by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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PARSHAS VA'YIGASH 5760 BS"D
Ch. 45, v. 3: "Ha'ode ovi chai" - Since they had not been back to Eretz Yisroel since the last time Yoseif asked about their father's welfare, why did he ask again? Many answers have been given, but I've come across an answer that is new to me and is beautiful in its simplicity. Yoseif realized that his brothers didn't tell him the full truth when answering his questions. They told him that one brother was dead. He understood that they did this out of fear of Yoseif and so as to not complicate matters, as there was a concern that Yoseif would ask that their brother Yoseif should be brought in front of him, as mentioned in Rashi 44:20 as per the Yalkut Shimoni remez #151. Yoseif likewise feared that their father might not really be alive, but they also said this to arouse mercy in him so that he would release Binyomin. Now that the jig was up, he asked them, "Tell me the truth. Is my father really alive?" (Shnei Ha'm'orose)
Ch. 45, v. 4: "G'shu noh eilai" - Rashi (M.R. 93:10) says that to prove that he was truly Yoseif he showed them that he was circumcised. As well in verse 12 it says "Ki fi hamda'beir a'leichem," and Rashi (and same M.R.) says that he brought them a second proof, that he spoke in "loshon hakodesh." The Ramban in verse 12 asks that this is far from conclusive since the land of Egypt was quite close to Canaan and it is logical to assume that some Egyptians would have learned the language of neighbouring countries and surely government heads might be well versed in several languages. The Chizkuni asks on the first proof that Yoseif was circumcised, that possibly he was from the bnei K'turoh who were also commanded to circumcise themselves. The Gur Aryeh answers that although either of these possibilities exists, a combination of both, i.e. that he was circumcised and spoke "loshone hakodesh" was highly unlikely.
Perhaps the Ramban's question could be answered by saying that Rashi is of the same opinion as the Rashbam who says that "loshone hakodesh" was not spoken by anyone besides the families of Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov. The Canaanites spoke a different language. According to this it would seem that the translator who served to bridge the conversations between the brothers and Yoseif was speaking the Canaanite and the Egyptian languages. Rashi however says that he spoke "loshone hakodesh" and Egyptian. As well the question of the Chizkuni can be answered with the words of Rashi on the gemara Sanhedrin 59b d.h. "l'rabose bnei K'turoh." He says that although there was a command that the children of K'turoh should be circumcised, this was limited to her children only and not to further generations. Yoseif was obviously much younger than any of the bnei K'turoh. By the way, the Rambam in hilchos m'lochim 10:7 says that the command to circumcise was for all progeny of the K'turoh family throughout the generations.
Ch. 45, v. 4: "Asher m'chartem osi Mitzroimoh" - The Rashbam on 37:28 says that the brothers of Yoseif did not sell him, but rather the Midyonim lifted him out of the pit and sold him to the Yish'm'eilim. He then explains the words of our verse, "Asher M'CHARTEM osi Mitzroimoh" to mean that you have CAUSED me to be sold. Why didn't the Rashbam simply explain these words to mean that "you have sold me" and explain that Yoseif logically assumed that when others pulled him out, that they had purchased him as a slave from his brothers? Possibly Yoseif had a discussion with them and they told him that they found him in the pit and simply took him as a slave. Possibly, he did not know his brothers' intentions and judged them favourably, thinking that they threw him into the pit to scare him and show him their displeasure with his earlier actions. This gave him no right to assume that they would sell him as a slave.
However, there might be a more compelling reason for the Rashbam to have to "squeeze" his interpretation into the word M'CHARTEM. Rashi (M.R. 91:8) on the words "Va'ye'esor oso L'EINEIHEM" (42:24), says that Yoseif only had Shimon incarcerated as long as his brothers were still in front of him, but as soon as they left he released Shimon and wined and dined him. No doubt this means that he told Shimon that he was Yoseif and asked him to play along in the future as the story would unfold. Otherwise Shimon could not fathom why he was released and upon the return of his brothers would tell them that he was immediately released. This might possibly lead to their figuring out that he was Yoseif and that is why he treated Shimon in a brotherly manner.
