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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 45, v. 4: "Ani Yoseif" - I am Yoseif - How many other instances of impersonation do we find in sefer Breishis?

Ch. 45, v. 4: "Ani Yoseif achichem asher m'chartem osi" - I am Yoseif your brother whom you have sold - Out of great concern to not have his brothers embarrassed Yoseif just ejected his ministers from his royal chamber when he disclosed his true identity. Immediately afterwards he adds on "whom you have sold." They knew all too well what they did to him. Why did he rub their noses into the dirt by adding these words?

There is a folk expression: Don't shoot all your ammunition in one go. This way you still have something left with which to threaten your adversary. Had Yoseif just disclosed his identity and left it at that, his brothers would be nervous, expecting a further tongue lashing at a later time. This is why Yoseif let it all out in one go. This way his brothers would feel at ease, not expecting further criticism. (Chochmoh Umussor)

Ch. 45, v. 9: "Simani Elokim lo'odone l'chol Mitzroyim" - Elokim has placed me - The Holy Zohar writes that although Avrohom was told that his descendants would be enslaved for 400 years, the reason the bnei Yisroel only suffered through 87 years of harsh servitude was because the Egyptians were Yoseif's slaves. Yoseif was sending a supernal message to Yaakov with these words. "Simani" has the numeric value of 400. Elokim has the numeric value of 86. The 400 years will be 86 years because lo'odone l'chol Mitzroyim, I am the master over all of Egypt. (Chid"o in Chomas Anoch)

Ch. 45, v. 16: "V'hakole nishma beis Paroh leimore bo'u achei Yoseif va'yeetav b'einei Pharoh uv'einei avodov" - And the proclamation was heard in Paroh's household thus saying the brothers of Yoseif have come and it was pleasing in the ears of Paroh and in the ears of his servants - Why were they so pleased? When Paroh appointed Yoseif as viceroy many people complained that he had broken the law that requires a person of such high position to not have been a slave (see gemara Sotoh 36b). Now that Yoseif's lineage became known, that he was a descendant of Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov, all very prestigious people in the land Canaan, they were all pleased. (P'sikta Zut'r'sa)

Alternatively, the reason they were pleased was that all that was heard was that Yoseif's brothers had come to Egypt, and not that they sold him as a slave and that was how Yoseif ended up in Egypt. Had they heard the rest of the story they would not be pleased upon the arrival of people they would consider brutal and heartless. (Alshich Hakodosh)

Ch. 45, v. 23: "Ul'oviv sholach k'zose" - And to his father he sent like this - Rashi comments, "K'cheshbone ha'zeh." What is Rashi adding to our understanding? Mekubolim say that in a time of famine no matter how much a person consumes, he still feels hungry. To eliminate this problem he should say the Name "ChaTaCH," taken from the final letters of "posei'aCH eS yo'deCHo." This bit of onformation is what Yoseif sent his father, "k'zose," whose numeric value is the same as "CHaTaCH." This is Rashi's intention, "k'cheshbone ha'zeh" of "k'zose." (Ge'res Karmel)

Ch. 46, v. 4: "Onochi eireid imcho Mitzraimoh v'onochi e'elcho gam olo" - I will descend with you to Egypt and I will raise you also rise - The second rising is that of Hashem's ascending from Egypt. By the descent Hashem descends first and by the rising Yaakov is mentioned first. This is akin to a person who leads another to a great deep abyss. The other person is very afraid of descending so deeply. He needs the leader to go down first and he can then follow. When it comes to ascending, he is likewise afraid to be left alone and therefore he is brought up first. (Kli Yokor)

Ch. 46, v. 28: "V'es Yehudoh sholach l'fonov el Yoseif l'horos l'fonov" - And he sent Yehudoh before him to Yoseif to show the way before him - Rashi (M.R. 95:3) says that "l'horos" means to establish a beis hatalmud from which will emanate halachic rulings. The Holy Shal"oh derives a greta moral lesson from this. The first thing Yaakov concerned himself with when settling into Egypt was to have a beis hatalmud. We may derive a powerful lesson from this to apply to our daily living. Before we embark on any action we should first calculate what benefit there will come about from it. For example, if one is building a home for himself, he should first think about a room for privacy, for studying, for prayer, and for assemblage of sages. Only after this shall he consider the space needed for eating, sleeping, etc.

Ch. 47, v. 12: "Va'y'chalkeil Yoseif es oviv v'es echov" - And Yoseif sustained his father and his brothers - Similarly in verse 21 we find, "Onochi achalkeil es'chem." However, when in came to feeding the Egyptians the verse says "Va'y'naha'leim balechem" (47:17). Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin explains that a ben Yisroel will not sell his soul for a "n'zid adoshim," a bowl of lentils, as did Eisov. He cites the "kidnapped" young Jewish children who were inducted into the Czar's army. They were beaten and starved but did not relinquish their Judaism one iota. You call me "m'chalkeil" a ben Yisroel but not lead him on a leash. This was not the case with the Egyptians. Yoseif demanded a few things from them before he would feed them, that they circumcise themselves, and later on when Yoseif acquired their properties and themselves, that they pay a 20% tax to Paroh.

A futher story is told of Rabbi Sorotzkin. He went to America to collect funds for the "Vaad haYeshivos" shortly after medinas Yisroel was established. At the first dinner for this purpose a number of philanthropists told him that they would be willing to give meaningful donations if he would persuade the Yeshivos to have a more positive attitude towards the medinoh. Rabbi Sorotzkin cited the difference in the verses, as mentioned above and told them that when one is sustaining an outsider it is appropriate to demand things, to make conditions. When he is feeding his brother he just gives without mastering over him with conditions. He then challenged them, "Are we foreigners or brothers?"

Ch. 47, v. 24: "Unsa'tem chamishis l'Pharoh v'arba ha'yodos yi'h'yeh lochem" - And you shall give a fifth to Paroh and four parts will be for you - The verse also tells us that the priests did not pay this tax, but rather, received their set sustenance from the government. This information seems to not be appropriate for the Torah to relate, and seems more suited for the chronicles of Egypt. However, there is an important lesson for the bnei Yisroel in this information. The Torah tells us that this was the law of the land which the Egyptians kept. It is a most demanding matter to ask of a person who has by the sweat of his brow finally brought his agricultural pursuits to a conclusion to then tithe approximately 20%. The Torah in anticipation of the laws of tithing therefore tells us that this ratio was instituted in Egypt, with the clergy receiving their sustenance from the taxes paid to Paroh. If the Egyptians can do this we surely can. (Abarbanel)



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

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