CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VA'YEISHEV 5772 - BS"D
1) Ch. 37, v. 15: "Leimore mah t'va'keish" - Saying what do you seek - The word "leimore" seems superfluous.
2) Ch. 37, v. 20: "V'nahargeihu" - And we shall kill him - There is an astounding medrash that adds, "And we will shorten grace after meals." What is the intention of this medrash?
3) Ch. 38, v. 25: "L'mi hacho'se'mes" - To whom does the signet ring belong - Even if we could identify the owner of the ring, how do we know that it was not lent to another person who gave it as a surety for payment for her services?
4) Ch. 39, v. 6: "Ki im ha'lechem asher hu ocheil va'y'hi Yoseif y'fei to'ar vi'fei mar'eh" - Except the bread that he eats and Yoseif was pleasing of form and of appearance - What is the connection between these two thoughts? Although Rashi connects this with Yoseif's being in a position of authority, it seems to be better placed at the end of verse 4.
5) Ch. 39, v. 12: "Va'yaazove bigdo b'yodoh " - And he left his garment in her hand - The Ramban asks, "Why did Yoseif leave such incriminating evidence in her hand? He surely could have overpowered her." Rabbeinu Bachyei answers that he did not want to overpower his master's wife. Others say that he left the scene of her seduction as soon as possible. Given the maxim that when one does what is proper he does not lose out, beyond the spiritual considerations just mentioned, what benefit did Yoseif have from leaving over the garment in her hand?
Rabbeinu Menachem says that it means that he spoke in a loud voice.
In a manner of drush, perhaps we can say that since the angel knew that this was the beginning of Yoseif's odyssey, and that he would be plunged into the darkest of situations, he gave him advice that would stand in his good stead. Yoseif was to be sold into slavery and eventually end up in jail. He would be brought in front of the Egyptian king. The advice was that in spite of his deplorable situation, he should not mope and be enveloped in his sorrowful situation, but rather, he should seek out the welfare of all those with whom he came into contact. When enslaved in the house of Potifar, he was so loyal that he was entrusted with almost all household matters. When in jail for numerous years he saw the doom and gloom on the face of the wine-butler and the baker. Instead of just ignoring them, after all, there is ample reason to be gloomy when incarcerated, he asked why they were long-faced. This was the vehicle that brought about not only his release, but even giving him an audience with the king and being elevated to the position of viceroy. This is "leimore mah t'va'keish." Always say, "mah t'va'keish." What is it that YOU seek? (n.l.)
Medrash Y'honoson explains as follows: The medrash says that Moshe's leadership came to an end when it did because Hashem decreed that at a set time Yehoshua would be the leader. The medrash also says that had Moshe entered Eretz Yisroel and built the Beis Hamikdosh it would never have been destroyed. Yehoshua was a descendant of Yoseif. Had they carried out their plan and killed him, there would be no Yehoshua. Moshe could have entered Eretz Yisroel and built the Beis Hamikdosh. Yehoshua is credited with authoring the "birkas ho'oretz" section of grace after meals (gemara Brochos 48b). If there was no Yehoshua, there would be no "birkas ho'oretz." If the Beis Hamikdosh would not have been destroyed there would be no "birkas bonei Yerusholayim." Hence grace after meals would be substantially shortened.
Perhaps we can explain the medrash in a different manner. If we say that the brothers were paid by their father to be shepherds, the time spent in killing Yoseif and throwing his body into a pit would be time wasted, away from their work. We can say that their father gave them permission to say all the blessings of grace after meals. To make up for the lost time they said that they would just say the minimal amount. (n.l.)
The gemara B.M. 27b says that one does not lend out his signet ring, so it is a clear indication of her partner in the act. (Hadoroh Shel Torah)
Ramban explains that it is a lead in to the incident with Potifar's wife's taking an interest in him. If so, this should be in the next verse.
We find that Chananioh, Misho'eil, and Azarioh requested of the king's overseer that they not be forced to eat the defiled "pasbag" and other such foods. They requested to be allowed to eat only kosher seeds. The overseer said that he would readily agree, but was afraid that their health would noticeably deteriorate with such a meager diet, and the king would be greatly angered with him when he would note that they were so gaunt. They requested a 10-day trial and when their appearance was still robust, they were allowed to continue on this alimentation regimen (Daniel 1:12). Here too, Yoseif did not want to defile himself with the non-kosher foods offered, and he subsisted on almost nothing. This is the meaning of "V'lo yoda ito m'umoh," he had no complaints against Yoseif, "ki im ha'lechem asher hu ocheil," except for Yoseif's meager diet, except for the bread that he, Potifar, ate alone. In spite of this, Yoseif retained a healthy and robust appearance. (Tzror Hamor)
Note that not only did Yoseif not suffer from leaving the garment in her hand, but it even saved his life. The medrash says that Potifar had Yoseif judged for his alleged crime. The judges said that the garment would prove who was telling the truth. If the rip in the garment was in front, it indicates that Yoseif came face to face with her in pursuit of sinning, but if the rip was in the back, she attempted to seduce him and when he ran away she grabbed the garment. The circumstantial evidence was in Yoseif's favour and he was not put to death. This is a true fulfillment of "Shomeir mitzvoh lo yeida dovor ro" (Koheles 8:5). (Oznayim laTorah)
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