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

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Vol. 3 No. 42

Parshas Vayigash

Yosef's Rebuke

When Yosef revealed his identity to his brothers, the Torah records: "I am Yosef! Is my father still alive?" and his brothers were unable to answer him, because they were confused!

The Medrash comments: Abba Cohen Bardela says: "Woe to us from the day of judgement, woe to us from the day of rebuke. If the brothers could not stand up to the words of rebuke of Yosef, the (second) youngest of the tribes. How much more so, when G-d comes to rebuke each and every Jew according to what he is, as it is written: 'I will rebuke you and I will evaluate you', that he will not be able to stand up to that rebuke."Where, asks the Beis Ha'levi, do we find words of rebuke to the brothers in the words of Yosef?As an introduction, he explains how the word tochocho (rebuke) is actually rooted in that of hochochoh (clarifying). In other words, when one rebukes, one does not tell off, as the word "rebuke" implies, but rather, one gently gives the person to understand that he has done wrong.Sometimes, one achieves this end by trapping him into admission, using his own deeds as an example - like the story with Dovid Ha'melech.

There, Nosson the prophet trapped Dovid Ha'melech by getting him to pronounce the death-sentence over a fictitious character who had acted in a manner not dissimilar to Dovid himself, and so he was able to point a finger at Dovid and proclaim, "You are that man!"Here, too, Yosef, we can say, rebuked his brothers by hinting broadly to their very own words. For had not Yehuda attempted to evoke his mercy (to drop his claim that Binyomin be held in Egypt as a slave) by referring to his aged father, who would in all likelihood die from anguish should Binyomin not be returned to him. Therefore, Yosef reproached them: "I am Yosef whom you sold to Egypt. Is my father still alive?" (It is impossible, the Seforno explains, that he did not die out of anguish over my disappearance.) The very argument that the brothers used in their attempt to win him round to seeing their point of view, was the argument that they should have used before deciding to sell him, but did not.Little wonder that the brothers were speechless.

What could they possibly answer when faced with the very arguments that they had used on Yosef? Could there be a bigger "rebuke" than that? And these are the methods that Hashem will use against us in time to come. Regarding prayer He will say: "When your child spoke to you insincerely, one thing with the mouth, but something else in his heart, didn't you get angry with him? And your child was small and you were but a human being. then why did you, a grown-up, pray to me, G-d, King of Kings, in that manner?"You failed to give charity on the grounds that you didn't have sufficient funds, and you were struggling to make ends meet. But how is it that you always had enough money for good food and many luxurious household items? How come you never seemed to forego your annual expensive holiday? For yourself you had the money; why not for Me?"You claimed that you had not the time to learn Torah daily. Earning a livelihood made excessive demands on your time. So how did you always find time for reading newspapers, or for listening to music, chatting with friends and dancing at every wedding in town? You never seemed to forego those things that interested you! How is it that for your activities you found time, but not for Mine?" And so G-d will reproach every individual according to his own actions, directing all of his shortcomings and indulgences at himself, as He points a finger accusingly: "If you could do it for yourself, then why could you not do it for Me?"We for our part must take this to heart - now, before it becomes too late - and invert the order. If we do not like our children to speak to us and to make requests with insincerity, then we should learn to speak with utter sincerity with Hashem. If somehow we always manage to obtain our material needs, even when they are not really necessary, then we must be ready to give tzedokoh and spend money for mitzvos with a generous hand, even if it does sometimes hurt.

And if we always find time to indulge in those material and physical pleasures that we enjoy, then we must also make a point of finding time, or of making it, to indulge in that practice which outweighs all other practices - Torah-study.In that way, we will be assured of avoiding embarrassment in the World to Come, when Hashem will say to each and every one of us: "I am G-d".History of the World ( Part 27)(Adapted from the Seder Ha'doros) 2340 (contd)No sooner do the armies of Tzefo reach the spot that Yisroel are waiting, than the small army of Yisroel attacks and annihilates them. But the frightened Egyptian soldiers, instead of returning to aid the Jewish soldiers, run away into hiding, leaving them to achieve the victory on their own. Thousands of Tzefo's men fall, while not a single Jewish soldier dies.The B'nei Yisroel, angry at the Egyptian treachery, turn against them, pretending that they are not aware that they are Egyptians. They attack them as if they are Yishma'elim, Edomim or Kittim.

