Yosef and Akher
“And she called his name Yosef, saying: HaShem [will] add to me another son” (Gn 30:24).
The word “Akher” (other) contains several secrets in this portion.
Another son (Ben Akher) – this is, another son beside Yosef (cf. Targum Pseudo Yonathan). This is, ‘a strange son’ (a son that will not be accepted by his brothers; for a heretic is called ‘Akher’). This is ‘a later son’ (someone who will live in the future, in later days – yamim akharonim). “Akher” also makes allusion to the fact that he will be counted as Rachel’s offspring, even though he will be of ‘Another’ (Akher); therefore he will be called by the name: ‘Messiah ben Ephraim’, or ‘Messiah ben Yosef’.
Yosef the Redeemer
Yosef said to his brothers, “I am about to die and God will remember you (pakod yifkod) and bring you up from this land to the land which He swore about to Abraham, to Yitzhak, and to Yakov” (Gn 50:24).
His words “pakod yifkod“- ‘God will remember you’ – were not only his parting words, but the very words that Moses later used to announce the redemption that Yosef had foretold (Midrash HaGadol 50:24, cf. Ex 13:19).
And who will redeem them from exile? The first one was Moses our master, and the last one, Messiah.
“Messiah ben Yosef” is the process of redemption, a redemption in the likeness of Yosef, as it’s written: “and called his name Yosef saying: HaShem will add me another son” (Gn 30:24). Then in the End of Days, it will have to give way to a more final concept: “Messiah ben David”, who is said to have the soul of Moses himself – as it’s written: “HaShem will raise up… a Prophet like me, to him you must hear” (Dt 18:15)).
“The essential function of Messiah ben Yosef is to prepare Israel for the final redemption, to put them into the proper condition in order to clear the way for Messiah ben David to come” (Saadia Gaon,Emunot veDeot8:6).
As we have seen in previous parashot, the archenemy of Yakov/Israel is Amalek = Edom = Esav = Samael = Satan, and Messiah will defeat him in its due time.
As our sages understand from the words of the Prophet, it is Messiah ben Yosef who will fight Edom = Seir = Satan = Evil Inclination.
“The house of Yakov will be a fire, and the house of Yosef a flame, and the house of Esav stubble, they will burn them and consume them, and there will be no survivor of the house of Esav” (Ovadiah 1:18).
“The progeny of Esav shall be delivered only into the hands of the progeny of Yosef” (Baba Bathra 123b).
“The house of Yosef is to be a flame to consume the house of Esav; therefore, I will not be afraid of Esav and his legions” (Targum Pseudo Yonathan).
Messiah ben Yosef will die in battle against the evil inclination, as it’s written: “An evil animal consumed him” (Gn 37:33) and also: “and Yakov mourned for his son many days” (Gn 37:34). The ‘evil animal’ is the Seir (meaning goat, and also demon, also being the mount of Edom, and the aspect of Esav when he was born). The ‘evil animal’ is also the snake who tempted Eve, who is Amalek and Samael. In the secret of: “They will look upon me because of the one whom they pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child” (Zech 12:10; cf. Sukka 52a).
But does Messiah ben Yosef really die? Certainly not. For it’s written: “Od Yosef Hai” – ‘Yosef is still alive’ (Gn 45:28). As the entire redemption depends on his role, Messiah ben Yosef lives. Even when he dies, he lives, thus our sages taught: “The righteous, even after death are called alive” (Berakhot 18b).
Of this is written also: “He made his grave with the wicked… If his soul offer itself as an asham [guilt offering] he will see seed and prolong his days” (Is 53:10).
However, from our point of view and perspective, we should try to bring with our deeds the complete redemption (this is; Messiah ben David, the King Messiah), so that Messiah ben Yosef would not die at the hands of Armilus (the spiritual force that is the leader of the Erev Rav – mixed multitude – who try to separate Israel from Messiah’s redemption). This is the secret in the Amidah’s prayer: “speedily establish the throne of your servant David” (cf. Arizal).
