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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 41, v. 1: "Va'y'hi mikeitz shnosayim yomim u'Pharoh choleim" - The M.R. 89:1 quotes the verse in Iyov 28:3, "Keits som lachoshech," which teaches us that when the time arrived for the darkness of incarceration of Yoseif to come to an end, Hashem activated the workings which would extricate him from his confinement. In other words, this means to tell us that we should not think that because Yoseif met the wine butler in jail things evolved until he was freed. Rather, because it was time for him to be freed the butler appeared on the scene. Perhaps this is derived from the words of our verse.

It says "u'Pharoh choleim," - and Paroh IS DREAMING, rather than "u'Pharoh cholam," - and Paroh DREAMT. The Medrash Hagodol says that from the day that the wine butler and baker had their dreams Paroh had the same dream as related in our parsha nightly for two whole years. Why was this necessary and why all of a sudden did his "spirit throb" - "Vatipo'eim rucho" (verse 8)?

These happenings show us that when the time calculated by Hashem came, things fell into place to bring about Yoseif's release, rather than the release being a result of these happenings. Perhaps this is why the verse says "Va'y'hi VAboker" - and it was in THE SPECIFIC morning, and not "v'boker."

Rabbi Akiva Eiger says that this explains why in the end of parshas Va'yeishev we find Yoseif telling the wine butler that he will once again serve Paroh "Kamishpot horishone" (40:13). Why was it necessary to add these words if Yoseif had already said "v'nosato kose Paroh b'yodo" just before these words? The wine butler, upon being reinstated to his job might logically think to himself, "Am I lucky that my skin was saved! I had better be extremely careful in the future that no foreign items gain entry into the beverages I serve the king. After all, why did all this happen to me if not to teach me to be more careful in the future." Yoseif told the wine butler the exact opposite. "There is no need to be more careful than in the past.

The whole purpose of your incarceration was to meet me and be a tool to help me gain freedom when it would be heavenly decreed." Therefore Yoseif said to the wine butler that not only will he have his position reinstated, "v'nosato kose Paroh b'yodo," but also that there is no need to be any more careful than in the past, "kamishpot horishone."

This also explains the use of the word "Ki" at the beginning of the next verse, which should have said "Im z'chartani" rather than "KI im" - "If you will remember me," rather than "JUST if you will remember me." Yoseif told the wine butler that the only reason you are here is "JUST so that you will remember me" to Paroh.

Ch. 41, v. 1: "Shnosayim yomim" - The M.R. 89:3 says that Rabbi Shimon bar Abbo says that because Yoseif said "Zchartani" and "V'hizkartani" (40:14), he languished in jail for an additional two years, as he should have put his whole trust in Hashem and not partly into the wine butler. The medrash goes on to bring a verse in T'hilim (40:5) which deals with trusting in Hashem and applying it to Yoseif. "Ashrei ha'gever asher som Hashem mivtacho," - Fortunate is the man who puts his trust in Hashem. The medrash says that this refers to Yoseif. The verse goes on to say "V'lo fonoh el r'hovim v'sottei chozov" - and he did not turn to haughty and deceitful people (for his salvation). The medrash says that this also refers to Yoseif. The self-contained contradiction in the words of this medrash are all too obvious.

Some answers:

1) The fact that Yoseif was criticized for such minimal effort shows his high level of trust, since each person is responsible to put in effort according to his level of trust. (Beis haLevi)

2) Only one who has great trust in Hashem and falls short deserves to have his flaw cleansed immediately. Yoseif was just about to be released and had his stay in jail immediately extended by two years. (Holy Admor of Kotzk)

3) Yoseif's great trust in Hashem was demonstrated by his lack of success in using the wine butler as a medium, since there was a two year delay. A person who lacks in his trust of Hashem could be successful in his improper pursuits, in keeping with the dictum of "hali'teihu lorosho v'yomos" (B.K. 69a). (Sfas Emes 5631-5632)

4) Even though one has to put in effort, it should only be according to his level. One should not pursue far-fetched possibilities. Since Yoseif trusted in a haughty Egyptian who is likely to forget, he is faulted. This seems quite similar to the Beis haLevi. (Chazon Ish Emunoh u'Bitochon 2:6)

Ch. 41, v. 2: "Va'tir'enoh bo'ochu" - The Medrash Lekach Tov explains this unusual choice of words homiletically. We are discussing the cows which represent the years of abundance. When things go well in the physical realm, the Egytians will treat each other as friends, "rei'im," - va'tir'enoh, and as brothers, "achim" - "bo'ochu." But when it is time to tighten one's belt, represented by the seven lean and meager cows, then "sheva poros ACHEIROS," they act as strangers one to another, as Rashi says in his second interpretation of the words "Elohim ACHEIRIM" (Shmos 20:3). (Medrash Hagodol)

Ch. 41, v. 26: "Sheva SHONIM heinoh" - The Moshav Zkeinim at the end of parshas Va'yeishev (40:12) asks why Yoseif interpreted the dreams of the wine butler and the baker to mean DAYS rather than YEARS as in the dream of Paroh in our parsha. He answers that Yoseif knew that Paroh's birthday was taking place in three days.

