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Parasha Insights

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil
August 7, 2018

There is a famous story of a king that built vast wondrous cities. At his disposal was an awesome architect and builder named Joseph.

Joseph was known throughout the Kingdom, and had been instrumental in producing the most magnificent edifices for the King. He worked gallantly all his life.

As he got older, he decided that the time had come to ‘retire’.

Not an easy task being the best man in the kingdom. The King was very fond of Joseph and allowed him to retire, but first made one final request.

“I would like you to build for me one last building.

Make it as good as you can!

The land I am giving you for this project is vast, with potential for beautiful gardens and pools, as well as a large living area.”

Joseph was tired. He had built his whole life and really needed the rest. But the Kings request was paramount. He had to perform, and it would be his last.

He thought for a while about the planning and then realised that he had many tools and objects left over from previous jobs. It would be a shame and waist of his money to go out and buy new material.

Although he wouldn’t be able to build such a magnificent place as before, he was happy to proceed using all the leftover tools and material to create the kings final request. He had after all built up the entire country; surely the last place wouldn’t matter so much.

With lacklustre he began to build his final building, putting together a mix of new and old. He had worked hard all his life, and just didn’t have the energy or will power to work hard on this one. After months of mediocre workmanship, he approached the king with the final product.

The king made a grand party thanking Joseph for all his kind work and past effort.

After an hour, the trumpets sounded and the king came to Joseph with a box.

In it lay what looked like a special present.

Joseph was pleasantly surprised as the king related that he wanted to show his appreciation to Joseph for all his years’ hard work.

His imagination went wild, he started to fantasise over what lay in the box; perhaps it was a massive diamond, worth millions.

As he opened the box, he was shocked.

The King looked towards him and said “these are the keys to your new residence!”

The building that Joseph had built in such a mediocre and lack lustre fashion was now his new residence a present from the king!


We are all created special. Each one of us is given many tools to produce who we are.

At times we make the most of it, but at others we complain, not realising that the edifice that we are building is our own!

We are and become what we ourselves create.

Lefum Tsara Agra – the wonderful result depends according to the hard work we put in.

Jasmine your Bat Mitsva Parsha, (and by the way it’s also my Bar Mitsva Parsha) starts with the interesting word Reeh – “See”.

The Torah relates the reward and punishment for keeping the Mitzvot.

Interestingly it starts with the word Reeh – See in the singular form – relating to an individual. Yet the Pasuk continues a few words later in the plural tense with the word “Lifneichem.” – In front of you (plural).

Why does the Torah change tense, surely it should have finished the sentence in the singular – Lefanecha?

Every action we partake of has an effect on our eventual personality. But at the same time our actions create ripple effects that ring throughout the world.

The Chatam Sofer brings a Gemara in Kiddushin that states one should live his or her life as if their life is in complete balance between good and evil. If they were to perform even one more Mitzvah, their personal scales would be tipped and they would be guaranteed life. However, the opposite effect holds true as well. By using this mind set, an individual will learn the power of even one of his or her actions on their life.

R’ Akiva later in the Gemara takes this idea a bit farther. He says that not only should one have the mindset that their life is a scale; one should view the entire world as being in complete balance. R’ Akiva is trying to explain that every person should view themselves as being able to individually affect the entire world.

Jasmine you are now Bat Mitsva – but what does that mean? The daughter of a mitzvah? Sounds funny?!

You are of an age where your decisions are key to your outcome, your eventual personality.

The word Mitzvah comes from the word Tsevet – a team or connection. Every Mitsva that we perform connects us to G-d, but also connects us to the entire nation.

This is the phase in life that you are now entering.

We can now understand why the Torah starts by referring to the individual Re’eh and moves on to the plural Lifneichem. We should see (Re’eh) as individuals the power that we have on the world around us. When we do Mitzvot we need to know that Hashem promises to place before us (Lifneichem) Brachot. Those blessings will affect the entire world and will affect history.

Did you know that Jasmine is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family? Well thanks to Wikipedia I found out that it contains around 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Shabbat Shalom

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