by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha | Previous Issues
PARSHAS VAYIGASH 5759
Chapter 44, v. 18: "Ki komocho k'Pharoh" - The Chizkuni interprets this to mean that I, Yehudah, am like you and like Paroh," as I am from a family of kings. Therefore it appropriate for me to speak to you in a firm manner.
Chapter 44, v. 20: "V'ochiv MEIS" - Earlier (42:13) they said "v'ho'echod EINENU." Why the change?
1) Tosfos Hasholeim answers that although they originally said they did not know his whereabouts, once they had searched throughout Egypt for Yosef and did not find him, (as per M.R. 91:6), they assumed he was dead. A question on this answer is that they had scoured all of Egypt before appearing in front of Yosef even the first time.
2) The Chizkuni says that there is no contradiction, as the word "ainenu" can mean dead, as we find in Breishis 5:24 and Eichoh 5:7.
3) Tosfos Hasholeim offers another explanation of "v'ochiv mais." This refers to Eisav, the brother of Yaakov. Although he is alive, evil people, even while alive, are considered dead (Brochos 18b).
4) The Maharil Diskin answers that since Yosef demanded that they bring Binyomin, the brothers feared that he might ask for Yosef, the missing brother, to be brought as well. Yehudoh therefore said that in the interim they had found out that their missing brother had died.
5) Possibly, since we also find that Yehudoh said in v. 28 that his father, upon seeing the bloody garment, said "A wild animal has torn him apart," he was actually saying that his brother is ASSUMED dead by virtue of circumstantial evidence. This is not contradictory to "EINENU."
Ch. 45, v. 1: "V'lo yochol Yosef l'hisapeik" - The Maharil Diskin says that when Yosef saw that his brothers had truly repented, he did want to extend their anguish, even for a moment, and was eager to disclose his identity immediately. He could not do this in front of the Egyptians who were present. Rather than ask them to leave and wait for their orderly departure, he commanded "ho'tziu," that they be immediately removed.
Yosef's brothers erred in deciding that he was deserving of death and in selling him. Their teshuvah required that they do whatever possible in their power to bring him back to their father, even at risk of their lives. Their willingness to sacrifice themselves was demonstrated by their searching throughout Egypt for Yosef, knowing that they ran the risk of being accused of being spies which could endanger their lives. People interested in purchasing food would generally not be scouring the land, but would go directly to food distribution centres.
Yosef erred in speaking negatively of his brothers (37:2). His teshuvah required that he risk his life to avoid speaking negatively of his brothers. This was realized when he had all his guards and servants removed from his chamber, so that his brothers would not be embarrassed in front of the Egyptians when Yosef said "asher m'chartem osi(45:4)." He endangered his life, as the M.R. 93:9 says in the name of Rebbi Chomo the son of R' Chanina, "Yosef risked his life. Had one of his brothers kicked him, he would have died." The Medrash also says that Yehudah attempted to brandish his sword to kill Yosef, but Hashem intervened by sending an angel who brought with himself a tremendous storm wind which threw everyone off his feet. Seeing Heavenly intervention, the brothers decided not to kill Yosef.
Ch. 45, v. 4: "G'shu noh eilai" - Although Yosef did not mind the Egyptians eavesdropping from the other side of the door and hearing "I am Yosef; is my father still alive?", he did not want them to hear "asher m'charten osi." Why? Either because he did not want his brothers to be embarrassed or because his intention was that his family should settle in Egypt, and he feared that if the Egyptians would hear of the brothers' cruel act, they would not allow his brothers to settle in Egypt. Hence, Yosef asked his brothers to come close. (Daas Z'keinim)
Rashi says that he asked them to come close, to show them that he was circumcised. Tosfos Hasholeim says that this is alluded to in the numerical value of the first and last letters of the words, "Echov g'shu noh eilai vayigoshu," which is ninety, the same numerical value as "hamiloh."
Chapter 45, v. 4: "Asher m'chartem osi" - The Rashbam and the Chizkuni (37:28) say that the brothers never sold Yosef and interpret this to mean "you have CAUSED me to be sold."
Ch. 45, v. 8: "L'michyo shlochani Hashem" - Tosfos Hasholeim says that this alludes to Yosef sustaining the seventy souls of Yaakov's family. The first two letters of "l'michyo" are lamed and ches, which equal seventy. The rest of the word spells "chayoh," meaning to sustain the lives (of seventy).
Ch. 45, v. 9: "Somani Elokim l'odon l'chol Mitzrayim" - A Chassidishe interpretation: Tell my father that I have made Hashem the Master over all of Egypt.
Ch. 45, v. 9: "R'DOH eilai" - Rashi on the words of Yaakov (42:2) "R'DU shomo" quotes the M.R. 91:2 that prophetically Yaakov indicated that the bnei Yisroel would spend 210 years in Egypt, the numerical value of "R'DU." The Chizkuni says that therefore Yosef said to Yaakov "R'DOH", reish, dalet, hei, which equal 209, to indicate that the beginning of "golus Mitzrayim" had already begun and only 209 years were left.
