SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YEISHEV 5767 BS"D
Ch. 37, v. 22: "Lahashivo el oviv" - To return him to his father - Reuvein,
in his attempt to save Yoseif, merited to have Hoshei'a ben B'eiri as his
descendant. Hoshei'a brought bnei Yisroel back to their Heavenly Father, with the
words, "Shuvoh Yisroel el Hashem Elokecho." This is "lahashivo el oviv."
IN HONOUR OF THE BAR-MITZVAH OF OUR GRANDSON MOSHE DOV BEN HORAV AVROHOM NR"U
Ch. 37, v. 23: "Va'yafshitu es Yoseif" - And they removed from Yoseif - M.R.
84:16 says that they removed four garments from Yoseif. This can be explained
as an allusion. A Kohein wears four garments when he does the Mikdosh service.
One of the garments provides atonement for loshon hora. This is only so when
he is wearing them. Because they felt that he was guilty of loshon hora and
deserved a severe punishment they removed his four garments, an allusion to his
not having any protection for his sinning. (Y'dei Moshe)
Ch. 37, v. 34: "Va'yisa'beil al b'no yomim rabim" - And he mourned for his
son many years - Rashi explains that Yaakov mourned for the loss of Yoseif for
22 years, the same amount of time that he was away from his parents (save time
spent in Yeshivas Eiver). Commentaries ask that Yitzchok told Yaakov to leave
home to pursue finding a wife. One answer is that once he delayed his return
he was responsible for all the years he was away.
Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid #573 writes that even if a parent foregoes his honour
and a child thus does not transgress the positive commandment to honour one's
parents, nevertheless, there can be heavenly retribution. This surely was the
case with Yoseif. (Bris Olom on Sefer Chasidim)
This explanation is puzzling. Yoseif was caught in a catch 22 situation. If
he leaves to Padan Aram, then he foregoes honouring his parents. If he doesn't
leave he transgresses his father's command. How can there be heavenly
retribution for complying with his father's wishes, even though they bring in their
wake an absence?
In a similar vein to Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid's opinion, responsa Radva"z 1:524
writes that even though a father has foregone his honour, it is only insofar as
his son's not being punished for not according him honour, but the mitzvoh of
"kibud av" is not fulfilled.
Ch. 37, v. 35: "Va'yimo'ein l'hisnacheim" - And he refused to console himself
- Rashi explains that although Hashem set into a person's psyche to forget
the sorrow of the death of a loved one after the passing of a year (gemara
P'sochim 54b), there is no consolation when the assumed deceased is actually alive
(maseches Sofrim ch. #21). If so, why didn't Yaakov himself realize that
Yoseif must still be alive?
There is grieving and mourning for a relative that is based on yearning for
the deceased. This type of mourning dissipates after a year. There is however,
another type of mourning, the suffering a person has by having the attitude
that since Hashem took away a relative it reflects on the survivor, indicating
that he is sinful and therefore was punished. This type of grieving does not
necessarily dissipate after a year. As Rashi mentions, Yaakov was very disturbed
by the incorrectly assumed death of Yoseif because he was privy to the
knowledge that if all his sons would outlive him he would merit "olom habo." His
pain was twofold, but beyond the first year he assumed it was for his assessment
of his dismal future in regard to "olom habo." (Michlal Yofi)
Ch. 38, v. 14: "Va'teishev b'fesach einayim" - And she sat at a road junction
- This is Rashi's interpretation. The reason that a road junction is called
"pesach einayim" is because one has to open his eyes, i.e. pay special
attention at a junction, so that he continues his trip on the proper path (Rabbeinu
Menachem and Pirush al Targum Yonoson ben Uziel). If this is so, why in verse 21
do we only have "vo'einayim al ha'derech," without "pesach"?
A few other explanations for "pesach einayim," and it will be self-evident
that some of them alleviate this problem.
