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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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The Rashbam at the beginning of our parsha writes that he said to Rashi, his father-in-law, that he had strayed somewhat from the task he had taken upon himself to explain the Torah "Ela lifshuto shel mikra ulagodoh hamyasheves divrei hamikra" (Rashi on Breishis 3:8) by explaining phrases of verses homiletically based on midroshim that are more removed from the simple understanding of the text. He writes that Rashi agreed with him and said that had he the time to do so, he would write some different explanations of verses more closely based on "pshuto shel mikra."

We do not have the writings of the Rashbam on some of the verses at the beginning of the Torah and perhaps these words were actually part of his preface or a comment on Rashi 3:8. If this is not the case it remains to be explained why he would place this exchange here. An insight into this was offered in an earlier edition of parshas Va'yeishev.

There is a letter authored by the Pri M'godim that can be found at the beginning of his commentary to Sh.O. O.Ch. where he writes that bochurim in yeshivos say that it below their dignity to spend time at their age on Chumash and Rashi, saying that it is much more wisely spent studying the Talmud and its commentaries. They are far from wise. They should surely spend some time on learning Tanach every day before beginning the study of the Talmud. The Sfardiim have set out a proper curriculum, incorporating the study of Tanach even for adults.

Although some Ashkenazim do teach Tanach to their grown students they are remiss in not printing divrei Torah on Tanach and disseminating it. It is most improper for one who can carry on a sharp-witted give and take in a Talmudic matter to be weak in his knowledge of Tanach. I likewise am weak in knowledge of Tanach as I did not have any teacher who taught it on an advanced level, only in my early years. I have taken upon myself to do in-depth study of Tanach and have likewise taught it to grown students. (ad kan divrei haPri M'godim)

The Holy Admor Rabbi Sholo-m of Belz said that he who studies Chumash and Rashi and completes the weekly parsha in this manner is guaranteed a place in heaven in Rashi's Mesivta. Although there are higher and more elevated mesivtos in heaven, there is no guarantee that one merits to enter them, but I guarantee that one can enter Rashi's mesivta based on my entry requirements.

The Holy Admor Rabbi Yisoschor Dov of Belz says that he who studies that day's section of Chumash with Rashi is guaranteed that he will not commit a grievous sin that day. The Admor's custom was that after davening shacharis he would remove his tefillin shel Rashi, take a bite of food, put on tefillin shel Rabbeinu Tam, and then study The weekly parsha with the commentary of Rashi.

In a letter, Rabbi Chaim Sofer, the Macha'neh Chaim, writes that it was his hope that the teachers would teach Chumash with Rashi, the early Prophets, and T'hilim to both students and baa'lei batim. This was the custom of the Chasam Sofer, notwithstanding that many scoffed at him for doing this, and yet we see that he became the greatest Torah teacher of his generation.

May this be a merit for the neshomoh of Mori v'Rabi hoRav Shmuel Yaakov Traube ztvllh"h, first yahrzeit this past 11 Mar Cheshvon, who besides teaching us gemara, taught us Chumash and Rashi when we were 15 years of age.

Ch. 37, v. 21: "Va'yishma Reuvein va'yatzi'leihu miyodom" - And Reuvein heard and he saved him from their hands - The M.R. 84:14 says that Reuvein heard Yoseif say in his dream that he saw eleven stars. Reuvein said to himself that he thought that he was ostracized and outside the camp of the tribes because of his behaviour with the switching of the beds. Once he heard that in Yoseif's dream that he was still a member in good standing among his brothers he decided to save Yoseif. Hashem responded that since Reuvein acted to save a life, so in turn he will merit to be the first tribe in whose land tract there would be a city of refuge, "es Betzer baMidbor loReuveini."

Reuvein was the firstborn of Leah, but in a sense the primogeniture benefits should have gone to Yoseif, as Yaakov's intention was to marry Rochel, not Leah. However, this only took place once Reuvein switched Bilhoh's bed for his mother Leah's. Reuvein's intention was for the sake of Heaven, as he felt that his mother's honour was slighted. For thinking this he is not to be blamed, only for the action he took. If we put the stress on one's actions, likewise in fact Reuvein was the firstborn. When Reuvein's repentance was accepted we see that Hashem greatly took into consideration his intentions. This approach reinstates Yoseif as the firstborn by virtue of Yaakov's intentions.

When Reuvein saw that he was included in the tribes, he realized this and understood that Yoseif was considered the firstborn, and in turn deserved the special attention of his father. He therefore proceeded to save him. In kind he merited to have mentioned first that a city of refuge would be located in his tribe's land inheritance, as a city of refuge provides protection for one who has sinned in action, as he has killed someone, but has not done so intentionally. (Pninim Y'korim based on the words of the Holy Zohar)

Ch. 39, v. 2: "Va'y'hi Hashem es Yoseif va'y'hi ish matzliach" - And Hashem was with Yoseif and he was a successful person - Rabbi Moshe Hadarshon relates that Yoseif immediately found favour in Potifar's eyes because of the following: Potifar purchased him and then asked him if he was skilled in any trade. Yoseif responded that he was an expert in evaluating precious stones. Potifar gave him two dinarim to purchase a precious stone. Yoseif bought a stone for the two dinarim and then sold it for twenty-two dinarim. He came back and told him that he had made a twenty dinar profit for his master. Potifar immediately tore up his document attesting to his being a slave.

Ch. 39, v. 2: "Va'y'hi Hashem es Yoseif va'y'hi ish matzliach va'y'hi b'veis adonov haMitzri" - And Hashem was with Yoseif and he was a successful person and he was in the home of his master the Egyptian - The word "va'y'hi" appears three times in our verse. This word is a term used for pain and anguish. Yoseif was pained that although Hashem was with him, but that this was in the spiritually bereft home of an Egyptian. He was in pain even with his success in his daily jobs as there was no spiritual growth in this, and lastly, he was in pain simply by having to reside in the home of the Egyptian, who was his master, thus somewhat diminishing his ability to have Hashem as a total Master over all that he did. (n.l.)

Ch. 39, v. 3: "Ki Hashem ito" - That Hashem is with him - Rabbeinu Bachyei offers that Yoseif's master either received a prophetic message that Hashem was with Yoseif or he saw a sort of cloud of glory accompanying him.



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

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