Ch. 45, v. 12: "Ki fi ha'm'da'ber aleichem" - Rashi quotes the M.R. 93:10 who says that he spoke to them in the holy tongue. A question is raised: Why didn't the brothers recognize Yosef through his voice? A simple answer is that his voice changed from the time he was 17 until now, when he was 39. Another answer is that one does not recognize the voice of his acquaintance when he has only heard him speaking one language, and his friend is now speaking a different language, because each language has its unique inflections. For example, French is more nasal than Russian. Now Yosef spoke Loshon Hakodesh, so that he could prove he was truly Yosef. They would recognize his voice only when he spoke Loshon Hakodesh.
Ch. 45, v. 16: "V'hakole nishma beis Paroh" - Assuming that there were ministers present during the time of Yosef's accusation of their being spies, guards during their incarceration, etc., how did they reconcile this sudden turn of events, and accept that these were Yosef's brothers? I await your answer.
Ch. 45, v. 22: "U'l'Vinyomin nosan sholosh mei'os kesef" - The gemara Megilloh 16a explains why giving Binyomin five sets of clothing and his brothers only one each, did not kindle their jealousy, but what about the 300 kesef that only Binyomin received?
1) The Rokeach answers that the gemara Gittin 44a says that one who sells his Jewish slave to a non-Jew is fined up to ten times the value of the slave to redeem him. Since the Torah puts the standard value of a slave at thirty kesef (Shmos 21:32), Yosef felt that his brothers owed him 300 kesef each. He forgave them this amount, but to be fair to Binyomin who was not involved, he gave him 300 kesef.
2) The Nachal K'dumim, in a similar vein, says that since Yosef said that Binyomin was to become a slave to Paroh, he felt that he owed Binyomin 300 kesef as per above calculation. Not so regarding the other brothers, whom he never enslaved.
3) The Chasam Sofer answers according to another opinion in the above gemara, that one is fined up to 100 times the amount of the slave's value. The brothers sold Yosef for 20 kesef (37:28). The gemara Gittin 55b says that when stolen goods are sold the usual reduction is a third. Yosef should have been sold for 30 kesef. Divide this by ten, as there were ten brothers involved, and each brother was responsible for the value of three kesef. Since one is fined up to 100 times the value of the slave, each brother was responsible for 300 kesef. Yosef forgave them this amount, but to be fair to Binyomin who was not involved, he gave him 300 kesef.
4) The Holy Admor of Ostrovtze answers that the brothers took equal turns being at home to tend to their elderly father Yaakov. During the 22 years that Yosef was away, it averaged out that each brother spent two years with Yaakov, and could not attend to his responsbilities as a shepherd (22 years divided by 11 brothers = 2 years each). Had Yosef not been sold, each brother would have attended to Yaakov only 22 months (22 years divided by 12 brothers = 22 months). The loss of work opportunity by the brothers was their own doing. Not so Binyomin, who lost out two months of work opportunity. The lowest level of pay is for a guard of produce in the field, five kesef a day (gemara B.K.). Two thirty day months = sixty days x five kesef = 300 kesef. Yosef gave this to Binyomin to make up for his loss.
Ch. 45, v. 26-27: "V'chi hu mosheil......ki lo he'emin - eis kol divrei Yosef" - Why did they first only mention that Yosef was the ruler of Egypt, and only after their father did not believe them, did they go on to relate the rest of Yosef's words of verses 10,11, and 13? Although Yosef requested that they relate the details of his exhalted and honourable position, they knew that their father was interested in ONE THING ONLY. Was Yosef still true to the Torah? They therefore said that he was "MOSHEIL b'chol eretz Mitzroyim," that he had mastery over Egypt, and not that Egypt had mastered over him and changed his values. This their father did not believe. After all, Yosef had been on his own for twenty-two years with no support from anyone. The brothers hoped their elaboration would convince Yaakov, but it wasn't until he saw the "agolos," the wagons, which were an indication that Yosef was still connected to the Torah they had studied together, that Yaakov was convinced.
Ch. 46, v. 1: "LEi'lo'kei oviv Yitzchok" - Rashi quotes the M.R. 94:5 which says that we can derive from this that one has a greater responsibility to honour his father than his grandfather.
1) The Ramoh Y.D. #240:24 says that we see from here that one has to honour his grandfather over others, just that one's father comes before one's grandfather.
2) The Mahari"k in shoresh 30 says that one's grandfather is no different from a complete stranger.
3) The Taz (ad loc.) asks on the Mahari"k from the above M.R.
4) The M'ginei Zohov answers the difficulty of the Taz. The gemara Sottah 49a states clearly that one has no special responsibility of "Kibud Ov' for one's mother's father. He equates a father's father to a mother's father. The Maharik rules as per this gemara against the M.R.
5) The M'ginei Zohov's grandson, the R'vid Hazohov, (with all due respect to his grandfather) disagrees with him. He differentiates between a maternal and a paternal grandfather, as we see the Torah differentiates in Dvorim 4:9.