No doubt Yoseif wanted to avoid this scenario, so he must have let out everything to Shimon.
Surely Shimon reacted by asking Yoseif how he ended up as the viceroy in Egypt since the brothers never sold him and upon returning to the pit found it empty. Yoseif responded that the Midyonim to whom he was sold by the brothers sold him to Yish'm'eilim who brought him down to Egypt. Shimon set him straight by telling him that by the time that they returned to the pit he was already gone and the Midyonim took him of their own volition.
So Yoseif already knew that he was not sold by the brothers, and therefore the Rashbam explains the word M'CHARTEM as "you have CAUSED me to be sold.
Ch. 45, v. 6: "Shnosayim horo'ov B'KEREV HO'ORETZ v'ode chomeish shonim" - Why is it necessary to say B'KEREV HO'ORETZ? Perhaps this is a proof for the words of the Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #38 which says that although the famine ceased in Egypt upon the entry of Yaakov into the land, but in the land of Canaan the famine continued for another five years. Possibly Yoseif was not aware that the famine would stop in the merit of Yaakov, but his choice of words contained a hint of what the future held.
Ch. 45, v. 11: "Pen tivoreish" - Rashi translates "tivoreish" as - you will become poor, as we find "morish" in Shmuel 1:2:7. The Rashbam translates it as - you will be chased out, as we find "v'horashtem" in Dvorim 9:3.
Ch. 45, v. 16: "V'hakole nishma beis Paroh" - Assuming that there were ministers present during the time of Yoseif's accusation that his brothers were spies, guards during their incarceration, etc., how did these Egyptians reconcile this sudden turn of events, and accept that these were Yoseif's brothers? I asked this question last year and received no response. I still eagerly await your answer, as I have none.
Ch. 45, v. 24: "Va'yomar a'leihem 'Al tir'g'zu ba'do'rech'" - Why didn't Yaakov give them the same advice before their descent to Egypt? Actually this question might have no basis according to some translations of the words "al tir'g'zu."
1) The Baal Haturim says that this means "Do not aggravate anyone on your ascent to Eretz Yisroel by taking a short-cut through his field and assuming that you will not get into trouble since I am the viceroy of this country." Obviously Yaakov could not say the same for their trip down to Egypt.
2) The Ramban and Rashbam translate "al tir'g'zu" as "Do not fear." Yoseif advised them that although he is sending them to Canaan with a large amount of food during a time of dire famine, nonetheless, he has let out the word that if anyone attempts to steal from them, the viceroy of the land will personally take up the cause of punishing the perpetrators. Once again, this was not relevant to Yaakov.
3) Rashi's second explanation is actually two explanations which are both mentioned in the gemara Taanis 10b and M.R. 94:2. One is that they should not travel in a hurried manner by taking very broad strides. Taking broad strides diminishes one's eyesight (gemara Brochos 43b, Shabbos 113b, Taanis 10b). The next explanation is that they should make sure to enter a city well before the sun sets and not take a chance by travelling further, hoping to find a city in which to lodge at sunset, for fear that they might not reach it in time and run the risk of travelling at night which is fraught with much danger (gemara P'sochim 2a, Taanis 10b, Bovo Kamo 60b).
4) Either of these two explanations would not apply to their descent to Egypt, as on the way up to Eretz Yisroel they were very eager to get to their destination as soon as possible to give Yaakov the wonderful news about his son Yoseif. Yoseif therefore advised them to not do anything rash to speed up the trip. One could argue that on the way down they were also propelled by their eagerness to procure food. However, their fear of meeting with the unpredictable viceroy likely slowed down their steps. On the first trip down they were not propelled because they actually had sufficient food at that time and only went to put on a show for their surrounding neighbours that they were also in need of food (See Rashi on 42:1 d.h. "Lomoh tisro'u") 5) Rashi's third (fourth) explanation is that they should not get into an argument on their way back as to who was responsible for the wrongdoing to Yoseif. Again, this is not applicable to Yaakov.
