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

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Vol. 10   No. 11

This issue is sponsored in loving memory of
he'Chaver Simchah ben he'Chaver Moshe Hain z.l.
by his family on his sixth Yohrzeit

Parshas Va'Yigash

A Time To Give Presents

The Torah relates how Yosef gave his brothers a new change of clothing, and Binyamin five changes of clothing, besides an additional three hundred Sela'im. Seeing as the Pasuk goes on to describe the lavish gift he sent his father, it is clear that Yosef considered this an opportune moment to give presents (perhaps to compensate the suffering he had, directly or indirectly, caused his family). Consequently, the fact that he gave gifts does not really require explanation. What he gave and to whom he gave it - that is another matter.


Tosfos explains that Yosef gave his brothers a new suit to compensate having accused them of being spies. The Chizkuni goes one step further. In the episode of the 'stolen' goblet, he says, Yosef had unjustifiably caused his brothers to rent their clothes, as a result of which they now suffered the embarrassment of walking around in torn clothes. So he felt obliged to replace them.

And he gave Binyamin five suits, the Chizkuni explains; one for the same reason as he gave the other brothers, one because he was his maternal brother as well his paternal one, a third one to compensate having accused him of being a thief. The fourth and fifth suits, he concludes, were to pay for the double that Binyamin would have to pay him (though it is not clear why one suit would not have sufficed).


The Chizkuni's explanation however, does not conform with the Gemara in Megilah (16b). In reply to the question, how Yosef, who had himself suffered as a result of Ya'akov's favoritism, could conceivably make the same mistake with Binyamin as his father had made with him, Rebbi Binyamin bar Yefes explains that he was merely dropping him a hint that he would have a descendant who would leave the King's presence with five royal robes. The descendant's name was of course Mordechai, who "went out from before the king wearing royal robes, blue-wool and white wool ... ."

In similar vein, Tosfos, perhaps in anticipation of the Maharsha's Kashya, which we will deal with shortly, explains that the three hundred Sela'im that he gave Binyamin, were a hint that half the Beis-Hamikdash would later be built in Binyamin's portion. How is that?

Because he explains, David Hamelech paid Aravnah ha'Yevusi six hundred Sela'im for the plot on which David intended to build the Beis-Hamikdash.


The G'ro asks how the Gemara resolves the original problem. How would the hint aspect of the gift remove the brothers' jealousy?

He therefore explains that in fact, each of the five 'suits' that Yosef gave Binyamin was inferior to the 'suits' that he gave to each of the other brothers, and that in sum total, those five 'suits' were equal to the one 'suit' that he gave to each of them. And he bears this out from the fact that the word "Chalifos" (suits) is written without a 'Vav' in the case of Binyamin, but with a 'Vav' in the case of the brothers.


The Maharsha in Megilah queries the Gemara's explanation, inasmuch as it only deals with the changes of clothing. Why does it ignore the three hundred Sela'im, he asks, which in itself should have been sufficient cause to arouse the brothers' jealousy, no less than the clothes?

And he answers that the extra money could easily be attributed to the fact that Yosef and Binyamin were maternal brothers too, unlike the other brothers, who were related only paternally. It is not comparable to Ya'akov's special gift of a shirt, since there, the relationship between their father and Yosef was no different than that of their father and themselves. That being the case, Yosef's monetary gift to Binyamin was something that the brothers would have readily accepted, and it was the five 'suits' he gave him to the one he gave them that presented a problem.

Perhaps we may add, that besides the need to compensate Binyamin a. for forcibly tearing him away from his father, and b. for having accused him of being a thief (which, according to the G'ro, he had not yet done), he would also have felt inclined to reward him for his loyalty and affection. This he had demonstrated by naming his ten sons after Yosef's troubles, as Rashi explains in Mikeitz (as opposed to the other brothers, who had connived to kill him, and settled on selling him into slavery).


Rabeinu Bachye however, offers a unique explanation to explain the extra gift of three hundred Sela'im that he gave to Binyamin. This sum, he explains, is based on the Gemara in Gitin, which penalizes someone who sells his slave to a gentile, obligating him to pay as much as ten times his value, if need be, to redeem him. Now the value of a slave is thirty Sela'im. And thirty times ten equals three hundred.

Effectively then, Yosef gave each of the brothers three hundred Sela'im, by not claiming the penalty from them. He was after all, no worse than a slave. Consequently, when he gave Binyamin the same amount, he was giving him no less and no more than he gave to each of the other brothers (see Torah Temimah).


