by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha| Previous Issues
PARSHAS MIKEITZ 5759
Ch. 41, v. 1: "Vay'hi mikeitz shnosayim yomim" - Two years from when? The Baal Haturim answers, two years after having been in jail for ten years, as we find the expression "mikeitz eser shonim" (16:3). The Baalei Tosfos say that it was after two years of Paroh's dreaming the same dream every night. The Torah indicates that Paroh's dream was an ongoing occurrence, as the word "choleim" is in the present tense.
Ch. 41, v. 1: "u'Pharoh choleim" - The Sefer Chassidim #1015 says that the oleh laTorah makes a brocho and must read at least three verses. Why a minimum of three? Because from the beginning of the Torah until its end, without exception, there is some halachic significance at least once in every three verses. He says that from the verses of Paroh's dream we can derive the following halacha. If someone, even a non-Jew, has a dream with negative connotations relating to everyone in his country, the Jews should fast to annul it, even on Shabbos.
Ch. 41, v. 5: "B'koneh echod" - Rabbeinu Yechiel says that this teaches us that all the years of abundance were equal. Not so the years of the famine, where some were worse than others.
Ch. 41, v. 7: "Vativlano hashibolim" - The gemara Brochos 55b says that a person is not shown in a dream something which is totally removed from reality. If so, how could the stalks of grain swallow one another? The Baalei Tosfos answer that "vativlano" means "and they covered," as we find "K'vala es hakodesh" (B'midbar 4:20).
Ch. 41, v. 9: "Es chato'ei" - Why the plural "sins?" The Moshav Z'keinim answers that his two wrongdoings were not keeping the flies out of the king's wine, and forgetting to fulfill Yosef's request. The Rivoh answers that once the flies were in the wine, the second wrongdoing was not spilling out the wine and replacing it.
Ch. 41, v. 13: "Osi heishiv al kani" - Who reinstated the butler to his position? Rashi says this refers to Paroh. The Moshav Z'keinim says that this refers to Yosef. In line with the the gemara Brochos 55b, which says that a dream is fulfilled according to its interpretation, since Yosef said that the butler would be reinstated, it is as if Yosef gave him back his position.
Ch. 41, v. 14: "Va'y'galach" - The gemara Rosh Hashonoh 11b says that Yosef was released from prison on Rosh Hashonoh. How could he shave that day? The Moshav Z'keinim answers that either he was released on Rosh Hashonoh, but shaved and appeared in front of Paroh the next day, or that he was permitted to shave, as his life would be jeopardized if he appeared before Paroh in an unkempt state. The Bartenuroh answers that he was shaved by someone else, which involved no Torah prohibition on his part.
Ch. 41, v. 15: "Va'ani shomati olecho LEIMOR" - The Pardes Yosef says that Paroh was indicating that he was fully aware of Yosef's incident with Potiphar's wife, as the gemara Sanhedrin 56b says, that "leimor" in Breishis 2:16 is the source of the prohibition against adultery for bnei Noach. Paroh was saying, "I heard regarding you "leimor," that you committed adultery. To this, Yosef responded in verse 16, "LEIMOR bilodai," adultery is beyond me. I am innocent.
Ch. 41, v. 16: "Elokim ya'aneh es shlome Paroh" - The Moshav Z'keinim says that this was not a prediction, but rather a prayer. By right, Egypt should have suffered 42 years of famine, as there were seven lean cows and seven poor stalks of grain, which were mentioned three times, once in Paroh's dreams, once in relating them to Yosef, and finally in Yosef's interpretation. (Seven lean cows plus seven poor stalks equal 14 x 3 = 42). Yosef's prayers helped to reduce the amount to seven years. Yaakov's coming to Egypt further reduced the famine to two years. The missing forty years of famine were realized in the days of Nevuchadnetzar (see Yechezkel 29:12).
