The Rebbe Torah View on
Jewish Prisoners
Ask the Rabbi Things You
Need to Know
Living with
the Times
A Letter
from Prison
7 Noahide Laws
to Non-Jews
Current Issue
Saturday, March 17, 2018 1 Nisan 5778


The first Lubavitch/Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and Code of Jewish Law, once remarked that a Jew must "live with the times." His son explained the meaning: A Jew must live with the Torah portion of the week - i.e., he must assimilate the lessons of the weekly Torah portion

A significant portion of the third book of the Torah—Leviticus—deals with sacrifices brought as atonement for sin. At the end of this week’s Torah portion, the Torah states:
If a person sins, betraying G-d by falsely denying to his fellow concerning a deposit, or money given in hand, or an object taken by robbery, or he withheld funds from his fellow or he found a lost article and he denied it and swore falsely regarding any one of all these cases whereby a man may sin… he shall return the article which he had robbed… regarding which he had sworn falsely, he shall pay it with its principal, adding its fifths to it… He shall then bring his guilt offering to G-d…
There is a puzzling and enigmatic comment in the Midrash on this verse: “This is what the Torah means when it says, ‘A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.’’
What possible connection is there between a person swearing falsely about money and a new king in Egypt?
Rashi cites two opinions in the Talmud concerning the meaning of “a new king” in our verse. One opinion takes it literally: a new king who did not know Joseph. The other opinion maintains that it was the same Pharaoh but now he acted as if he did not know Joseph. He was in denial of Joseph’s role in saving Egypt from total devastation due to the seven years of famine that he predicted.
We can now understand the connection to our verse in Leviticus. The crimes mentioned here all involve denial that one owes money to another. And in several of the cases the denial also involves denial of the other person’s kindness, as in the case of a loan or work that was done for the benefit of the denier. Like the case of Pharaoh, here the denial is not only an act of dishonesty; it is also a radical example of ingratitude.
When a person engages in denial on some level, he must know that he is emulating Pharaoh, the personification of exile and the exile mentality. Every time we deny G-d’s role in our lives or the role of others, we should realize that it is a sign we are still trapped in a spiritual and internal exile, akin to being slaves to Pharaoh.
And in this season, as we near Passover, the Festival of Liberation, it behooves us to focus on liberating ourselves from denial and ingratitude.
People’s fear derives from their need for validation. Anything that diminishes us threatens our sense of self. We cannot tolerate compromising our image in the eyes of others. If we had healthy self-esteem, which comes from the realization that we possess a G-dly soul, we would not feel our self-worth being diminished by admitting guilt. On the contrary, once we admit guilt, we can bounce back from our diminished position through t’shuva (return to properly serving G-d).
Sadly, most people do not have a healthy sense of self. Instead, they focus on the physical and emotional layers of their personalities and achievements and not on the G-dly. Anything that will further erode their fragile sense of self could be devastating to them. So they pick the route that seems to offer the least amount of pain, deny their guilt and even deny the good they have received from others.
Pharaoh was a prime example of this syndrome. Pharaoh compensated for his huge inferiority complex by acting big and saying, “I own the Nile and I have made it myself.” He proclaimed himself a god because he was so insecure.
As we stand now on the threshold between Galus (exile) and Geula (Redemption), we can choose to look back into the darkness of Galus and feel insecure with all of its attendant ills, or look ahead into Geula and see things with clarity.
Choosing the latter approach enables us to live a full and vibrant life now, in these last moments of exile, and hastens the process of the complete Redemption.

Help a Jew in prison and press the Donate button now.
Learn how to
make it happen
Need a Shoulder? Candle
Lighting Times
About Us Contact Us Tell Us About
a Prisoner
עברית Русский
Privacy Policy