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

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Vol. 9   No. 11

This issue is sponsored in loving memory of
HaChaver Simcha ben HaChaver Moshe Hayen, z'l
by his family on his fifth Yohrzeit

Parshas Va'yigash

Yosef's Revelation - and His Dreams

Two things seemed to have sparked off Yosef's decision to reveal himself to his brothers when he did.

At the beginning of the Parshah, Yehudah recalls the events that led up to that moment without adding anything new. There is nothing in the speech that could possibly have prompted a change of heart in Yosef - until the last two Pesukim. In Pasuk 33, Yehudah volunteers to stand in as a slave instead of Binyamin, which would have atoned for his having sold Yosef as a slave, and in Pasuk 34 he expresses concern at his father's reaction to their returning without Binyamin. Bearing in mind that it was Yehudah who suggested that the brothers should sell Yosef as a slave, volunteering to serve Yosef as a slave in place of Binyamin was a supreme act of Teshuvah, 'measure for measure'. And the same can be said about his genuine concern for his father, which demonstrated a complete teshuvah for his lack of concern at the suffering that he caused his father at the sale of Yosef. And this is particularly relevant. Because, as if the pain and suffering that the sale of Yosef caused Ya'akov was not enough, it was Yehudah who magnified his father's anguish when he presented the ripped shirt dripping with blood to Ya'akov, with the words 'See now whether this is not your son's shirt'. And (specifically) Yehudah’s guilt is evident from Chazal, who attribute Tamar's "Haker na" to Yehudah's "Haker na".


Echoing Yehudah's fears, Yosef's first words after revealing his identity were "Is my father still alive?"

If his father's wellbeing meant so much to him, asks the Rosh, then why did he allow his father to suffer all those years? Why did he allow twenty-two years to pass without any indication that he was still alive?

We discussed this question last year, citing the Ramban's explanation (that he felt it his duty to ensure the fulfillment of his dreams, and revealing his identity prematurely would have interfered with that goal). And we cited the various answers of the Or ha'Chayim - 1. Because Ya'akov would at best not have believed him, and at worst, the news would have only caused him more heartache, knowing that Yosef was first a slave and then in prison; 2. To avoid speaking lashon ha'ra about his brothers, and to avoid causing them embarrassment or even bringing his father's curse on them, and 3. In order not to endanger himself at their hands.


The Rosh refers to the Medrash that the brothers issued a Cherem on anyone who would divulge to their father that Yosef was alive. The Cherem included Yosef, he adds. He might have been excluded from it, had he said as much at the time. But he remained silent, and that silence was construed as acquiescence. Consequently, he too was bound by the Cherem. And that, the Rosh concludes, explains why, it was only after all the brothers were gathered and were able to release the Cherem, that Yosef was able to inform his father.


We cited earlier the Ramban, who, contrary to Rashi, explains that when Yosef saw his ten brothers standing in front of him, he realized that this was not good enough. In his dream, it was the sheaves of all eleven brothers that bowed down to him. Consequently, for the dream to be fulfilled, Binyamin would have to come down to Egypt too. So he accused them of being spies, deploying a strategy that would force them to bring Binyamin.

Rabeinu Bachye however, agrees with Rashi, that when Yosef saw his brothers, he realized that the first of the dreams had come true. After all, the first dream did not specify how many sheaves bowed down to him. And that gives Rabeinu Bachye his cue to explain that there were only ten - excluding that of Binyamin (even though it is not clear why he says this or where he gets it from).

According to the Ramban, Yosef's first dream came true at the end of Parshas Miketz, where all eleven brothers bowed down to him. The second dream materialized in this Parshah, when Ya'akov arrived with all seventy members of his family, despite the fact that there is no hint in the Torah that they bowed down to him. In his opinion, the moon in Yosef's dream represented all the members of his household and not Bilhah, who was no longer alive at the time (see Ramban and footnotes 37:10 [also Rashi]).

According to Rabeinu Bachye, Yosef's first dream materialized when the ten brothers arrived the first time, and the second dream, when they arrived the second time, although Ya'akov only bowed down later in Parshas Vayechi (see Rabeinu Bachye, ibid.). It is not clear however, as to when Bilhah bowed down to Yosef, though this would not be a problem according to the alternative explanation in Rashi, that the moon in Yosef's dream depicted the nonsense that one can expect to find in every dream (the chaff among the corn).


Parshah Pearls

(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)
I'm a King Too!

"Vayigash eilov Yehudah" (44:18).

The last letters, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, spell 'shoveh' (equal), because when Yehudah approached Yosef, he told him that he was a king, too. Indeed, the Pasuk in Tehilim (48:5) "Because behold the kings confront each other", refers to the confrontation between Yosef and Yehudah (hinting at the same time, to the two Mashi'achs, Mashi'ach ben Yosef and Mashi'ach ben David).