There are a number of snags in Rabeinu Bachye's explanation however (which by the way, is also presented by the Rosh and the Chizkuni). One of them is the fact that Yosef seems to have included Reuven in the penalty, even though he was not there when Yosef was sold. Ha'Rav Chaval, in the footnote in Rabeinu Bachye, answers that although Reuven was not present at the sale, he was there, and he gave his consent, when Yosef was thrown into the pit, renderring him a guilty party. Perhaps one may add that Rabeinu Bachye himself comments how really, Reuven hated Yosef no less than the brothers, and that his motive in saving him from the pit was only in order to spare his brothers from sinning. Perhaps this is what convinced Yosef that Reuven deserved to be penalized together with his brothers.


Parshah Pearls

(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)


"Va'yigash eilav Yehudah" (44:18).

The last letters of these three words, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, spell 'shoveh' (equal). Yehudah was telling Yosef, that he was speaking to him as a king to a king, and that he should therefore take his words seriously.


Broken Hearts

"Ve'yeled Zekunim Koton" (44:20).

The word "Ve'yeled" appears also in Bereishis (in connection with the death of Kayin at the hand of Lemech) "Ki ish haragti le'fitz'i ve'yeled le'chaburosi (because I killed a man by wounding him, and a lad by bruising him)".

'If you retain Binyamin here', Yehudah was saying to Yosef, 'you will be killing a man and a boy, seeing as neither will be able to survive without the other.


Galus and Gehinom

"Redoh eilai al ta'amod (Come down to me, don't delay)" 45:9.

These were Yosef's words, and although he may not have realized it, he was inviting his father to set the exile in motion. The same word, points out the Ba'al ha'Turim, occurs in Yechezkel (32:19), in connection with Nevuchadnetzar going to Gehinom "Redoh ve'hoshkevoh es areilim" ('Go down and lie with the uncircumcized').

This teaches us, he says, that Galus is comparable to Gehinom.


It Depends What's Impotant

"Your eyes can see (eineichem ro'os)" 45:12.

This has the same numerical value, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, as 'her'eisi lochem ha'Milah' ('I showed you that I am circumcised'). And, he continues, the words that follow "ki fi ha'medaber aleichem" is equivalent to 'be'Eglah Arufah', which is the sign that he gave them to assure his father that he was Yosef (as we discussed in Va'yeishev).


Bearing in mind that all the Egyptians were circumcised, it is at first difficult to understand what Yosef was trying to prove by showing them that he was circumcised.

Perhaps what he meant was that nobody else other than Yosef would dream of proving his identity through the fact that he was circumcised, because nobody else other than Yosef would have attached any importance to the Milah.

In fact, to anybody else, the B'ris Milah would have been a source of embarrassment, both because it was forced upon him, and because the self-control that it represented would have run contrary to his ideology. And if that is true of others, it is certainly true of the highly immoral Egyptians.

It could only have been Yosef, Yosef ha'Tzadik, who would have even thought of proving his identity by means of the Milah, because it represented a life-style with which he was both well-accustomed and with which he was proud to be associated.


Wagons and Calves

"Va'yar es ha'agolos (And he saw the wagons)" 45:27.

"Agolos" appears four times in the Parshah, points out the Ba'al ha'Turim, just as "Eglah Arufah" appears four times at the end of Shoftim, bearing out the connection between Ya'akov's parting words before Yosef's sale and Yosef's final act before their reunion, as we have already discussed.


The Tzadik Survives Seven

"Va'yomer Elokim le'Yisrael be'mar'os ha'layloh (And G-d said to Yisrael in a vision of the night)" 45:20.

There are seven 'crowns' on the 'Sien' of "Yisrael" (instead of the usual three), says the Ba'al ha'Turim. A hint, he explains, to the Pasuk in Mishlei "For a Tzadik falls seven times, but rises again".

Indeed, he points out, Ya'akov survived seven major Tzoros in his life: Eisav, Lavan, Eisav's Angel, Dinah, Yosef, Shimon and Binyamin.


It Depends How You look at It

"ve'Anochi a'alcho gam oloh (and I will certainly bring you back)" 46:4.

The word "oloh" is spelt with a 'Hey' (even though "a'alcho" is not), the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, to hint that, after five generations, they would return to Eretz Cana'an (Yisrael): Ya'akov, Levi, Kehos, Amram, Moshe.


In Lech-Lecha (15:16), the Torah wrote that the fourth generation was destined to return to the Land, and Rashi there explains how Yehudah, Peretz and Chetzron would live in Egypt, whilst Kalev would return to Eretz Yisrael. If we were to count Ya'akov, then it would be the fifth generation that would return. In other words, it was the fourth (or fifth) generation of the tribe of Yehudah that would return, but the fifth (or sixth) of the tribe of Levi.

(See also Ramban in Lech-Lecha, and Ba'al ha'Turim ha'Shalem there).


Guaranteed Life

"ve'Yosef yoshis yodo al einecho (and Yosef will place his hand on your eyes)" (ibid.)

