by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YEISHEV 5773 BS"D
Ch. 37, v. 3: "V'ossoh oso k'sonnes pasim" - And he made for him a tunic of fine material - We see that jealousy followed. To take this on a simple level, that Yoseif's brothers were jealous because of a garment is far-fetched, as they were people of spiritual stature and a garment would not arouse their jealousy. However, emotional matters would. If they felt that their father Yaakov favoured Yoseif that could bring jealousy. Yaakov favoured Yoseif as a child of his old age. To avoid arousing the brothers' jealousy he had a unique coat made for Yoseif. This would hopefully have the opposite result, that the brothers would consider Yoseif inferior. The gemara Shabbos 145b explains why the Torah scholars of Babylonia would wear especially nice garments while the Torah scholars of Eretz Yisroel would not. Since the Torah scholars in Babylonia were not such great scholars as those in Eretz Yisroel, to elicit proper honour for themselves, the Torah scholars would wear special clothing, "the clothes makes the man." In Eretz Yisroel, where the Torah scholars were outstanding, it was not necessary. By giving Yoseif a unique tunic, Yaakov was sending an implied message that Yoseif was not that great of a scholar. However, the brothers saw through this, "Va'yiru echov ki oso ohav," and they became jealous of Yaakov's favouring Yoseif. (Chasam Sofer)
Please note that other commentators explain the gemara differently. The gemara is saying that because the man in the street in Babylonia is not as appreciative of the scholarship of a talmid chochom, the talmidei chachomim wore clothes that elicited honour.
Ch. 37, v. 20: "L'chu v'nahargeihu" - Let us go and kill him - The halacha is that when a capital matter is being judged when all the judges come to a verdict of "deserving of death" the person is let free. Why here, where there was not even one dissenting voice did they agree to put Yoseif to death? Perhaps they came to the same conclusion but for different reasons, where the halacha is that the death penalty is carried out because it is not considered unanimous.
Ch. 37, v. 21,22: "Va'yishma Reuvein va'yatzileihu miyodom va'yomer lo na'kenu nofesh, Vayomer a'leihem | Reuvein al tish'p'chu dom" - And Reuvein heard and he saved him from their hands and he said let us not kill him, And Reuvein said to them do not spill blood - Since verse 22 is a continuum of Reuvein's actions, why is it necessary to write the word Reuvein again in verse 22? In verse 21 Reuvein is telling his brothers that they should not kill Yoseif. In verse 22 we find a dividing mark between "a'leihem" and "Reuvein," a psik. This is most unusual as the two words are connected, "Reuvein said to them." The dividing mark teaches us that Reuvein said the word Reuvein to explain why he is so adamantly against killing Yoseif. He said that he was given the name Reuvein to show "R'oo mah bein bni l'ven chomi," Leah's reasoning for his name. When Eisov lost his primogeniture privileges he hated his brother Yaakov, while Reuvein would lose his firstborn privileges and not be jealous. This is why he stood up for Yoseif, notwithstanding that Yoseif, as the firstborn of Rochel would be the bchor. (K'hilas Yitzchok)
Ch. 37, v. 24: "V'habore reik ein bo moyim" - And the pit is empty there is no water in it - Rashi (gemara Shabbos 22) says that the pit is empty of water but does contain snakes and scorpions. If so, why doesn't the verse say "V'habore ein bo moyim?" It is not totally "reik." The Holy Ari z"l explains that when there are snakes and scorpions in a pit it is not totally empty, but it is their nature to slither/crawl into crevices in the pit, and then the pit is totally empty. We thus have both "reik" and "n'choshim v'akravim yesh bo."
Ch. 37, v. 25: "Va'yeishvu le'echol lechem" - And they sat to eat bread - It is only because they rescinded from their earlier decision to kill him that they ate bread. When a court rules to administer the death penalty and carries it out, its members are to fast that day, as per the verse "Lo sochlu al hadom" (Vayikra 19:26, gemara Sanhedrin 63). (B'eir Mayim Chaim)
Ch. 37, v. 35: "Va'yokumu chol bonov v'chol b'nosov l'nachamo" - And all his sons and all his daughters stood up to console him - The verse does not tell us their words of comfort. This is because their attempt to comfort Yaakov was not through words. When a person ch"v loses an only child or a child among very few children the pain is more excruciating than when it is a loss of one of many. This was their comfort. They all stood up together to comfort him, children and grandchildren, quite a number of people. Alas. He was not comforted. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)
Ch. 38, v. 21: "Ayei hakdeishoh hee vo'Einayim" - Where is the prostitute who was at Einayim - Where is the source of sanctity, "kedushoh?" It is dependent on the eyes! (Rabbi Mayer Abuchatzira)
Ch. 38, v. 24: "Va'yomer Yehudoh hotziuhoh v'sisoreif" - And Yehudoh said take her out and she should be burned - These words allude to the ruling of the gemara Shabbos 21b that although in general if one places a fire in a public domain he is responsible for any damages that may arise, however, on Chanukah one is permitted to place the lamp outside his door and it is the responsibility of the passersby to be careful. An added allusion: The numeric value of Tomor is that of "shemen zayis." (Rebbe Reb Bunim in Kol Simchoh)
Ch. 39, v. 6: "Ki im ha'lechem asher hu ocheil va'y'hi Yoseif y'fei so'ar vifei mar'eh" - Only the bread he ate and Yoseif was of fair form and fair looks - In Daniel 1:12 it relates that when Chananioh, Misho'eil, and Azarioh where in the king's service they told the food supplier to only give them seeds to eat. He was very reluctant because they would be weakened and gaunt and he would have to answer to the king. They told him that he should give their plan a short tryout and they remained hale and hearty. Here too, Yoseif only ate bread and remained handsome. (Tzror Hamor)
This is why the verse mentions this here, although Yoseif was handsome earlier as well. (Kli Yokor)
Ch. 39, v. 8: "Va'yimo'ein va'yomer el eishes adonov" - And he refused and he said to the wife of his master - Since Yoseif explained to her why it was wrong to do as she asked of him, why doesn't the verse first say his words, his reasoning to not follow her wishes, and then say that he refused? If he were to first get into a battle of wits he has already weakened his resolve. She might out debate him. Even if not, he would hear her further enticements. The first thing he did was to resoundingly REFUSE! with a "shalsheles" intonation for extra effect. Then and only then, did he explain himself. (Alshich Hakodosh)
Ch. 39, v. 10: "Yom yom" - Daily - Rashi on 39:1 writes that Potifar's wife saw through astrology that she was destined to have a child with Yoseif. If she saw this Yoseif surely saw this. He might have started thinking that this was the right thing to do. Perhaps it was a message from the "yeitzer hatov." However, when her pleas were a daily occurrence he realized that it was a test of the "yeitzer hora." The positive influence comes once to a persona and he is to react positively. When the pleas came on a daily basis it was the "yeitzer hora." (Mezeritcher Magid)
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