No Mothers

"My master asked his servants 'Do you have a father or a brother?' " (47:19).

He did not ask them about their mother, points out the Ba'al ha'Turim, because he knew that not only was his own mother Rachel no longer alive, but neither was Le'ah. The Ramban in Vayeishev (37:10) extrapolates from the fact that no mention is made of Bilhah and Zilpah in the list of the seventy members of Ya'akov's household who went down to Egypt, that they were no longer alive either (see footnote there).


The Inseparables

"And we said ... we have an aged father, and a 'boy' of his old age" ("ve'yeled zekunim koton" - 44:20 [a strange expression to use considering that Binyamin was already in his thirties, though we are not discussing that now]).

The same word appears in Bereishis (in connection with Lemech's manslaughter of his ancestor Kayin and his son Tuval Kayin) "Because I killed a man by wounding him and a lad ('ve'yeled') by bruising him" (4:23).

Yehudah was hinting to Yosef that by leaving Binyamin in Egypt, he would be causing the death of Ya'akov ("a man") as well as of Binyamin ("a boy"). So strong was the bond between them that the one could not survive without the other.


Taking over Yosef's Role

"Ve'yeled zekunim (and a boy of his old age)" (44:20).

The word "zekunim" is missing a 'Yud', to read 'zekeinim'. This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Ya'akov taught Binyamin all that he had learned in the Yeshivah of Shem and Eiver. This is exactly what Rashi (quoting Targum Unklus) writes in Vayeishev, regarding Yosef. And there too, it is based on the very same word "ben zekunim" (also written without a 'Vav'). It seems that Binyamin took over Yosef's role. This idea is reinforced by what we wrote a little earlier concerning the closeness between Ya'akov and Binyamin, considering that previously, it was Yosef who had enjoyed that role.


Galus and Gehinom

"Redoh eilai al ta'amod (Come down to me, don't remain in Cana'an)" - 45:9.

The same word occurs in Ezra (32:19) in connection with Nevuchadnetzar after his death, when he was ordered "Redoh, ve'hoshkevoh es areilim (Go down to Gehinom and lie down with the uncircumcised)".

This teaches us, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Galus is comparable to Gehinom. Indeed, the Medrash explains how Avraham Avinu, faced with the choice of whether his descendants should go to Gehinom or into Galus, (followed G-d's advice and) chose the latter. The fact that the choice existed in the first place indicates that the two are on a par, and even more so considering that G-d found it necessary to help Avraham to decide.

The good news is that, after the long and bitter Galus that is drawing to an end, we will be exempted from suffering the fires of Gehinom.


Tzoros Times Seven

"And G-d appeared to Yisrael in a vision of the night" (46:2).

The letter 'Sin' in Yisrael contains seven 'Tagin' (the crowns that usually occur on the letters 'Begad K'fas'). This hints at the Pasuk in Mishlei (24:16) "Ki sheva yipol Tzadik ve'Kam (because the tzadik falls seven times and rises again)", says the Ba'al ha'Turim. And this Pasuk in turn refers to the seven Tzoros that Ya'akov suffered in his life-time - Eisav, Lavan, Eisav's Mal'ach, Dinah, Yosef, Shimon and Binyamin.


Support Our Leaders

"Va'ya'amideihu Li'nei Far'oh (and he [Yosef] placed him [Ya'akov] before Par'oh)" - 27:7.

The Torah uses the same word later in Pinchas (27:27 - in connection with the appointment of Yehoshua as Moshe's successor) "Va'ya'amideihu Li'fnei Elazar ha'Kohen". Both needed to be supported, explains the Ba’al ha’Turim, Ya'akov because of his old age, and Yehoshua, because of his embarrassment at having been chosen to succeed Moshe, still in Moshe's presence. He was actually shaking with fear in anticipation of what Moshe might do to him for his presumptuousness in accepting the appointment, and would have fallen to the ground, had someone not held him fast.


It Served Him Jolly well Right

"And Yosef brought (all) the money to the house of Par'oh (beisoh Par'oh)" - 47:14.

The same word appears in Parshas Va'eira (8:2) " ... orov koveid beisoh Par'oh", explains the Ba'al ha'Turim. The reason that the wild beasts entered Par'oh's house first, was on account of the ingratitude that he displayed towards Yosef (by enslaving his family) who had brought him all the money in Egypt, and placed it in his private treasury.


'Hey' = Five

"Hey lachem zera (Here are seeds)" - 47:23.

The word "hey" appears in two other places, the Ba'al ha'Turim informs us - in Yechezkel "hey darkecha, be'rosh nasati" (16:43), and in Daniel "Hey ch'di parz'la" (2:43).

And each of these has connotations of the number five (the numerical value of 'Hey'). In our Pasuk it refers to the fifth (one in five) of the total produce that the Egyptians were obligated to give to Par'oh. In Yechezkel, it refers to the five categories of people listed in the Pasuk there (5/6) "and do not take pity on the old men, the young men, the virgins, the children and the women, and in Daniel, to the five types of materials mentioned there two Pesukim later: "iron, copper, earthenware, silver and gold".