Meanwhile, the Egyptians have seen first-hand the incredible fighting power of the B'nei Yisroel and they are afraid of them, nor will they quickly forget the attacks on their own men. Thus it is, that at a meeting of Par'oh's advisors and the wise men of Egypt, these issues are raised and the fear voiced that in any future war, the B'nei Yisroel may perhaps join forces with the enemy.The king decides to trick Yisroel into slavery by offering a good salary to all who help build and fortify Pisom and Ra'amses. The Egyptians are to volunteer and the Jews will automatically follow. After a few days, the Egyptians are to withdraw, and the Jews will be forced to continue without wages. To ensure this, the Egyptians are to return to the work-place, but this time, in the capacity of task-masters. The heavy work will also keep the Jews away from their wives, with the result that Yisroel's numbers will diminish.This plan is put into action, and Yisroel fall for the trap - except for the B'nei Levi, who see through Par'oh's plan, and fail to turn up for work from the outset. For one month, the Egyptians work alongside the Jews and everyone receives remuneration for their work. It takes another three months, until the Egyptians have completed their withdrawal. Then they return, some as task-masters, to enforce the quota of work, others as tax-masters, to confiscate Yisroel's wages. Yisroel refer to Mellul King of Egypt as "Morror, King of Egypt".Kehos, Levi's son, dies. Haddad ben Bedad, King of Edom dies.2353Samloh from Masreikoh ascends the throne of Edom in place of Hadad ben Bedad (115 years after Yisroel arrive in Egypt).

He rules for 18 years. Par'oh gets wind of Samloh's plans to attack the Kittim, after which he intends to march on Egypt, so he increases the work-load of his Jewish slaves, in order to strengthen Egypt's fortifications before the attack takes place.2362Miriam is born (86 years before the Exodus from Egypt).2363The elders of Egypt and its wise men appear before Par'oh and complain that all their efforts to contain the numbers of the Jewish slaves are in vain, for the more they oppress them, the more they increase. One of his advisors, by the name of Iyov from the land of Aram Naharayim (from the area known as Utz) suggests that all new-born male babies should be thrown into the River Nile.The king orders the Jewish midwives Shifro and Pu'oh (according to most opinions Yocheved and Miriam, who is only two) and commands them to drown all Jewish babies as soon as they are born. But the midwives fear G-d more than they fear Par'oh, so the command is never carried out.2364Amrom marries Yocheved (his aunt), daughter of Levi (some say that Levi's wife is called "Osoh"). (There is a discrepancy here - Amrom must have married Yocheved before 2362 - for obvious reasons.)Aharon is born. Tzefo, son of Elifaz dies, Yanini is crowned king of Kittim.2365Bil'om ben Be'or flees from Kittim and arrives in Egypt where he is welcomed amidst great honour, because his unique wisdom is well-known. Par'oh showers him with gifts and immediately, he raises him to a position of importance, and appoints him as one of his chief advisors.Aharon prophecies. Par'oh dreams and Bil'om advises him to drown all Jewish boys. Some of the Jews divorce their wives; others have faith in G-d. They continue to live together and to have children. The women go out into the fields to give birth. They leave the babies for G-d to look after.And He does! He sends an angel to bathe them and to anoint them. The angel also places two stones into their hands, from one they suck milk and from the other honey.Their hair grows long and covers them in lieu of clothes and the earth swallows them up in order to protect them until they are grown up. When they are ready, the earth spews them out and they return to their homes.The Egyptians witness this and they bring their ploughs in order to kill the babies, but to no avail. They are unable to do them any harm.Miriam prophecies that her parents will give birth to a son who will save Yisroel. This encourages Amrom to remarry Yocheved in the third year after their divorce. HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE HAFTORAH(Va'yigash)
Yechezkel 37: 15-28G-d tells the Novi Yechezkel to take two sticks. On one of them, he is to write the words "for Yehudah and for the House of Yisroel their allies", and on the other "for Yosef, the stick of Ephrayim and for all the House of Yisroel their allies".The two sticks of course, represent the two kingdoms, into which Yisrael was split in the days of Rechav'om (son of Sh'lomoh Ha'melech) and Yerov'om ben Ne'vot. Yehudah's allies consisted of Binyomin, and made up the Southern Kingdom, whilst Yosef's allies constituted the remaining nine tribes, and formed the Northern Kingdom. "For Yosef, the stick of Ephrayim", explains the Metzudas Dovid, simply means that the leader of the ten tribes was Yosef - since the sovereignty of the original kings, particularly of Dovid Ha'melech and Yerov'om ben Ne'vot, was rooted in the merits of the founder-fathers of the tribes concerned, Yehudah and Yosef. However, since the first King of the ten tribes was from Ephrayim, Ephrayim's name appeared on the stick, too. (There is a Medrash Rabba however, which explains that Yisroel is called Yosef, and they are called Ephrayim, due to the z'chus of Rochel, who was the cause of Ya'akov going to stay with Lovon, and who was therefore the Akeres Ha'bayit.)AThe friction between Yehudah and Yosef runs parallel with the opening pesukim of this week's Parshah, which deals with the confrontation between Yehudah and Yosef. And in the same say as the two brothers - indeed the twelve brothers - were reconciled and became once again, one unit, so too, does the Haftorah go on to instruct Yehezkel to bring the two sticks together until they become one in his hands. This, the Haftorah goes on to say, is but a prelude to the "Kibutz goluyos" which we all eagerly await.