However, as explained in the gemara Taanis 10b that this means "Do not discuss in depth matters of halacha during your travels," the question is viable. The following answers are offered:
1) Yaakov did not have to tell them to avoid immersing themselves into discussions of halacha which obviously brings with it the possibility of getting lost on the way or not noticing the approach of highway robbers etc. Since Yaakov was convinced that Yoseif met an untimely death while en route, he assumed that the brothers would have this permanently etched into their minds and always be careful to pay rapt attention to all happenings during their travels. Yoseif's brothers however, knew that he was alive and well and might not be careful during their travels, so Yoseif warned them.
2) It was obvious to Yaakov that his sons realized that immersing themselves into halacha while travelling would at the least slow them down. His command that they purchase and return with food to stave off the hunger of the household was sufficient reason for them to not delay in any manner, to properly fulfill the mitzvoh of honouring one's father. Upon their discovering the identity of the viceroy of Egypt and realizing that their father and his lost son Yoseif would now reunite after 22 years of separation would obviously lead them to the conclusion that learning Torah is greater than honouring one's parents. Since Yaakov was actually separated from his father an additional 14 years while attending the Yeshiva of Eiver and he would not suffer in kind to be separated from Yoseif for 36 years, they would conclude that the learning of Torah is greater than honouring one's parents.
They might therefore allow themselves to tarry on the way by immersing themselves in halacha. therefore Yoseif had to warn them to not do so, but rather reach their father without delay. (Eimek Halacha)
Ch. 46, v. 27: "Kol ha'nefesh ...... shivim" - The gemara Sotoh 12a and B.B. 123a says that Yocheved, the daughter of Levi, was born upon entry into Egypt. This explains why the Torah says that 70 souls of Yaakov's family went to Egypt, while upon counting the people listed we only find 69. According to this, she was conceived during the time of famine that had also effected the land of Canaan. The gemara Taanis 11a says that during the time of famine one should not have relations with his wife. This is derived from the verse in Breishis 41:50 which says that "to Yoseif were born two sons BEFORE the onset of the years of famine." Tosfos d.h. "Ossur" asks, "How then was Levi permitted to have relations with his wife during the famine?"
Rabbi Eliyohu Mizrachi answers that since Levi did not have a daughter yet, he had not fulfilled the mitzvoh of "pru u'r'vu," reproducing, which is only fulfilled when one has a son and a daughter (E.H. #1:5). He was therefore permitted to reproduce even during a famine. The Beis Yoseif on the Tur O.Ch. #574 asks on R.E.M. from the above-mentioned gemara. Why did Yoseif refrain from reproducing during the famine since he also had no daughter and had not yet fulfilled the mitzvoh of "pru u'r'vu?"
The Ponim Yofos answers this question by first posing another difficulty. Even if a man were permitted to reproduce during the time of a famine in pursuit of "pru u'r'vu," but how may his wife be involved? She does not have this mitzvoh, and does have the restriction during a famine. He answers that halachic commentators on E.H. #1 say that a woman does have a mitzvoh of repopulating the world on a replacement basis, meaning that she should have one child, male or female to replace herself. This is in fulfillment of the verse, "Losheves y'tzoroh lo sohu v'ro'oh" (Yeshayohu 45:18). We see from the gemara Sanhedrin 58b that Yocheved was only a paternal sister to her three brothers. We may assume that the mother of Yocheved had no previous children, thus she was permitted to reproduce during the time of famine to comply with "Losheves y'tzoroh," and Levi was permitted in pursuit of the mitzvoh of "p'ru u'r'vu."
This was not the case with Yoseif. He had two sons from his wife Osnas, and although he had permission to reproduce to fulfill "p'ru u'r'vu," Osnas was not allowed as she already had two sons. This would explain why in the verse from which we derive the restriction during a famine (Breishis 41:50), the Torah stresses that Yoseif's two sons were born from Osnas, "U'l'Yoseif yulad shnei vonim b'terem tovo shnas horo'ov ASHER YOLDOH LO OSNAS." Had they been born from another woman and Osnas would still be childless, Yoseif would have been permitted to pursue "p'ru u'r'vu" and Osnas would have been permitted to pursue "losheves y'tzoroh." (Ponim Yofos)
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