtali.
This why the present volume bears the sub-title "The House of Rachel".

The Blessing of Joseph.

This article is NOT a translation but rather an interpretation, adaptation, and modified elaboration based on select excerpts from the original.
Brit-Am bears responsibility for the content.

Deuteronomy 33:
13 And of Joseph he said:
“ Blessed of the LORD is his land,

Rashi explains that Joseph received a magnitude of blessing greater than that of the other tribes.

A blessing to be fulfilled needs to be hidden.
It should not be measured or weighed. The Maharal explained that when the eye looks on something it sizes it up and in a sense constrains it.

A good eye will surely be blessed

Proverbs 22:
9 He who has a generous [Hebrew "tov" literally "good"] eye will be blessed,
For he gives of his bread to the poor.

The Gaon of Vilna said this refers to Joseph.
Joseph gave sustenance to his brothers and to the House of his Father according to their numbers.
Joseph looked after his brothers despite having been seriously ill-treated by them.

Joseph received a double blessing.
The evil eye has no power over Joseph.
Joseph was likened unto fish that increase and multiply and swarm without limitation.
This likening of Joseph to a fish is derived from Scripture:

Genesis 48:
16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

The above words "And let them grow" in Hebrew are "Va-yidgu". This expression may be understood as based on the word-root DGH.
This can mean "increase like fish".

Joseph in Egypt showed he had the quality of transforming anger into mercy, in place of wrath he showed sympathy and compassion.
Joseph is able to bring about an alleviation in retribution.
Joseph has a quality of Atonement and Redemption.

Joseph has the ability to remove the impediments that prevent blessing, bounteousness, and prosperity.
Through Joseph the other Tribes of Israel are blessed as is all the world.

Joseph received this quality through his father, Jacob.
Joseph is considered the main continuation of Jacob.
This is the prime characteristic of Joseph.
Joseph in Biblical terms had the rights of the first-born (1-Chronicles 5:1).

Through Jacob Joseph received an aspect of Blessing that Abraham and Isaac had not achieved. This distinguishes Jacob from his twin-brother, Esau.

Malachi 1:
2....Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?”
Says the LORD.
“ Yet Jacob I have loved;
3 But Esau I have hated..

Why was this?
What may explain this discrimination between the twin brothers, Esau and Jacob?
The reason is that Jacob was to become a fount of goodness and life. Esau became a source of evil and death.

Even in the womb the two twin brothers fought each other.
Genesis 25:
22 But the children struggled together within her.

Joseph who was destined to overcome Esau was the one who received the blessing of Jacob.

Obadiah 1:
18 The house of Jacob shall be a fire,
And the house of Joseph a flame;
But the house of Esau shall be stubble;
They shall kindle them and devour them,
And no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,”
For the LORD has spoken.

Jacob himself was not suited to became the full-fledged opponent of Esau in his own right. Jacob was the twin brother of Esau (Genesis 25:24 -26).

Genesis 25:
24 So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.
25 And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.
26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.

The personalities of Jacob and Esau were in a sense intertwined. They were too involved with each other for Jacob to effectively counter Esau.
The other Tribes on this point inherited the inhibition towards Easu that Jacob had.
Joseph was different. Joseph was indeed an embodiment of Jacob but at a distance. Joseph was both parallel to Esau yet different from him.
Joseph was born to be the effective opponent of Esau. For this reason (along with other factors) he was to receive an extra blessing.

Without Joseph Israel would not be able to overcome Esau.

Jacob blessed Joseph.
Genesis 49:
26 The blessings of your father
Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors,
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.

[This blessing reads better in Hebrew. It is even more impressive than it sounds.]
[Jacob was saying] The blessings that the Almighty blessed me with are an increase upon, and an intensification of, the blessings with which my forebears were blessed.

The author (Shlomoh Carlebach) explains the Hebrew to say that the blessings will increase.
They will reach unto the ends of the borders of the Oldest Mountains of the Earth.
The blessings that Jacob received reached the ends of the earth. Jacob received an unlimited blessing reaching unto the ends of the world.
Jacob had been blessed:
Genesis 28:
14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

This is the blessing of Jacob. It was even greater than that given to Abraham and Isaac that Jacob also had inherited.

My Biblical Fathers: Abraham
What Does the Bible Say about the Chosen Peoples of Israel?

My Biblical Fathers
Part Two. Isaac

My Biblical Fathers
Part Three. Jacob-Israel

The blessing of Jacob was passed on to Joseph.
Geneaology of the Blessings to Israel

Re the above expression (Genesis 49:26),
# They shall be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers #.

This MAY ALSO be interpreted as saying:
# Be you at the head, Joseph. Through these blessings may you be the head, and the crowned head (Nazir) over your brothers. #

What May the Individual learn from Joseph?
From Joseph we learn that a person may through his good deeds and God-fearing attitude bring about a transformation in his personality.
This can raise us up to a new level.
We will not be the same person.
A mean malicious malevolent outlook can become generous and open heartened.
From the wild beast of a creature we were born as, we may draw close to being as angels.

The expression, # a wild donkey’s colt is born a man [Job 11: 12]# may be translated as:
# a man is born like a wild donkey. #.

The Blessing to Joseph was in the aggregate.
This is how we have explained it. Our explanation is consistent with that given by the author. Other matters may yet be required.
The author may have intended his article to be taken to heart primarily at the individual level and in connection with the moral lesson he was teaching. He did however give us a teaching that is even more pertinent in the National Sense. It is consistent with the fulfilment of Biblical Prophecy. This is what we have emphasized.
It could be that the author would have wished us also to take note of the verses below from Isaiah that he did allude to:

Isaiah 58:
13 If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the LORD honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

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