Two alternative answers are offered:

1) We see from the Moshav Z'keinim that the default interpretation should be years and for a specific reason Yoseif understood that the wine butler's and the baker's dreams alluded to days. Perhaps the default should be days and the exception is by Paroh's dreams. It is obvious that a seven DAY period of abundance is not logical. Food production is guided by seasons of produce.

Likewise there is no famine for seven days, hence the units must be years.

2) The gemara Rosh Hashonoh 10b says that Yoseif was released from jail on Rosh Hashonoh. Early commentators (mentioned in the Shaa'rei Aharon) say that the extra word "yomim" after "shnosayim" in the first verse of our parsha teaches us that the time which elapsed since the dreams of the previous parsha was not a year and some, which can also be called two years, but rather "shnosayim yomim," two complete years to the day. If so, the dreams of the wine butler and baker also took place on Rosh Hashonoh, two years earlier. The M.R. Vayikroh 34:12 says in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai that dreams dreamt on Rosh Hashonoh have their fulfillment DURING THAT YEAR.

If so, Yoseif couldn't interpret their dreams to mean three years. Likewise Paroh's dreams which also took place on Rosh Hashonoh were fulfilled in the same year, as their fulfillment began during that year. The repetition of the dream indicated that it would begin very shortly within that year (41:32).

With this insight we could possibly offer a new answer to a question raised by the Riv"o (Baal Tosfos) mentioned last year in parshas Mikeitz where six answers were given. He asks that since Paroh's dream was to be swiftly fulfilled as indicated by its repetition, then why did the fulfillment of Yoseif's dream take thirteen years? It was also a dream that was repeated.

Possibly, once the fulfillment has to take place during that year as indicated by the dream taking place on Rosh Hashonoh, then the repetition indicates a quick fulfillment. However, Yoseif's dreams did not take place on Rosh Hashonoh, so there is no indication that anything would happen during that year, and the repetition also does not speed things along.

Here are the answers offered last year:

Ch. 41, v. 32: "V'al hishonos ...... pa'amoyim ...... u'm'ma'heir" - The Riv"o (Baal Tosfos) ask that we find that Yoseif also had two dreams (37:7,9) but they were not fulfilled for thirteen years.

1) He answers that Paroh's dreams were both in one night, but Yoseif's were on different nights.

A few other possible answers might be:

2) In a similar vein - The commentaries ask why Yoseif gave advice on how to prepare for the seven years of devastating famine, when he was only asked to interpret the dreams. They answer that Paroh's waking up and falling asleep again (41:4-5) were part of the original dream, that he dreamt that he woke up and fell asleep again and had a dream within a dream. Yoseif interpreted the waking up as an indication that Paroh had to "wake up" and have a strategy for coping with the famine. Since this was all one dream, we can say that the repeat of a dream indicating its immediate fulfillment is only true when it is repeated in the same dream.

3) Yoseif did not have a repeat of the SAME dream. The dream of the bundles of grain was an indication that he would be a provider of food, and the dream of the stars, etc. an indication that he would become a ruler.

4) According to the famous and controversial opinion of the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh (37:21) that a person has free will and can go against a heavenly-ordained decree and even kill someone who should not have died, we can say that Yoseif should have become a king within a short period of time after his dreams, but his brothers intervened and kept the heavenly-ordained from happening. Indeed, we find that the Sefer Chasidim #504 says that although Yehudoh merited to have his descendant, King Dovid, reign at the age of thirty because Yehudoh was instrumental in bringing about Yoseif's becoming a king at thirty, at the same time, he says that Yehudoh might have merited to have King Dovid reign at an even earlier age, but it was pushed off until the age of thirty, because Yehudoh also caused a delay in Yoseif's getting married until the age of thirty. We see from here that the brothers' intervention delayed Yoseif's getting married, so they could also have delayed his becoming king.

5) There was a partial fulfillment of the dream shortly thereafter when nine of the brothers pulled Yoseif out of the pit (37:28 as per Rashi). They physically bent down to get him out, thus actually bowing down to him.

6) The gemara Brochos 55b says that the fulfillment of a dream is governed by the interpretation. Yoseif said in his interpretation of Paroh's dream that it would take place right away. Yoseif's dream also should have, but with no one verbalizing this, it did not happen. (Heard from R' M.M.K.)