Ch. 41, v. 17: "Al SFAS ha'y'or" - The Medrash says that when telling the dream to Yosef, Paroh added the word "SFAS" (compare with 41:1). When Yosef interpreted the dream, he left out the word "SFAS." This was a clear sign to Paroh that Yosef's interpretation would be accurate. This is what is meant by the verse in Tehillim 81:5, "Eidus b'Y'hosef somo b'tzeiso al eretz Mitzroyim, SFAS lo yodati eshmoh." This was a testimony to Yosef's accuracy, when he said, "SFAS" I did not hear in your dream.
Ch. 41, v. 32: "V'al hishonos......pa'amoyim......u'm'ma'heir" - The Baalei Tosfos ask that we find that Yosef also had two dreams (37:7,9) but they were not fulfilled for thirteen years. They answer that Paroh's dreams were both in one night, but Yosef's were on different nights. A few other possible answers might be:
1) In a similar vein - The commentaries ask why Yosef gave advice on how to prepare for the seven years of devastating famine, when he was only asked to interpret the dreams. They answer that Paroh's waking up and falling asleep again (41:4-5) were part of the original dream, that he dreamt that he woke up and fell asleep again and had a dream within a dream. Yosef interpreted the waking up as an indication that Paroh had to "wake up" and have a strategy for coping with the famine. Since this was all one dream, we can say that the repeat of a dream indicating its immediate fulfillment is only true when it is repeated in the same dream.
3) Yosef did not have a repeat of the SAME dream. The dream of the bundles of grain was an indication that he would be a provider of food, and the dream of the stars, etc. an indication that he would become a ruler.
4) According to the famous opinion of the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh (37:21) that a person has free will and can go against a heavenly-ordained decree and even kill someone who should not have died, we can say that Yosef should have become a king within a short period of time after his dreams, but his brothers intervened and kept the heavenly-ordained from happening. Indeed, we find that the Sefer Chasidim #504 says that although Yehudoh merited to have his descendant, King Dovid, reign at the age of thirty because Yehudoh was instrumental in bringing about Yosef's becoming a king at thirty, at the same time, he says that Yehudoh might have merited to have King Dovid reign at an even earlier age, but it was pushed off until the age of thirty, because Yehudoh also caused a delay in Yosef's getting married until the age of thirty. We see from here that the brothers' intervention delayed Yosef's getting married, so they could also have delayed his becoming king.
5) There was a partial fulfillment of the dream shortly thereafter when nine of the brothers pulled Yosef out of the pit (37:28 as per Rashi). They physically bent down to get him out.
6) The gemara Brochos 55b says that the fulfillment of a dream is governed by the interpretation. Yosef said in his interpretation of Paroh's dream that it would take place right away. Yosef's dream also should have, but with no one verbalizing this, it did not happen. (Heard from R' M.M.K.)
Ch. 41, v. 45: "Vayiten lo es Osnas" - Approximately 150 years ago, there lived in Vilna the great Torah scholar R' Shmuel Strashon, who wrote the well known commentary, "Chiddushei hoRshash" on the Talmud. Because of his meticulous honesty he was entrusted with administrating the Vilner gmach (free loan society). A local merchant once borrowed a few hundred rubles from the gmach to be paid back at a prescribed time. He set aside small amounts to repay his debt, and finally amassed the total amount on the day it was due. The Rshash had set hours during which he conducted the gmach business. Our merchant had to leave on a business trip on the due date before the time that the Rshash attended to the gmach. Not wanting to repay the debt upon his return and be late with the payment, he decided that he would enter the Beis Hamedrash where the Rshash was studying. He indeed found the Rshash very deeply engrossed in his Talmudic studies. Trying to keep the disruption to a minimum, he just placed the money into the Rshash's hand and left. The Rshash was almost unaware of what happened and just stuffed the bills between the last page of his gemara and the back cover. The payment did not register in the Rshash's mind.
