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The Coat 

VaYeishev (Genesis 37:1)  

Do not have any other gods before me …… Do not let anything skew your priorities.

The most famous piece of biblical clothing is found this week's Parsha. Yaacov gives Joseph a multi-colored coat. The coat is beautiful, but the story is tragic. Because of the coat, Joseph's brothers become jealous and sell him into slavery and the whole story of our descent into Egyptian oppression begins.

How could Yaacov of all people show favoritism to one child? Yaacov is emes, truth, surely he knew better! What was he thinking?

I'd like to suggest the following. There is truth and then there is the real truth. There is the truth of the ivory tower, then there is the truth that works in the "real" world.

The Talmud calls our world the world of falsity - where cunningness, deceit, and ulterior motives reign supreme. Not all good ideas work. Communism might have been a great idea but it doesn't work because people are selfishly motivated. 

Yaacov had the truth - the pristine truth of Torah but he erred in not being "street-wise" when he applied it. The Zohar points out that Joseph deserved the coat, he had the strongest leadership quality amongst the brothers, but as it wasn't going to work, they would and did become jealous.

Chanukah, which starts on Sunday night, is the celebration of making truth work. The Greeks would have been happy if Torah remained in the study hall, what they detested was when it was applied as a way of real life. That is why they made specific decrees against Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, and Brit Milah. 

The Hasmoneans understood that it was worth risking their lives to restore the way of real truth to the Jewish people, for if we can't live the real truth, what's the purpose of life?

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