by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS MI'KEITZ 5762 BS"D
Ch. 41, v. 1: "Va'y'hi mi'keitz shnosayim yomim uFaroh choleim" - "Va'y'hi" is an expression of sorrow and pain, a phonetic "woe." Woe to the person who at the end, "va'y'hi mi'keitz," of his years and days, "shnosayim yomim" becomes disheveled and distressed, "uFaroh" (as in "ufora es rosh ho'ishoh" (Bmidbar 5:18), and realizes that he has spent his life pursuing a dream, "choleim," and not doing things of lasting value. (Rabbi Avrohom of Mikolayov)
Ch. 41, v. 1: "Shnosayim yomim" - The Rashbam says that had the verse only said "shnosayim" we might have thought that a year and a day had elapsed. By adding the word "yomim" it is clear that two full years to the day had elapsed.
Why was Yoseif's incarceration extended by exactly two years? Since his wrongdoing was that he said "z'chartani" and "v'hizkartani" (40:14), according to his elevated level relying too heavily on human intervention, his stay was extended the time span of two remembrances. A relative is remembered for a year after his death, and then fades into the background. For uttering two words of remembrance he likewise was punished to have his stay in prison extended by two years. (Tosfos Brochoh)
Ch. 41, v. 1: "U'Faroh choleim" - The word "choleim" is spelled defectively, lacking the letter Vov between the Ches and the Lamed. We are thus left with the letters Ches-Lamed-Mem. These letters can be switched around to also form the words "ChoMeiL" and "LeCHeM." Inherent in Paroh's dream was that Hashem sent a message of mercy, "chemloh," that during the years of abundance, sustenance, "lechem," should be set aside.
Ch. 41, v. 3,4: "Olose acha'rei'hen.. vataamode'noh eitzel, Vatochalnoh" - The seven emaciated cows represent the evil inclination. They first rise against a person, "olose," then stand right next to him, "vataamode'noh eitzel," and then finally overpower and swallow him, "vatochalnoh." (Sfas Emes)
Ch. 41, v. 5: "B'konneh echod bri'ose v'tovos" - In verse 8 where the emaciated heads of grain are mentioned the verse does not say that they grew on one stalk, as is mentioned here, "b'konneh echod." The Haa'meik Dovor says that this alludes to the years of great bounty being limited to Egypt only, while the years of hunger would affect surrounding countries as well.
Ch. 41, v. 10: "Va'yi'tein osi .. osi v'eis sar ho'ofim" - Why is "osi" repeated? The Ibn Ezra answers that this is the common way the verse expresses itself, as we also find, "vaani onoh ani vo" (Breishis 37:30). Rabbi Yehudoh haKohein, a Baal Tosfos, answers that the wine butler was stressing that both he and the royal baker were in an equal position, both placed in the same jail, etc. Thus there was no indication for Yoseif that one's sentence would be any different from the other's, and yet he correctly interpreted their dreams.
Ch. 42, v. 2: "R'du" - Rashi (M.R. 91:2) says that it would have been preferable to use the word "l'chu," - go, rather than "r'du," - descend. "R'du" is used to mathematically allude to the 210 years that the bnei Yisroel would spend in the Egyptian exile (200+4+6=210). The Holy Zohar writes that because of the actions of 10 of Yoseif's brothers he was separated from his father for 22 years. To atone for this the bnei Yisroel should have remained in Egypt for 220 years, 22 years times 10 brothers. We deduct 10 years, one year for each of the guilty brothers who died and had their remains stay in Egypt until the exodus, leaving us with 210 years.
Ch. 42, v. 2: "V'nichyeh v'lo nomus" - If we will live, is it not self understood that we will not die? The Medrash Shmuel explains that Yaakov said that if they would be allowed to purchase much food they would survive comfortably, and if they would only be allowed to purchase a small amount, it would at least stave off their death.
The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains that if they would not pursue acquiring food and die from hunger they would not only die on this world, but would also be accountable in the next world for bringing about their own deaths. Thus, "v'nichyeh" on this world, when we acquire sustenance, and "v'lo nomus" in the world to come, for the sin of not attempting to alleviate their plight. On the same words, "v'nichyeh v'lo nomus" in 43:8, the Kli Yokor says that by agreeing to send Binyomin we will live, as Yoseif will be returned and "vatCHI ruach Yaakov" (45:28), and we will not die for this sin in the world to come.
Ch. 42, v. 6: "Hu hashalit .. hu hamashbir" - He who breaks his evil inclination, he is the master. (Kedushas Levi)
Ch. 42, v. 6: "Hu hashalit .. hu hamashbir l'chol am ho'oretz" - He who masters over his evil inclination is capable of bringing sustenance for the whole world, as we find by Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa (gemara Taanis 24b and Chulin 86a). (Eitz Hadaas Tov - Rabbi Chaim Vi'tal)
Ch. 42, v. 8: "Va'ya'keir Yoseif es echov v'heim lo hikiruhu" - The gemara Y'vomos 84a explains that he recognized them as they were already bearded when he was sold, but he wasn't, and now that he was, they did not recognize him. The Ponim Yofos asks that Yisochor and Z'vulun were just a bit older than he was, so how did he recognize them, as they now also sported beards. He answers that normally he would not have recognized them, but once they were together with their other brothers whom Yoseif did recognize, he was also able to recognize them.