When thirty days beyond the due date came, the gmach office sent out a reminder to the merchant that the payment was overdue. Knowing full well that he had paid, he came to the gmach office and stated his position to the Rshash, reminding him of the circumstances under which the payment had taken place. The Rshash, to whom the whole incident did not register, replied that he was sure that he received no payment. Upon the merchant's insisting otherwise, the Rshash responded that he was not in a position to overlook the matter, as the money was communal property. He warned the merchant that he faced a possible din Torah.
Indeed, a short while later there was a din Torah. The issue of an extra repayment of the debt paled in comparison to the bad reputation the merchant developed by standing up against the sterling reputation of the Rshash. People shied away from him and his business plummeted. Even worse was the ridicule that his son received in Yeshiva. It reached a point where he stopped attending, lost interest in studying Torah, and became depressed.
One day the Rshash was learning from the gemara in which he had placed the money. Upon finding the money placed behind the last pages of the gemara, he immediately was struck by the realization of what had occurred, and ran to beg for forgiveness from the merchant. He offered to publicize his mistake in shul to the entire community. The merchant responded that it would be of no avail, as people would assume that he was guilty, but that the Rshash made up this story in order to restore the merchant's reputation. Lastly, he said, that nothing could help to reverse the biggest tragedy of all, his son's broken spirit. The Rshash was at a loss. After some contemplation, he said with a smile to the merchant, "I have the answer. Mazel Tov! Your son will become my son-in-law! It will then be abundantly clear to everyone that you are innocent."
How did the Rshash come up with this brilliant idea? Most likely, he learned from our verse. Why did Paroh suddenly become a matchmaker between Yosef and the daughter of Potiphar, and why would the Torah mention how Yosef's marriage came about? Yosef had a marred reputation because of the incident with Potiphar's wife. Since Paroh wanted Yosef to become viceroy of Egypt, Paroh had to clear Yosef of any wrongdoing. The only way this could be accomplished was by Yosef marrying Potiphar's daughter. The public would think that if Yosef had been guilty, Potiphar would never have him as a son-in-law. Likewise, by taking the merchant's son as his son-in-law, the Rshash undid all the damage that was inadvertently done.
Ch. 41, v. 55: "Asher yomar lochem ta'asu" - Rashi tells us that Yosef insisted that the Egyptians perform a circumcision upon themselves before he would give them food (M.R. 91:5). Rabbi S.R. Hirsch explains that Yosef was the conduit through whom Hashem sent sustenance to Egypt. For the people to be able to derive benefit from the food, they had to have some common ground with Yosef. Yosef's most pronounced area of righteousness was "Y'sode Yosef," his purity regarding sexual morality. The Egyptians therefore had to be circumcised, in order to be able to get their sustenance through Yosef.
Ch. 42, v. 15: "B'vo achichem hakoton" - Didn't Yosef realize that the brothers could have easily brought someone other than Binyomin and claim that he was Binyomin? The Baalei Tosfos answer that Yosef knew that they wouldn't lie to him. (This is puzzling, as Yosef just said that they were spies and had lied to him.) They also answer that the brothers had a common familial appearance, so Yosef would expect Binyomin to look quite similar. (This is also a bit difficult, as Binyomin was the only child left to Yaakov from Rochel, and as such might have a different appearance by virtue of maternal input). However I heard a VERY COMPELLING answer to the original question that is derived by pure logic. Since Shimon was incarcerated, the brothers realized that Yosef had the option of placing "Binyomin" in a line-up with many other young men of similar age, and asking Shimon to pick out his brother from this line-up. This would keep the brothers on the straight and narrow. This answer seemed so gevaldig that I had great difficulty with Tosfos giving seemingly weak answers and not coming up with this bit of deduction. However, this reasoning is flawed, thus necessitating Tosfos to only offer as mentioned above. What is the flaw with the police line-up answer? I await your response! Answer b'ezras Hashem, next week.
Ch.42, v. 22: "V'GAM domo hi'nei nidrosh" - The Medrash Rabboh 91:8 says that "V'GAM" refers to the blood of Yaakov, in addition to the blood of Yosef. They felt the responsibility of causing severe anguish to their father who had been in mourning for many years, and felt that they might be responsible for shortening his life. This is similar to (27:41) "yik'r'vu y'mei eivel ovi." See the Sefer Chasidim #571 who expands on this idea.
