Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 20   No. 9

This issue is sponsored
in loving memory of
Harav Zalman Yosef ben Harav Aryeh Leib Sharfman z"l
whose eighth Yohrzeit is 22 Kislev and
Harav Simcha ben Hechaver Moshe Hain z"l
whose sixteenth Yohrzeit is 6 Teves

Parshas Vayeishev

Hatred and Jealousy
(Adapted from the Beis Halevi)

"Then his brothers said to him 'Will you rule over us? Will you dominate us?' And they continued to hate him on account of his dreams and his words" (37:8).

" his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind!" (37:11).

The Beis Halevi comments how Yosef's first dream brought on his brothers' hatred, whereas his second dream resulted in their becoming jealous of him.

The first dream he explains, depicted Yosef's superior wealth and financial success in this world, and foretold that his brothers would need to come on to him for bread and Parnasah. Hence, his brothers' sheaves arose and prostrated themselves before his sheaf. The second dream, on the other hand, in which the sun, moon and stars prostrated themselves to him personally, predicted that he would be superior to his brothers spiritually. The twelve stars, the Beis Halevi explains, represent the twelve constellations, around which the entire world evolves. The twelve constellations in turn, correspond to the twelve tribes, on whom the existence of the world depends. And the fact that they bowed to Yosef signified that he was their central pillar, the 'Tzadik Y'sod Olam' on whom the entire world stood.


Wealth and success are not intrinsic values, the author explains. They are external assets that add nothing to the person who has them. Personally, there is no difference between the person who has them and the person who doesn't. Hence the maxim (said by a poor man about a rich man) 'My money-box may be embarrassed by his money-box, and my purse may well be embarrassed by his purse, but I am not embarrassed by him!'

Not so spiritual qualities, such as Torah and Avodas Hashem; If Reuven has more Torah and Avodah than Shimon, then he is intrinsically superior to him. Consequently, there is good reason for Shimon himself to be embarrassed due to Reuven's superiority.


In Yosef's first dream, he dreamt that his brothers' sheaves surrounded his sheaf and prostrated themselves to it. They did not prostrate themselves to Yosef, note, but to his sheaf (just like in the maxim that I cited earlier), because, as we explained, the fact that he had become wealthier than them did nothing to elevate him personally, only his money-box and his purse.

Whereas in the second dream, the stars prostrated themselves to him personally; this was because it referred to Yosef's spiritual superiority. This also explains why, following the first dream, the Pasuk talks about his brothers' anger, but does not mention jealousy. And it is only after the second dream that jealousy comes into the picture. Because human nature notwithstanding, whereas anger was applicable by the first dream, due to Yosef's thoughts of leadership of which his brothers accused him and his lack of diplomatic acumen in relating his dream to them, jealousy was applicable after the second dream, which showed Yosef as being on a higher spiritual level than they were, whereas anger was not.

Indeed, already before the dream, the Pasuk relates how the brothers hated him on account of the special shirt that his father gave him, but says nothing about being jealous of him.

On the other hand, one wonders how the author will explain the Gemara in Shabbos 10b, which warns against favouring one child over one's other children. It bases this warning on the mere two-Sela'im weight of fine wool in the form of the Kesones Pasim that Ya'akov made for Yosef over and above his brothers, which sparked off his brothers' jealousy. And the ensuing chain of events, the Gemara concludes, resulted in our fathers going down to Egypt!'

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Parshah Pearls

To Tell Or Not to Tell

"And they continued to hate him on account of his dreams and of his words" (37:1).

The Rosh asks how someone as wise and astute as Yosef, knowing how much his brothers hated him and were jealous of him, could do something so stupid as to further enrage them by relating before them his second dream?

Yosef's dream, he answered, was on a level known as 'Aspaklaryah ha'Me'irah', placing it on the level of a fully-fledged prophecy. That being the case, he was obligated to tell them about it, since not only is it forbidden to withhold a prophecy, but someone who does so is Chayav miysah bi'yedei Shamayim. Better, he figured , to risk the possibility of falling into the hands of his brothers than to fall with certainly into the Hands of G-d. As David ha'Melech said "Let me fall into the Hands of Hashem, because His mercy is abundant ".


The Three Exiles

"And a man found him, and behold he was wandering (To'eh) in the field" (37:8).

In the letters of the word word "to'eh", comments the Da'as Z ekeinim M.T., Gavriel (See next Pearl) hinted to him the three exiles that Yisrael were destined to suffer in the course of their history; 'Tav' - the four hundred years of Galus Mitzrayim; 'Ayin' - the seventy years of Galus Vavel, and 'Hey' - the five thousand years of Galus Edom.