Ch. 42, v. 28: "Mah zose ossoh Elokim lonu" - Why were the brothers of Yoseif questioning what Elokim did to them? Didn't they just accept their tribulations as being justified in verse 21, "Avol asheimim anachnu al ochinu?" The Avnei Nezer explains that they understood that punishments visited upon them should be commensurate to their wrongdoing, "midoh k'neged midoh." They originally thought that they came to a correct conclusion that Yoseif was deserving of death. Upon seeing that Hashem sent them difficulties they came to realize that they had acted incorrectly. However, they felt that this was only an UNINTENTIONAL wrongdoing on their part, by judging Yoseif wrongly. In turn, they were wrongly and UNINTENTIONALLY judged as spies.

However, in our verse they were dealing with finding their payment for the food returned in their knapsacks. This was done INTENTIONALLY. They could not justify such a difficulty coming upon themselves, since they felt that they did nothing INTENTIONALLY wrong.

The son of the Avnei Nezer, the Sheim miShmuel, adds on that although they did nothing wrong intentionally, nevertheless, they were held responsible as if they acted intentionally, since their mistake came about through lack of sufficient Torah knowledge, which is considered intentional, "sheshig'gas Talmud oloh zodone" (Pirkei Ovos 4:13).

Ch. 43, v. 11: "Im kein EIFO" - The Sforno explains these words as follows: Since you relate that the viceroy of Egypt will not see you without bringing aling Binyomin, and you say he is a G-d fearing person then "IM KEIN," if so, EIFO, I AM FORCED to do the following ...... The Sforno in parshas Toldos on the words "mi EIFO" (27:33), differentiates between EIFOH spelled with a letter Hei at the end, as in 37:17, which means WHERE, and EIFO here, spelled with a letter Alef at the end which means IM KEIN, if so. He says tha same in 27:37 where again EIFO appears with an Alef and means "if so."

However, in our verse where the words IM KEIN already appear just before EIFO with an Alef, the Sforno cannot say that it means "if so" since this is a repetition of IM KEIN. He therefore says that it means I AM FORCED, as he is forced to change the meaning here. Please note that EIFO here appears without a Yud after the first Alef, but the Sforno does not say that this plays a role in the translation.

We find EIFO with an Alef again in Shmos 33:16, "U'va'meh yivoda EIFO." The Sforno does not explain that this word means "if so," but it does fit nicely into the flow of the verse as explained by the Sforno there. Also see Mishlei 6:3, "Assei zose EIFO bni."

Ch. 44, v. 8: "Heshivonu eilecho mei'eretz K'naan v'eich nignove mi'beis adonecho kesef o zohov" -

1) Why is the fact that the money was returned from the land of Canaan relevant? 2) How could they include in the logic of their refutation that they would not steal gold which is more dear than silver, since the money which they returned was silver?

To answer the first question, I had thought that there were border officers who would search their parcels upon exit from Egypt and they would be running the risk of having to explain how they had both food and the amount of money that they brought in with them upon entry to Egypt, which was also recorded at the time of their border crossing into Egypt. They therefore pointed out that they had safely gotten the money into Canaan and returned it even from there.

The Chasam Sofer answers the question most brilliantly and an answer to the second question can be gleaned from his words. He quotes the Ramban whose opinion is that the Patriarchs and their children acted as bnei Yisroel according to the Torah laws in the land of Eretz Yisroel, and applied the Noachide laws to themselves while outside of Eretz Yisroel. If so, they claimed that they reurned money from the land of Canaan where they acted as bnei Yisroel for whom the halacha is that they do not have to return an object belonging to a non-Jew which came into their possession legally, such as a lost object. In Egypt they considered themselves as non-Jews and if they were to steal there they would be culpable for the death penalty, as is the punishment for transgressing any of the seven Noachide laws. If they returned money which they had the right to keep for themselves by law since they were in the land of Canaan, surely they would not steal in Egypt where the law is that they deserve death.

This seems to answer the difficulty with the logic of including gold in their reasoning. From the point of view of the punishment, as mentioned by the Chasam Sofer, logically they would not steal any item, no matter its worth, since this would open them up to the possibility of capital punishment.


Ch. 41, v. 1: "Shnosayim" - Tosfos Hasholeim and the Shiltei Hagiborim say that this word is an acronym for "Smole Neiros Tadlik, Y'min Mezuzoh." Ch. 43, v. 16: "Utvoach tevaCH V'HoCHeiN" - The Tonnoh D'vei Eliyohuo says that the last letter of "tevaCH" and the word "V'HoCHeiN" spell "Chanukah." As well, the gematria of "utvoach tevach" is 44, equal to the total number of lights kindled on Chanukah, including the shamoshim.

It is no coincidence that Chanukah is alluded to in these words. The gemara Chulin 91a says that the preparation indicated by the word "v'hochein" refers to the removal of the "gid hanosheh." The Holy Zohar says that the word "nosheh" means forgetfulness. One who eats from the "gid hanosheh" forgets some of his Torah knowledge. The Greeks put great effort into attempting to make us forget Hashem's Holy Torah, "l'hashkichom Torah'secho." Hence with the removal of the "gid hanosheh," Yoseif did an act which symbolized a response to the attack of the Greeks.

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