Ch. 42, v. 37: "Shnei vo'nai tomis" - Tosfos Hasholeim explains that this refers to Chetzron and Karmi (46:9), who in gematria equal Shimon and Binyomin.
Tosfos Hasholeim asks that this statement of Reuvane seems totally senseless. He answers that Reuvane's intention was that two of his sons should receive no portion in the inheritance of Eretz Yisroel. Either with the maxim that "oni choshuv k'meis" (N'dorim 7b), or with the expression found regarding Reuvane (Dvorim 33:6), "Y'chi Reuvane v'al yomos," which means that he will deserve a portion in Eretz Yisroel, we see that without a portion in E.Y. one is considered dead.
It is interesting to note that the Baal Haturim asks that since the literal statement of Reuvane was that two of his sons should be put to death, albeit conditional to the non-return of Binyomin, there is a rule in the gemara Makos 11b that the words of the righteous are fulfilled, even if conditional, so where do we see the fulfillment of Reuvane's words literally? He answers that two descendants of Reuvane, Doson and Avirom, were killed in the incident with Korach (B'midbar 26:9-10), thus fulfilling the words of Reuvane. He adds that "es shnei" equals "heim Doson va'Avirom." Doson and Avirom are also the source for the concept of "oni choshuv k'meis" in the gemara N'dorim 7b (see Ran ad loc.), so it seems that both the literal explanation and Tosfos Hasholeim's explanation of "tomis" are alluded to in the life story of Doson and Avirom. The Chasam Sofer obviously did not see the words of the Tosfos Hasholeim and gives the same answer in his responsa, Orach Chaim #208, near the end of this very lengthy responsa.
Ch. 44, v. 12: "Bagodol heicheil u'vakoton kiloh" - The medrash says that the "godol" was Shimon and the "koton" was Binyomin. The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel disagrees and says that the search began with Reuvane. Why does the medrash say that the "godol" was Shimon, rather than simply saying it was Reuvane, and why is it necessary to say that the "koton" was Binyomin? The Maharil Diskin answers that the medrash assumes that the "kal vochomer" used by the brothers to prove their innocence (44:8) was accepted, and the brothers were assumed innocent. However, this was only effective for those who returned to Canaan, found their returned money and brought it back to Egypt. Shimon was incarcerated and Binyomin had not been part of the group that descended to Egypt on the first trip. Therefore the medrash says that the "godol' was Shimon. Explaining that the "koton" was Binyomin indicates that he was the ONLY OTHER ONE who was searched, as all the other brothers had a "kal vochomer."
The Maharil Diskin asks why didn't the search begin with the youngest? Since they were attempting to determine who was the thief, it would be more respectful to start with the youngest. He answers that since the brothers emphatically claimed that they were innocent of any wrongdoing, it was more respectful to begin with the oldest and have him cleared of any suspicion first.
Ch. 43, v. 17: "Va'ya'as HO'ISH" - Rashi quotes the Medrash Rabboh 92:8 which says that this refers to Menashe the son of Yosef. The Daas Z'keinim and other Baalei Tosfos ask in the name of Rabbeinu Eliezer on a Rashi in Pirkei Ovos 5:20. Rashi says that we derive that the age of bar mitzvah is thirteen years from 34:25 where the word "ISH" is used for Levi who was just thirteen years old. However, in our verse, the word "ISH" is used for Menashe, who wasn't even nine years old. They give no answer. A possible answer is that the use of the word "ISH" has no relationship to age, but is used because of Menashe's position of authority, in carrying out Yosef's orders.
