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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 48, v. 15: "Asher his'halchu avosai l'fonov" - That our forefathers have brought themselves to walk in front if Him - Why mention this here, at the time of blessing Yoseif and his sons? The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that just as we begin "shmonoh esrei" with mention of the merit of our forefathers, so too Yaakov prefaced his blessing with mention of his father and grandfather.

In a previous parsha submission it was suggested that "asher his'halachti" or the like, used by Avrohom when he told Eliezer that Hashem would likely crown his efforts with success, and by Hashem's telling Avrohom to circumcise himself, "his'ha'leich l'fonai," indicates that one goes into a spiritual vacuum and creates sanctity there. Similarly here, Yaakov prefaced his blessing with this expression to indicate that Yoseif was worthy of the blessing because he remained a staunch Torah-true person even though he had resided in Egypt for many years (all the more so considering that he had risen to power and might have been strongly swayed to behave as an Egyptian).

Ch. 49, v. 5: "Shimon v'Levi achim" - Shimon and Levi are brothers - Kingship was taken from Reuvein because of his actions, which were mentioned by Yaakov earlier, in verse 4. Seemingly, Shimon, the next oldest, or Levi, who was born third, would be the tribe deserving kingship. Yaakov therefore told them that they too, by virtue of their actions of wiping out the men of Sh'chem, likewise lost it. (Sforno)

Ch. 48, v. 22: "Vaani nosati l'cho sh'chem echod al achecho" - And I have given you one portion more than to your brothers - What was this portion?

1) Sh'chem refers to the city Sh'chem. It was given to Yoseif as a burial site. He was kidnapped in Sh'chem and would be returned there. (Rashi)

2) Same as the previous, but it was given to Yoseif because he married Osnas, who was given this location by Sh'chem ben Chamor. (Tzror Hamor)

3) The extra portion was that Yoseif's two sons would each be considered a separate tribe. (Rashi)

4) The garment that Odom Horishon wore - Avrohom took it from the evil Nimrod, and passed it on to Yitzchok, who passed it on to Eisov. Yaakov wrested it away from Eisov through his merits and good deeds, which are compared to a sword and a bow. (Targum Yerushalmi)

Ch. 49, v. 6: "B'sodom al tovo nafshi" - In their secret council may my soul not come - Yaakov, through his prophecy, saw that Shimon's descendant Zimri would later sin very publicly through an act of immorality. Had Shimon and Levi with their zealousness acted totally for the sake of Heaven, their revenge for the immoral behaviour of Sh'chem would have struck such deep roots into their descendants that the incident of Zimri and Kozbi could not have happened, as the gemara Shabbos 130 says, "Any mitzvoh for which the bnei Yisroel risked their lives they will always observe properly." Even though on the outside it seems that the act of killing out the men of Sh'chem was done totally for the sake of Heaven, the incident of Zimri shows that in the depths of their hearts their was something lacking. This is "b'sodom." (Dubner Magid)

Ch. 49, v. 21: "Naftoli a'yoloh shluchoh hanosein imrei shoffer" - The Chizkuni offers a novel translation of this blessing. Naftoli will merit to have "ayoloh," a level parcel of land, as in "eil Poron," "shluchoh," which will send out plant shoots, as in "shlucho'sehoh notshu ovru yam," which gives forth "imrei," laden branches, as in "shanyim shloshoh gargarim b'rosh amir," "shefer," with beautiful fruit.

Ch. 49, v. 21: "Hanosein imrei shoffer" - Who gives forth beautiful words - Rabbi Avrohom ben hoRambam says that the tribe of Naftoli, when studying the Torah, would sing its words in a most beautiful, melodious manner.

Ch. 49, v. 23: "Va'y'mor'ruhu vorovu va'yist'muhu baalei chitzim" - And they caused him bitterness and strife and the masters of arrows hated him - Many commentators say that the first two actions of this phrase were done by Yoseif's brothers. They made his life bitter by selling him as a slave (Medrash and Tzror Hamor), or they shot arrows aimed at his spleen, "moroh" (Rada"k), or he was their target (Bchor Shor), or they injured him before throwing him into the pit (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh). "Vorovu," they shot arrows at him, or they were argumentive (Rashi), or they embittered his life greatly, "harbeh" (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh).

"Baalei chitzim" refers to loshon hora, which is equated with shooting arrows, which can inflict damage at a distance, similarly loshon hora. This refers to Zolicha, Potifar's wife, who spoke negatively of Yoseif.

We thus have commentators who say part of the verse refers to his brothers while part refers to Potifar's wife, himself, or Paroh's advisors, who put down Yoseif when he was appointed viceroy. On the other hand, Rabbi Avrohom ben hoRambam says that the whole thing refers to his brothers, and the Rada"k says that it all refers to Potifar, etc., as it is unlikely that Yaakov would criticize them during his blessings. Reuein's rebuke was necessary because it explains why he lost his firstborn privileges.

Ch. 49, v. 26: "Nzir echov" - The separated of his brothers - This follows the translation of Targum Onkelos. Yoseif was the most separated from pursuit of involvement with women of all the brothers. (Ralba"g)

He only took one wife and did not take a concubine. His brothers were likewise "n'zirim," but he was more so than they. (Rabbi Avrohom ben hoRambam)

Ch. 49, v. 27: "Baboker ... v'lo'erev" - And the morning and towards evening - Binyomin's descendants reign was similar to the morning and the evening. At the beginning of the reign of kings, Sho'ul was the king, and at the end it was Mordechai. (Sforno)

Ch. 50, v. 14: "Acha'rei kovro es oviv" - After his burying his father - Shouldn't the verse say "kovrom es avihem?" The verse is stressing Yoseif's involvement, that he kept his vow to his father. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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