A Hasidic Teaching Pertinent to Brit-Am
(February 26, 2020, 1 ADAR 5780)
Tel Dan. Photo Credit: Manu Grinspan.
Source of Photo: https://www.parks.org.il/en/new/tel-dan-nature-reserve-must-see/
Based on excerpts from an article by Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Moseson, "Ve-Eshivah Devori," Jerusalem, 2020, 5780.
Translated, Paraphrased, and Slightly Adapted by Brit-Am.
1. Introduction. Litayim and Hasidim.
2. What Does the Article Say?
3. The Article. A Hasidic Teaching
4. Remarks by Brit-Am. The Case of Jethro
1. Introduction. Litayim and Hasidim.
The article below is based on excerpts from an article by Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Moseson. He is a Hasidic Rabbi who belongs to the Gur Hasidic group but often speaks at the public events of other Hasidim.
Through Divine Providence we came across the article parts of which we are presenting below.
Hasidut is one of the two main branches of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism. There are Litayim and Hasidim.
Litayim are also known as "Misnagdim" and other terms. They are the mainstream body. They believe in a rigid adherence to the Law and emphasis learning the Torah and everything associated with it..
Hasidim place more emphasis on prayer and emotion. They form communities centered around a charismatic "Rabbi" or his descendants. They also delve more on mystical teachings derived from the Zohar and other spiritual works. The article below also involves such teachings.
2. What Does the Article Say?
Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Moseson says that the Tribe of Dan continued what Joseph had begun to do. They gathered up the scattered sparks of holiness and returned them to their source. This meant in practical terms doing good deeds and causing others to do good. In this way good intentions that had gone astray, and bad actions that had had some degree of righteousness but had turned out wrong could all be emancipated. The bad would be turned into good by enhancing whatever good there already was. This probably sounds a bit confusing but read the article and it should become more clear. At all events, this seems to have been the ultimate intention of the author. To make his point he chose the figure of Joseph, the Tribe of Dan, and the Tribes who were Lost in Assyria, i.e. the Lost Ten Tribes.
This is where we come in.
We can take the point the Rabbinical author was making and the examples he was using and apply them to Brit-Am teachings.
25 Then the standard of the camp of the children of Dan (the rear guard of all the camps) set out according to their armies; over their army was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
The word translated as "the read guard" in Hebrew is "Ha-Masaf." This expression can also mean "the one who gathers up." The Hebrew Language can have manifold explanations with words and expressions having more than one valid meaning. Popular Rabbinical Commentary describes Dan as the one who went last in the Journey through the Wilderness. They gathered up and returned things that the other Tribes had lost along the way.
Apart from its simple literal meaning this expression concerning Dan ("the one who gathers up of all the Tribal camps") has an additional inner significance. Every Israelite has an inner longing and generosity of spirit that unfortunately has fallen down and become lost. The Tribe of Dan is the force that returns these lost qualities to their place. Through the actions of Dan each and every Hebrew may find within themselves, burning within their heart, a deep desire and a will to cleave to the Almighty. This is the "lost object" the Tribe of Dan comes to restore. The fact is that this is also an expression of the Power of Joseph.
14 Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan for the grain which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house.
The word for "money" in Hebrew is "cesef." This literally means "silver." The same word "cesef" connotes "desire." On a symbolic level Joseph gathered up all the holy sparks (of goodness) that had fallen into forbidden places, represented by Egypt, in Hebrew "Mitsraim". Joseph elevated these sparks to their source in sacred holiness. Something of this force that Joseph had had when ruler of Egypt remained with the Tribe of Dan when they were in the Wilderness as the Children of Israel came out of Egypt.
Concerning this matter there is a marvellous observation to make. It is taught that the Tribe of Dan was the least observant of all the Tribes. Rashi speaks of this in his Biblical Commentary:
Exodus (NASB) 35:
30 Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, 'See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 31 And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship... 34 He also has put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the Tribe of Dan.
We see here Judah and Dan together involved with building the Tabernacle and its appurtenances.
Rashi: # The Tribe of Dan was the least prestigious of all the Tribes. Dan was the son of Bilhah, one of the handmaidens. In the building of the Tabernacle the Almighty sets Ahisamach (of Dan) alongside Bezalel from the Tribe of Judah which was the most prestigious Tribe, cf.
Job (NASB) 34:
19 Who shows no partiality to princes
Nor regards the rich above the poor,
For they all are the work of His hands?
It was the sons of Dan, from the last prestigious of all the Tribes, who were given the task to elevate and return to their owners the lost valuables of Israel.
Deuteronomy (AKJV) 4:
29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
The Baal Shem Tov (Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer ca. 1698-1760, founder of the Hasidic Movement) commented on the above verse:
In order to find God you do not need to leave your place and find a most suitable location. You should realize that in the very place and station that you are in must you worship Him. This is what it means by the expression in the verse above, "FROM THENCE." You will find God from there. This is what it means "if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him."
Here is revealed an awesome principle: Everything involved in elevating the lost from their low stations cannot be carried through without the participation specifically of they who have been there and come out of it... as it says,
Isaiah (ESV) 27:
13 And in that day a great trumpet ["shofar'] will be blown, and those who were Lost in the Land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.
... The Almighty has set those lost souls in such remote places in order that they be gathered up by the Tribe of Dan and returned. They were lowered for the sake of elevation. So too, the Tribe of Dan had to become the least among all the Tribes in order to be elevated and to raise up others like himself.
End of Excerpts from the Article by Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Moseson
Divine Providence wanted this article to come to our attention. The article was important to us because it speaks of the Tribes of Dan and Joseph and the Ten Tribes who were lost in the Land of Assyria in general. It also brings up a point we sometimes refer to: They who hear the "call" to believe in the Ten Tribes and to live better lives in general should (according to the Baal Shem Tov quoted above) do it from where they are. This is pertinent especially to those who already live in Israelite nations. This is what Brit-Am emphasizes and what we believe in. They do not necessarily need to convert to Judaism nor to come to Israel. [At all events that is not what Brit-Am is involved in.]
There are however EXCEPTIONS!
Jethro the father-in-law of Moses was originally a pagan priest! He came to the Israelites while they were in the Wilderness. He acknowledged the Almighty and the choseness of Israel.
Exodus (AKJV) 18:
5 and Jethro, Moses father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God: 6 and he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her. 7 And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. 8 And Moses told his father in law all that the LORD had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the LORD delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. 10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.
Jethro then returned to his land and only re-attached himself to the Israelites later. Jethro was also known as Hobab:
Numbers (NASB) 10:
29 Then Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses father-in-law, 'We are setting out to the place of which the LORD said, 'I will give it to you'; come with us and we will do you good, for the LORD has promised good concerning Israel.' 30 But he said to him, 'I will not come, but rather will go to my own land and relatives.' 31 Then he said, 'Please do not leave us, inasmuch as you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will be as eyes for us. 32 So it will be, if you go with us, that whatever good the LORD does for us, we will do for you.'
Jethro apparently then convinced members of his family and extended clan to join him. They came with him (Judges 4:11).
Rabbis when they convert someone to Judaism often strongly recommend that the person concerned move closer to a Jewish community. Sometimes they insist on it.
So too, a returning soul may need to convert to Judaism and move to Israel. This however is exceptional. Each case is different.
Brit-Am has a Mandate to spread knowledge to both Joseph and Judah of Lost Israelite Ancestry and, at least for now, little more than that.