The Seforno explains this as a promise that Yosef would look after Ya'akov's every need. According to others however, it refers to the Minhag of closing the eyes of a person after his death. And that explains the Ba'al ha'Turim's comment 'He will close your eyes. This was nothing short of a Divine assurance that he (Yosef) would not die in Ya'akov's lifetime' (see also Or ha'Chayim).


The Weaker the Better

"And he took some of his brothers (u'miktzeh echav lokach)" 47:2.

Rashi explains that (to discourage Paroh from taking the brothers into the army) it was the five weaker brothers whom Yosef took to greet Par'oh, though whether it was Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yisachar and Binyamin or Gad, Naftali, Dan, Zevulun and Asher is a matter of opinion.

Either way, this will explain the comments of the Ba'al ha'Turim, who observes that "u'miktzeh echav lokach has the equivalent numerical value as 'zeh ha'chaloshim' (these were the weak ones).


Playing Fives

"Hey lachem zera (here you have seeds)" 47:23.

The word 'Hey' occurs three times in T'nach, and each time, it is closely connected with the number five (which of course, the word 'Hey' represents).

The word occurs here, where one fifth of the crops belonged to Paroh, the remaining four-fifths was their's to sustain their families.

In Yechezkel (16:43) 'Hey darkech be'rosh nasati', where it refers to the five groups mentioned there "And do not have pity on the old, the young men, the virgins, the babies and the women".

And in Daniel ''Hey k'dei parz'la, dahava, kaspa, chaspa, nachsha" (here you have- iron, gold, silver, clay and copper).


The Amidah

(based mainly on the Siddur "Otzar ha'Tefillos")
(Part XXX)

ve'Karno Torum bi'Yeshu'osecho

From the day that the Beis-Hamikdash was destroyed, the Eitz Yosef quotes the Medrash as saying, ten horns were taken, and they will all be returned with the coming of Mashi'ach.

When Chanah said "My horn will be uplifted by Hashem", she was referring to David Hamelech, who was anointed with a horn (as opposed to the kings of Yisrael, who were anointed with an earthenware jar), Eitz Yosef. And clearly, that is the horn that we mention here. In any event, it most certainly refers to the strength and eternity (a horn, as opposed to an earthenware jar, is unbreakable) of Malchus Beis David


Ki li'Y'shu'oscho Kivinu Kol ha'Yom

For Your salvation, note, and not for ours. Indeed, this is based on the Pasuk in Vayechi where Ya'akov said (49:18) "We hope for Your salvation, Hashem". The Medrashim have already cited five Pesukim which equate G-d's salvation with that of Yisrael (Iyun Tefilah). This refers to various Pesukim, where G-d has indicated that the Shechinah goes into exile with Yisrael, and that when they return to Eretz Yisrael, He will return with them. It goes without saying that someone who loves G-d, Davens for the redemption of the Shechinah no less than for the redemption of Yisrael.


The Arizal writes that when reciting these words, we should have in mind to positively wish for the redemption to materialize. In this way, when confronted with the question whether we longed for the salvation (one of the six questions which we will all be asked by the Heavenly Court), we will be able to reply in the affirmative. And the Sha'arei Teshuvah writes that when saying these words, one should specifically have in mind to incorporate the current troubles that face us at that particular moment). Having this in mind will help us overcome those troubles.


The B'rachah of Sh'ma Koleinu

The Levush writes that the sixteenth B'rachah of 'Shema Koleinu' corresponds to the angels, who recited 'Baruch Atah Hashem, Shomei'a Tefilah', when Yisrael cried out to G-d in Egypt, and He responded to their prayers. The Chachamim fixed it after 'Matzimi'ach Keren Yeshu'ah' because when David comes, Tefilah comes too, as it is written "And I will bring them to My Holy Mountain, and I will cause them to rejoice in My House of Prayer" (perhaps we may add that David referred to himself as a personification of Tefilah ("va'Ani Tefilah" [Tehilim 109:4]).


This B'rachah concludes the middle B'rachos, instituted by Chazal for the whole of Yisrael to pray each day, in general terms (for the needs of the community).

They added however, that everyone is permitted to present his personal needs in the appropriate B'rachah (for one's health in 'Refo'einu', for Parnasah in 'Boreich Oleinu' ... ). In 'Shema Koleinu' however, which incorporates all the Tefilos, one may ask for all one's needs, since it incorporates everything.


The Seider ha'Yom prescribes the recital of Viduy (confession) in the B'rachah of Shema Koleinu. In any event, someone who is guilty of a recent transgression should certainly confess in the 'Shema Koleinu' of the next Tefilah that he Davens, be it Shachris, Minchah or Ma'ariv.


He also writes that one should Daven for one's Parnasah (even if one is wealthy). Indeed, the Zohar writes that someone who Davens each day for his Parnasah is called 'a faithful son'.

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