by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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We will look at the following verse and see what Rashi says and suggest another p'shat interpretation.
"And they spoke to him all the words of Joseph which he had said to them and he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry and the spirit of Jacob their father was revived."
"All the words of Joseph: Rashi: He gave them a sign concerning what he had been dealing with at the time he left him. - In the laws of the Calf whose Neck is broken (Eglah Arufah). That is what the Torah means when it says "He saw the wagons (agalot) which Joseph had sent" and does not say "which Pharaoh had sent."
Rashi is using a drash based on a play on words : Agalot (wagons) is connected with Eglah Calf). That is Jacob saw the Agalot and his spirit was revived, Rashi is implicitly asking: Why? What has the fact that Jacob saw the wagons got to do with his now believing that Joseph is alive? Rashi's answer is that there was a private sign which only the two of them knew and it was this sign that Joseph signaled to his father. Once Jacob saw the sign he realized that Joseph was alive.
This is Rashi's explanation. It is certainly not p'shat, since Eglah and Agalah are two different words. Also, on a p'shat level we could add, that the laws of Eglah Arufa were given at Sinai, much after Joseph's time. But there is a much simpler explanation; one which is closer to p'shat.
Jacob didn't believe his sons (as it says in the previous verse), he thought they were saying Joseph was alive when in fact he wasn't. But once he saw the wagons that Joseph sent "to carry him" to Egypt, he knew it was no lie. Since all he had to do was get in the wagons and go down to Egypt and he would see for himself. So the sons wouldn't have lied in such a way that they could be easily detected. This fits in with p'shat because the very next verse says
"And Israel said: It is enough! Joseph my son is yet alive. I will go and see him before I die. And Israel journeyed etc."
This then was the reason for Jacob's spirit being revived once he saw the wagons.
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