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Vayeshev(Genesis 37-40)

Snakes and Scorpions

Parshat Vayeshev tells of Joseph being thrown by his brothers into a pit. The Torah describes the pit as being "empty and without water."

This raises a question: If the verse says that the pit was empty, why does it also need to tell us there was no water?

The answer is that there is no such thing as a completely empty pit. The laws of physics tell us that something will always permeate a vacuum. So in this case, the "empty pit" had no water, but it did contain other, dangerous elements like snakes and scorpions.

This idea manifests in our own lives as well. The "pit without water" symbolizes a life without Torah, which is often compared to water. There's no such thing as "neutral." Something will always become your god and your guide. The question is: What will it be? Will we proactively fill that space with a good, positive element? Or will we just let some other - perhaps dangerous element - determine our outlook and habits?

With the threat of terror spreading worldwide, I am reminded of the adage from Edmund Burke: "The only thing that evil needs to flourish is for good men to do nothing."

Yes, nature abhors a vacuum… and that law applies to meta-physics as well. So let's fill the space that surrounds us -- with the beautiful overflowing fountain of Torah.

December 17, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) Anonymous, December 20, 2016 2:26 PM

Excellent article and very well written! Thanks for posting!

(6) Anonymous, November 30, 2015 12:35 PM

Great article! Thanks for posting!

(5) Anonymous, December 10, 2014 12:37 PM


This is one of my favorite teachings, and this is a very well written encapsulation of it. Thank you so much for posting this and thank G-d for Torah, Judaism, and those who help spread His word, like you! :-)

(4) Anonymous, November 18, 2013 11:48 PM

Enjoyable, insightful!

(3) laila, November 28, 2007 8:23 PM

open your heart adn soul to torah

After several years of hardship I ahve finally realized what it was that my family was missing from me. As my day went from bad to worse i did not expect to find a light at the end of the tunnel till I turned to Aish which I occasionally did . I realized that all the stuff My boss Yaron has been telling me about torah is true life is precious adn its not all about money and power its how we treat each other adn how we should live tot be a happier nation of jewish people. For once I prayed with a sincere feeling .Thank for opening my eyes .

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