If Israel deeds were worthy Ben Yosef shouldn’t physically die, as it’s written: “Today, if you hear my voice”. Meaning, if you hear my voice today as a nation, Messiah ben David would come today (since all prophecies are dependant on Israel’s behaviour) (cf. Shemot Rabbah 25:16). As our sages taught: “If Israel is worthy he will come with the clouds of heaven” and “if Israel is not worthy, Messiah will come riding a donkey” (Sanh 98b). It is thus taught in a tradition: “He who sees a donkey in his dream should expect salvation because it says, ‘Behold your King comes to you triumphant, victorious, humble and riding a donkey’” (Berakhot 56b; cf. Zech 9:9). But is Israel worthy to speed the coming of Messiah ben David? Not in the past, therefore Ben Yosef was needed, for it’s written: “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is 53:6-7); and this verse is concerning Messiah (cf. Sanh 98b; David Kimkhi).
Yosef is not recognized
If Israel does not accept and does not recognize Messiah, he will be Ben Yosef. For it’s written:
“Yosef recognizes his brothers, but they don’t recognize him” (Gn 42:8). For they say: “Will you actually reign over us?” (Gn 37:8).
“In his generation and in every generation, Messiah ben Yosef recognizes his brothers, but they don’t recognize him. This is a deed from Satan, who hides the attributes of Messiah ben Yosef… had Israel recognized Yosef… they would have been completely redeemed” (Vilna Gaon; Kol haTor 2:39).
However, this is done in order to bring Salvation, for it’s written: “God did send me before you to Preserve life” (Gn 45:5). “To save your lives by a great deliverance” (Gn 45:7).
Yosef is not accepted by his brothers, as hinted in the phrase: “Ben Akher” (a heretic son) (Gn 30:24). Now notice how the name “Yosef” is hinted into the text when the Torah says:
“and they hated him even more” (Gn 37:5).
“vaYosifu Od Sno oto” – ויוספו עוד שנא אתו
Ben Yosef brings Unification
Notice how the Word ‘Yosifu’ includes clearly the name of ‘Yosef’ in it, covered with two letters Vav on the left and on the right.
Why is the suffering Messiah called “Ben Yosef”? Because “they add further hate to him”.
In Kabbalah, the Vav (=6) corresponding to the Vav of the Sacred Name, is the personification of the emotive Sefirot called: ‘Zeir Anpin’ – the small face, the likeness that is before the Holy One, the primordial Torah, depicted as a “Naar” – נער– a young man with black hair (cf. Zohar 3:132a; Bahir 106; cf.Song of Songs 5:11); in the familiar personifications, Zeir Anpin is called the “Son”. For God to call someone “my Son” means that his qualities are those of ‘Zeir Anpin’; this is referred to in the words: “Israel is my son” (Ex 4:22).
Yosef was a Naar (Gn 41:12) and in his sexual temptation, he protected the place of the covenant from sin; because he kept from damaging the Covenant of foundation (the place where circumcision is done), he was called Tzaddik (Righteous one; cf. Amos 2:6).
Torah teaches that profaning the place of the Covenant brings separation from the Divine Presence (the Shekhina). This is found in the words:
“If there be among you a man that is not clean because of an impure emission of ‘seed’ at night, he is to go out of the camp and stay there” (Dt 23:10) “For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp … therefore your camp must be sacred, so that He won’t see anything indecent and turn away from you” (23:15 ). And so King David prayed after the sexual sin: “Do not cast from me your Presence, nor take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11).
So Yosef represent the Sefirah of ‘Yesod’ (foundation) as it’s written: “The Righteous (ie. Yosef) is the foundation of the world (ie. Yesod)” (Prov 10:25). This is the door through which Zeir Anpin (the Son) joins with Malkhut (Nukva, the Bride) – when righteousness is activated bringing Joy to God, these two are coupled and then the Messianic figure personifies “the Son”, Yesod (actually ‘Zeir Anpin’ as a whole) and the nation of Israel personifies Malkhut, the bride. Thus about Messiah is written: “you are my Son, today I have begotten you” (Psalm 2:7), and of Israel it is said: “Rejoice, daughter of Zion… your king comes” (Zech 9:9), and also: “All glorious is the king’s daughter… she will be led to the king” (Psal 45:14).
In the cosmic kabbalah, concerning the ages of the Universe, Vav corresponds to the 6th day of creation, the sefirah of Yesod (=Yosef), the connection between physical and spiritual worlds. The gathering of Sparks and rectifications that must be done before the King Messiah comes.
