Topic: Consciousness | Posted:December 19, 2012
The story of Vayigash begins with the words “Vayigash elav Yehuda,” which means “Yehuda stood up to Joseph.” It is no coincidence that Vayigash is generally read on the Shabbat after Chanukah, because there is a similarity of consciousness between the Maccabees who defeated the Greeks, and the story of Vayigash.
What the kabbalists explain, and the Zohar makes clear, is that we are not simply discussing a story that happened thousands of years ago. We are speaking of our actual process of the Final Redemption, which can only come when enough people take it upon themselves to “rise up,” just as Yehuda rose up to Joseph and the Maccabees rose up against Antiochus.
“Vayigash elav Yehuda” is our elevation with what the sages call “azut dekedusha” – holy audacity. Rising up with holy audacity was the reason a few Maccabees were able to defeat the powerful Greek army. The miracle of Chanukah occurred not because of anyone’s merit or their spiritual level. It was because the Maccabees achieved this spiritual strength of azut dekedusha.
Spiritual strength is one of the elements most missing in our world today. In last week’s portion of Miketz, Yehuda and his brothers were beaten down by Joseph and the challenging events presented to them. This is unfortunately where we are today – we are still beaten down by the darkness in our world. The portion of Vayigash changes all that, and gives us the great gift of awakening within us the strength to stand up... the strength to have the holy audacity to tell the Creator that he has to create the miracle we are asking for, because through it we are going to change the world.
There is a section in the Midrash which says that the most negative of angels, the Satan, came to the realization that immortality and the Light of Mashiach (Messiah) was inevitable, and that there will, in fact, come a time when death and suffering will be removed from the world. After this realization, the Satan asked the Creator, “How will this Light be revealed?” The Creator replied – and this is the most important sentence in this Midrash – “He will elevate himself, and he will elevate his generation.”
My father, the Rav, always says that Mashiach is not a person; it is a consciousness. Therefore, in essence, what the Creator told the Satan is that the singular key, the most important work, the most important consciousness that we need to awaken if we want to bring about Mashiach, the removal of pain and suffering from the world, is this elevation... and this elevation comes from azut dekedusha, holy audacity. We cannot do it just by continuing our spiritual work and our connections. We must push ourselves further to achieve it, not because we are so spiritually elevated, but because we want it for the sake of changing the world.
Yehuda, in this portion, was able to bring an end to the pain of his entire family because he awakened this desire of holy audacity within himself. One of the greatest gifts of the Shabbat of Vayigash is that Yehuda comes back and gives those of us who desire this strength the ability to awaken such audacity within ourselves as well. Only, as the Midrash says, when we “raise ourselves up,” raising the strength to ask for even more than we are capable of, will we have the ability to bring the end of pain like Yehuda did. Every one of us must ask for this assistance, not because we deserve it, not because we spiritually earned it, but because we want to create a change in our world and a change in our lives.
The secret consciousness of the words “He will elevate himself, and he will elevate his generation” is what will bring an end to the darkness. All the spiritual work that we do can bring Light into our lives and Light into this world, but if we want to create a true change, we have to ask for audacity. We have to be able to say to the Creator, “No, the first miracle You did for me is not enough. I’m doing this not for myself, I am doing this for others. I am doing this for the world.”
Everything we do – whether truly awakening within ourselves the holy audacity to create miracles, or striving for the ability to stand up and create change – has been achieved by someone before us. Yehuda was here first and he did it for us. The Maccabees were here first and they did it for us. We are not creating new pathways, nor are we awakening anything new; we are simply reigniting and reconnecting to the pathways of miracles that all the great spiritual giants have laid for us throughout history.
By reminding ourselves that our actions reawaken what those before us accomplished, and that we are only reconnecting to what they did first, we can create miracles... because they opened up the channels for us. In the Halel prayer, we say “Pitchu li sharei tzadek avobam odecha,” a verse that King David wrote. We ask the Creator, “Open for me the gates.” When we come to the Creator asking, “You have to give me this strength, You have to give me this power, You have to create this miracle because I want it to reveal Light in this world,” this opens for us all the gates of Light to flood into our world. On this Shabbat, we can connect to the gate that Yehuda opened for us and awaken holy audacity. This gift of Vayigash is of tremendous importance, because in order for Mashiach to come, in order to achieve the Final Redemption, we need holy audacity. We cannot do it without azut dekedusha.