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Vol. 20 No. 11
Harav Yaakov ben Yitzchok Eliezer z"l
on his Shloshim
Zigud is Lashed?
(Adapted from the Beis ha'Levi)
"And we told my master that the 'lad' cannot leave his father, and that if he does leave his father he (his father) will die. You know that my wife bore me two sons" (44:22).
"And now when I will come to my father and the 'lad' is not with us, being that his soul is so bound up with his soul - it will be that when he (Ya'akov) will see that the 'lad' is missing he will die, and your servants will have brought down the old age of your servant, our father, to the grave!" (44:30/31).
At first sight, comments the Beis Halevi, the first Pasuk, together with all the ensuing Pesukim that describe Ya'akov's initial refusal to send Binyamin down to Egypt with his brothers, are irrelevant. If Binyamin had been caught red-handed stealing - Yosef's precious goblet to boot - of what interest could it be to Yosef (as a judge) to hear (again) all the details of why and how Ya'akov was ultimately forced to allow Binyamin to leave Eretz Cana'an?
And as for Yehudah's final argument, to free Binyamin so as not to cause grief to his father, since when is that an argument that allows a guilty man to go free? Who has ever heard of a murderer or a thief getting off the hook, because of the suffering that his death or even his incarceration, will cause to his father or his family?
On the other hand, we need to understand why his family should suffer for the sins of a murderer or a thief. To quote the Gemara in Pesachim 'If Tuvya sinned, why should Zigud receive lashes?'
The simple answer is that a man's family, particularly his parents, does indeed deserve to suffer for a family-member's sins, says the Beis Halevi.
Why is that? Because, he says, they saw him going in his evil ways since his early days without making any effort to stop him in his tracks.
That is why, Chazal tell us, a betrothed girl who has been found guilty of adultery is stoned at the entrance of her parental home - as if to announce 'See the result of your upbringing!'
An even more damming example of parental guilt in the sins of their children is cited in the Gemara at the end of Succah. The Gemara there relates the story of Miriam, the daughter of Bilgah, the head of one of the groups of Kohanim, who had married a Greek officer, and who accompanied the Greek soldiers into the Beis-Hamikdash. As they proceeded to defile it, she went to the Mizbei'ach, kicked it and hurled insults at it. The Gemara explains there that they subsequently penalized the entire group of Bilgah, because children generally tend to repeat what they hear at home!
The author concludes that this is all very well there where the child is allowed to go his own way. But what Yehudah was pointing out to Yosef was that this was simply not applicable here. Ya'akov, after all, would not allow Binyamin to leave the walls of the city. As far as Yosef was concerned, this was probably due to Binyamin's tendency to steal, in which Ya'akov can hardly be accused of not keeping control over his errant son.
And it was only because Yosef insisted (under threat of starvation) that the brothers bring him with them, that Ya'akov, without having a choice, allowed him to go.
Under such circumstances, Ya'akov could in no way be held responsible for Binyamin's indiscretions. Consequently, he did not deserve to suffer, and Yosef had no option but to set Binyamin free.
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(Adapted from the Riva & Rabeinu Bachye)
Five New Suits
"To each one he gave a new suit, and to Binyamin he gave … and five new suits" (45:22).
The Riva lists no less than five reasons for this. Because …
1. … Binyamin rent his clothes just like his brothers (when the goblet was discovered in his sack, even though he was the one who was framed).
2 … he was his full brother.
3. … he accused him (falsely) of stealing his goblet.
4. … the brothers were obligated to pay him (Binyamin) double Presumably, he means four or five times for stealing and selling him.
5. … he troubled him to go down to Egypt without justifiable reason (at least, not as far as Binyamin is concerned).
A Divine Decree
" … he sent his brothers … and said to them 'Don't quarrel on the way!" (45:24).
In two of his three explanations, Rashi explains firstly that they should not get involved in learning, and that they should not quarrel regarding who was to blame for his sale.
The Riva seems to combine the two explanations. He interprets Chazal, 'Do not get involved in a D'var Halachah!') as follows - Don't quarrel over my sale, since it is a 'Halachah mi'Sinai' (an expression that describes a Divine decree).
What he meant was that G-d had decreed the sale because the time had arrived for exile in Egypt to begin.
Wagons and Calves
"When he saw the wagons that Yosef had sent, Ya'akov's spirit was revived" (45:27).
Yosef handed his brothers a sign, Rashi explains, because when he separated from Ya'akov twenty-two years earlier, they were studying the Parshah of Eglah Arufah (the calf whose neck had to be broken). That is why he sent him Agolos (wagons), which is from the same root as 'eglah' (a calf).
What, asks the Riva, have wagons got to do with a calf (other than a play on words)?
In one answer, he explains that it was customary in those days, for wagons to be drawn by calves. Consequently, Ya'akov Avinu may well have seen the wagons that Yosef sent, but it was the calves that pulled them that caught his eye, as indeed Yosef had intended, reminding him of the Eglah Arufah that they were studying on that fateful day.
According to the Rashbam, the Riva explains, it was not wagons that Ya'akov saw, but the calves that Yosef had sent him.
And that explains why, in the previous Pasuk, the Torah refers to the calves that Yosef gave them via the word of Par'oh. To be sure, it was not Par'oh who sent the calves, but Yosef. Only, in view of the stringent prohibition to take a healthy cow out of the country, Yosef had to obtain special permission from Par'oh to send his father the calves.
The Land of Goshen
"And Ya'akov settled in the land of Egypt in the land of Goshen" (47:27).
The reason that Ya'akov chose to live with his family, in the city of Goshen, rather than in Mitzrayim, the capital, which was close by, Rabeinu Bachye explains, was because each of his sons was a major personality in his own right. Consequently he was afraid that in full view of the public eye, they would be picked as communal leaders, something to be avoided at all costs.
Ya'akov Came to Settle, His Sons Came to Sojourn
Note that Ya'akov settled in Egypt, whereas his sons told Par'oh (See Pasuk 4) that they "came to sojourn".
Ya'akov's sons thought that they would only remain in Egypt for the duration of the famine. Once it came to an end, they planned to return to Eretz Cana'an, Rabeinu Bachye explains.
Ya'akov Avinu, on the other hand, knew that the Galus had begun in earnest, and that they would not be returning to Eretz Cana'an for the foreseeable future.
This explanation goes well with the change of expression to which the author refers.
But this does not conform with the Ba'al Hagadah's interpretation of Pasuk 4. Although the Pasuk was said by Ya'akov's sons, the Ba'al Hagadah attributes it to Ya'akov Avinu himself. When quoting the Pasuk, he comments - "This teaches us that Ya'akov did not go down to Egypt to settle there, but to sojourn".
According to the Ba'al Hagadah (who does not explain the expression "Ya'akov dwelt" in the current Pasuk), Ya'akov may well have known that they would remain in Egypt for generations. Nevertheless, he declined to settle down there. What's more, he is highly commended for doing so.
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