The Abarbenel says that he recognized his brothers through either their appearance or their voices, thus forewarning the question raised by the Ponim Yofos. If you were to ask on the Abarbenel, "If so, why didn't the brothers also recognize Yoseif by his voice," we can say that since he spoke the Egyptian language through a translator, they did not recognize his voice in a language foreign to them.
Ch. 42, v. 11: "Keinim anachnu" - The Haa'meik Dovor translates "keinim" as "with a solid basis," like "v'chano" (Shmos 30:18). They claimed that they were all married men with well-established families, most unlikely candidates for spies. Yoseif responded that during a time of famine even family men also might resort to spying.
Ch. 43, v. 12: "V'chesef mishneh k'chu v'yedchem" - Yaakov told them to specifically hold the money in their hand on the return trip because the gemara B.M. 42a says that one is responsible to guard money in a more careful manner than other items. (Taam Vodaas)
Alternatively, Rabbi Y.Z. Brisker offers that halacha mandates that one may only return a lost item to a non-Jew when it brings a sanctification of Hashem's Name, namely that it becomes well known that the item was returned by a ben Yisroel. He therefore told them to hold the returned money in their hand for all to see.
Ch. 42, v. 16: "V'im lo chai Faroh ki m'raglim a'tem" - Did Yoseif swear falsely? After all, he knew that they were not spies. The Abarbenel answers that since Yoseif's statement was predicated on conditions mentioned in this and the previous verse, and the conditions were met, he did not swear falsely. The Shei'vet Mussor says that Yoseif's intention when saying "m'raglim" was to use this word as an acronym for "Mi'zera Rochel G'navtem, L'orchas Yish'm'eilim M'chartem."
Ch. 42, v. 21: "Avol asheimim anachnu" - The word "avol" appearing as the first word of their confession of sin might be the source for our saying "avol anachnu vaavoseinu chotonu."
Ch. 42, v. 21: "Avol asheimim ANACHNU" - Originally they thought that not only they, but also their father sinned by accepting Yoseif's pejorative report, as Yaakov would also suffer if they were all incarcerated, as no one would be returning with food. Once Yoseif allowed them, save one brother, to return with food, they realized that "asheimim ANACHNU," only WE are guilty, but our father isn't. (Alshich Hakodosh)
Ch. 42, v. 22: "V'gam domo hi'nei nidrosh" - When Reuvein returned to the pit and found Yoseif missing (37:29) he did not know what became of him. The brothers were bound by a vow to not disclose what they did. Thus Reuvein was still in the dark, and said that not only did they sin by throwing Yoseif into the pit, but they also still had on their conscience the constant responsibility to investigate Yoseif's whereabouts. (The Holy Alshich)
Ch. 42, v. 22: "V'gam domo hi'nei nidrosh" - As a preface to the parshios dealing with Yoseif and his brothers, the Hornesteipler Gaon, Rabbi Y.Y. Kanievski zt"l said that we should approach things in a most clinical manner, basing all their disagreements on differing halachic views.
There is a well-known approach to the three matters that Yoseif reported to his father as criticism of his brothers, that they belittled the sons of Bilhoh and Zilpoh, that they ate the limb of a live animal, and that they were suspected of immoral activities, which hinges upon whether they had the status of bnei Noach or bnei Yisroel. Yoseif felt they were bnei Noach, while his brothers felt that they were elevated to the status of bnei Yisroel. In the previous verse we find Yoseif's brothers admitting that they did wrong by not hearkening to Yoseif's pleas for mercy, but there is no confession that their origin plan to kill him was wrong, nor that throwing him into a pit filled with snakes and scorpions, which likely would have brought to his death, was a wrongdoing either. We can say that they maintained their position that they had the status of bnei Yisroel, and the only wrong that could find was not displaying sufficient mercy. As far as the bad they intended to do but did not actually do, a ben Yisroel is not held accountable for an intention to do bad that did not come to fruition, as per the gemara Kidushin 39b. Reuvein said that once they all admitted that they were guilty, he suggested that they were not only guilty of not having mercy on their brother, but that they were also wrong in their basic assumption. Perhaps they had the status of bnei Noach, Yoseif's position. If so, "v'gam domo hi'nei nidrosh," not only were you not merciful, you are also to be held responsible for the INTENTION of killing him, as a ben Noach is even held accountable for evil intention, as per Tosfos d.h. "Mach'shovoh" on the above-mentioned gemara.
Ch. 42, v. 23: "V'heim lo yodu ki shomei'a Yoseif" - They obviously realized that Yoseif HEARD their words, as they spoke in front of him through a translator. The Rashbam and Abudrohom say that "shomei'a" in our verse means "understands." The Abudrohom adds that the text of the blessing for the reading of Megilas Esther is "al mikro Megiloh" and not "lishmo'a Megiloh," because women also come to hear the reading and most of them do not understand what is read. If we would make the blessing "lishmo'a Megiloh," it would indicate to "understand" the Megiloh, which is inaccurate for most women.
In O.Ch. #692, Mishnoh Bruroh s.k. #11 in the name of the Mogein Avrohom, we find that if one reads the Megilas Esther for women only, the blessing to be recited is "lishmo'a Megiloh." This seems contrary to the Abudrohom.
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See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha
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