The Amidah

(based largely on the Sidur “Otzar ha’Tefillos”)
(Part XV)
The Kedushah

From the beginning of the Kedushah until 'ho'Keil ha'Kodosh' there are seventy-two words, corresponding to the Holy name of seventy-two letters (Eitz Yosef). The Anaf Yosef adds that the numerical value of the first letters of "Boruch K'vod Hashem mi'M'komo” is also seventy-two, and the first letters of 'Boruch Atoh Hashem, ho'Keil ha'Kodosh' spell the Holy Name of Ehkeh.


Nekadesh es Shimcho bo'Olom ...

'Olom' generally refers to the physical world, explains the Iyun Tefilah. We have been placed here in this mundane world in order to sanctify G-d's Name. So we aspire to sanctify it like the Angels sanctify it on high, together in unison. And we try to emulate their example, to do it in the form of a sacred duty, as if we had no choice to do otherwise (like the angels who have no choice). Only our service is on a higher plane than theirs, since they sanctify G-d's Name without any choice at all, whereas we elevate the freewill and choice that G-d has given us, transforming it into an obligation.

In addition, we are transforming a mundane world into a holy one, whereas they only declare holy what is holy already. In short, Angels are messengers of G-d, who can fulfill their errands to perfection, but who are not capable of growing or of affecting the growth of their surroundings. We are!

But we can only achieve this level when we do so as a group, for Kedushah can only be said when there are ten people ('Nekadesh ... ' [We will sanctify], not 'Akadesh' ['I will sanctify']) Eitz Yosef.

And this stands to reason, for that is how the angels serve Hashem, in total unison, as we just explained, and as we shall now elaborate further.


ve'Koro Zeh el Zeh ve'Omar

The Iyun Tefilah explains how, when the Angels call to each other, they do so in order to obtain permission from one another, to ensure that when they call out 'Kodosh', 'Boruch' and 'Yimloch', they do so in total unison. For you see, none of them has any personal interest in praising Hashem, but that Hashem's Name should be praised, and the larger the numbers, the greater the praise ('be'Rov am hadras Melech').


Kodosh, Kodosh, Kodosh

'Kodosh' by definition means 'removed from the mundane world '. Consequently, the triple 'Kodosh' implies that - a. G-d is not physical (Guf) - b. He is not the force that brings physicality to life (Nefesh) - c. He has no connection whatsoever with physicality (i.e. the Seichel, which binds the whole of existence). Eitz Yosef quoting the Maharal.

See also what we wrote in Kedushas Yotzer (in the B'rochos of the Shema). Perhaps we can add that the first 'Kodosh' stands for Avraham, who, in choosing to go in Hashem's ways, elevated himself to a supernatural existence. The second 'Kodosh' for Yitzchak, who added his own merits to those of his father, and who was sanctified at the Akeidah, and the third, for Ya'akov, who had the merits of his grandfather, his father and his own, and whose image is engraved underneath G-d's Throne of Glory.

And this is hinted in Kedushah de'Sidra (in 'u'Vo le'Tziyon Go'el'), where the text reads 'G-d's Spirit and the words of Torah will not be removed from your mouth, from the mouth of your children or from the mouth of your children's children forever'. And this is followed immediately by 'Kodosh, Kodosh, Kodosh'.


Boruch K'vod Hashem mi'Mekomo

The Iyun Tefilah, citing a Toras Kohanim, explains that even the Chayos ha'Kodesh (the angels that support G-d's Holy Throne) do not actually see G-d's Glory, since "No man can see G-d and live". That is why they say "Blessed is the Glory of G-d from its place" (wherever it is).

Yechezkel cited this Pasuk after the Shechinah had left its place in the Kodesh Kodshim, due to the image that had been placed in its vicinity, on its way to a series of exiles because of Yisrael's sins. The angels are therefore negating the notion that the Glory of G-d was somehow connected to its original place in the Kodesh Kodshim, and that consequently, when it went into exile, its radiance was diminished. Not at all "The Glory of G-d is blessed" (is self-generating) wherever it is (Metzudas David).


Yimloch Hashem le'Olom ...

In reference to G-d's sovereignty, it would have seemed more appropriate to quote the Pasuk in the Torah (in the Shirah) "Hashem Yimloch le'Olom Vo'ed" than “Yimloch” (a pasuk in Tehilim), says the Iyun Tefilah (indeed this is the Pasuk that we quote in Kedushah de'Sidra). The reason that they chose the Pasuk in Tehilim, is because it also contains a reference to Yerushalayim (as the Pasuk writes "Im Lo A'aleh es Yerushalayim al Rosh Simchosi"). The Eitz Yosef adds that it also serves as a brief prayer for the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash.


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