6) The R'vid Hazohov, however, brings two other proofs for the Mahari"k's position. They are Makkos 13b regarding being a "goel hadam" when one's grandfather killed accidentally, and the Toras Kohanim 20:98 regarding the death penalty for cursing one's grandfather.
7) Rabbi Akiva Eiger in his responsa #68 in the name of the Liv'yas Chein differentiates between when one's father is living and when he is not. Interestingly, he says that when one's father is living, there is a greater responsibility to honour one's grandfather than his own father.
8) The Chut Hamshulosh says that the responsibility to honour one's grandfather during his father's lifetime is not an intrinsic mitzvah towards one's grandfather, but rather a manner of showing honour to one's father via honouring his grandfather.
Ch. 46, v. 15: "Shloshim v'sholosh" - The gemara Sottoh 12a and B.B. 120a say that this count includes Yocheved, the mother of Miriam, Aharon, and Moshe. She was born in the entrance to Egypt. The Ibn Ezra calculates that if this is so, Yocheved was 130 years old at the time she gave birth to Moshe. He feels that this cannot be so, or else the Torah would have mentioned this miracle, as it mentioned the phenomenon of Soroh giving birth at the even younger age of 90. The Ramban answers this by saying that the Torah only stressed a miracle that was first announced by Hashem, His prophets, or an angel, thus enhancing the belief in them. A miracle that was not proclaimed prior to its happening need not be mentioned.
Possibly, we can answer that once we have the miracle of Soroh's giving birth at a very old age, this paves the way (ma'seh ovos siman labonim) for similar miracles in later generations.
Ch. 46, v. 31: "E'e'leh v'agidoh" - Possibly there is an allusion here to the halacha of binding the four species (O.Ch. #651:1). "E'e'leh is spelled Alef, Ayin, Lamed, Hei. Alef - Esrog, Ayin - Arovoh, Lamed - Lulov, Hei - Hadas. These four species - "v'agidoh," I will bind them. How appropriate for the binding of the fours species, which represents joining the four letters of Hashem's holy name, (as per Rekanti) to be alluded to here, since Yaakov and his sons are the representatives of Hashem's sanctity on earth, and these words herald in their being united again for the first time in 22 years.
Ch. 47, v. 2: "U'miktzei echov" - The Baal Haturim says that these words numerically equal "Zeh hachaloshim." Rashi quotes the gemara B.K. 92a that says that Yosef presented only his WEAKER brothers to Paroh. This might give us an insight into v. 5, where Paroh tells Yosef, "Your father and your brothers have come to you." What is this verse telling us? See the Ramban. Possibly after meeting the weaker brothers and knowing that they had a very elderly father, Paroh told Yosef, "Bou eilecho," they have come TO YOU. I don't want them as public wards. It is your responsibility to tend to their financial needs.
Ch. 47, v. 9: "M'at v'ro'im" - The gemara Megilloh 17a says that because Yaakov complained, 33 years were subtracted from his life. He was to have lived 180 years as did his father Yitzchok, but only lived 147 years, equal to the amount the Torah spent on relating his complaint. Upon counting the words, one finds 33 words only by including the question of Paroh in verse 8. Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein concludes from this that one is responsible even for his demeanor and appearance arousing such a question in the onlooker's mind. The Maharil Diskin answers that we don't count the words, but rather the letters, starting from "v'lo hisigu" until the end of v. 9. Although we find 34 letters, he says that possibly the first vov is not counted, or possibly the gemara had a variation of the spelling of "hisigu" or "m'gu'rei'hem." The Baalei Tosfos bring a medrash that gives us a different source for the deduction of thirty-three years from Yaakov's life. Since Yaakov said to Lovon (31:32), "The person by whom you will find your idols, "lo yichyeh," shall not live," Yaakov caused his wife Rochel to die prematurely, he was also punished to die 33 years earlier, the numerical value of "YiCHYeH.
ANSWERS TO LAST WEEK'S QUESTIONS
The flaw in the police line-up identification of Binyomin - Since Yosef had already demanded that they bring Binyomin BEFORE he incarcerated them for three days (v. 15, 17), they had ample time to devise a plan of bringing a substitute known to all the brothers instead of Binyomin, i.e. a neighbour or a servant in their home of a similar age to Binyomin. Someone raised the question that they might have been in solitary confinement during the three days. This is not so. How do we know this? I await your answer.
The six places in the Mishneh that Chanukah is mentioned:
Bikurim 1:6, Taanis 2:10, Rosh Hashono 1:3, Megilloh 3:4 and 3:6, B.K. 6:6. B.K. 6:6 is the ONLY PLACE that "NER CHANUKAH" is mentioned. A reminder: perek 6, mishneh 6. Six x six = 36, the amount of lights kindled on Chanukah.
My son told me that my answer to why the number of words of Parshas Mikeitz is listed, can be found in the Pninim mi'Shulchan haGR"A.
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