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

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Vol. 19   No. 12

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
R' Leibush ben Yaakov Shimon z"l
whose second Yohrzeit is 3 Teves

Parshas Vayigash

Just Like Par'oh

because you are like Par'oh" (44:18).

Rashi explains that Yosef, just like Par'oh, neither fulfilled his promises nor kept his word.

This refers, says the Medrash, to the constitution which Par'oh swore to preserve upon his ascending the throne of Egypt. That constitution included a prohibition against allowing a slave to rule or to wear linen garments, which he abrogated when he appointed Yosef as viceroy.

And, the Riva adds, it goes without saying that someone who is able to negate an oath, will readily go back on a mere word. Yosef too had given his word that he would place his eye on Binyamin. Did taking Binyamin as a slave fall under the category of 'placing his eye' that he had said he would do, Yehudah was now asking him?

Alternatively, the Riva explains, Par'oh had promised that whoever would come to Egypt would come in peace and would go in peace, as the Targum Yerushalmi explains. Yet Yosef broke that promise when he took Shimon and placed him in jail, until the brothers returned with Binyamin.

He also queries Rashi, who explains that Yosef, like Par'oh both broke his word and failed to keep his decrees. That Yosef 'broke his word' is easily understood, he asks. But where did he abrogate his decrees?

To answer the question, citing the Ri from Puntosh, he quoted the Pasuk in Mishlei (29:12) "When a ruler hearkens to falsehood, all his servants are wicked." It therefore follows that if Par'oh possessed that trait, then so did Yosef.


In a different vein, the Riva explains that seeing as Yosef was as powerful as Par'oh, there was therefore no-one to whom to turn, to complain about his treatment of the brothers. Consequently, Yehudah was left with no option other than to confront Yosef personally.


Two other Tacks

According to the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, Yehudah was telling Yosef that, just as Par'oh coveted Sarah our mother on account of her beauty, so too, did he covet Binyamin on account of his looks". Alternatively, he explains, Yehudah was not comparing Yosef to Par'oh (neither to the current one, according to Rashi, not to the earlier one, as the Da'as Zekeinim explains), but rather, he was comparing himself and his brothers to Yosef and Par'oh. He was actually excusing himself from his tough talk, and was now requesting that Yosef control his anger and listen to what he had to say, because he and his brothers were just as great in their country as Yosef and Par'oh were in theirs.


One More Tack

Finally, Targum Yonasan explains that - 'Your laws have become just as pervert as those of Par'oh'.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

Slip of the Tongue

" Take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt" (45:18).

'The land of Goshen', comments Rashi, and he continues - 'He (Par'oh) prophesied without realizing what he was prophesying. What Rashi means, says the Riva is that Par'oh meant to tell the brothers that he would give them the bounty of the land of Goshen. However, due to a slip of the tongue, he said instead 'the best of the land of Egypt'. That is the definition of a prophecy.

Little did he realize what he was saying, as Rashi concludes - since eventually (when they left Egypt), Yisrael were destined to empty Egypt like the depths of the sea, where there are no fish'.


Half the Beis-Hamikdash

"To Binyamin he gave three hundred silver pieces (Shekalim)" (45:22).

This was a hint to the Beis-Hamikdash, the Riva explains, with reference to the six hundred Shekalim that David ha'Melech paid Aravnah ha'Yevusi for the location on which to build it. And as we know, half of the Beis-Hamikdash was destined to be built in the territory of Yehudah and half in that of Binyamin.


Eglah Arufah

"And they told him (Ya'akov) all the words of Yosef " (45:27).

Rashi explains that this refers to Eglah Arufah (a play on words, as 'Eglah' is similar to the 'Agalos' (the wagons that Yosef sent his father) which Ya'akov and Yosef had been discussing when they separated, prior to Yosef's sale twenty-two years earlier.

The Riva elaborates: When Ya'akov sent Yosef to see his brothers, he explains, he accompanied him on the way (as Targum Unklus explains in Parshas Vayeishev, 27:14). When Yosef suggested to his father that this was not necessary and that maybe he should return home, Ya'akov explained to him the importance of accompanying a traveler on his way, and he taught him the Parshah of Eglah Arufah in Parshas Shoftim. And how the elders stressed that they did not know about the murdered man; otherwise they would never have sent him away without seeing him on his way.

That was what Yosef was now reminding his father, a sure sign that not only was he alive (since nobody but the two of them knew about their conversation), but that he had not forgotten the Torah that they had learned together.

Perhaps one may add that Yosef was attributing his survival and success to Ya'akov having accompanied him on the first leg of that fateful journey, just as his father had taught him.

* * *



Where's the Logic?

"And Yehudah approached him (Yosef) " (44:18).

"Most peopleh, the Dafas Zekeinim explains the Pasuk, ewill return a slave who turns out to be a thief, so why do you defy common logic and demand that someone who is a thief should become your slave!?


Keeping One's Word

"And you said to your servants 'Bring him down to me, and I will place an eye on him" (24:21).


The Riva elaborates that having forced the brothers to bring Binyamin (irrespective of what sort of person Binyamin was) in order to set eyes on him (implying that he would then send him home), it is not befitting for a ruler of Yosef's caliber.


The Da'as Zekeinim however explains that what Yosef had meant was that he would keep an eye on Binyamin to see that no harm would befall him, and it is that assurance that Yehudah was now accusing Yosef of abrogating.

Where did Yosef ever make such a promise, asks the Riva?

And he answers that when Reuven insists that Shimon be brought before him, it may be taken for granted that this includes a personal undertaking to protect him.

Rabeinu Tam however, in answer to the Riva's question, explains the Pasuk like Rashi - that Yosef asked to set his eyes on Binyamin, and having done so, he was obligated to let him leave.

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