AGolus, it is clear, is the result of Klal Yisroel's disunity - as Chazal have expressly said about the Churban of the second Beis Ha'mikdosh and the ensuing Golus, from which we are still suffering almost two thousand years later. And indeed, whatever other causes may have been responsible for Golus Mitzrayim, it was the friction between the brothers that served as the catalyst that turned it into a reality. What is particularly fascinating is the fact that it was Yehudah, as leader of the brothers, who suggested that Yosef be sold as a slave (subsequently to Egypt), and it was Yehudah and Yosef who remain the key players in the conflict and who finally initiate the reconciliation. And it is interesting that following that reconciliation, when the brothers at long last lived at peace with each other, the Golus remained only minimally uncomfortable. The servitude was not permitted to begin as long as Yisroel lived peacefully.It was only after the last of the brothers died, some eighty years later, that the Golus turned into "avdus" and "inuy". It is more than likely that those stages coincided with a decline in the peaceful relationship that had existed up to then between the brothers and their offspring.And it is precisely this stress on unity that Ya'akov Ovinu had in mind when he ordered his children "Gather and I will tell you what will happen to you at the end of days" (Bereishis 49:1 - see Rashi). "Gather together into one unit", explains the Chofetz Chayim, "and you will be zocheh to the Ge'ulah" - for as long as you are disunited, you will remain in Golus."AI recently heard a similar idea expressed by ho'Rav ha'Gaon Rabbi Boruch Horwitz Shlita, who explained the Medrash brought by Rashi in Parshas Va'yeitzei (28:31), who in turn explains how the stones that Ya'akov placed around his head for protection turned into one.It is well-known that Ya'akov's journey and subsequent stay in Choron were merely the prelude to Golus Edom, which we are serving out now. In his dream, Hashem appeared to him and reassured him that He would protect him and that ultimately, all would be well.

According to some Meforshim, even the Angels in the dream symbolised the various goluyos that his children would have to suffer in the course of history and ultimate redemption from each of them (see Ramban).Our living in Eretz Yisroel and our safe return from golus were subject to one pre-condition: namely, that the twelve stones (representing the twelve tribes) become one. There must be unity among the various religious factions of Klal Yisroel, the Rosh Yeshivah explained, if we are to anticipate the coming of Moshiach.And that is largely the message of this week's Haftorah, which speaks extensively about the forthcoming Ge'ulah, but first stresses the importance of becoming one unity.

The first week in Ellul, Daf Ha'yomi will be learning Chullin. Anyone interested in a Daf Ha'yomi shiur, expertly explained - and including a preview of the previous day's "daf" each day - contact R. Eliezer Chrysler for further details.

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