From The Editor – Parsha Vayeshev – The Return Of The Serpent

This parsha’s name Vayeshev, is indicative of two events, the first being the “dwelling” of Yaakov in Eretz Canaan and the second being the “return” (Vayeshev) of the serpent. We find the second instance by the trop relating to the word vayemain, when Yosef refused eshet Potiphar’s advance. There is a shalsheles above the aleph which in the figurine of a snake (pointing down, in attack-mode). But why is the snake coming to attack above the aleph? We can suggest two things. Firstly, this is the snake of creation that tripped up Adam Harishion (Adam beginning with the letter aleph). Secondly, it was coming to attack the oneness (echad) of Yosef as a person and the oneness between Yosef and Yaakov. My-great-great-grandfather, Rabbi Levine zt”l, notes that the word Shalom refers to Torah because Torah (Shalom) has the ability to unify the guf and neshama and bring Shalom between them. The yetzer hara was trying to pierce Yosef’s own harmony and the unity of Torah he enjoyed with his father, Yaakov.

Within the shalsheles, the “three” pronged snake, lies a hint on how to wage battle against the serpent. It is said if one is stricken by the yetzer hara, he should do one of “three” things, bring it to the beis midrash, say the Shema, or remind himself that one day every person will die.

Within the word vayemain, we also find the word amen, which be’gemetria is 91 the same gematria of the word tze, (to fulfill), 91, indicating that the snake wanted Yosef to submit the attack and fulfill his destiny with this licentious act. However, Yosef exercised emunah, also sourced in the word vayemain, and the gematria of emunah, is 102, to equal kav, 102 a measurement, as he showed the proper measure of restraint and will forever be measured by this act of refusal

The snake, in the form of the shalsheles in this parsha, tried to sever the chain of Torah that was being passed on from Yaakov to Yosef which would have halted the Mesorah. However, the snake failed and ultimately Bnei Yisroel would accept the Torah “ki’ish echad,  be’lev echad” retaining the unity in body and soul needed to serve G-d in harmony, thus diffusing the conspirings of the evil  inclination.


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