After presenting his thought in the name of his father, the Da'as Zekeinim M.T quotes his Rebbi Binyamin Gozel, who says that the same hint lies in the word "Atah", in Ya'akov's statement (in connection with the time he spent with Lavan) "I remained with Lavan and I delayed until now (ad atoh"). There too, the word "atoh" is spelt 'Ayin' 'Tav' and 'Hey.


Endangering Yosef

"And a man (ish) found him " (37:15).

According to some commentaries, the 'man' was none other than Gavriel (See Rashi and Targum Yonasan).

The Rosh however, heard that he was Refa'el, who shares the same Gematriyah as 'Ish'.

How is it possible, he then asks, that Ya'akov, in his wisdom, should send Yosef, the apple of his eye, to visit his brothers, whom he must have known hated him like poison?

To answer the question, he points to the Pasuk "Are your brothers not grazing the sheep in Sh'chem". Now Sh'chem was known to be a 'location of punishment' (See Rashi, Pasuk 14) and Ya'akov was worried about the wellbeing of the brothers. On the one hand, their very presence in Sh'chem placed them in mortal danger, whilst on the other, there was nobody more reliable to send down to them to get them to move from there. Consequently, he therefore came to the conclusion that, based on the maxim that 'Vaday overrides Safek', the definite danger in which he saw them must take precedence over the possible danger to Yosef.

Ironically, the stigma attached to Sh'chem took effect in a way that Ya'akov never anticipated, sparking off a chain of events that began with the sale of Yosef, and ended with Galus Mitzrayim.


From Buyer to Buyer to Buyer to Buyer

"And they sold Yosef to the Yishme'eilim" (37:28).

Rashi explains that the brothers sold him to the Yishme'eilim, the Yishme'eilim to the Midyanim and the Midyanim, to Egypt. Based on this information, the Da'as Zekeinim explains the Pesukim as follows: The brothers raised their eyes and saw a caravan of Yishme'eilim approaching. Meanwhile some Midyanim (synonymous with Medanim) were passing. The Pasuk mentions them here, to preempt the obvious question as to how, a few Pesukim later, we are told that the Midyanim sold Yosef to Egypt. What happened was that the brothers then drew Yosef from the pit and sold him to the Yishme'eilim in the presence of the Midyanim. The latter, claiming that the brothers had drawn Yosef from the pit with the intention of selling him to them, promptly prevailed upon the Yishme'eilim to sell him to them, and took him down to Egypt.

The Da'as Zekeinim cites the Rashbam, who attributes the Pasuk's switch from 'Midyanim' to 'Medanim' to the fact that they were one and the same nation, just as M'dan and Midyan were brothers, Indeed, he adds, Yishmael too was a (half)-brother, though it is not clear how he will then explain the multiple sale that took place here.

points out that the Medanim, the Midyanim and the Yishme'eilim

The problem with the above explanation, comments the author, lies in the Medrash, which Rashi himself cited earlier, which specifically states that Yosef was sold four times, and not just three.


He therefore explains it like this: The brothers were discussing selling Yosef to the approaching Yishme'eilim, but the Midyani merchants arrived first, so they sold him to them for a pair of shoes, whilst he was still in the pit, on the off-chance that he was still alive. The Midyanim were in the process of hauling him out - alive, when the Yishme'eilim arrived. They then sold him to the Yishme'eilim (at a handsome profit). The Yishme'lim sold him to the Medanim, who took him down to Egypt.

But wait a minute - does the Torah not say later that Potifera purchased Yosef from the Yishme'eilim?

What happened, says the Da'as Zekeinim, was that when the Egyptians saw the Medanim (who were black) selling a white slave, they were suspicious, and demanded a guarantor that Yosef was not stolen. So the Medanim brought along the Yishme'eilim, from whom they had purchased him, who corroborated their claim; and this considered as if it was the Yishme'eilim who had sold Yosef to Potifera.


Yehudah wasn't There

" she (bas-Shu'a) called him Sheilah, and he (Yehudah) was in K'ziv when she bore him" (38:5)

See Rashi.

The Da'as Zekeinim however explains that it was customary in those, for the parents to take turns in naming their children, beginning with the mother. In that case, it ought to have been Yehudah who named this third son. Only because he was in K'ziv, bas Shu'a stood in for him.

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