So in the word: ‘VaYosifu’ (Gn 37:5), the first Vav is the first Adam, meant to be Righteous, created in God’s image. The Middle word, ‘Yosef’ is Messiah ben Yosef, the channel to the final Vav, since his mission is to unite Zeir Anpin with Nukva, the Son with the Bride (cf. Kol haTor 2). And the final Vav is Messiah ben David, the King Messiah. ‘vaYosifu’ in Gematria equals “in His image” from the verse: “God created man in his image” (Gn 1:27).
ויוספו = בצלמו = 168
All the “Toldot” (genealogical generations) of the Bible are grammatically written defectively with a missing Vav except two: The “Toldot of Heaven and Earth” (Gn 2:4) and the “Toldot of Peretz” (Ruth 4:18). These refer to Adam and Messiah, since the “Toldot of Heaven and Earth” relates the creation of Adam and Peretz is the ancestor of King David and of Messiah. These are the two Vavs at each side of the word “Yosef” in “vaYosifu”.
Exile and Redemption
So let’s go back to our portion, “and they hated him even more” (Gn 37:5). Literally the text says: “And they added further hate to him”.
The word: “Further” – ‘Od’. Is used in the text 4 times and this contains another secret.
It is used when his brothers hate Yosef (37:5, 8), and it is used when Yosef dreamed. Interestingly, it seems superfluous or unnecessary the way the word “Od” is inserted in the text:
“And he dreamed further another dream” – ‘vayaKhalom Od khalom akher’ (Gn 37:9).
It seems that since the word “akher” (another) is used at the end, the word “Od” (further) is unnecessary. In the same way, Yosef decides to say to his brothers: ‘Hineh, khalamti khalom od’ – “Behold, I dreamed a further dream” (37:9), instead of ‘I dreamed another dream’. It’s like the writer saw necessary to include 4 times the word “Od” in this portion – and remember this was dictated to Moses by God.
The term Od (again, further) hints to the four exiles: Egyptian (the first one), Babylonian, Greek and Roman (the actual one). As it’s written:
“For four [rebellions of Israel] I will not forgive, because they sold with money the righteous one” (Amos 2:6).
But just like the word “Od” is used first negatively and then positively, it also implies the redemption. As it’s written:
“Again (Od) there will be heard… in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem… the voice of the bride… for I will cause the captivity of the land to return as at the first” (Jer 33:10-11).
Body and Soul of Messiah
As to the interpretation that Messiah ben Yosef is called son of Yosef even though he does not necessarily come from Rachel’s seed, as she said: “HaShem will add to me another son” (Gn 30:24)…
Yosef (Gn 41:40-44) is described as ‘viceroy’ (cf. Mikveh Yisrael ch. 13 & Sefer haYasher). The term used by our sages: “viceroy” or ‘second to the King’, in Hebrew is: ‘Mishne laMelech’.
Who is the King? The King alludes to both, God and David; as it’s written: “Let my lord king David live forever” (1Kings 1:31), and also: “They shall serve Hashem their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them” (Jer 30:9). Obviously David represents: Messiah ben David, the King Messiah.
Yosef is ‘MiSHNeH laMelech’. This sentence is an allusion to “the Soul of/for the King” –NeSHaMaH laMelech. So Messiah ben Yosef is the Soul and Messiah ben David is the body. And body and soul must be brought together. Because it is all one.
Mishne laMelech – משנה למלך
Neshamah laMelech – נשמה למלך
“Ben Yosef and Ben David are two different functions of the same person” (sefer Hizyonot p. 160).
Messiah ben David is the body of Messiah that comes from the ground; from King David’s seed. Messiah ben Yosef is the Soul of Messiah and it comes from Heaven; from God; as it is alluded in the verse: “The breath of our nostrils is the Messiah of HaShem” (Lam 4:20); which alludes to the Breath of Life – ie. The Neshama (the Soul) that God gave from within Himself to Adam (Gn 2:7). In a mystical aspect, all our connection to the Creator comes by the merits of the Soul of Messiah (ie. ben Yosef). As it’s written: “He will breath the fear of God” (Is 11:3) and also: ‘you love righteousness and reject wickedness, therefore God, your God, anoints you (ie. makes you Messiah)’ (Psal 45:7). As body cannot stand without soul, Messiah ben David embodies Messiah ben Yosef. It’s all one.
Because the man destined to be Messiah (ie. Messiah ben David) although births naturally in this world, he receives from Gan Eden (from Heaven) the whole soul of Messiah (Messiah ben Yosef), making him realize he’s the Messiah (Yitzhak Luria’s commentary on Zohar Shemot 8b)