1) It is the name of a city, as Tapuach and Einom (Paanei'ach Rozo)
2) "Eiyin" means a path. (Sforno)
3) There were two wellsprings there and their shape was similar to a door
opening. (Ibn Ezra)
4) These words are an allusion to the opening/opportunity to be an ancestor
of "V'hu admoni im y'fei einayim" (Shmuel 1:16:12). Medrash Hagodol)
Ch. 38, v. 16: "Ki lo yoda ki kaloso hee" - He was not aware of her being his
daughter-in-law - Had he known there was still no reason to refrain from a
one time involvement. He would have refrained because she was twice widowed, and
had the status of "katlonis," one who brings about the death of her husband.
Ch. 38, v. 23: "Pen ni'h'yeh lovuz" - Lest we will be a mockery - Just
recently two of Yaakov's sons laid the male population of Sh'chem to waste because
their sister was taken without marriage, and if it becomes publicized that
another of Yaakov's sons committed this act it will be a great mockery. (Rabbi
Ch. 38, v. 25: "V'hee sholchoh el chomihoh" - And she sent to her
father-in-law - Rashi (gemara Brochos 43b) says that Tomor did not simply say that
Yehudoh impregnated her. Rather she only sent the payment, saying, "The man to whom
these items belong is responsible for my pregnancy. If he admits it fine, and
if not, let them burn me rather than my embarrassing him." From this we derive
that it is preferable for a person to throw himself into a fiery cauldron
rather than embarrassing his fellow man.
The Baal Haturim and Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid say that Yehudoh's words of the
previous verse, "Hotziuhoh v'siso'reif," do not mean that she was to be burned to
death, but rather, that a mark be made on her face with a burning brand, as a
constant sign to her sin. If so, what is the proof that it is preferable to
be burned to death, as that wasn't going to be her punishment? As well, how do
we derive that it is preferable to "throw oneself" as she was not about to do
this to herself, but rather, it would be done by others?
The answer lies in Rashi's words "mikan omru." "Kan," here, is not the
happening in the verse, as the lesson taught is refuted in two manners, as per the
questions just raised. Rather, "mikan," is from the words of Tomor, as recorded
in the M.R. Tomor said, "Even if they were to throw me into a fiery cauldron
I will not embarrass him." This was not the punishment they were about to
administer. We thus derive that she was ready to suffer an extremely greater
punishment, and this is called "throwing oneself into .." At the same time we
derive that even suffering death by fire is preferable to embarrassing your fellow
Paa'nei'ach Rozo writes that it is forbidden to believe that the Baal Haturim
wrote this comment.
Another insight into the term "oneself" of the gemara Brochos 43b: The Ramban
asks why Tomor should be given the death penalty since she was single at the
time. He answers that it was because of her causing Yehudoh, who had the
status of king, embarrassment. The mishnoh in the gemara Arochin 7a says that if a
pregnant woman is to put to death by the court we do not wait for her to give
birth. The Rambam in his commentary on the mishnoh says that this is based on
the verse in Dvorim 22:22, "Umeisu GAM SHNEIHEM."
This ruling only applies when the court administers the death penalty for a
sin that the Torah says carries capital punishment, and not that which is meted
out by the king as an infraction of his honour. Therefore, since Tomor
realized that she carried Yehudoh's child, a ben Yisroel should be saved. As we know
from the incident of selling Yoseif, Yehudoh, and his brothers except for
Yoseif, posited that they had the status of bnei Yisroel. Yehudoh did not realize
that the child was his and was ready to have her put to death immediately.
This explains why Tomor attempted to save herself by offering the items given
her for her services, with the hope that Yehudoh would admit on his own, and if
not, at least use some excuse to delay carrying out the death penalty until
after the child was born once he realized that he was the father. By offering
the items given as payment for her services, Tomor attempted to save the child
but not herself. If only her life was at stake she would not have shown the
signet ring and garment. This is why the gemara says "she'yapil es ATZMO."
(Kovetz Ohel Mo'eid)
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