The 12 Tribes, Joseph, and Creation (31 January 2018, 15 Shevet, 5778)
by Rabbi Pinchas Friedman,
Selected Extracts from "Shevili Pinchas," YaYishlach, roughly translated, paraphrased, and slightly adapted by Yair Davidiy.
Source sent to us by Mrs.N.
Note by Editor: In the notes below you are advised not to ponder the source for every detail but to first take in the general message.
Esau and Jacob were twin brothers. Esau was also known as Edom and Jacob as Israel.
Esau is the arch-enemy of Israel (Genesis 27:41).
The 12 Tribes of Israel represent the forces of Holiness.
They are in opposition to the 11 Dukes (Alufim) of Edom:
List of Rulers of Edom
The 12 Tribes of Israel are parallel to 12 different combinations of the letters making up the Holy Name of God.
[The name of God is based on the root HOVEH which is the verb "To Be." The name therefore represent different facets of existence. It is not recommended to play around with these names without proper preparation and preliminary study.]
[See Rabbi Menahem ben Benjamin Recanati (1223-1290) on the 12 Names of the Tribes on the Breast Plate of the High Priest.]
The 12 tribes are called by the Name of God. This is hinted at in the Book of Daniel.
19 O LORD, hear! O LORD, forgive! O LORD, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.
There are main 11 curses. These parallel the 11 Alufim ("Dukes') of Esau ("Sefat Emet": Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter, 1847 - 1905).
[The curses are listed in Deuteronomy 27: 15-26. Each curse begins with the expression "Accursed" in Hebrew "Arur." When we count the curses we actually find the term "Accursed" repeated 12 times. Rashi however explains (quoting Rabbi Moshe HaDarshan) that the last curse Deuteronomy 27:26 is actually a general exhortation encompassing the previous 11 and not counted along with them. ]
The 11 Forces of Impurity are countered by 11 ingredients for the incense, and 11 curtains of the Tabernacle (Yalkut Reuvenei).
[The Bible only lists 4 ingredients in the incense (Exodus 30:22). The Sages however by tradition and exegesis deduced that there were eleven (Talmud Yerushalmi, Yoma, 3:9.]
Jacob received the blessing from Isaac by subterfuge. Esau felt he had been cheated and therefore plotted to murder Jacob (Genesis 27:41). Jacob fled to his uncle, Laban, in Aram. He fathered 11 sons and on the birth of the 11th one, Joseph, decided to return to the Land (Genesis 30:24-25). Esau with 400 men came out to meet him. Jacob and his 11 sons approached Esau. The 11 sons bowed down to Esau (Genesis 33:6-7). Jacob placated Esau who went on his way. Nevertheless by bowing down to Esau it was as if they had impaired their descendants for future generations. When Jacob met Esau he had then only 11 sons and they had all bowed down to Esau. After Benyamin was born the numbers of tribes became 12. Mordecai in the Book of Esther was descended from Benyamin (Esther 2:5). The king of Persia, Ahaseurus, made Haman his chief minister. Haman was an Agagite descended from Agag the King of Amalek (1-Samuel 15:8-29, 32, 33) who were offshoots of Esau. Haman the Agagite was therefore a descendant of Esau. The order had gone out for all the servants of the King to bow down before Haman. Mordecai refused (Esther 3:3). Consequnetly Haman plotted to wipe out all the Jews in the Persiam Empire. Mordecai and Esther however confounded the scheme and Haman and his 10 sons were executed. Haman was a descendant of Esau. Mordecai came from Jacob. By Mordecai refusing to bow down to Haman he corrected the offence of the sons of Jacob in so doing. That was why Mordecai had risked everything by his refusal (HaChida: Eabbi Haim Yosef David Azulai, 1724 - 1806). The 11 forces of Impurity had been represented by Haman and his 10 sons (Esther 9:7-10, see Megaleh Amuko, 1637, by Rabbi Nathan Nata Spira 1585-1633). Mordecai had been enabled to not bow down to Haman because he was from Benyamin the 12th son who also had not made obeisance to Esau ("Brit Kehunit Olam").
Joseph was destined to be the adversary of Esau (Obadiah 1:18). Jacob had decided to return and face Esau just after Joseph was born since Joseph had the inherent ability to overcome Esau.
Even though Joseph is the adversary of Esau ONLY when there were 12 tribes are the combined forces of Jacob able to overcome the 11 forces of Esau.
5 And He was king in Jeshurun,
When the heads of the people were gathered,
The tribes of Israel together.
When Israel are in agreement below the Name of God is glorified above, as it says
"And He was king in Jeshurun, When the heads of the people were gathered, The tribes of Israel together."
This applies when the Tribes are united in one unit and not in several different groupings.
Midrash Pesikta Rabati 4:1:
Everything that God created He created for the Tribes: 12 months of the years, 12 constellations of the stars, 12 hours of day, 12 hours of night. Says the Holy One, Even the powers above and the powers below were only created by virtue of the Tribes, AS it says:
2 For My hand made ALL THESE things,
Thus ALL THESE things came into being, declares the Lord.
28 ALL THESE are the twelve tribes of Israel,
The 12 Tribes parallel the 12 different forms of the Holy Name that sustains all Creation.
Jacob was prepared to leave the House of Laban and return to his homeland to face Esau following the birth of Joseph (Genesis 30:25). Joseph was the adversary of Esau (Obadiah 1:18).
Joseph the Righteous One is the Foundation of the World. Joseph however without the combination of the rest of the Tribes is not able to overcome the 11 forces of Esau. Joseph hinted at this when he spoke to his brothers.
9 Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.
It was necessary that the 11 other Tribes combine together with the holiness of Joseph. Then with the unified force of sanctity of 12 Tribes parallel to 12 combinations of the Holy Name would it be possible to overcome Esau.
Midrash VaYikra 32:5:
Joseph went down to Egypt and kept himself back from committing sexual immorality. All of Israel kept themselves back in this matter by virtue of Joseph. Rabbi Chaya bar Abba said, "Not transgressing in sexual matters was enough on its own that Israel be redeemed through it.
Scripture emphasizes several times that the Holy Name of God was with Joseph:
2 The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. 3 Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. ...5 It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD's blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field.
The 11 other tribes need to link up with in holiness with Joseph. as it says Genesis 39:12... behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.
Only when they are united does the Light of God shine fully on Israel. Esau attempts to feed off the Impurity of Israel when they are not unified. When the Tribes unite they are able to subdue the 11 forces of Esau by preventing Esau from feeding of the holiness of Israel.