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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YIGASH 5770 BS"D

Ch. 44, v. 30: "V'nafsho k'shuroh v'nafsho" - And his soul is bound up with his soul - The Baal Haturim comments that "k'shuroh" has the same numeric value as Torah, alluding to the underlying cause for their souls being inextricably bound one to the other.

Ch. 44, v. 32: "Ki av'd'cho orav es hanaar im lo avi'enu ei'lecho v'chotosi" - Because your servant has guaranteed the (return of) the lad if I will not bring him to you I will have sinned - The Rashda"m on Sh.O. Ch.M. #37 writes that he was asked the following query: A merchant paid insurance for his cargo ship that carried merchandise. The terms that were stipulated were simply that the ship and its goods arrive safely at a certain destination. An unusually strong storm and its accompanying wind carried the ship off course and pushed it up on the shores of a totally different country. The ship and its goods were seized and confiscated by the government. The insurer claimed that he did not accept responsibility for such an unexpected unusual occurrence. The gemara Gitin 73a says that if someone accepted responsibility for the welfare of an item including happenings that are beyond one's control to avoid, nevertheless, if a mishap that was bizarre took place, this is beyond his responsibility. The merchant claimed that they agreed unambiguously that the ship and its goods arrive safely to a specific location, and this was not fulfilled. The Rashda"m ruled in favour of the merchant, differentiating between taking responsibility for the safety of an object, which is limited to mishaps that are within the pale of normal, and mishaps that are bizarre. However, if there was an added stipulation that the guarantee included the item arriving intact at a certain location, since this clause was not fulfilled, notwithstanding that the cause was extremely atypical, the guarantor is held responsible. The Chid"o in Kisei Dovid quotes his father, who said in the name of Rabbi Yoseif Ibn Goya that this is the intention of Yehudoh in our verse. He told the viceroy that not only had he taken responsibility for the welfare of Binyomin, which in and of itself would not make him responsible, as Binyomin's stealing the viceroy's goblet and getting caught as well was as unlikely scenario as one could conjure, but since he also guaranteed the safe return of Binyomin, "im lo avi'enu ei'lecho v'chotosi," he was nevertheless still responsible.

Ch. 45, v. 3: "Ha'ode ovi chai" - Is my father still alive - He had just asked them this and they had not been in Canaan in between, so why did he ask it again? Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel answers that the intention of these words is not if his father was still alive, but rather, was he well. We might follow through with the next words of this verse, "v'lo yochlu echov laanos oso ki nivhalu miponov." His brothers could not answer him in the positive, that he was quite well, because they thought that it was quite likely that he would ask them to bring his father to him for at least a reunion, as Yoseif could not readily take off time, considering that he was both the viceroy and the head of the food distribution. "Ki nivhalu miponov," they could not answer in the positive because they were in trepidation of "his face," meaning the drawn out sorrowful visage of their father Yaakov. We see that Paroh's first remark to Yaakov was asking how old he was, because he saw in front of himself a person whose face was extremely aged, greatly as a result of the lengthy disappearance of Yoseif. (n.l.)

Ch. 45, v. 3: "V'lo yochlu echov laanos oso ki nivhalu miponov" - And his brothers could not respond to him because they were dumbfounded in front of him - Rashi writes that there were numerous similarities between Yaakov and Yoseif. Among them is that their faces were similar. Notwithstanding that they did not recognize Yoseif as the same boy in his youth because he now sported a beard, but wouldn't the beard make him look exceedingly similar to his father? The verse explains: "V'lo yochlu echov laanos," they could not raise their voices and exclaim, "oso," that he was Yoseif, even though he looked just like his father. This was because "ki nivhalu miponov," they had suffered extreme interrogations, accusations, incarceration, etc., that just looking at their tormentor's face engendered total confusion. (n.l.)

Ch. 45, v. 4: "Gshu noh eilai" - Please draw close to me - Rashi explains that Yoseif sensed that they were not yet convinced that he was truly Yoseif. He therefore showed them that he was circumcised. Moshav Z'keinim asks how this served as a proof. All the Egyptians were circumcised as well. He answers that circumcision was instituted by Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov. I believe his intention is that they knew that it was only through Yoseif's bidding that the Egyptians circumcised themselves, and he must have picked up this concept from the Patriarchs, indicating that he was a family member. Rabbeinu Efraim answers that the Egyptians had themselves circumcised at a later age and the results are visibly different from that of the procedure done on an eight day old infant.

This would answer the Chizkuni's added question of how was this conclusive as he might be of Yishmoel descent. The Chizkuni himself differentiates between a circumcision taking place on a close to newborn infant and a 13 year old, which was the age at which Yishmoel's descendants had themselves circumcised, by their skipping one step in the procedure, that of "prioh." He says that it was conclusive that he wasn't an Egyptian who was circumcised, as this was the only way a man could receive food during the famine, but Yoseif, as the viceroy and overseer of the distribution, would surely not have to do this. Alternatively, he offers that Yoseif's brothers did not know that the Egyptians were coerced into circumcising themselves.

Ch. 45, v. 12: "Ki fi hamda'beir a'leichem" - Because it is my mouth that speaks to you - Until now they were accused of being spies and their youngest brother of being a thief, no less than stealing the coveted goblet of the viceroy of Egypt. Yoseif told them to bring their father down to Egypt to live there. How could they be assured of the fulfillment of all he said? After all, the crimes were of a federal nature. Spying is no small felony. This is why Yoseif said, "Ki fi hamda'beir a'leichem." When you were incarcerated for three days I then let you free. When Binyomin was brought in front of me I freed Shimon. Paroh's permission was not needed. When I said that the person who stole my goblet would become a slave, I said he would be MY slave, not Paroh's. From all of this you can clearly see that I am in control. "Ki fi hamda'beir a'leichem," and not Paroh's dictates. Rest assured that I am in the position to fulfill all that I told you and you can confidently bring our father here. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chalavoh)

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


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