At the end of every parsha there is a tally of the number of verses it contains, plus a word or group of words which have the same numeric value as the number of verses. At the end of our parsha we notice something different. In addition to the number of verses, the number of words (2,025) is calculated, something which we do not find in any other parsha. Why? I heard an esoteric answer related to Chanukah. There is a basic requirement of "ner, ish, u'veiso," a light, a person, and his HOME (Shabbos 21b), to fulfill the mitzvah of "hadlokas ner Chanukah." Since a house is an integral component of the mitzvah, and "HaBaYiS" is spelled Hei, Beis, Yud, Tof, the same letters as "Teivo," meaning a WORD, the WORDS of this parsha have special meaning at the time of Chanukah and are counted. I heard another explanation. Chanukah is a final extension of the Yomim Noro'im teshuva period, as per the Zohar regarding the eighth day, called "zos Chanukah." There is a verse in the parsha which indicates teshuva (43:10), "Ki lulei hismamonu ki ato shavnu ze fa'amoyim." "Lulei" is Elul in reverse, "ato" refers to teshuva (as per Dvorim 10:12), and "hismamonu" is the common problem of DELAY in doing teshuva. The source letters of this word are mem, hei, mem, hei. They are mathematically 45 and 45. When multiplied, they produce 2,025, so the number of words is listed to remind us to do teshuva during Chanukah, and NOT DELAY!
I would like to offer a straight-forward answer. The gemara P'sochim 117a and Chulin 65a discuss names that are questionable as to whether they are one or two words. As well there is a lengthy list of names of places and people in Mesechtas Sofrim 5:10-11 with the same concern being raised. There are some conflicting texts in 10:11 (see Nachlas Yaakov ad loc.). Included in the list of two word names according to the Nachlas Yaakov's text is "Poti Phera." Our "mesoress" might be letting us know that this is the final halacha by telling us that there are 2025 words in our parsha. This is only accurate only if Poti Phera is written as two separate words. If you will ask as to why this wasn't attended to in parshas Vayeishev, where he was already mentioned, the answer is that there he was still called Potiphar, which is written as one word (see Sofrim 5:11). By the way, two-word names in Tanach are required to be written on the same line.
Ch. 41, v. 1: "Shnosayim" - Tosfos Hasholeim and the Shiltei Hagiborim say that this word is an acronym for "Smole Neiros Tadlik, Y'min Mezuzoh." Ch. 43, v. 16: "Utvoach tevaCH V'HoCHeiN" - The Tonnoh D'vei Eliyohuo says that the last letter of "tevaCH" and the word "V'HoCHeiN" spell "Chanukah." As well, the gematria of "utvoach tevach" is 44, equal to the total number of lights kindled on Chanukah, including the shamoshim. It is no coincidence that Chanukah is alluded to in these words. The gemara Chulin 91a says that the preparation indicated by the word "v'hochein" refers to the removal of the "gid hanosheh." The Holy Zohar says that the word "nosheh" means forgetfulness. One who eats from the gid hanosheh forgets some of his Torah knowledge. The Greeks put great effort into attempting to make us forget Hashem's Holy Torah, "l'hashkichom Torah'secho." Hence with the removal of the gid hanosheh, Yosef did an act which symbolized a response to the attack of the Greeks.
The Likutei Maharan says that in Bmidbar 14:19 the first letters of the words, "Hazeh K'godel CHasdecho V'cha'asher Nososo" spell Chanukah. The Rokeach says that the source word "OHR" appears in the Torah 22 times, many times with prefixes and suffixes. We also have the word "m'oros," three times. This adds six, as "m'oros" is plural. The source word, "NER" appears eight times, also mostly with prefixes and suffixes. This gives us a total of 36, the total number of lights kindled on Chanukah. As well, the maximum number of eight lights is alluded to in the eight appearances of the "NER" word form. He adds that at the first appearance of the word "OHR" (1:4) in the Torah, it says "ki Tov." The letter "Tes" of TOV, which usually has three crowns (tagin) on it, has four, to also allude to the 36 "neiros Chanukah," as the letter Tes equals 9, x 4 (four tagin) which equal 36.
Although the Mishneh does not discuss its halochos, Chanukah is mentioned in the Mishneh six times. Where are these six places?
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